The EO4GEO BoK software platform: towards exploitation of the Body of Knowledge
To unlock the vast knowledge captured in the Body of Knowledge (BoK) in practical (software) applications, the EO4GEO project offers the BoK software platform. It serves as a universal access point for use of the Body of Knowledge and provides online availability of the BoK, a uniform way to refer to and retrieve concepts from the BoK, programmatic access and default BoK-related software components. In doing so, the platform enables a plethora of uses of the BoK, ranging from integration with other BoKs or linked data sources, annotating resources with the BoK, to full-fledged BoK-based software development and application integration.
Authors: Sven Casteleyn, Aida Monfort-Muriach, Claudia Pérez-Pérez, Estefanía Aguilar-Moreno and Águeda Gómez-Cambronero from Universitat Jaume I de Castelló, Castelló de la Plana, Spain
To help to bridge the gap between supply and demand of education and training in the EO/GI sector, in the EO4GEO project, experts and practitioners are creating the EO4GEO Body of Knowledge (BoK). The BoK forms a consolidated account of the earth observation and geographic information field, expressed in terms of concepts, relationships between them, and skills. To date, the official BoK version contains over 900 concepts, 1100 relationships and 1800 skills, which together structure and capture the essence of the EO/GI field. Know more about it in this article.
The BoK has great potential for organizations and companies active in the EO/GI field. As a well-founded, explicit vocabulary covering the domain, it offers a reference point for education and industry, allowing them to reflect on educational material, training offers and business processes, and streamline them in supporting software applications. As a common shared vocabulary, it enables the communication between and integration of applications, making them and their internal resources interoperable. However, to facilitate such use of the BoK, supporting software infrastructure is required that enables developers to tap into the knowledge contained in the BoK and unlock its value.
For this purpose, the EO4GEO BoK software platform was developed. It forms the bridge between the knowledge contained in the BoK on one hand, and software applications exploiting it on the other. In essence, the platform stores, serves and is the main entry point for the official release of the BoK. It provides a universal representation of BoK concepts and relations, programmatic access and a set of useful software components ready to be used in software applications based on the BoK.
Figure 1 schematically represents the EO4GEO BoK software platform. At the heart of the platform, the Body of Knowledge resides in an online cloud database. It stores the current (last) version of the BoK, along with all historical versions to ensure backwards compatibility. On top of the database, the domain mapping maps each BoK concept to a Universal Resource Identifier (URI). These URIs — we use permalinks — provide a universal and unique way to identify and refer to BoK concepts and a way to retrieve their description, relationships, skills and other attributes. Next, the Application Programming Interface (API) provides programmatic access to the concepts (and their URI), relationships and associated attributes. They allow applications to query the Body of Knowledge and exploit the knowledge contained in it. Finally, the platform offers default software components, ready to be used and integrated into new or existing Web-based applications, to provide common BoK functionalities. The platform currently offers a visualization, search and matching component.
The EO4GEO BoK software platform was built with compatibility and interoperability in mind. To achieve this, it is based on World Wide Web standards for seamless use and integration with a wide range of existing paradigms and software systems. In the spirit of Linked Data, (http) permalinks are used as URIs for concepts, guaranteeing unique concept identification (referenceability) and retrievability of their description (dereferenceability). Exploiting these permalinks, RDF and RDFa can be used to annotate resources (e.g., pdf files, HTML files) with BoK concepts. For programmatic access, the API is based on RESTful Web services, ensuring live access from virtually any software application. Finally, the BoK may serve as a common shared vocabulary to enable interaction between and integration of applications.
As mentioned, through the EO4GEO BoK software platform, various applications become possible, which we categorize in four areas. First, the platform provides online availability through a universal access point (http://bok.eo4geo.eu/). It serves as the official entry point for the EO4GEO BoK, provides permalinks, and allows users to visualize, navigate, browse and search the BoK, and explore how the BoK evolved over time through the versioning system. The Living Textbook, the BoK editing tool, also provides another way to search and explore the same BoK content (see this article). Secondly, through its open online availability and the deployed Web standards, the BoK software platform offers real-time connectivity for a variety of purposes. Through its permalinks, the BoK can be referred to and linked with other BoKs, used for annotating existing resources or connected to other datasets in the linked data spirit. Through its API, applications dispose of a live connection to the BoK, ensuring to always access and use the latest version of the BoK. Thirdly and fourthly, the API and the default software components allow application development on top of the BoK and integration of BoK-related functionality in existing applications. Within the EO4GEO project, a set of independent yet cooperating BoK tools were developed for end-users: the Curriculum Design Tool (CDT), the Occupational Profile Tool (OPT), the Job Offer Tool (JOT), the BoK Annotation Tool (BAT) and the BoK Matching Tool (BMT. More information on the tools in this previous article). All of them access the BoK through the API, and use it as a shared vocabulary to ensure interoperability and to produce mutually compatible resources. Furthermore, their development is eased by using the default open source software components offered by the EO4GEO BoK platform. The EO4GEO BoK platform is open for use by third-party developers, either to develop novel applications and tools based on the BoK or to integrate BoK functionality in their existing applications.