Semantic description of risk assessment using an OWL ontology

The proposed ontology (full version) semantically describes concepts and entities relevant to risk assessment, using flooding as case. This includes the semantic definition of the natural hazard itself, i.e., flooding, as well as entities to describe the process of flooding and its intensity, respectively, using e.g. inundation depth, flow velocity etc. Furthermore, the ontology defines various intermediate assessment products and assessment results such as degree of damage, absolute damage, or annual average damage. In doing so, the ontology paves the way for implementing user assistance in risk assessment software tools, auto-generation of metadata, and linking data within the risk assessment domain. More information can be found in Scheuer et al., 2013.

What's it good for?

Ontologies, here in particular those implemented using the Web Ontology Language (OWL), are machine-interpretable, formal knowledge descriptions that structure and describe relevant terms within a (typically rather specific) topic, i.e., knowledge domain. To do so, ontologies capture these relevant terms and describe their (also taxonomixc) relationships. In so doing, ontologies represent suitable buildings blocks for the implementation of knowledge-based applications and systems. The ontology introduced here is such a building block for developing knowledge-based flood risk assessment tools, e.g., by describing various elements at risk that are threatened by floods.

The greater context?

The floods directive requires flood risk assessment to be conducted by the EU member states for many different streams and rivers.