Geography and Spatial Information

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Deliverables: Standard Vocabularies 2.3.5 of the GLD WG Charter addresses the use of standard vocabularies for handling geographic concepts and geospatial data.

Geographic terminologies

These describe types of features, e.g. named topographic/planimetric features and points of interest.

Additional considerations include vocabularies for describing coordinate systems, datums, projections and other components of spatial reference systems. Here, efforts such as those by the EPSG can be leveraged and reused, along with standard approaches such as Well Known Text (WKT).


  • David G. Smith, US EPA and John Goodwin, UK Ordnance Survey originally contributed to this wiki page.

Types of features:

  • Political and Administrative Boundaries
  • Hydrography
  • Transportation
  • and other terminologies, e.g. along lines of efforts by UK Ordnance Survey and US FGDC A-16 Framework Data Themes

Various boundaries types are reflected in the Cadastre and Land Administration Thesaurus CaLAThe. The first version (Sept. 2011) was comprising of about 110 English terms addressing static aspect of the domain, including mappings to the GEMET thesaurus, the AGROVOC thesaurus, and the STW Thesaurus for Economics. The second version of CaLAThe (Oct. 2012) was supplemented with 35 terms addressing the dynamic or process aspect of the domain. The CaLAThe is available from, which besides term search allows for alphabetical listing, graphical overview (in terms of .svg-files), and tabular overview.

Ongoing Linked Data Efforts in Geographic Terminology

Notable efforts in government to develop ontologies for geographic features include:

Geospatial Features

These describe feature geometry, e.g. point/line/polygon/topology/surface and other types of entities that would typically be represented via GIS or remote sensing data structures.

  • Simple Features, e.g. WGS84 lat/long
  • Complex Geodata, e.g. polygonal data
  • Spatial reference systems, e.g. EPSG and other designators for spatial reference systems

Tools and efforts

  • GeoVocab [1]
  • GeoSPARQL [2]
  • Ordnance Survey Spatial Relations ontology [3]
  • Ordnance Survey Geometry ontology [4]
  • NeoGeo Vocab [5]
  • Geometry NeoGeo [6]
  • Spatial NeoGeo [7]
  • GADM project [8]

Action Item: support 2.3.5 - Standard Vocabularies - (optional) Geography, Spatial Information - Chris Musialek (GSA), Dave G. Smith (EPA), Todd Pehle (Orbis). Retrieved from ""