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  • Original Paper
  • Open Access

An ontological gazetteer and its application for place name disambiguation in text

  • Ivre Marjorie R. Machado1Email author,
  • Rafael Odon de Alencar1, 2,
  • Roberto de Oliveira CamposJr.2, 3 and
  • Clodoveu A. DavisJr.1
Journal of the Brazilian Computer Society201117:44

Received: 5 March 2011

Accepted: 20 September 2011

Published: 14 October 2011


The volume of spatial information on the Web grows daily, both in the form of online maps and as references to places embedded in documents and pages. Considering the spatial information needs of users, it is often necessary to recognize, within a document’s text, the places to which it refers. This article presents a next-generation gazetteer, a toponymic dictionary which expands from the traditional cataloguing of place names and includes geographic elements such as spatial relationships, concepts and terms related to places. As such, we call it an OntoGazetteer, i.e., a gazetteer which also records semantic connections among places. The ontological gazetteer provides factual and semantic support to solving several common problems in geographic information retrieval. This paper presents the OntoGazetteer and demonstrates its applicability to a place name disambiguation problem. Along with other problem solutions to which the OntoGazetteer can contribute, we present a case study on recognizing and disambiguating place names within news sources.


Geographic information retrievalGazetteerSpatial ontologiesPlace name disambiguation