, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 217–237 | Cite as

Contextualization of Geospatial Database Semantics for Human–GIS Interaction

  • Guoray CaiEmail author


Human interactions with geographical information are contextualized by problem-solving activities which endow meaning to geospatial data and processing. However, existing spatial data models have not taken this aspect of semantics into account. This paper extends spatial data semantics to include not only the contents and schemas, but also the contexts of their use. We specify such a semantic model in terms of three related components: activity-centric context representation, contextualized ontology space, and context mediated semantic exchange. Contextualization of spatial data semantics allows the same underlying data to take multiple semantic forms, and disambiguate spatial concepts based on localized contexts. We demonstrate how such a semantic model supports contextualized interpretation of vague spatial concepts during human–GIS interactions. We employ conversational dialogue as the mechanism to perform collaborative diagnosis of context and to coordinate sharing of meaning across agents and data sources.


GIS context semantics ontology human–computer interaction 



This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grants no. EIA-0306845 and BCS-0113030. The author thanks two anonymous reviewers for their insightful suggestions. Final version of this paper benefited from a read by David J. Saab who helped improve the quality of the language.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Information Sciences and TechnologyPennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

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