Posts Tagged ‘data.gov’

Data.gov Turns Five

datagov

Nextgov reports, “When government technology leaders first described a public repository for government data sets more than five years ago, the vision wasn’t totally clear. ‘I just didn’t understand what they were talking about,’ said Marion Royal of the General Services Administration, describing his first introduction to the project. ‘I was thinking, ‘this is not going to work for a number of reasons.’’ A few minutes later, he was the project’s program director. He caught onto and helped clarify that vision and since then has worked with a small team to help shepherd online and aggregate more than 100,000 data sets compiled and hosted by agencies across federal, state and local governments.” Read more

Government Linked Data Goes With George Thomas

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Thank you to John Breslin for authoring this guest post remembering our friend and colleague, George Thomas.]

Photo of George ThomasWhen writing about a person’s significant achievements, it would be so much better if the person themselves could hear the good things you were saying about them. Unfortunately, the person I am writing about, George Thomas, passed away last week after a long battle with cancer. However, I think it is important to note the huge impact that George had on Government Linked Data, Linked Data in general, and on his friends and colleagues in the Semantic Web space. If there’s one name that Government Linked Data ‘goes with’, it would be George Thomas.

Although I only physically met George a handful of times, I would count him as one of those who influenced me the most – through his visionary ideas, his practical nature, his inspiring talks at conferences like SemTechBiz, and his willingness to build bridges between people, communities, and of course data.

For those who may not have met him, George worked in the US Government for the past 12 years – most recently as an enterprise architect in the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) – and previously he held Chief Architect/CTO roles in other agencies and various private companies.

I first came across George when he was Chief Architect at the CIO’s office in the US General Services Administration. He had given a presentation about how Semantic Web technologies similar to SIOC could potentially be used to “track the dollar instead of the person” on Recovery.gov. Later on, DERI’s Owen Sacco and I collaborated with George on a system to create and enforce fine-grained access control policies (using PPO/PPM) for the HHS’s Government Linked Data on IT investments and assets stored in multiple sources. (George also sung DERI’s praises in a blog post on Data.gov – “Linked Data Goes With DERI” – echoed in this article’s title.)

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Navigating The World Of Open Data On The Web

At a session discussing open data on the web at the Semantic Technology and Business Conference last week, W3C eGov consultant Phil Archer had this to say: That in his mind and the minds of the semantic web technology business people gathered at the event, “Open data is strongly associated with Linked Data, but the world doesn’t necessarily agree with us.”

What they are thinking about: “JSON and CSVs are the kings,” he said. “If you look at open data portals, CSVs [which get converted to JSON files] outweigh Linked Data by a mile,” he noted. And, he said, religious wars between those who see the world as triples vs. CSVs won’t be good for anyone. “If we keep telling the public sector to aim for 5-star data, vs. CSV 3-star data, we are in danger of the whole open data movement collapsing.”

No one wants that, and to address the big picture of realizing the promise of open data, April saw The Open Data on the Web workshop take place. It was organized by the W3C, the Open Data Institute, founded by Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Professor Nigel Shadbolt, and the Open Knowledge Foundation.

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White House Changing Policies to Open Up More Data…

…and make it machine readable. Jason Miller of Federal News Radio reports, “White House technology leaders are close to issuing a new policy that will change the way agencies release data to the public. Todd Park, the federal chief technology officer, said Friday the new policy is one of several steps to spur the release of more data from agencies. ‘We are going to continue to enlist additional federal agencies in the open data initiatives program as fast track liberators of key existing data sets that could create large scale economics benefit while protecting privacy,’ Park said at the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology meeting in Washington. ‘We also, as per the recently announced Digital Government Strategy just this past summer, with OMB will be releasing policy soon that makes open and computer readable the default status of new data created by the government going forward’.” Read more

Data.gov Moving to Open Source Platform

The team at Nextgov reports, “The team that manages Data.gov is well on its way to making the government data repository open source using a new back-end called the Open Government Platform, officials said during a Web discussion Wednesday. The governments of India and Ghana have already launched beta versions of their data catalogues on the open source platform, said Jeanne Holm who heads the Data.gov team. Government developers from the U.S. and India built the OGPL jointly. They posted it to the code sharing site GitHub where other nations and developers can adopt it as is or amend it to meet their specific needs.” Read more

Good-Bye to 2012: Continuing Our Look Back At The Year In Semantic Tech

Courtesy: Flickr/LadyDragonflyCC <3

Yesterday we began our look back at the year in semantic technology here. Today we continue with more expert commentary on the year in review:

Ivan Herman, W3C Semantic Web Activity Lead:

I would mention two things (among many, of course).

