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Earthster Core Ontology A core domain ontology for Life Cycle Assessment
Introductions Earthster is a project, led by Greg Norris, to provide free open source solutions supporting Life Cycle Analysis – that is evaluating the environmental and social impacts of products. Brian McBride is a consultant, ontologist, developer and general dogsbody who has worked on semantic web technologies since 2000. He was co-chair of the RDFCore WG in W3C and the initiating developer of the Jena Java library. Epimorphics is a Semantic Web startup based in the UK specialising in Linked Open Data. http://www.earthster.org/ http://www.epimorphics.com/
Menu A little bit about LCA Why semantic web? A fragment of ECO A sense of the rest The ECO-system A little bit on method ERF – an application Wrapup Season to taste with questions and discussion anytime
Life Cycle Assessment What is a product’s impact on the environment and society? In production aka cradle to gate? In use – total lifecyle?
Create an inventory of emissions and aggregated along the supply chain
Assess the impact of those effects on issues of interest e.g. global warming, human health, ...
There are impact assessment methods that define weighted contributions and give a score e.g. Emissions of CO2equivalent for GHG or DALYs for human health.
Earthster Aim:Publish LCA Data on the Web To inform folks about the sustainability implications of the decisions we make At all points in the supply chain: Simple measures for the consumer Decision support for the industrial buyer Detailed information for the product/process designer Enable consumer pressure to flow back down the supply chain to improve the sustainability characteristics of products
Why Semantic Web? Effects Publish the data on the web makes it most freely available – and that is what the semantic web is for Linking to other data sources – that is what Linked Open Data is for Find an alternative pesticide that targets the same class of organism Link to Good Relations data Operations Interoperability Harmonize competing systems by defining a common conceptual model Harmonize competing vocabularies by defining common reference data LCA research is ongoing – the data required is changing over time Finding the best available data
ECO: A Core Domain Ontology Aim is to offer a vocabulary for core concepts in LCA Not lists of instances Instances are present if they are a logical necessity of the concept Core ontology changes when core concepts change not when a new instance is invented Trying to express the consensus conceptual model for the field Reverse engineering existing file formats and database schemas
giving in to the temptation to ‘improve’ the current shared conceptual model
done in a way that extends the legacy and does not contradict it
extensibility is a key advantage of the approach
Other things in ECO Non-elementary flows – products through the supply chain Supply chain connections Allocations – for processes with multiple outputs Attributes – what percentage of inputs are certified organic? Impact assessments Expressions and variables Markets and other aggregations – e.g. NA Electricity Statistical and IO data Annotations and other metadata Scale: 66 classes, 81 properties, 7 individuals
Other Parts OWL Full axioms Mostly in OWL DL – only a few FULL axioms Bridging ontologies To SUMO, FOAF, TIME, GoodRelations, ... Mimimize ontological commitment Extension ontologies FASC, distributions, file formats, attributes, impact assessments, flow reference data, ...
Documentation How much fun is it trying to understand a mid-to-large ontology from an OWL file?
Status Study the domain Talk to domain experts Read Study existing systems Put together version 0.1 Try it out on a test application or two Put together version 0.2 Socialise it with leading community members Put together version 0.3 Seek wider community input
Earthster Reference Flows Problem: Current databases and impact assessment methods use different vocabularies Relevant effects get missed from impact assessments Duplicate effects get ‘invented’ Hard: if the method specifies paraquat ion and you have numbers for paraquat Are they equivalent? Is there a fudge factor?
Replace lists with structure Currently LCA databases work with lists of elementary flows and give them Ids ECO has structure for these elementary flows: Flowable Energy – use source + density to identify Substance Chemical – use CAS numbers to identify Isoptopes – use CAS number + atomic weight Ores – use mix of substances Other – adhoclist – bring in a structure if one emerges Compartment taxonomy Time frame These form a taxonomy Using Skos rather than class structure to stay flexible With an extensible set of modifiers
Aim ... Much smaller lists to manage Manage modifier attributes instead Ability to extend the list of flows without ambiguity Automated matching of legacy flows to the structure Involve the community Is there a fudge factor? Publish reference data on the web Crowd source corrections/updates Relate different flows in different vocabularies through subsumption Offers a shared resource for defining a vocabulary – that allows competition with interoperability
Summary Making better decisions from a sustainability perspective – that’s an important problem Open sharing of information enables market pressure to operate Field Somewhat fragmented Evolving Information rich – the value is in the data Codifiable knowledge Links to other data has economic value Good space for using Semantic Web technology
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Image Attributions Offshore Windfarm Turbine, flicr:phault Macro Leaf, flickr:seeks2dream Spaghetti al burro, flickr:cesarastudillo Stop, flickr:active metabolite On Target, flickr:viZZual.com