Ontolog Forum

OntologySummit2015 session-06: Synthesis-I & Communique Discussion-I - Thu 2015-02-19

  • Summit Theme: OntologySummit2015: Internet of Things: Toward Smart Networked Systems and Societies



The Ontology Summit is an annual series of events (first started by Ontolog and NIST in 2006) that involves the ontology community and communities related to each year's theme chosen for the summit. The Ontology Summit program is now co-organized by Ontolog, NIST, NCOR, NCBO, IAOA, NCO_NITRD along with the co-sponsorship of other organizations that are supportive of the Summit goals and objectives.

We are witnessing a new revolution in computing and communication. The Internet, which has spanned several networks in a wide variety of domains, is having a significant impact on every aspect of our lives. The next generation of networks will utilize a wide variety of resources with significant sensing capabilities. Such networks will extend beyond physically linked computers to include multimodal information from biological, cognitive, semantic, and social networks. This paradigm shift will involve symbiotic networks of people, intelligent devices, and mobile personal computing and communication devices (mPCDs), which will form net-centric societies or smart networked systems and societies (SNSS). mPCDs are already equipped with a myriad of sensors, with regular updates of additional sensing capabilities. Additionally, we are witnessing the emergence of "intelligent devices," such as smart meters, smart cars, etc., with considerable sensing and networking capabilities. Hence, these devices -- and the network -- will be constantly sensing, monitoring, and interpreting the environment -- this is sometimes referred to as the Internet of Things. And as local and wide area networks became almost secondary to the WWW (World-Wide Web), users and their usage patterns will become increasingly visible. This will have significant implications for both the market for advanced computing and communication infrastructure and the future markets for nearly 4.5 billion people -- that net-centric societies will create.

Well-designed and constructed net-centric societies will result in better quality of life, reduced threat from external sources, and improved commerce. For example, assume a scenario where people at various locations suffer from flu-like symptoms. In a net-centric society, mPCDs will send vital signs and other associated information to appropriate laboratories and medical centers. These centers will analyze the information, including searching the Internet for potential solutions, and will aid in determining possible causes for this phenomenon. Based on the diagnosis, people will be directed to the nearest clinic for treatment. Here we have several types of information flowing through the net: data from mPCDs; location information; images; video; audio; etc.

Ontologies will play a significant role in the realization of SNSS. For example, a considerable amount of data passes through the network and should be converted into higher abstractions that can be used in appropriate reasoning. This requires the development of standard terminologies which capture objects and events. Creating and testing such terminologies will aid in effective recognition and reaction in a network-centric situation awareness environment. This would involve identifying a methodology for development of terminologies for multimodal data (or ontologies), developing appropriate ontologies, developing testing methods for these ontologies, demonstrating interoperability for selected domains (e.g., healthcare, situational awareness), and using these ontologies in decision making.

In today's session, we will take inventory of the what has transpired in the OntologySummit2015 proceedings so far, and present the syntheses of the discourse of each of the four content tracks. The co-lead Editors will be presenting a first draft of the Communique Outline. An open discussion among the editors, the track co-champions and all the participants will ensue, with an aim towards arriving at a near-final OntologySummit2015 Communique Outline, which will frame how this year's Communique will get developed by all parties concerned.

More details about this OntologySummit is available at: OntologySummit2015 (homepage for this summit)


  • 1. Opening and General assessment on how things are developing and fine tuning of direction/approach
  • 2. Track Synthesis I (presentation of the interim deliverables by one of the co-champions of each track) [7~8 min/track]
    • 2.1 Track A: Ontology Integration in IoT (co-champions: RamSriram, LeoObrst)
    • 2.2 Track B: Beyond Semantic Sensor Network Ontologies (co-champions: TorstenHahmann, Gary Berg-Cross)
    • 2.3 Track C: Decision Making in Different Domains (co-champions: MikeBennett, MichaelGruninger)
    • 2.4 Track D: Related Standards and Synergies for Emerging IoT Ontologies (co-champions: MarkUnderwood)
  • 3. Q&A and Open Discussion-I: what are the key take home messages, and positions we want to assume, as a Summit community [30 min.] ... please refer to process above
  • 4. Approach to the Communique and a proposed Communique Outline
  • 5. Q&A and Open Discussion-II: developing and building consensus on our Communique Outline
  • 6. Summary/wrap-up/announcements [5 min.]

