Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to describe the development of a knowledgebase supporting a prototype Europe-wide time-spatial search interface for historical resources. It discusses how this structure could be used to access other types of digital heritage content.
Design/methodology/approach: By using a relational database with spatial capabilities, a multi-lingual search structure has been created which supports a temporal map and a facetted browser, collaborative facilities and a heritage resource viewer, with links to online catalogues.
Findings: Combining data from three states with very different histories identified the strengths and weaknesses of the approach. The framework's flexibility means it could easily be re-purposed to support front ends to other types of cultural content.
Research limitations/implications: Due to the variability in the administrative unit source data, its initial integration required significant manipulation to achieve consistency; however, the benefits of data assimilation ensure the base framework is as efficient as possible.
Practical implications: Usage levels of on-line cultural resources will be far higher if ordinary users can access them via access routes which have meaning for them, such as by locality/place. Ontology-based geographical frameworks are much easier to search by place name than are conventional GIS systems, and vastly more accessible to search engines.
Originality/value: This interface demonstrates the potential for integrating data from any number of different national organisations into a single user tool. It also highlights the potential for utilising the underlying structure in multiple contexts.