Geospatial Ontologies: Place

Addressing ambiguity in geospatial concepts such as '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.

Project Team

AgarwalAgarwal Pragya Agarwal Place and Sense of Place, Spatial Cognition, Navigational Technologies, Mobility, Information Visualisation, Semantics and Spatial Ontologies


Journal paper has 175 citations: One of 35 most cited papers in GIScience

Agarwal, P. (2005). Ontological considerations in GIScience. International Journal of Geographical Information Science, Vol. 19 (5): pp 501-536

This paper published in 2005 has been one of the most well-cited papers in IJGIS in recent years. It now has more than 170 citations and was...Read full update