railML Ontology Subgroup begins its work
by Joyce Dillon (railML.org) (comments: 0)
A new subgroup was initiated on December 9th, 2022 under the direction of Laryisa Zhuchiyi aiming at the implementation of ontologies within the railML community and beyond. In this article we’ll take a short look at the topic the group is involved with.
What is an ontology?
That depends on which science one refers to, but from an infrastructure manager’s point of view, the need for ontologies is mainly connected to the dissemination of data to different kind of users. This also works the other way around, e.g., the use of the same “digital language” when data from a project that, for instance, has built a new railway section should be received and verified.
In short: ontologies enable the un-ambiguous sharing of information between humans and IT systems within a domain where different users may have different needs and different requirements. A further example is the case of a signal. Someone might want to know where the signal is located on the track for a maintenance job while someone else needs to know what the same signal is telling a train driver when passing the signal in one direction. Ontologies are therefore also a way of standardizing the vocabulary or link different vocabularies and data across a domain for IT applications and people to be able to communicate.
What will the result be?
From an infrastructure manager’s point of view, the most interesting part in the near future will be the possibility to harmonize which data is intended for different standards such as IFC, EULynx, railML, RailTopoModel and how these standards can be used and interlinked in the various processes that exist for new construction, signal planning, train management, etc.
Depending on the definition of an ontology there will be different opinions but there are some good examples that can provide guidance on how ontologies can be used to create an understanding of information and/or data for both man and/or machine. For this reason, railML will cooperate with these parties to bring them together. Below we’ve listed some examples of ontologies.