Community Ontology Developments

There is a slowly emerging trend in earth science informatics: creation of community ontologies.

Here and there ontologies have been under development for many years, whether on individual projects or team efforts. But the number and scale of the ontologies being created has been increasing lately. 

Here are a few of the ontologies being developed by widely distributed communities of practitioners.

MMI: Platform and Device Ontologies

MMI's platform ontology underwent development by fewer than 10 participants in 2006, and after reaching an interesting (yet far from mature) state, has received little attention since. Yet its ongoing device ontology project has seen much more duration. participation, and labor, though has still not attained the usefulness of the earlier platform project (which was a much simpler domain). Over 50 individuals are on the mailing list, with roughly 10 active participants at any given time. (Development telecons take place every other week.)

ESIP Federation: Data Types and Services Ontologies

The ESIP Federation has been working on ontologies to describe data types and services for several years. Led by Peter Fox, this activity takes place principally in collocated group sessions during ESIP Federation or other meetings, and participation by telecon in these meetings has been encouraged.

W3C: Sensor Ontology

The W3C Semantic Sensor Network Incubator Group has been developing a sensor ontology for the last 6 months, getting a significant head start in research and use cases from the MMI device ontology project described above. This group typically has as many as 15 members on each call with 25 active participants at a given time (participants are generally W3C members); telecons take place weekly, with the ontology discussed at every other telecon. 

Ontolog: Units of Measure Ontology

Ontolog is a community of interest formed around the topic of ontologies; its mail lists have many advanced researchers and topics. The community has undertaken the development of a complete ontology representing Units of Measure.  Anyone can join this discussion, though the domain is complicated and many discussions are extremely advanced, if not obscure. So far most work has been performed through the email list.