  •  Schema.org had an important effect on semantic technologies. Of course, it is controversial (role of one major vocabulary and its relations to others, the community discussions on the syntax, etc.), but I would rather concentrate on the positive aspects. A few years ago the topic of discussion was whether having ‘structured data’, as it is referred to (I would simply say having RDF in some syntax or other), as part of a Web page makes sense or not. There were fairly passionate discussions about this and many were convinced that doing that would not make any sense, there is no use case for it, authors would not use it and could not deal with it, etc. Well, this discussion is over. Structured data in Web sites is here to stay, it is important, and has become part of the Web landscape. Schema.org’s contribution in this respect is very important; the discussions and disagreements I referred to are minor and transient compared to the success. And 2012 was the year when this issue was finally closed.
  •  On a very different aspect (and motivated by my own personal interest) I see exciting moves in the library and the digital publishing world. Many libraries recognize the power of linked data as adopted by libraries, of the value of standard cataloging techniques well adapted to linked data, of the role of metadata, in the form of linked data, adopted by journals and soon by electronic books… All these will have a profound influence bringing a huge amount of very valuable data onto the Web of Data, linking to sources of accumulated human knowledge. I have witnessed different aspects of this evolution coming to the fore in 2012, and I think this will become very important in the years to come.

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Summary of 11th International Semantic Web Conference

Big Graph Data Panel at ISWC 2012

Big Graph Data Panelists (L to R): Mike Stonebraker, John Giannandrea, Bryan Thompson, Tim Berners- Lee, Frank van Harmelen

Last week, the 11th International Semantic Web Conference (ISWC 2012) took place in Boston. It was an exciting week to learn about the advances of the Semantic Web and current applications.

The first two days, Sunday November 11 and Monday November 12, consisted of 18 workshops and 8 tutorials. The following three days (Tuesday November 13 – Thursday November 15) consisted of keynotes, presentation of academic and in-use papers, the Big Graph Data Panel and industry presentations. It is basically impossible to attend all the interesting presentations. Therefore, I am going to try my best to summarize and offer links to everything that I can.

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Understanding Machine Readability

Jim Hendler and Theresa A. Pardo have created a primer on machine readability for online documents on Data.gov. The pair explain, “Historically, efforts to make government information available to the public have focused on pushing static information about government programs and services to the web. The intended user has been a human who can read, print, and take actions based on reading the material or by engaging in a form-based transaction. In some cases, users were able to query the data or map the results using sophisticated geospatial displays. Access to the data itself, on the other hand, was rarely provided.” Read more

Linked Open Government Data: Dispatch from the Second International Open Government Data Conference

“What we have found with this project is… the capacity to take value out of open data is very limited.”

With the abatement of the media buzz surrounding open data since the first International Open Government Data Conference (IOGDC) was held in November 2011, it would be easy to believe that the task of opening up government data for public consumption is a fait accompli.  Most of the discussion at this year’s IOGDC conference, held July 10-12, centered on the advantages and roadblocks to creating an open data ecosystem within government, and the need to establish the right mix of policies to promote a culture of openness and sharing both within and between government agencies and externally with journalists, civil society, and the public at large.   According to these metrics the open government data movement has much to celebrate:  1,022,787 datasets from 192 catalogs in 24 languages representing 43 countries and international organizations.

The looming questions about the utility of open government data make it clear, however, that the movement is still in its early stages.    Much remains to be done to to provide usable, reliable, machine-readable and valuable government data to the public.

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Datasets Addition Promising Extension For Schema.Org

A call for comments is out for a proposal for a ‘Datasets‘ addition to schema.org, via the W3C’s Web Schemas task force group that is used by the schema.org project to collaborate with the wider community.

The proposal extending schema.org for describing datasets and data catalogs introduces three new types, with associated properties, as follows:

Writing at the Schema.org blog, Dan Brickley calls it a “small but useful vocabulary,” with particular relevance to open government and public sector data.

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