Conference Call Details

  • Date: Thursday, 19-Feb-2015
  • Start Time: 9:30am PST / 12:30pm EST / 6:30pm CEST / 5:30pm BST / 1730 UTC
  • Expected Call Duration: ~1.5 hours
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Resource Pages


[09:13] Mark Underwood: Slide decks for today's session at

[09:41] Mike Bennett: Summit face to face symposium will be April 13 - 14 at Ballston, VA, same venue as last time.

[09:52] Steve Ray: Mappings aren't necessarily explicit through relations (like equivalence, SKOS, etc.). In my case the mappings are captured in the form of rules (CONSTRUCT statements in SPARQL).

[10:09] Leo Obrst: @Gary: those are important points and issues. If you could capture those in the chat, that would be good.

[10:11] Mark Underwood: Add'l communique fodder: Berg-Cross emphasizes overlap, synergy with Big Data issues/approaches; how to do bridge ontologies; do lightweight ontologies scale? how to implement annotation? interop issues that particular to IoT, especially dynamic aspects; different approaches (central / vs. local). A common topic may be tooling to support these

[10:13] Gary Berg-Cross: On the 2 fundamentally different approaches: Centralized processing of spatially distributed and heterogeneous sensor data (Henson called it Semantics in the Cloud Send all sensor observations to the cloud for semantic annotation and processing Data collected in different settings by various kinds of sensors/things/persons Processed in an offline or semi-offline fashion Issues: describing the various sources correctly to allow semantic integration

[10:14] Joe Kopena: @Mark Underwood: What do you mean by "scale" in that?

[10:15] Gary Berg-Cross: cory called Approach 2: Semantics at the Edge Torsten called it Local Intelligent (geo-)sensor networks Distributed processing: In-place computing Issues: use ontologies to smartly aggregate, filter, process, access, and respond to sensor data Downscale semantic representation and reasoning for local processing.

[10:18] Gary Berg-Cross: Some key issues from Beyond SSNO - Similarity to Big Data issues such as explosion of standards & reliance on metadata vocabularies such as resources Reuse of thing like SSNO and Prov-O Reuse issues not unique to IoT Possible value of and need for modular approach Practicality of Bridge ontologies

[10:21] Gary Berg-Cross: The need to formalize Situation has obvious overlap with extending SSN to more adequately modeling sensing and observation situations

[10:25] Gary Berg-Cross: Each year when I hear about some of the Observations and Insights it reminds me that a survey of some of these topics, such as what reasoning is being used in IoT would be a real contribution to the field.

[10:26] Tara Athan: There is breathing and keyboard pounding in the audio

[10:32] Gary Berg-Cross: The IoT agent work mentioned by Mark includes the somewhat old wine in a new bottle name of "smart objects."

[10:40] Gary Berg-Cross: The knowledge modeling language adapted for IoT scenarios mentioned by Mark comes from the suggestion at last year's Big Data Summit from Werner Kuhn (University of California, Santa Barbara) "Abstracting behavior in ontology engineering"

[10:41] Liana Kiff: I would add IFC (Building Information Models) to the list of standards, as well as ISO 19526 for Industrial, which is represented by POSCaesar as an ontology.

[10:42] Mark Underwood: Should the communique address a broader software engr community or be more inward looking for consumption by ontologists

[10:43] Mark Underwood: @Liana - will add

[10:45] Mark Underwood: Leo (my paraphrase) Level of granularity on the internet is more rich now due to #IoT, while other apps, e.g, military / science did embrace these

[10:45] Steve Ray: @MarkUnderwood: I would argue for a broader audience. That has typically been our target in the past.

[10:46] Terry Longstreth: I think there's a dichotomy that's not been explored in Internet of things, that is, the distinction between things that have electronic connections or 'labels' versus the larger realm of physical, tangible objects that haven't been marked or labeled. Examples of the latter are found on/in battlefields, battlespaces, or civil traffic and crowd management.

[10:47] Leo Obrst: My comment was about the level of granularity and ontology issues involved in the IoT, which I don't think we've yet addressed in any detail.

