A Semantic Approach to Designing Information Services for Smart Museums

A Semantic Approach to Designing Information Services for Smart Museums

Dmitry G. Korzun (Petrozavodsk State University, Petrozavodsk, Russia), Sergey A. Marchenkov (Petrozavodsk State University, Petrozavodsk, Russia), Andrey S. Vdovenko (Petrozavodsk State University, Petrozavodsk, Russia) and Oksana B. Petrina (Petrozavodsk State University, Petrozavodsk, Russia)
DOI: 10.4018/IJERTCS.2016070102
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The existing wide spectrum of embedded, multimedia, and mobile equipment provides an effective base for making museums smart or intelligent. By using the Internet of Things technology and the smart spaces paradigm the distance can be shortened between exhibits and their descriptive information on one side and consumers and providers of this information on the other side. In this paper, the authors discuss a smart museum concept and present a semantic approach to design of advanced information services for smart museums. The central point is introduction of the semantic layer to create a semantic network. The proposed approach reduces the semantic layer development to the following components: software infrastructure, semantic layer ontology, and mobile user access. For these components the authors provide design solutions, which are analyzed in respect to particular services for the History Museum of Petrozavodsk State University. The semantic approach can be applied to development of many museum services as well as in various digital environments of museums and cultural heritage areas.
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Study and promotion of cultural heritage knowledge are a social challenge where museums play an essential role (Cerquetti & Montela, 2015). A traditional museum has a database or a museum information system (MIS), which serves as an electronic archive or catalogue (Carpinone, 2010; Kuflik et al., 2015). As a rule, museum personnel are the only MIS users. Visitors cannot access the MIS directly or the access functions are very limited (simple browsing some collected information). Nowadays, Internet of Things (IoT) drastically changes this traditional way of visitor activity in museums (Chianese & Piccialli, 2014). Exhibits are transformed to IoT objects providing information about themselves or even directly interacting with users and other objects, as it happens in IoT in the general case (Atzori, Iera, & Morabito, 2014; Kortuem et al., 2010).

The IoT technology enables integration of MIS with visitor activity, hence opening many possibilities to engage the museum visitors with exhibits and available descriptive information. This paper enhances our previous work (Marchenkov et al., 2016) on a smart museum concept. We discuss this smart museum concept in respect to its realization in the History Museum of Petrozavodsk State University (PetrSU) with focus on everyday life history. We develop three museum information services within these particular settings: Visit service, Exhibition service, and Enrichment service. Visit service constructs a personalized exposition of recommended exhibits for a visitor to study. Exhibition service analyzes visitor profiles and context situation in order to select and show recommended exhibit descriptions using appropriate multimedia devices. Enrichment service supports evolution of the cultural heritage knowledge by museum personnel and visitors themselves.

We propose a semantic approach to design of such advanced information services for smart museums. The approach introduces the semantic layer, which is responsible for creating and maintaining a semantic network of available digitalized descriptions. The semantic layer connects the involved actors (museum personnel and visitors) with the collected cultural heritage knowledge. The museum becomes not just a large knowledge corpus with passive consumption of information fragments. Instead, the museum provides a collaborative work environment where all fragments of the cultural heritage knowledge are semantically related and can be easily usable and creatable by visitors and other experts. This smart museum study contributes solutions to the following problems: 1) semantic network construction for a museum, 2) particular information services that can be implemented using the semantic network, 3) the functions of the semantic layer to support service construction, and 4) the principal components to realize the semantic layer.

We follow the general smart spaces approach to development of this kind of service-oriented environments (Balandin & Waris, 2009; Korzun, 2016). A smart space defines a distributed system where heterogeneous digital devices share their computational and informational resources. Such devices operate with context-dependent information, which is cooperatively sensed and created, collected and processed, utilized and evolved in the environment. In the museum case, a smart space involves many informational objects. The introduced semantic layer makes their fusion into a semantic network. All involved objects are virtually represented and interconnected, similarly as it happens in Semantic Web (Aiello et al., 2008; Bizer et al., 2009; Chen et al., 2004). This way the basic MIS is enhanced to support construction and delivery of advanced information services with high intelligence level. Services are able to take into account additional historical sources to enrich the museum collection of exhibit descriptions. Information about exhibits is available in content already collected in MIS, expert knowledge from museum personnel and visitors, and a multitude of Internet sources.

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