Re: Civic apps and Linked Data

While one could debate the scale of impact I do see some successful 
civic apps here in the UK.

For example, the Environment Agency's (EA) publication of "real" time 
data on quality of water at bathing sites [1] has been quite successful.

As well as the nice explorer application provided with the data, 
sponsored directly by EA, a third party company came along and built a 
smartphone app for viewing the data, integrated with other information 
about the bathing sites.

We are finding that increasing numbers of local authorities are 
including the data via simple web widgets on their visitor web sites. 
Some have information screens at the beaches where visitors can see 
information on the water quality without having to have a smartphone.

I think the key here was:

1. Having data which is actually of interest in a civic context (how 
safe is it to go swimming?).

2. The publisher providing a compelling example of what can be done with 
the data.

3. Publisher commitment to maintaining the data up to date.

4. Having a simple API so that web developers could get initial access 
without needing to learn SPARQL or RDF. The Linked Data API [2] means 
that you can filter the data to get the part you want and have it 
delivered in easy to consume JSON or XML.

Arup, who developed the smartphone app, initially just used the API 
never having worked with RDF. Then from that gained an understanding of 
what this Linked Data stuff is all about. From there started to look at 
what other data sets could be linked into the bathing site reference data.

I feel it is repeating patterns like this that's the way to go. Build up 
value steadily by more and more data sets and more and more locally 
useful applications. None of them need be revolutionary. It is the 
incrementally growing value of the data ecosystem, which is a long game 
to play.  Don't hold out for "we changed the world" killer apps, just 
deliver value.



On 26/06/13 15:03, Alvaro Graves wrote:
> Hello everyone,
> A few days ago I attended ABRELATAM'13 an unconference focused on Open
> Data in Latin America. I proposed a session about Open Data + Linked
> Data to discuss how semantics and LOD in general can help government and
> civi organizations. I want to share the main ideas that emerged from the
> conversation:
> - SW/LOD sounds really cool and the direction where thing should move.
> - However there are many technical aspects that remain unsolved
> - Since for many people having a relatively good solution using CSV,
> JSON, etc. is easier, they don't want to use SW/LOD because it is an
> overkill and too complicated.
> So my question is: Why we don't see lots of civic apps using Linked
> Data? Where are the SW activists? Why we haven't been able to
> demonstrate to the hacker community the benefits of using semantic
> technologies? Is it because they are hard to use? They don't scale well
> in many cases (as a googled pointed out)? Are we too busy working in
> academia/businesses?
> I know very few civic apps using semantic technologies and I don't think
> I have seen anyone that has made real impact in any country. I would
> love if you can prove me wrong and if we can discuss how can we involve
> more activists and hackers into the SW/LOD community.
> Alvaro Graves-Fuenzalida
> Web: - Twitter: @alvarograves

Received on Wednesday, 26 June 2013 22:14:16 UTC