A survey of Top-Level Ontologies

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To underpin the sharing of data across organisations and sectors, the National Digital Twin progamme (NDTp) aims to develop an ontology – a theory of what exists, i.e. the things that exist and the rules that govern them – capable to describe “life, the universe and everything” (Adams, 1980). As set out in the Pathway towards the IMF, this ontology will consist of:

  • a Foundation Data Model – the rules and constraints on how data is structured
  • an ecosystem of Reference Data Libraries, compliant with the Foundation Data Model – the particular set of classes and properties we use to describe digital twins.

To achieve the consistency required to share information across organisations and sectors, the Foundation Data Model needs to be underpinned by a Top-Level Ontology (TLO), i.e. the top level categories (“thing”, “class”, …) and the fundamental relationships between them that are sufficient to cover the scope of a maximally broad range of domains.

As a starting point to define the NDT’s TLO, the technical team has reviewed and classified existing TLOs in A survey of Top-Level Ontologies, published November 2020, and assessed them against a set of requirements.

This has led to the identification of 4 potential candidates for the NDT’s TLO: BORO, IDEAS, HQDM and ISO 15926-2, as set out in The Approach to Develop the FDM for the IMF publication.

Ontologies continue to be added to the survey. Please refer to this page to see the most up-to-update list and to suggest other ontologies for the team to consider.