2012 SemTechBiz New York
Last week at the Semantic Technology and Business Conference in New York City, attendees got a chance to learn – or perhaps be reminded – of the business value of semantic technology at a host of keynotes and presentations. One of them specifically on that topic was hosted by Christopher A. Moran, CTO of consulting company IMSC, which provides information management services to clients in the DoD, civilian and intelligence agencies.
Some takeaways from the discussion follow:
- With semantic technology, extending what the organization knows about something – its customer accounts, for instance – doesn’t have to result in a big system overhaul. The added value the business gets comes as “simply an extension to the [semantic] graph,” as Moran termed it. Each system need only be designed to use the graph database.
Pfizer Moves Semantic Tech Forward, Helping Business Respond To Cost Pressures And Realize Efficiency Gains
A couple of years back, The Semantic Web Blog visited with Vijay Bulusu to gain some insight into how pharma giant Pfizer Inc. was moving forward with semantic technology (see article here). At last week’s Semantic Technology and Business Conference in New York City, Bulusu, director, informatics and innovation at Pfizer, provided additional perspective on the issue – first, during the presentation on Using Linked Semantic Data in Biomedical Research and Pharmaceuticals (see coverage of that here), and then in a follow-up conversation.
A struggle for pharma companies, Bulusu notes, sits in driving standards for data that exists across system silos, so it is broadly applicable across groups. A transaction like creating a batch of materials, doing analytical testing on it and enabling clinical trial releases is the work of multiple groups of people in departments like R&D entering data across different systems.
The foundational layer needed to support data aggregation in a persistent graph semantic database and visualization with collaborative, semantic knowledge maps “is all about data already in transactional, silo’d systems,” Bulusu says. “We want to make sure that across those systems, key data is entered consistently for entities.” That means limiting them to selecting via a drop-down list from a vocabulary that is consistently managed and published from a single source to all these transaction systems, so the same entity is called by the same name as it traverses systems to support analytics and other requirements. That, he says, “is where we directly impact the day-to-day operational work of users.”
At the Semantic Technology and Business Conference in New York City last week, attendees got to hear a lot about how semantic technology is influencing various sectors, such as government (see our stories here and here) and media (see this article and this one). Another prominent one on display: pharmaceuticals.
Pharma, for example, was the driving use case for the update to Callimachus that focuses on helping users deal with data that’s external to the framework for data-driven applications, David Wood, CTO of Callimachus project sponsor 3 Round Stones, told The Semantic Web Blog at the event. (To learn more about the update, see our story here.)
A session on Tuesday last week saw Lee Feigenbaum, vp of marketing at Cambridge Semantics, which makes the Anzo express and Anzo Enterprise solutions, put forth a case for semantic tech as being key to data integration and interoperability in the sector, as well. “Can semantic web technologies break down enterprise data silos just as they break down document silos on the web?” he said. “The answer to the question is, “Of course.” Compared to the web, the data silo challenges of even the largest pharmaceuticals organization is relatively minor.”
There’s a new term in town: Participatory mHealth. As defined by Deborah Estrin, Professor of Computer Science at CornellNYC Tech and co-founder of Open mHealth, it “is taking what was previously unmeasured and uncaptured behavior – [things] that were previously ephemeral — and turn that into data.” Such information can be as valuable to treating conditions as is data collected by the instruments and diagnostics tools in formal health care settings, and perhaps can be a more reliable indicator of how a person’s health really is faring than their response to a doctor’s question at exam time. Those answers, after all, can be influenced by so many things – how they’re feeling that morning, for instance, vs. how they’ve generally felt since the last time they spoke to their healthcare provider.
With so many people today in possession of a smart phone with built-in GPS capabilities, there’s a new opportunity to capture so much data about what individuals do – especially those with chronic conditions – as well as the distance parameters related to where they’re doing it, the times they set out for an activity, how they’re feeling at various times during the day, and a whole lot more. “Chronic disease in some ways is the killer app for this kind of mobile health technology,” Estrin noted, since most of the care for dealing with chronic conditions occurs outside the clinical setting.
The capture is the easy part, says Estrin – much of it can be automated or be entered via a simple click, for instance. “The heavy lifting is in the analysis, in fusing and pulling out what is interesting from those data streams,” Estrin told an audience at the Semantic Technology & Business Conference in New York City on Wednesday.
What’s the latest news about rNews ? Attendees at the SemTech event in NYC Tuesday had a chance to find out.
“The future of rNews 1.0 is rNews .1.1,” said Stuart Myles, deputy director of schema standards at the Associated Press who also heads up the International Press Telecommunications’ Council’s Semantic Web work. At next week’s IPTC meeting a vote will be taken on V. 1.1, with its adoption the hopeful outcome.
Every day New York City is getting closer to being the Digital City of the Future. It’s a long journey, though, and one that the semantic web community can lend a hand with.
At this week’s Semantic Technology & Business Conference in NYC, Andrew Nicklin of the Office of Strategic Technology and Development, NYC Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications (DoITT) provided a look at what has been accomplished so far, and what’s on the to-do roadmap. Recent months have seen accomplishments including the passage of Local Law 11 of 2012 – the “most progressive legislation in the U.S. as far as cities being mandated to open data,” Nicklin said in an interview with The Semantic Web Blog before his keynote address at SemTech. “It ensures permanency for our program past any administrative changes….The whole notion of open data doesn’t go way because it is written into law.”
“The idea of the Big S Semantic Web seems to have fallen off by the wayside in publishing as people are just trying to structure their data,” says Barbara McGlamery, taxonomist at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.
McGlamery, who will be presenting a case study comparing her experiences in two publishing houses that took opposite approaches to the semantic web at the SemTech conference in NYC this month, says that the path most publishers are on now “hardly seems like the same beast” as the one she formerly knew. A few years back, the focus was on RDF, OWL, full-blown ontologies and inferencing engines, whereas today “it’s schema.org and we’re using microdata, not even RDFa.”
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