Artificial Intelligence and Law

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 49-76

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Separating law from Geography in GIS-based eGovernment services

  • Alexander BoerAffiliated withLeibniz Center for Law, University of Amsterdam
  • , Tom van EngersAffiliated withLeibniz Center for Law, University of Amsterdam Email author 
  • , Rob PetersAffiliated withLeibniz Center for Law, University of Amsterdam
  • , Radboud WinkelsAffiliated withLeibniz Center for Law, University of Amsterdam


The Leibniz Center for Law is involved in the project Digitale Uitwisseling Ruimtelijke Plannen [DURP (http://​www.​vrom.​nl/​durp); digital exchange of spatial plans] which develops a XML-based digital exchange format for spatial regulations. Involvement in the DURP project offers new possibilities to study a legal area that hasn’t yet been studied to the extent it deserves in the field of Computer Science & Law. We studied and criticised the work of the DURP project and the Dutch Ministry of internal affairs on metadata for regulatory documents, and made an inventory of issues related to legal knowledge representation that it felt were not sufficiently covered by current initiatives in the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) field. This inventory was an input to the DURP standardisation effort. In a second phase of the project we extended the METALex XML schema (cf. Boer et al. 2002; Boer et al. 2003) for ‚regular’ legal sources that we developed in the past for geospatial regulatory information, in order to support exchange of spatial regulations, including the associated geospatial information in the form of maps. We developed a prototype application and demonstrated how the spatial planning information in GML can be combined with XML with only minimal changes, using the Web Ontology Language (OWL). This paper describes our experiences.


GIS GML law norms semantic Web