Open Knowledge Network for Spatial Decision Support

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A group of collaborators from the Spatial Decision Support Consortium (SDSC) received a $1 million grant in September 2019 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to explore building an "Open Knowledge Network for Spatial Decision Support." The inspiration for this type of network comes from Tim Berners-Lee's (best known founder of the World-wide Web) vision for the "semantic web," which applies tags with relationships to information on the Internet, allowing computers to do basic reasoning for improving search results and answering questions.

Dr. Sean Gordon (SDSC vice-president) is leading a team of 13 researchers and practitioners from 10 different institutions, who are focused on improving access to tools for analyzing geographic data called spatial decision support systems. "The proliferation of online mapping technologies has greatly increased access to and utility of these kinds of tools, and a logical next step is increasing our ability to find the appropriate data and tools for your problem and link these together for more complex analyses," says Gordon. Through engaging stakeholders in three applied case studies (the management of wildland fire, water quality, and biodiversity conservation), the interdisciplinary project team is developing and testing participatory and automated methods for finding and sharing decision-relevant information using semantic web technologies.

The new NSF Convergence Accelerator program is named for its focus on bringing together interdisciplinary teams to address one of NSF's 10 big ideas, in this case "Harnessing the Data Revolution." Twenty other phase 1 grants were made, covering areas from molecular manufacturing to tracking potentially disruptive solar phenomena.

The "accelerator" part comes from the short time frame. "The application required a 3-week turn around, which is very quick for a NSF grant," Gordon said. "Our success was largely due to having started work in this area over 10 years ago (our SDS Knowledge Portal) and having formed the Spatial Decision Support Consortium, a professional networking group, four years ago, so we had ideas and people ready to go." These phase 1 grants are focused on concept development, team-building, and prototyping over a 9-month period, then each phase 1 project is eligible to submit a phase 2 proposal in April 2020 for up to $5 million for concept implementation.

Phase 1 Project Team

Take a look at our explainer video:

The project is building on our SDS Knowledge Portal:

Image of SDS Knowledge Portal

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Phase 1 Virtual Workshop Proceedings 4-March-2020 are here

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation Convergence Accelerator under Award No. 1937908