Linked Open Government Data and the Semantic Web


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Linked data (Semantic Web) technology has been valuable in promoting govt transparency by allowing mashups of govt data in the US, UK and elsewhere. This talk overviews the promise, status and challenges in this space.

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Linked Open Government Data and the Semantic Web

  1. 1. Open Government Data Jim Hendler Tetherless World Professor of Computer and Cognitive Science Assistant Dean of Information Technology and Web Science Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute @jahendler (twitter)
  2. 2. Government Data on the Web
  3. 3. Current state (academic) <ul><li>Lots of data is being opened </li></ul><ul><li>But much of it is opaque and contains (sometime) significant errors </li></ul><ul><li>Smart mark-up (including annotation) is needed </li></ul><ul><li>But also needed are information and visual presentation capabilities to really put people in the loop </li></ul><ul><li>Technical approaches are helping but curation (by people and computers) is sorely needed </li></ul>
  4. 4. Linked Data + Semantics <ul><li>&quot;Linked Data&quot; approach finds its use cases in Web Applications (at Web scales) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A lot of data, a little semantics </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Finding anything in the mess can be a win! </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Example </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Declare simple inferable relationships and apply, at scale, to large, heterogeneous data collections </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>eg. Use InverseFunctional triangulation to find the entities that can be inferred to be the same </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>These are &quot;heuristics&quot; not every answer must be right (qua Google) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>But remember time = money ! </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Fits Web Architecture <ul><li>~2006: Web app developers discover the Semantic Web </li></ul>RDF Triple Store Dynamic Content Engine HTTP RDF Web App (w SPARQL) RDF Triple Store … HTML 2008 examples include sites from &quot;regular&quot; Web players such as Dow Jones, Reuters and Yahoo!
  6. 6. Government Data on the Web
  7. 7. What’s promising <ul><li>Linked open data (, </li></ul><ul><li>Open (access) commons and data publishing (and citation) </li></ul><ul><li>Markup languages and semantics and tools to enable transparency </li></ul><ul><li>Web 2.0 to put people in the loop and use and contribute to annotations </li></ul><ul><li>Lower barriers to internet visualization, e.g. Google graphics </li></ul>
  8. 8. Moving to linked data (UK) <ul><li>Built around linked data with top-down push from “Number 10” </li></ul>
  9. 9. Moving to linked data (US) <ul><li>Third parties (like RPI) translate the govt data into Sem Web forms and link to sources </li></ul>• Plans for a in OGD implementation plans,, but unfunded
  10. 10. Pump through to Google Viz for demos
  11. 11. +
  12. 12. Adding some Web magic Web Analytics Social Data Networks External Links
  13. 13. Identifying cross cuts in the data
  14. 14. NTIA internet study vs. libraries
  15. 15. NTIA internet funding vs. tweets about #haiti
  16. 16. Visualization can help identify data errors Correlates fires, acres burned, and agency budgets
  17. 17. Visualization can help identify data errors Were there really no fires in 1985?
  18. 18. Combining data from different sites
  19. 19. Presents a challenge – different ontologies
  20. 20. Presents a challenge – different ontologies
  21. 21. Presents a challenge – different ontologies Same or different?
  22. 22. And many other interesting issues <ul><li>Trust </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Government data is controversial, and potentially biased </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>How do we confirm or dispute? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Combination </li></ul><ul><ul><li>When we combine data we need to keep the provenance of information (see trust) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>How can we show and use? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Scaling </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Data-gov Wiki has already converted 5,448,693,510 triples </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Versioning and updating </li></ul><ul><li>Archiving </li></ul><ul><li>Searching </li></ul><ul><li>… </li></ul>
  23. 23. Summary <ul><li>The Open Govt data is a great play ground </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Government data released as RDF (UK) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Government data converted to RDF (US) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Government data that can be found in many forms and used or converted (WWW) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Great showcase for the web nature of the Semantic Web </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Mashups </li></ul></ul><ul><li>But many challenges remain </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Scaling, Trust, Provenance, Archiving, Curation, … </li></ul></ul>