[10:47] Ram D. Sriram: @Terry: Also note that we are talking about people or social objects

[10:48] Ram D. Sriram: @Terry:.. this is in addition to physical sensors

[10:49] Bobbin Teegarden: @Leo: yes, level of granularity hasn't been adequately addressed, nor has the massive parallelism of activity, with interdependencies and unexpected consequences

[10:51] Mark Underwood: @Leo, we assume you mean a different, hairier version of granularity than implemented by "concentrators"

[10:54] Gary Berg-Cross: Terry's question shows a limitation on the SSN ontology. A sensor senses something about a feature of interest, which may be a person with a smart phone each of which can provide other observations. This requires an extension to the nature (attributes) of the feature as a more organized thing.

[10:55] Mike Bennett: @Gary a further wrinkle to that scenario would be the distinction between the meaning of an observation and its truth.

[10:58] Mark Underwood: Gary - "The semantics of services"

[11:01] Mike Bennett: @Steve good answer re warmed over instrumentation - could that be a key thing to include in the resume? Semantics as the key to context.

[11:01] Steve Ray: Agreed. I suppose I should write something in the chat...

[11:02] John Morris: Here's a nice business case, with which I'm familiar. Imagine looking to win a contract for field service on 1,000's of buildings -- and specifically you want to have remote sensing on the boilers. But the boilers have dozens of different models. On-boarding the boilers for sensing is very expensive. Ontology provides an opportunity for an abstraction layer which can make on-boarding new boilers economic. There is some work on ontologies for field service already under way, which people might be familiar with.

[11:03] Mark Underwood: @Leo "proxy things" may have value

[11:03] Mark Underwood: @John Morris - Nice use case - especially with the new proposed "drone" rules

[11:03] Mike Bennett: Semiotics: IoT ontologies would in some cases make reference to sensors, but in other cases we would use ontologies of the subject matter which those sensors describe. In particular, the situation work seen in these slides. Need to distinguish the "topic" hierarchy of observations, from the type hierarchy of things in the world. There will be ontologies referring to both.

[11:04] Steve Ray: A couple of key attributes about IoT: 1. IoT broadens the context of how sensors or instrumentation play in the world. Ontology will offer a way to specify previously assumed context of data like sensor readins. 2. IoT sits at the intersection of the physical and the computational world, with sensors and actuators acting as gateways between them.

[11:06] Bobbin Teegarden: @Mike So an ontology is (just another) thing in the IoT... like an inert software agent?

[11:06] John Morris: FYI, I will be speaking at Interop in April in Las Vegas, on the Internet of Things Summit panel (headed by Chris Taylor, of Tibco). One topic that has been of interest is the danger of defining the IoT as just "end points" -- which is being discussed here I think in terms of agents, and whether there's more to IoT-meets-Ontology than just end points. This is an extremely important issue, because a lot of business value of an IoT program comes "after" the end point, in the business semantics between edge and management control. If there is nothing in between edge and humans, then you've just build a "fancy telephone switch". And there isn't much margin in communications. Ontology has a lot to offer "in between" edge and management.

[11:06] Terry Longstreth: @MikeBennett - lightweight is too ambiguous a term.

[11:06] Steve Ray: Have to run. Interesting discussion! Thanks.

[11:07] Leo Obrst: @All: are there common questions across tracks that we should be asking? Are there cross-cutting issues? Are there gaps in what has been presented that we need to still address?

[11:08] Terry Longstreth: It sounds like you need ontologies that help you differentiate among the ontologies to be applied to a specific situation.

[11:09] Gary Berg-Cross: @Terry Lightweight ontologies sometimes means without many axioms

[11:09] Mike Bennett: Light weight ontologies versus decision making and reasoning - is there a balance needed between the "little semantics goes a long way" that may be needed to integrate across a very broad range of concepts, versus what's needed for detailed reasoning and decision making at the application level. Are these two things? Is a more complex architecture needed to integrate these uses of ontologies?

[11:09] Mike Bennett: Meta-ontology to describe when to use what kind of ontology??

[11:10] Gary Berg-Cross: Have to leave, thanks all.

[11:11] Leo Obrst: Folks, I have to leave. Good session. Next step will be to consolidate our discussion, seek common threads. Thanks!

[11:12] Joe Kopena: What is "modest"?

[11:12] Mark Underwood: < 500 rules / classes

[11:14] Mark Underwood: Ram reminds us that people can be "sensors" / intelligent agents for IoT

[11:15] Mike Bennett: Thanks - great meeting!

[11:15] Mark Underwood: Thanks, everyone

[11:15] RalphSchaefermeier: Thanks a lot