OpenCube logoEU Initiative OpenCube partner consortium to develop software tools for publishing and reusing Linked Open Statistical Data

Thermi, Thessaloniki, Greece, January 14th, 2014 – A consortium of partners headed by the Centre for Research and Technology – Hellas (CERTH), recently launched the OpenCube project, an EU Initiative for Publishing and Enriching Linked Open Statistical Data for the Development of Data Analytics and Enhanced Visualization Services. The project intends to make Linked Open Statistical Data (LOSD) more accessible to publishers and users and to facilitate mining these data so as to enable the extraction of interesting and previously hidden insights. As part of the project, these innovative new technologies will be tested at four pilot sites: three government agencies from across Europe and a large financial institution.

Linked Statistical Data

Governments, organizations and companies are increasingly releasing their data for others to reuse. A major part of open data concerns statistics, such as population figures and economic and social indicators. Analysis of statistical open data can create value for citizens and businesses in areas ranging from business intelligence to epidemiological studies and evidence-based policy-making.

Recently, Linked Data emerged as a promising paradigm to enable use of the web as a platform for data integration. Linked Statistical Data has been proposed as the most suitable way to publish open data on the web. However, publishing and mining LOSD faces particular challenges as it requires appropriate tools and methods.

OpenCube objectives 

Statistical open data are usually provided in formats that lack metadata facilities or can only be read by using expensive specialist software. The OpenCube project therefore intends to develop software tools that make it easier and more cost-effective to publish, analyze and visualize LOSD, thus lowering the threshold for LOSD publishers and users, improving the quality of LOSD published on the web and enriching it through links to other data sets on the web. The project partners also hope to facilitate the extraction of interesting and previously hidden insights in different fields through LOSD analytics and visualizations.

The outcome of OpenCube will offer a competitive advantage to the portfolio of the commercial project partners, as the OpenCube toolkit will be the first comprehensive software solution for data analytics based on LOSD.

OpenCube consortium

The OpenCube project is coordinated by the Centre for Research and Technology – Hellas (CERTH) and supported by the National University of Ireland, Galway as an R&D partner. The OpenCube consortium also includes three commercial partners: fluid Operations AG (Walldorf, Germany), SWIRRL IT LIMITED (Manchester, UK) and ProXML BVBA (Keerbergen, Belgium). The project is part of the EU’s 7th Framework Programme for Research.

Pilot projects

OpenCube will be evaluated and validated by four pilot projects.

The UK Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), a central government department publishing thousands of statistical datasets, will evaluate both data cube creation and data cube visualization and analysis tools on a selection of statistical datasets from the existing publication plan of the department.

The research centre of the Government of Flanders, which has already published more than 1,200 statistical datasets on its Open Data portal, will showcase how OpenCube extensions for Information Workbench, an open platform for Linked Data solution development in the enterprise, support journalists and citizens in exploring Linked Open Statistical Data to reveal new information and new insights.

The Irish Central Statistics Office (CSO), which collects, compiles, extracts and disseminates information relating to economic, social and general activities and conditions in Ireland, will use the OpenCube toolkit to publish the Irish 2011 Census as well as selected parts of the StatBank statistical database as Linked Data.

The fourth pilot project is carried out with the Investment Strategy and Research Unit of a large Swiss Bank. The unit performs research on financial markets and economics and relies heavily on a variety of open statistical data sources to provide forecasts of future trends. Relevant data providers include the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission, the European Central Bank (ECB), Eurostat, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), etc. In this context, the unit will provide descriptions of selected use cases and requirements, as well as evaluate the OpenCube tools.

Stay up to date

The OpenCube project was launched in November 2013. It will run for two years to end in October 2015. Up to date information about project developments is available on http://www.opencube-project.eu.

The project coordinator is Efthimios Tambouris, Centre for Research & Technology ‐ Hellas (CERTH), and the scientific managers are Peter Haase, fluid Operations, and Richard Cyganiak, NUIG.