The ontology was created from the Radiological Terrorism Research Thesaurus, specifically constrained to the portions under the term “material sources” and “consequence management” (now called response). Other classes not found in these areas, but referenced by fields in these areas, are included, but not developed—this includes Organization, Event, Expertise, Person, and Material and their subclasses.
Terrorism is an incredibly important issue, and agencies within the US and worldwide need to meet the challenge of compiling and organizing research in a number of fields in order to counter this very real threat. In addition, agencies have been criticized in the past for not sharing information, or maintaining knowledge organization systems (KOS) which are incompatible with each other. Work is often duplicated, and often vital information will be unavailable to some agencies even though it has already been archived by others.
Clearly, there is a need for a large-scale KOS that can be used to organize information efficiently and correctly, allow for complex analysis of information, and allow for easy knowledge sharing between agencies. The most flexible and powerful KOS, and therefore the most appropriate, is an ontology. Classes, subclasses and relationships are developed and then appropriate fields are created for each. This allows for faceted search and display, automated search, hierarchical organization of information, and interoperability with other systems.
This is just a sample of the larger, more complete ontology. The complete ontology would be useful for virtually any person or agency dealing with anti-terrorism, counterterrorism, intelligence or consequence management. The ontology will allow risk assessment officers, for example, to see a list of every high-level material source in the United States and Canada and their coordinates. Medical first responders could use it to catalog and retrieve proper treatments for specific bioterrorism agents. And if widely-adopted, it would greatly reduce the barriers to efficient knowledge-sharing. If the Department of Energy we to license a new Uranium mine in Montana, the information would be immediate available to risk-assessment officers, instead of requiring time for the paperwork to make its way over to the Department of Homeland Security.