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Semantic Formats for Emergency Management
XML-based standards are being developed to improve sharing of emergency information. The Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Systems (OASIS) has a family of standards known as the Emergency Data Exchange Language (EDXL) The Emergency Data Exchange Language Common Alerting Protocol (EDXL-CAP) exemplifies simple, useful, and understandable information exchange formats. For a good overview of EDXL, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EDXL. The EDXL family of standards is available at the OASIS website: http://www.oasis-open.org/home/index.php. An important next step is to utilize the semantic web standards, including RDF, SPARQL, OWL etc. to integrate information for dynamic queries across datasets, and for inferencing using the underlying ontologies.
A thesis work in this area should start by studying the existing XML-based standards, or common formats, in emergency management, as well as reengineering and refactoring methods for transforming XML data into OWL ontologies and RDF data, e.g. the Semion tool from STLab in Rome. This should on one hand lead to the development of a detailed use case for which it would be more beneficial to have a semantic format, i.e. OWL/RDF, rather than XML. On the other hand it should also lead to an overview of what methods would be available if one wishes to transform the current XML formats into OWL/RDF, and how the backward compatibility can be assured (i.e. that the transformation can be done in both directions, and possibly even at runtime of a system). The following step would be to perform such a transformation, to obtain an OWL/RDF version of some XML format, and to develop as small example application using this format to support the use case that was defined earlier. Finally the application could be used to validate the hypothesis of what is the main benefit of having an OWL/RDF format instead of an XML one.
Suggested skills: Good knowledge and practical experience of XML, RDF and OWL. Programming skills, preferably in Java.
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