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Place name information service on Web 2.0

Place name (geographical name, toponym) was named after the characteristics of earth’s surface and separated into names for natural features and names of residential places. In social science, the discipline dealing with those names is called toponymy. Because of its quasi-public character, place name is managed by government agencies. In Korea, the official place name is being managed by National Geographic Information Institute (NGII). Place Name Management System (PNMS) in NGII consists of internal business system and place name service on land portal ) for public service. Especially, place name service systems for public interests include ‘Place Name Service’ on land portal by NGII and ‘Place Name Search’ in Cadastral Archives by National Archives of Korea. Place Name Service on the land portal mainly provides natural place names with the origin of name and the notification of names searched by administrative unit. Thus, place names are currently managed by several different systems according to the agencies and the objectives. From the users’ standpoint, it is quite difficult to gather place name information from several different services, so integration of place name systems is necessary. This article explores the integration of place name services using Web 2.0 technology.

Place name (geographical name, toponym) is given to the natural surface characteristics and can be divided into natural features and a place to live. In social science disciplines, the area is called toponymy.

Currently, place names are managed by several agencies based on the purpose and jurisdiction. Because of users’ difficulty to search place names, an integrated management system for place names is necessary. This article explores the method to integrate place name information service based on Web 2.0 technology.

Place Name Information System in Korea
Because of the public nature of the information, place names are being managed by public agencies. The official Place Name in Korea is managed by the National Geographic Information Institute (NGII). Place Name Management System (PNMS) in NGII consists of an internal system for place name management and an external system for public service on the land portal. In particular, the land portal for public service includes ‘Place Name Service for Land’ and ‘Internet Topographic Name Service’. ‘Place Name Service for Land’ provides place name history and notice information of place name.

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Meanwhile, local governments including Seoul also provide place name query service based on the administration unit, Dong. In case of Seoul, all contents of the Gazetteer are provided through the Web ) for users’ integrated search, title search, text search with the origins and history of place names in Seoul.

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Place Name Ontology Service
Place Name ontology: This explores a method to apply a typical Web 2.0 technology, Ontology, to a place name management system. Place name means “the name of place” so it contains locational information. Therefore, direction and distance between places can be represented. These spatial relationships can also be stored and used in the ontology, which is the so-called GeoOntology.

Place Name History: To represent the transition of place name history, the temporal relationship can be used. Data for place name history can be extracted from place name transition data in place name management system. For each place name, the place name history is represented by ‘old place name’ in the temporal relationship in ontology. Therefore, the transition of place name history can be queried on the ontology map (Figure 4).

Figure 4

Spatial Relationship of Place Name: In GeoOntology, spatial relationship can be used for query. Based on the location of a place, the distance and direction between place names can be stored as spatial relationship of place names. It is the simplest form of GeoOntology. As an administrative place name can be stored as a polygon, the relationship between administrative place names can include various spatial relationships such as distance, direction, connectivity, inclusion, and adjacency.

For place name search, the criteria to measure spatial similarity between the place name for search (the query name) and the place name for target (the candidate name) are as follows (Johns et. al., 2001).

  • Distance in map or geographical coordinate space between query and candidate;
  • Travel time between query and candidate;
  • Number of intervening places;
  • Spatial inclusion of the candidate within the query place;
  • Containment of the query place by the candidate;
  • Containment of candidate within, or overlap of candidate with, regions that contain or overlap the query place;
  • Boundary connectivity between query and candidate.

For example, distance between a search place name and a target place name can be calculated by Euclidean distance between two place names. In below figure, if you search for the closest palace city gates, Seodaemun will be searched (Figure 5).

Figure 5

This article explored place name service method based on Web 2.0, Ontology technology. In addition, while considering building place name ontology, place name should include properties such as name type, address, name origins, coordinates and so on. Since a place name is represented by a point, spatial entity representing place name in ontology should be a point for effective representation of relationships between spatial entities, place names.


  • National Geographic Information Institute, 2005, Study on the Standardization of Place Name.
  • National Geographic Information Institute, 2007, Users Manual for National Place Name Management System.
  • National Geographic Information Institute, 2011, Study on the Infrastructure of Human-Oriented Geographic Information.
  • Johns, C.B., H. Alani, and D. Tudhope,, 2001, Geographical Information Retrieval with Ontologies of Place, In Spatial Information theory, LNCS 2205.
  • UN, 2006, Manual for the National Standardization of Geographical Names, Dept of Economic and Social Affairs, Statistics Division.
  • UN, 2007, Technical Reference Manual for the Standardization of Geographical Names, Dept of Economic and Social Affairs, Statistics Division.