I’ve never been a big believer in trying to shape eras of technology into categorical boxes and branding those technology groupings or time frames with catchy monikers. The temptation to label any technological period is at best a difficult and risky proposition, which can be limiting in the true definition and potentially lead to significant inaccuracies. However, when discussing the evolution of the internet, one can easily envision the industry-derived labels that define the major advancements in the maturation of the world wide web.
Web 1.0 generally instituted a one-way communications framework through the use of static web sites and web services, essentially providing a read-only interface between the web and the end-user. Web 2.0 introduced collaborative, two-way communications technologies and a suite of innovative communications tools built on top of collaborative philosophies. The next generation of the internet is a subject of great debate, yet many agree that we will see a transformation from a “web of pages” to a web of data, primarily through the use of “semantic web” technologies.
The semantic web, (or Web 3.0) will enable automated data and information exchange between machines (computers) and systems (software applications) through the use of use of ontologies, new data formatting and new meta data structures. By applying “semantics”, or meaning to linked data sets with new descriptive meta data (or tagging), computers can begin to add meaning to data as it relates to real-world objects, subsequently automating human functions such as data search, data aggregation and data analytics, thus implementing automated two-way, peer-to-peer collaborative communications.
Web 3.0 technologies will enable ITS applications to automate data and information exchange and limit the need for human interaction. Context-aware and location-based services data linked to individual travelers will automatically interface with regional operating systems and regional traveler information systems, thus eliminating the need for human support on both the operator and end-users part. Real-time transportation data including vehicle, pedestrian and transit data will be automatically fused and processed with algorithms to establish new, next-gen regional operations platforms. Semantic technologies will also provide an essential component for support of the connected vehicle platform. Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) will utilize semantic technologies for automated, real-time data exchange. Mobility is becoming more and more reliant on the ability to apply effective social engineering and behavior management strategies, rather than the application of traditional physical technologies. Semantic technologies will provide a key tool for the integration of social (personal) data with centralized applications and overarching transportation systems.
Semantic web technologies are still very much in their infancies; however the transformation is well underway. Early signs show that the semantic web will take time to implement, most likely in stages as the web transitions vast existing data sets to include semantic data formats. The transportation industry, and more specifically the ITS industry is primed for becoming early adopters of web 3.0 technologies. Research and demonstration projects are already underway within the transportation industry. It’s just a question of when will the “tipping point” be realized.
Ontology of Transportation Networks
An Ontological Infrastructure for Traveler Information Systems