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    Linked Data for places – any advice?

    We’d really benefit from advice about what Linked Data namespaces to use to describe places and the relationships between them. We want to re-use as much of others’ work as possible, and use vocabularies which are likely to be well and widely understood.

    Here’s a sample of a “vanilla” rendering of a record for a place-name in Cheshire as extracted from the English Place Name Survey – see this as a rough sketch.

    <chalice:Place rdf:about=”/place/cheshire/prestbury/bosley/bosley”>
    <chalice:parish rdf:resource=”/place/cheshire/prestbury/bosley”/>
    <chalice:parent rdf:resource=”/place/cheshire/prestbury/bosley”/>
    <georss:point>53.1862392425537 -2.12721741199493</georss:point>
    <owl:sameAs rdf:resource=”http://data.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/doc/50kGazetteer/28360″/>


    We could re-use as much as we can of the geonames ontology. It defines a gn:Feature to indicate that a thing is a place, and gn:parentFeature to indicate that one place contains another.

    Ordnance Survey

    Ordnance Survey publish some geographic ontologies: there are some within data.ordnancesurvey.co.uk, and there’s some older work including a vocabulary for mereological (i.e. containment) relations includes isPartOf and hasPart. But the status of this vocabulary is unclear – is its use still advised?

    The Administrative Geography ontology defines a ‘parish‘ relation – this is the inverse of how we’re currently using ‘parish’. (i.e. Prestbury contains Bosley) (And our concepts of historic parish and sub-parish are terrifically vague…)

    For place-names found in the 1:50K gazetteer the OS use the NamedPlace class – but it feels odd to be re-using a vocabulary explicitly designed for the 50K gazetteer.


    Are there other wide-spread Linked Data vocabularies for places and their names which we could be re-using? Are there other ways in which we could improve the modelling? Comments and pointers to others’ work would be greatly appreciated.

    6 responses to “Linked Data for places – any advice?”

    1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Sean Gillies. Sean Gillies said: RT @chaliced: Advice sought on what Linked Data vocabularies to use for places and spatial relations http://bit.ly/gOal84 […]

    2. John Goodwin says:

      Hi Andy,

      First off yes the stuff at http://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/oswebsite/ontology/is older work and I aim to update it ASAP.

      It’s probably not write to re-use the 50K Gazetteer ontology. The administrative geography ontology is strictly speaking just for the administrative/local authority regions and the voting geography of GB. As you point out the parishes etc. have very precise meanings within the context of that geography.

      We are working on a new ‘gazetteer’ for settlements (currently still in research) and will have to define properties for ‘names’ etc. so feel free to email me about those. For the administrative geography linked data I stuck with skos:preLabel and skos:altLabel as this pretty much covered my needs.

      On ontology that might be useful for you is the spatial relations ontology. The current one at http://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/oswebsite/ontology/ is out of date, but feel free to reuse these properties:


      These define simple topological relationships (based on RCC 8 or 9-intersection properties) and I used these to related geographic regions in the admin. geo. linked data.

      So, e.g. a Hampshire contains Winchesters. I think this makes more sense than using mereological relations.

      Does this help? Happy to discuss!


    3. Andy Turner says:

      Sorry, not advice, just an interesting site. It seems to provide something similar…

    4. Hi Jo

      We will be including location info in our Locah Archives Hub data. It’s essentially info on where archive holdings are kept. We’re hoping this will help us with our visualisation prototype for starters, but of course it should be very useful generally. We’re using geonames and the Ordnance Survey data too, but I’m not sure we’ve identified anything else. Pete Johnston gives a bit more info on our blog http://blogs.ukoln.ac.uk/locah/2010/11/08/some-more-things-some-extensions-to-the-hub-model/.

      Cheers, Ade
      Locah Project Manager and JiscEXPO Synthesis Liaison

    5. Just to get two different Andy Turner’s responding to your post… 😉

      Also checkout http://linkedgeodata.org . They converted the OpenStreetMap database into RDF resulting in >2 billion linked triples. I think connecting through OpenStreetMap would be an amazing way to build a really open and long-term stable way to link global data for places.

      Other options will likely be limited in geographic scope, susceptible to disappearing after funding runs out, or not be sustainable from a community engagement and collaboration.