Jennifer Zaino Contributor

The US Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Charleston is
leading an effort called aXiom, which it expects will advance the promise of
service oriented architectures, thanks to the use of semantic web
technologies for information accessibility and application integration.

ultimate goal: applying semantic technologies for data management, as well
as providing end users the ability to create their own knowledge models, in
order to improve situational awareness.

Technology solutions provider CommIT Enterprises Inc. is supporting the effort, which will include a set of open source and commercial tools to build a reusable architecture that can be leveraged across different projects within aXiom’s scope. Today, Thetus Corp. announced that CommIT is using the Thetus Publisher knowledge-modeling tool to apply context to data.

The context-based nature of the framework — in which ontologies, inference engines, and rules engines allow mapping between concepts and data elements to support the discovery and analysis of new information and non-obvious relationships — ensures that the correct data is presented to the appropriate user at the right time, according to Thetus. That is critical for having the flexibility to respond to changing environments, both in terms of mission types and new quantities of information inside and outside the DoD.

“Because we support agencies doing analysis of real-world events and missions, the sources of information they have to consume are changing all the time,” says Cameron Hunt, CommIT context architect.

Take, for example, evaluating sources of information on commercial shipping, and trying to evaluate the threat that ships coming into ports may pose. Various data sources might only provide information of the vessel name, the last ports it was in, the country where it originates, and the companies affiliated with it.

“But in my knowledge model I can categorize the ships based on well-known risk rules,” Hunt says. “The end user wants to see low, medium, or high-risk ships. And be able to see them in real-time overlaid with the assessment. Our system lets users define concepts and rules by which source data gets merged into a higher-level model of how they want to see the information.”

End users don’t have six months to a year to decide in advance what properties, fields, or data elements they will need for various situational awareness scenarios, so CommIT tries to give them as much structured information as possible, creating a meaning model of all the data sources and layering on top of that an organizational meaning model, and then letting the users evolve the rules.

Thetus Publisher, according to Hunt, provides the ability to manage layers of information in a format that is both an ontological standard and lets users easily interconnect and inter-relate those layers of information.

“We do a tiered modeling approach. We model each data source and its ontology. Then we create a unified model and say, how in your business process and individual roles do you need to see this information? What additional layers of integration do you want to look at?” says Hunt.

Technical users are impressed with how quickly they can grab data sources and map them into something useful, Hunt says, while at the non-technical level end users are excited by the fact that they can both create new concepts and assign rules to those new concepts.

“In the past, semantic technologies have been all about the high priest of logic working on the altar and coming down from the mountain with an ontology to use. We say no, ontologies are for the rest of us. My clients intuitively understand the fact that, by being able to have the individual power to create a model and rules about information they are given, and share that with others and take advantage of others’ work, you get a synergistic system in terms of meaning and function,” says Hunt.