Ontology driven multi-agent systems : an architecture for sensor web applications.
Advances in sensor technology and space science have resulted in the availability of vast quantities of high quality earth observation data. This data can be used for monitoring the earth and to enhance our understanding of natural processes. Sensor Web researchers are working on constructing a worldwide computing infrastructure that enables dynamic sharing and analysis of complex heterogeneous earth observation data sets. Key challenges that are currently being investigated include data integration; service discovery, reuse and composition; semantic interoperability; and system dynamism. Two emerging technologies that have shown promise in dealing with these challenges are ontologies and software agents. This research investigates how these technologies can be integrated into an Ontology Driven Multi-Agent System (ODMAS) for the Sensor Web. The research proposes an ODMAS framework and an implemented middleware platform, i.e. the Sensor Web Agent Platform (SWAP). SWAP deals with ontology construction, ontology use, and agent based design, implementation and deployment. It provides a semantic infrastructure, an abstract architecture, an internal agent architecture and a Multi-Agent System (MAS) middleware platform. Distinguishing features include: the incorporation of Bayesian Networks to represent and reason about uncertain knowledge; ontologies to describe system entities such as agent services, interaction protocols and agent workflows; and a flexible adapter based MAS platform that facilitates agent development, execution and deployment. SWAP aims to guide and ease the design, development and deployment of dynamic alerting and monitoring applications. The efficacy of SWAP is demonstrated by two satellite image processing applications, viz. wildfire detection and monitoring informal settlement. This approach can provide significant benefits to a wide range of Sensor Web users. These include: developers for deploying agents and agent based applications; end users for accessing, managing and visualising information provided by real time monitoring applications, and scientists who can use the Sensor Web as a scientific computing platform to facilitate knowledge sharing and discovery. An Ontology Driven Multi-Agent Sensor Web has the potential to forever change the way in which geospatial data and knowledge is accessed and used. This research describes this far reaching vision, identifies key challenges and provides a first step towards the vision.