The tools are an extension of the App Inventor, open-source software that enables nonprogrammers to create applications for devices running
With the new tools, an emergency aid worker - or anyone else, for that matter - could, for instance, build an application to monitor many different data sources on the Internet for updated information about the locations of ad hoc shelters, and display them all on a Google map. The app could also allow individual users to revise, annotate or supplement the information displayed in the map.
The researchers presented their new tools in a paper at the Workshop on Semantic Cities last month in
DIG shares office space in
DIG's focus is research that takes advantage of the standards developed by the W3C. The new app-development tool requires that the data it accesses be formatted according to the resource description framework, or RDF.
RDF is the central standard of the so-called Semantic Web, which would, in effect, convert the Web from a giant text file into a giant database. RDF provides a simple way both to label data items at different locations on the Web and to describe the relationships among them. Where a standard Google search could, say, find Web pages on which the phrases "restaurant" and "
Since the RDF standard was first released in 2004, its adoption has been slow but steady. Companies like
Kagal, however, hopes that new tools like the disaster-response application she and her colleagues developed will accelerate the adoption of RDF. "We're hoping that we'll have a kind of cyclic effect," she says. "As people use these apps more, they will automatically generate structured data. And as there's more structured data out there, there will be people building more apps to consume them, which will in turn generate more structured data."
Keywords for this news article include: Software,
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