Research Challenge

The central research idea of this IRTG is to create and improve methods and tools for geospatial information integration, by developing general and domain-specific theories and models for the semantics of geospatial information. Geospatial information, in forms like digital maps, images, sensor readings, or processing services, reveals the numerous ways in which humans conceptualize and represent their environment. Bridging conceptualizations and representations so that multiple communities can share information is the core task of geospatial information integration. The main impediment against such bridging is the difficulty to describe the semantics of geospatial information so that the information can be discovered, analyzed, and combined.

The research in this IRTG therefore has the goal to develop methods and tools that support

  1. semantic modeling, using methods from the application disciplines, computing sciences, engineering, cognitive sciences, linguistics, mathematics, and philosophy;
  2. information discovery, evaluation and access, using computational, human-computer interaction, database and information retrieval approaches;
  3. semantic translation, using category-theoretical formalizations as well as linguistic, computational, and human-computer interaction approaches;
  4. service composition in application domains, using computational, cognitive, and human-computer interaction methods.

In order to tie the research initiatives together and provide common focus in their application scenarios, a common challenge for their research is pursued. From this challenge, we will derive scenarios, motivations, problems, case studies, data sets, services, and validation criteria in whatever combination these are required in performing the research. This common research challenge is to support effective geospatial reasoning across age and cultures.

The IRTG research program goals are defined as a joint scientific effort and for the three research initiatives. Instead of choosing a common methodical approach, the program integrates methods from a broad spectrum of complementary disciplines. The disciplinary composition of the proposing teams is unique worldwide and ensures significant added value to a mere continuation of individual research programs:

  • formal foundations (Krieg-Brückner, Mossakowski) join philosophical analysis and logical rigor (Bittner, Koepsell, Smith) to establish stronger ontological foundations for geospatial information (Bateman, Kuhn, Mark);
  • geospatial application expertise (Batta, Casas, Klemm, Mackay, Pebesma, Renschler, Shiode) inform theory development and tool design (Freksa, Jiang, Kuhn, Krüger, Shapiro);
  • spatial cognition results (Freksa, Schill) guide the design of communication interfaces (Bisantz, Krüger, Shapiro, Renschler)
  • linguistic analyses (Bateman, Mark) constrain and guide semantic theories and models (Bittner, Krieg-Brückner, Kuhn);
  • social and demographic studies (Zubrow) guide technology design and accessibility (Bisantz, Krüger, Schill);
  • pattern recognition and information retrieval methods (Jiang, Freksa, Schill) provide models and methods for semantic knowledge acquisition (Shapiro).