Geospatial Semantics and Linked Spatiotemporal Data – Past, Present, and Future
The Geosciences and Geography are not just yet another application area for semantic technologies. The vast heterogeneity of the involved disciplines ranging from the natural sciences to the social sciences introduces new challenges in terms of interoperability. Moreover, the inherent spatial and temporal information components also require distinct semantic approaches. For these reasons, geospatial semantics, geo-ontologies, and semantic interoperability have been active research areas over the last 20 years. The geospatial semantics community has been among the early adopters of the Semantic Web, contributing methods, ontologies, use cases, and datasets. Today, geographic information is a crucial part of many central hubs on the Linked Data Web. In this editorial, we outline the research field of geospatial semantics, highlight major research directions and trends, and glance at future challenges. We hope that this text will be valuable for geoscientists interested in semantics research as well as knowledge engineers interested in spatiotemporal data.