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Re: [agenda] eGov IG Call, 25 Nov 2009, item 6

From: Thomas Bandholtz <thomas.bandholtz@innoq.com>
Date: Wed, 25 Nov 2009 10:29:01 +0100
Message-ID: <4B0CF8DD.7020503@innoq.com>
To: josema.alonso@fundacionctic.org, public-egov-ig@w3.org
CC: public-lod@w3.org
There has been much discussion about *Open* Data in the eGov list these
days, which is a rather political question.
I am currently not so much concerned about openness, more about *Linked*
Data, as we have tons of government data with a legal obligation to make
them available to the public (at least in Europe, and especially
environmental data), and we are looking for means to do so in the most
efficient way.

So, among the six items of today's agenda, I find number 6 the most
challenging:
> 6. Discussion: Government Linked Data, Techniques and Technologies
> [35min]
some considerations:
> + how does linked data support (non-RDF) data consumers?
First of all: Linked Data supports RDF data consumers.

Human readable formats should also be provided based on content
negotiation. Some providers have dedicated HTML formats, others have
not. Those who haven't depend on some available, general purpose "linked
data browser".
The latest discussion about the state of such tools has been started by
http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-lod/2009Oct/0105.html, and I
am afraid the state-of-the-art of such browsers cannot compete with a
well-made dedicated HTML page (how could it).

So one might say linked data supports non-RDF data consumers rather
badly, but there a two objections:

    * even non-RDF data consumers benefit from the availability of some
      linked data which would not be available in the Web at all if not
      generated with D2R (or similar)
    * even non-RDF data consumers benefit from the extensive and
      systematic linkage provided by Linked Data which is rather unusual
      for common HTML pages.

I think the value of this question is somehow disputable, as - aside
form any content negotiation - linked data supports RDF consumers at
first. These consumers are mostly professionals who depend on government
data in order to do their work. So I would rather ask:

"How do professional RDF data consumers integrate linked data into their
working data bases today?"
 
> + strategies for modelling government data
Well, I would say, the basic model is RDF in this case ;-).
We are wasting too much time with efforts on "harmonising" models in a
waterfall manner (see http://inspire.jrc.ec.europa.eu/, for example)
instead of just publish it somehow.

One of TBL's Do's and Don'ts reads:
"Do NOT wait until you have a complete schema or ontology to publish data. "
http://www.w3.org/DesignIssues/GovData

I do not see any problem about schema diversity. However, we should make
use of existing schemas which have proved to work well. For example, the
OGC Observation and Measurement XML schema:
http://www.opengeospatial.org/standards/om

OM is expressed as an XML schema, not in RDF so far. But it expresses
perfectly clarified semantics about any kind of measurement data of
whatever kind of sensor, including timelines. XSD and URN patterns are
some drawbacks of this formalisation, but this could be resolved by a
RDF reformulation of the same semantics easily.

The most important aspect again is linkage. When expressing what or
where has been measured, don't use a dumb character string, but link to
a reference vocabulary.

> + essential metadata for Government Linked Open Data (eg VoiD)
VoiD is a good start. I wouldn't overestimate the need for metadata as
long as you can access the data itself. Metadata was a great thing in
former times when data access was a complex issue, so you would like to
know what you will get before starting the effort to get access to it.
If the data itself is linked to reference vocabularies extensively, the
data vs. metadata discussion ends in smoke.
> + expressing rights and licensing information
VoiD can do this.
> + approaches to provenance, authority and trust
Government generally is not so amused about the open world assumption,
they prefer clearly marked-off data spaces with a trusted provenance.

I think mistrust can be overcome by federation of providers. Federated
agencies can easily state that they trust each provider in this
federation. Just set up a domain for such a federation, link to this
federation from the data, and to the data from the federation.

No problem if anybody is publishing her own possibliy weird statements
about the same things as long as the federarion does not link to this data.

One rather developed case of such a sub-cloud is Linking Open Drug Data
(LODD).
see http://esw.w3.org/topic/HCLSIG/LODD
We might learn from them.

> + using RDF for Statistical Data
Parts of EUROSTAT have been published in SCOVO
http://sw.joanneum.at/scovo/schema.html.
Even SDMX is apparently moving towards SCOVO.
Does anyone see an alternative approach?



Looking forward to discussion this afternoon (well, in my time).

Thomas

(consulting the Federal Environment Agency in Germany)

-- 
Thomas Bandholtz, thomas.bandholtz@innoq.com, http://www.innoq.com 
innoQ Deutschland GmbH, Halskestr. 17, D-40880 Ratingen, Germany
Phone: +49 228 9288490 Mobile: +49 178 4049387 Fax: +49 228 9288491
Received on Wednesday, 25 November 2009 09:29:44 GMT

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