Geospatial Ontologies: Place

Place is a basic notion in everyday communication. It is a fundamental concept in geography and plays a key role in almost every field of human enquiry. Places are the conceptual entities that enable cognitive structuring of the spatial aspects of reality, and are used as the basis for human behaviour in the real world. Despite this ubiquity and importance, the semantics of place as a general conceptual category is poorly understood and controversial. The ambiguity in meanings of geographic concepts causes problems in geographic analysis and interpretation. With an increasing number of models and query systems that rely on place as the representation of the human conceptualisation of the real world, it is becoming critical that a unified ontological theory for place is defined. A clear semantic model of its basic concepts is a critical condition for establishing an adequate ontology for a domain. It is clear from an analysis of existing geographic discourse that meaning of place varies across different viewpoints and lacks clear definition.  This research examines meanings of place and aims at defining a framework in which the semantics of places is made explicit. This will enable design of information systems better equipped to deal with place.