Spatial Information Retrieval and Geographical Ontologies

C. B. Jones, R. Purves, A. Ruas, M. Sanderson, M. Sester, M. van Kreveld, and R. Weibel. Spatial information retrieval and geographical ontologies: An overview of the spirit project. In Proceedings of the SIGIR’02, Tampere, Finland, August 11-15 2002. ACM. [url]


A large proportion of the resources available on the world-wideweb refer to information that may be regarded as geographically located. Thus most activities and enterprises take place in one ormore places on the Earth’s surface and there is a wealth of survey data, images, maps and reports that relate to specific places or regions.

Despite the prevalence of geographical context, existing web search facilities are poorly adapted to help people find information that relates to a particular location. When the name of a place is typed into a typical search engine, web pages thatinclude that name in their text will be retrieved, but it is likely thatmany resources that are also associated with the place may not beretrieved. Thus resources relating to places that are inside the specified place may not be found, nor may be places that are nearby or that are equivalent but referred to by another name. Specification of geographical context frequently requires the use of spatial relationships concerning distance or containment for example, yet such terminology cannot be understood by existing search engines.

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