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Spatial references are required when geographical information systems (GIS) are used for the collection, storage and management of data. In the veterinary domain, the spatial component of a holding (of animals) is usually defined by coordinates, and no other relevant information needs to be interpreted or used for manipulation of the data in the GIS environment provided. Users trying to integrate or reuse spatial data organised in such a way, frequently face the problem of data incompatibility and inconsistency. The root of the problem lies in differences with respect to syntax as well as variations in the semantic, spatial and temporal representations of the geographic features. To overcome these problems and to facilitate the inter-operability of different GIS, spatial data must be defined according to a “schema” that includes the definition, acquisition, analysis, access, presentation and transfer of such data between different users and systems. We propose an application “schema” of holdings for GIS applications in the veterinary domain according to the European directive framework (directive 2007/2/EC - INSPIRE). The conceptual model put forward has been developed at two specific levels to produce the essential and the abstract model, respectively. The former establishes the conceptual linkage of the system design to the real world, while the latter describes how the system or software works. The result is an application “schema” that formalises and unifies the information-theoretic foundations of how to spatially represent a holding in order to ensure straightforward information-sharing within the veterinary community.
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