The PLACARD taxonomies for CCA & DRR: Development note and future work

Submitted by Julia Barrott | published 13th Jul 2020 | last updated 28th Jul 2020
CCA vis

A visualisation of the Top Concepts in the CCA taxonomy

Summary

Being able to access and use data, information and knowledge is essential to our being able to learn from others, to understand a subject area, to know what the latest technologies and approaches are, to know who is doing what and where, and to making informed decisions. Information and knowledge management may not be the most exciting of topics, but it is absolutely central to ensuring that people can find, access and use the data, information and knowledge that they need.

The PLACARD - PLAtform for Climate Adaptation and Risk reDuction - project set out to increase and enhance communication, coordination and collaboration between the climate change adaptation (CCA) and disaster risk reduction (DRR) communities. 

In PLACARD we recognised that, as well as bringing these two communities together face-to-face, we needed to lay the foundation for better connections and integration of their knowledge. This would enable them to be more aware of each other, to better understand each other, and make it easier to identify and explore overlapping agendas and opportunities for collaboration.

One way of doing this was to better link the knowledge shared on the major knowledge sharing platforms serving these communities. These platforms, like weADAPT.org which we manage, use keywords to ‘tag’ and connect content. However, they do so using different collections of terms for the keyword tags, sometimes using different terms to mean the same thing. 

To connect this knowledge in a coherent way we needed to develop a harmonised system that connects the disparate language used by the different platforms. We also needed to help people engaging with this knowledge better understand the subject matter and how these two communities interpret different terms. To do this we wanted to annotate all the terms used as keyword tags with ‘metadata’ - data about the data, including definitions, notes on how the term is used, what other terms is relates to, and what other words are used to mean the same thing (synonyms).

The taxonomies produced are the product of this work. They will be integrated into the PLACARD Connectivity Hub, which demonstrates how using shared taxonomies can help connect currently siloed knowledge from across different platforms and communities in engaging and efficient ways that also support learning and collaboration.

The development of these taxonomies sets the stage for transformative IKM for climate action. Read more about this in our paper “Transforming knowledge management for climate action: A road map for accelerated discovery and learning”  and concept note for the development of a Climate Action Knowledge Graph.

Using the taxonomies

These taxonomies can be downloaded in .xlsx here. They are also available in RDF - please get in touch with us for access to this file type. Note that these are living entities that will continue to be built upon and improved. For more information and enquiries about collaborating in this effort please contact Julia Barrott (julia.barrott@sei.org) and Sukaina Bharwani (sukaina.bharwani@sei.org).

Method: How the taxonomies have been developed

We define a taxonomy as a controlled collection of terms arranged into a hierarchical structure that describes a particular knowledge domain. In this work we set out to develop and cross-link two taxonomies: one on climate change adaptation and the other on disaster risk reduction. These taxonomies aim to describe these domains, encapsulate the main terminology they use, and to provide rich metadata to support understanding and learning.

These taxonomies have been developed using the PoolParty Semantic Suite developed by Semantic Web Company, and with the support of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership. We are grateful to Martin Kaltenböck and Denise Recheis for all of their help and the value they have added to this work.

For full details of the method used to develop these taxonomies download the method development report from the right-hand column. This provides details of data sources, the process used (including indentifying terms, structuring the hierarchy, adding synonyms, definitions, scope notes and hidden labels, and relating concepts.

Limitations and remaining work

These taxonomies contain over 600 terms and so lay a good foundation for future work. However, there are many areas where they can be improved and extended. 

The development note shared in the right-hand column describes the limitations of the current taxonomies and remaining work to address these limitations.

Next steps

As mentioned above, these taxonomies comprise a useful starting point for building comprehensive CCA and DRR taxonomies. However, as also mentioned, there is much that can be improved. If taken forward and developed, these taxonomies can provide a foundation for building a Climate Action Knowledge Graph that truly transforms our ability to find, access, and use knowledge in CCA and DRR, which in turn would empower us to better leverage the huge potential offered by artificial intelligence applications.

The road map for accelerated discovery and learning outlines how this can be done. Key elements include:

  • linking and integrating with existing relevant taxonomies, controlled vocabularies and thesauri (for example, AGROVOC), in support of Linked Open Data;

  • text mining of relevant, credible documents that encapsulate the evolving CCA and DRR landscape (for example, the IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land)) to elicit further relevant keywords for inclusion in the taxonomies;

  • developing an ontology to provide an additional layer of information on the terms, including their classification, attributes and relationships with one another; and, most importantly,

  • iterative and ongoing collaboration with other knowledge managers and subject matter experts in CCA and DRR and their subtopic communities.

Further steps for improving these taxonomies are laid out in the taxonomy development note available to download in the right-hand column.

Taking this work forward

The PLACARD project has set the stage for this work and supported the development of the Connectivity Hub, which demonstrates how subject-specific taxonomies for general use, such as those developed here, can enable relevant content to be connected across silos: across different websites and platforms, and across different but overlapping communities of research, policy and practice.

We plan to take this work forward in collaboration with our existing partners, Martin Kaltenböck (Semantic Web Company - leading semantic technology experts and developers of PoolParty Semantic Suite), and Denise Recheis (Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership, REEEP - developers of Climate Tagger and Secretariat of the community of practice, the Climate Knowledge Brokers). 

The work of creating a global Climate Action Knowledge Graph will itself foster an already emerging alliance of global, regional and national knowledge brokers and domain experts specializing in climate and development information, and representing diverse organizations.

The building, promoting and maintaining of a Climate Action Knowledge Graph provides a shared purpose for a diverse set of information players – from governments to international organizations to research institutes, NGOs, industries and good practice networks.

Please read our concept note for the continuation of this work and the development of a Climate Action Knowledge Graph.

A webinar explaining why a Climate Action Knowledge Graph is needed and how this technology works is also available.

Further resources