Infrastructure and city ontologies

Liz Varga*, Lauren McMillan, Stephen Hallett, Tom Russell, Luke Smith, Ian Truckell, Andrey Postnikov, Sunil Rodger, Noel Vizcaino, Bethan Perkins, Brian Matthews, Nik Lomax

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The creation and use of ontologies has become increasingly relevant for complex systems in recent years. This is because of the growing number of use of cases that rely on real-world integration of disparate systems, the need for semantic congruence across boundaries and the expectations of users for conceptual clarity within evolving domains or systems of interest. These needs are evident in most spheres of research involving complex systems, but they are particularly apparent in infrastructure and cities where traditionally siloed and sectoral approaches have dominated, undermining the potential for integration to solve societal challenges such as net zero, resilience to climate change, equity and affordability. This paper reports on findings of a literature review on infrastructure and city ontologies and puts forward some hypotheses inferred from the literature findings. The hypotheses are discussed with reference to the literature and provide avenues for further research on (a) belief systems that underpin non-top-level ontologies and the potential for interference from them, (b) the need for a small number of top-level ontologies and translation mechanisms between them and (c) clarity on the role of standards and information systems in the adaptability and quality of data sets using ontologies. A gap is also identified in the extent that ontologies can support more complex automated coupling and data transformation when dealing with different scales.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-52
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers - Smart Infrastructure and Construction
Issue number2
Early online date26 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2023
Externally publishedYes

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