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Summary Report from SWARA Survey of Biodiversity/Wildlife Information in the UK
Keyword(s): semantic web; wildlife; biodiversity; information sharing; interoperation; information ecology
Abstract: The SWARA (Semantic Web And Repurposing Applications) Project is focused on investigating how to support and enhance access to Web-based information sources and 'services', for members of specific communities of interest. The project is based at the Institute for Learning and Research Technology (ILRT), University of Bristol, and is funded by Hewlett Packard (HP) Labs and is being conducted in order to support a European Union funded research project, called SWAD-Europe (Semantic Web Advanced Development). The context of this activity is the planning for the Semantic Community Portal Demonstrator work package of the SWAD-E project. This piece of work aims to develop a demonstrator to explore how Semantic Web (Section 12 below) approaches and technologies can help make the access Web-based data more accessible, to communities of interest via the use of Community Portals - i.e. Web-portals that provide customised 'views' of information. This information may be a single source or from multiple sources across many Web-based databases. In order to understand how community portals might support communities of interest, it was decided to conduct a background survey and so characterise a particular subject domain, including kinds of information, organisations involved in its creation and use and how and why the information is used. The particular subject domain, chosen was biodiversity/wildlife information in the UK. It was decided to use a two pronged approach to the survey using interviews (with individuals involved in key organisations and projects) and a parallel background literature review. This report summarises the findings of that survey activity conducted between March and June 2003. This report provides a basic introduction by characterising biodiversity, wildlife and more broadly environmental information in the UK - a much richer and more diverse research area than was originally imagined. A number of key organisations, projects and initiatives are reviewed to provide deeper background and context. This is followed by a review of some of the technical standards identified as part of the research. The final sections pull the findings together to discuss a number of common issues and problems in the collection, collation and sharing of biodiversity/wildlife information and related these to possible application areas and projects for the SWAD-E semantic community portal demonstrator.
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