Geographic Information Systems Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for cartographers, geographers and GIS professionals. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

A few years ago there was a lot of discussion about the Semantic Web. Are any of the concepts underlying the Semantic Web coming into fruition with respect to GIS? Or is it just another hippie dream?

I have a dream for the Web [in which computers] become capable of analyzing all the data on the Web – the content, links, and transactions between people and computers. A ‘Semantic Web’, which should make this possible, has yet to emerge, but when it does, the day-to-day mechanisms of trade, bureaucracy and our daily lives will be handled by machines talking to machines. The ‘intelligent agents’ people have touted for ages will finally materialize. - Tim Berners-Lee

Sounds like Tim may have been fishing the same streams as Richard Brautigan, whose poem published in 1963, All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace has everything but the cloud:

I'd like to think (and
the soner the better!)
of a cybernetic meadow
where mammals and computers
live together in mutually
programming harmony
like pure water
touching clear sky.
share|improve this question
+1 for Richard Brautigan reference. – valveLondon Feb 27 '12 at 18:05
You may not have been exposed to the recent documentary using the Brautigan poem as title: the first episode is here, not for long I suppose: – Vladtn Feb 28 '12 at 10:15
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Ordnance Survey (Great Britain Mapping Agency) have a dedicated case study on and have embraced the Semantic Web and use it to distribute linked metadata between systems.

Ordnance Survey is Great Britain’s national mapping agency. We create and update the definitive mapping data of England, Scotland and Wales. From this we produce and market a wide range of digital information and paper maps for business, leisure, educational and administrative use. Every day, we make more than 5,000 updates to our central database: the largest vector geospatial database in the world. These revisions reflect house extensions, major new buildings and other natural and man-made changes.

"We are publishing an Administrative Geography for Great Britain in RDF"

Ordnancy Survey linked data

The data for this description was obtained from the SPARQL service at This data is also available as: RDF/XML, Turtle and JSON. A free text search service is available at

A basic example is:

Postcode unit example

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.