Frederico Fonseca

Frederico Fonseca The 2006 UCGIS Research Award has been given to Dr. Frederico Fonseca, Assistant Professor in the College of Information Sciences and Technology at The Pennsylvania State University, for his highly influential work on ontology-driven geographic information systems.

Dr. Fonseca is the lead author on a series of articles that introduced the role of ontologies in next-generation geographic information systems. At a time when the term ontology was terra incognita in geographic information science, Fred worked as a pioneer designing a novel way in which semantics can be addressed in geographic information systems. This was a fundamental departure from the traditional focus in GISs on geometric representations and paved the way for research in the geospatial semantic Web. Stephan Winter, chair of the 2000 EuroConference on Ontology and Epistemology for Spatial Data Standards and editor of the IJGIS Special Issue on Ontology in the Geographic Domain, has stated how important Fred’s early papers on ontology-based GIS were for him and that they had triggered his decision to organize that entire conference. The new challenges and opportunities brought by geo-ontologies were fundamental to the formulation of the UCGIS Emerging Research Theme on Ontological Foundations for Geographic Information Science and the UCGIS Research Priority on the Geospatial Semantic Web. Fred’s lead-authored article “Using Ontologies for Integrated Geographic Information Systems” [1], published in 2002 in Transactions in GIS, is explicit testimony of the impact of his work on ontology-based GISs. According to Google Scholar, this paper has collected 96 citations in four years (an impressive 24 citations per year), which puts it just a few hits shy of the most frequently cited Transactions in GIS paper (which has a much longer lead time and slower growth rate and, therefore, is likely to be surpassed by the ontology paper in the near future).

Similarly influential is his 1999 paper “Ontology-Driven Geographic Information Systems” [2], which he published as at the competitive ACM GIS. It presented the original concepts of a GIS architecture based on ontologies. According to Google Scholar this paper has 78 citations, which makes it the second most frequently cited paper of all ACM GIS papers published annually since its inception in 1993. In recent years Fred has further expanded on his earlier work with such journal articles as “Bridging Ontologies and Conceptual Schemas in Geographic Information Integration,” “Semantic Granularity in Ontology-Driven Geographic Information Systems,” “Space and Time in Eco-Ontologies,”
“Ontologies and Knowledge Sharing in Urban GIS,” and “Toward an Alternative Notion of Information Systems Ontologies: Information Engineering as a Hermeneutic Enterprise.”

The success of Dr. Fonseca’s key publications on ontology-driven GISs measures favorably with past UCGIS Research awardees and the consortium is very pleased to honor him as the recipient of the 2006 UCGIS Research Award.

[1] Fonseca, F.T., Egenhofer, M.J., Agouris, P., and Camara, G., 2002.
Using ontologies for integrated geographic information systems, Transactions in GIS, 6(3): 231-257. (link is external)

[2] Fonseca, F.T., and Egenhofer, M.J., 1999. Ontology-driven geographic information systems, in: C. Bauzer Medeiros (Ed.), 7th ACM Symposium on Advances in Geographic Information Systems, Kansas City, MO, pp. 14-19. (link is external)