Geospatial metadata are often encoded in formats that either are not aimed at efficient retrieval of resources or are plainly outdated. Particularly, the quantum leap represented by the Semantic Web did not induce so far a consistent, interlinked baseline in the geospatial domain. Datasets, scientific literature related to them, and ultimately the researchers behind these products are only loosely connected; the corresponding metadata intelligible only to humans, duplicated in different systems, seldom consistently. We address these issues by relating metadata items to resources that represent keywords, institutes, researchers, toponyms, and virtually any RDF data structure made available over the Web via SPARQL endpoints. Essentially, our methodology fosters delegated
metadata management as the entities referred to in metadata are independent, decentralized data structures with their own life cycle. Our example implementation of delegated metadata envisages: (i) editing via customizable web-based forms (including injection of semantic information); (ii) encoding of records in any XML metadata schema; and (iii) translation into RDF. Among the semantics-aware features that this practice enables, we present a worked-out example focusing on automatic update of metadata descriptions. Our approach, demonstrated in the context of INSPIRE metadata (the ISO 19115/19119 profile eliciting integration of European geospatial resources) is also applicable to a broad range of metadata standards, including non-geospatial ones.
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