NIST floats Industrial Ontologies Foundry

Multiple, overlapping domain ontologies would benefit from an upper level ‘foundry’ approach.

KC Morris and Serm Kulvatunyou (NIST) recently floated the idea of an Industrial ontologies foundry (IOF). The authors observe that the current interest in using ontologies in industry has led to multiple ‘overlapping and disjoint’ standards initiatives. The researchers observed that ‘nearly all projects in the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Factories of the Future program have adopted ontologies as have the NIST’s smart manufacturing and engineering projects. A NIST workshop late last year found a consensus that an IOF would be beneficial.

Current ontologies fall into two categories, either as a ‘formalization of reality,’ usually driven by ‘visionaries or academics.’ Elsewhere, ontologies are engineered to a particular need. While the latter are easier to deploy, they tend to result in a point solution that is not reusable. The workshop concluded that ontology development in industry would benefit from an IOF along the lines of the Open biomedical ontologies foundry or the construction industry’s Building information model. The work is to continue as a joint NIST/OAGi collaboration.

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