IBM ontology for all

IBM leverages open source ontologies in enterprise semantic offering. Poster child for the approach, that embeds NASA’s ‘QUDT' units of measure ontology, is offshore oil and gas.

A Redpaper authored by IBM’s Akram Bou-Ghannam, ‘Foundational ontologies for smarter industries’ (Fosi) shows how semantic-web based technology developed for oil and gas could help other verticals optimize their business. A companion volume ‘Smarter environmental analytics’ provides examples of the technology deployed at offshore oil and gas facilites. Fosi posits that semantic technology provides a ‘flexible integration approach that can accommodate change,’ one that promises ‘better interoperability of diverse information assets than traditional IT systems’ which are ‘inflexible and fragile’ when new information comes in.

IBM’s ontology is built from public-domain components including the W3C’s Semantic sensor network (SSN), NASA’s quantity-unit-dimension-type (Qudt), GeoSparql and BasicGeo. The technology that binds all of the above together is the W3C’s resource description framework (RDF) which should be familiar to Oil IT Journal readers. Bou-Ghannam repeats the usual, unproven assertion that RDF’s graph data model enables ‘artificial intelligence, machine learning and inference.’ IBM’s own contribution is the DB2 database which accommodates RDF. Semantic technology is also supported in IBM’s Rational data modeler and will be in ‘future versions’ of Watson.

Some will recognize the initiating projects as belonging to Norway’s Integrated operations in the high north’ and Statoil’s environmental emissions monitoring program. But the IBM Redpaper takes a new tack. There is no reference to the PCA ISO 15926 standard and its Fiatech derivatives. Fosi is also a departure from an earlier IBM Redbook on IBM’s chemicals and petroleum industry solution (2009/07/17). Leveraging third party ontologies is a great concept, but do they themselves have legs? Regarding the Qudt units of measure standard, NASA’s Paul Keller told us, ‘The Qudt handbook will be published this year as both a traditional document and as a web-based model. The latter refers to both a RDF/OWL/Sparql endpoint for semantic web usage along with web-resolvable identifiers to provide consistent access to information assets, semantic or otherwise..’

As to the SSN, the W3C’s final report, published in 2011, opened the door to deployment in contexts like the internet of things. GeoSparql too has some enthusiastic backers but take-up is likely under the radar of most upstream IT. This new effort to bring the semantic web to life suffers from the over-promising of ‘AI and inference’ and has a distinctive skunk works perfume. But using third party ontologies is smarter than rolling your own and Fosi should be worth a try, if you have access to DB2!

Click here to comment on this article

Click here to view this article in context on a desktop

© Oil IT Journal - all rights reserved.