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Standard Tables

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Introduction

In the SEMANCO project, the process to design the ontology – representing the knowledge that multiple experts have about an urban energy system – has involved the creation of: 

  1. an informal vocabulary of terms – defined in accordance with technical standards, facilitated by international official classifications and research projects – which are compiled in spreadsheets, and 
  2. a formal vocabulary, namely, the ontology, built from the terms defined in the spreadsheets. The ontology is coded in the DL-LiteA, a formalism of the Ontology Web Language (OWL) which outperforms most of the other description logic formalisms in the context of managing data distributed in heterogeneously structured sources.

The former element consists of the Standard Tables, in which the terminology, descriptions, units of measures and relationships between concepts are described. The Standard Tables act as a connection between the available information (e.g. in the form of permanently stored data) and the knowledge of experts as expressed in technical standards and use case specifications. Therefore, these tables stand for a conceptualisation of an interdisciplinary domain (i.e. an urban energy system) by providing the definition of the terms which experts consider to be relevant to the problem at stake as well as the relationships between concepts.
The process of relating existing data structures to a vocabulary is the collaborative work of ontology designers and domain experts. Ontology designers contribute with their knowledge about representation techniques, while domain experts bring their expertise in the practical application of the data and tools involved in the process.

Standard Tables features

The Standard Tables are created applying existing technical standards in order to guarantee that the ontological modelling is developed through an official and shared terminology. In fact, technical standards are typically the means by which experts agree on a common vocabulary in a particular domain.

In the Standard Tables, concepts are structured according to two components, objects and attributes. An object specifies what the concept “is”; an attribute is a property of the concept (i.e. what the concept “has”). According to these rules, which are the foundations of formal concept analysis, the Standard Tables are elaborated by including a concept (datum) in each row of a spreadsheet and by prepending the “is” (subsumption) or “has” (attribute) field to each datum name. Information is provided for each concept in different columns, as follows:

  • the datum name or the acronym, which can be made of different words separated by underscores;
  • the description of the concept, which is obtained from the official reference (technical standards, projects, classifications, etc.);
  • the reference that provides the description. An asterisk should be added near the reference to highlight that the description is adapted according to the scope;
  • the type of datum, whether descriptive (e.g. string, logic), or numeric (e.g. integer, real);
  • the unit, if applicable;
  • the name of other Standard Tables (sheets), in which that concept is further detailed (identification of relationships with other concepts).

 

Example of the Standard Table structuring the “building” concept (extract)

A total number of 25 Standard Tables have been created in the SEMANCO project, covering different domains (i.e. data categories) and encompassing about 1000 concepts.

Connections between the Standard Tables in the SEMANCO project 

 

 

References

Deliverable 3.1: Report on the Accessible Energy Data 2012 by Vincenzo Corrado, Ilaria Ballarini
The deliverable is aimed at: a) describing the methodology to present and classify the characteristics of data used for energy and environmental analyses at different scales, b) presenting the data fields necessary to describe data in a detailed and complete way, c) classifying the information to be provided on the data sources with reference to availability and technical accessibility.

Deliverable 3.2: Guidelines for Structuring Energy Data 2013 by Vincenzo Corrado, Ilaria Ballarini
The energy data classified in Del. 3.1 are modelled according to international standards, like ISO and CEN standards. Besides these standards, energy data models proposed by some European projects are analysed and considered in the modelling of non-structured energy datasets. The deliverable deals with the following issues: a) the identification of the categories of data to be semantically modelled according to a precise structure, b) the analysis of the main international standards for energy data modelling, c) the definition of the ontology structure and the creation of the Standard Tables, c) the elaboration of mapping tables to create correspondence between the ontology and input data deriving from the data sources or from the tools.

Deliverable 3.3: Guidelines for Structuring Contextual Data 2013 by Vincenzo Corrado, Ilaria Ballarini
In the deliverable the data not recognised in the energy standards (e.g. building categories, pollution levels, socio-economic data, transportation flows, geographic data) are modelled using currently available standards. Deliverable 3.3 deals with the following issues: a) the identification of the categories of data to be semantically modelled according to a precise structure and definition of the categories included in the contextual data group, b) the analysis of standards and references for energy-related data modelling, c) the creation of the Standard Tables for the contextual data, d) the interconnections between the Standard Tables on the energy data (Del. 3.2) and the Standard Tables on the contextual data, and the identification of the different territorial scales to which the Standard Tables are applied.

Data structuring for the ontological modelling of urban energy systems: the experience of the SEMANCO project. In Sustainable Cities and Society, 14, 2015 (http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scs.2014.09.006), by Vincenzo Corrado, Ilaria Ballarini, Leandro Madrazo, German Nemirovskij 
Semantic web technologies can help to integrate heterogeneous data sources, and to make them accessible to the stakeholders involved in the urban energy planning. In the SEMANCO project, semantic technologies have been used to create models of urban energy systems able to assess the energy performance of an urban area. A semantic energy information framework brings together the data sources at different scales and from different domains (e.g. urban planning, energy management), as well as some energy simulation and assessment tools that interact with the semantically modelled data. An ontology based on a vocabulary of concepts shared by experts has been created through the following process: capturing the experts knowledge about a specific problem regarding the energy efficiency of an urban area and the data needed to model it; creating an informal vocabulary through the terms referred to technical standards, and creating a formal vocabulary according to the Ontology Web Language specifications. This ontology has been applied to three case studies in the SEMANCO project. The ontology can be reused in other cases dealing with modelling of urban energy systems using semantic technologies and its underlying methodology – knowledge capturing, informal vocabulary creation, ontology building – could be replicated in other domains.

 

Copyright (C) 2014 

Politecnico di Torino - Italy
    Vincenzo Corrado (vincenzo.corrado@polito.it),
    Ilaria Ballarini (ilaria.ballarini@polito.it)