LIFE is a two-year project funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), and jointly carried out by the Muenster Semantic Interoperability Lab (MUSIL) at the Institute for Geoinformatics and the University Library (ULB) at the University of Münster. It is the first externally funded project in the context of the LODUM initiative (Linked Open Data University of Münster).

The overall goal of the project is to improve interdisciplinary collaboration in research and education through the sharing of scientific data organized in space, time and semantics. The project addresses various kinds of resources, ranging from project- and user-generated data, through articles and books to historic maps. Exposed as Linked Data, these resources feed eScience services to discover, access, and enrich them and to use them in scientific and other knowledge infrastructures. The project aims at overcoming the information silos that dominate libraries and research respositories. It builds on standards, such as those of the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), and extends them by Linked Data interfaces, targeting a better integration of bibliographic, scientific and administrative contents. This approach enables a retrieval of contents through spatio-temporal and semantic queries (e.g., “books about medieval Westphalia”, “politicians from the industrial period which were born in Berlin”, “borders of Prussia in 1830”).

The project produces tools and workflows for data publishing across domains as well as insights regarding the requirements and benefits of heterogeneous datasets for eScience. The results enter and expand standard library workflows, supporting their maintenance. In particular, we develop:

  • extract, transform, and load (ETL) processes for linked spatio-temporal data;

  • annotation workflows and tools (clients to describe and enrich information resources);

  • interfaces serving linked spatio-temporal data to standard clients (including services for spatial data and maps); and

  • spatio-temporal retrieval and search tools.

The requirements are derived and tested in scenarios with partners at the University of Münster:

  1. Spatio-temporal library information: enhancing library processes by linked spatial-temporal data; this includes developing:
    a.  historic map and document annotation and retrieval tools for the library as well as the Institute for Comparative Urban History.
    b. a Biographical Thesaurus for North-Rhine Westphalia (NRW), based on data provided by the Nordrhein-Westfälische Bibliographie, to search human biographies and lifelines through time and space.
  2. Campus navigation: helping to locate resources on campus; this includes mobile technologies such as the Campusplan App for finding resources through linked data.
  3. Spatio-temporal explorer for cancer research: developing a spatial recommender system, together with the Institut für Epidemiologie und Sozialmedizin, to explore cause-effect relationships for selected cancer types in a geographic region.