Missouri Botanical Garden Open Conference Systems, TDWG 2016 ANNUAL CONFERENCE

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Towards the next-generation ABCD
Anton Güntsch, David Fichtmüller, Mareike Petersen, Jana Hoffmann, Jörg Holetschek, Gabi Droege

Building: CTEC
Room: Auditorium
Date: 2016-12-05 02:15 PM – 02:30 PM
Last modified: 2016-10-15


The TDWG standard ABCD (Access to Biological Collection Data) has been developed between 2001 and 2006. It was aimed at harmonising terminologies used for modelling biological collection information. Furthermore, it is used as a comprehensive data format for transferring collection and observational data between software components facilitating searches across a large number of distributed and heterogeneous data providers.

From the beginning, ABCD used "XML Schema" as a mechanism for structuring data elements and their repeatability, for setting data types, and for capturing the specification of concepts in the form of semi-structured XML-annotations. ABCD elements are referenced by their xpath from the root node. This approach proved effective for integrating and harmonising different collection data models used in the collection community. However, it lacks the technical prerequisites for machine-readable semantics of ABCD-elements and their integration into the growing number of semantics-aware biodiversity informatics applications.

The DFG-funded project ABCD 3.0 (A community platform for the development and documentation of the ABCD standard for natural history collections) addresses the transformation of ABCD into a semantic-web compliant ontology by deconstructing the XML-schema into individually addressable RDF-resources published via the TDWG Terms Wiki. In a second step, informal properties and concept-relations described by the original ABCD-schema will be transformed into a machine-readable ontology and revised. An important aspect will be the deployment of a Semantic MediaWiki based platform for future editorial processes. This platform aims at facilitating the annotation process of elements by domain-experts by presenting only required semantic features in a user-friendly way. Apart from the new possibility to integrate ABCD 3.0 concepts into semantic applications and inference processes, we will derive tailored (XML-) application profiles serving data exchange requirements of specific biological communities.

The described approach shall spark a broader discussion on how to proceed with the transformation process of XML-based TDWG standards towards the Semantic Web. In their new form, these standards will need to meet the requirements of the emerging Semantic Web, while preserving the existing treasure of domain knowledge and fostering the continuous engagement of domain experts at the same time.