RDF and Open Government Data

More often than not the topic of RDF (W3C’s Resource Description Framework) comes up soon after you get into any conversation about open government data. It comes up as the discussion strays into ways of making published datasets more valuable to developers and other potential consumers of any data that might be made available.

Well described and semantically tagged data is always going to be at the top end of that spectrum, with the additional metadata making it clearer to the developer what the purpose of the data is and how it can be used.

I’ve talked before about how much work a government agency might want to put into publishing their data, and conversely how much use that data then is to consumers. With additional usefulness comes additional cost, complexity and governance. Individual governments will decide for themselves how far along this path they want to walk.

The Resource Description Framework (or RDF) has been around for the best part of a decade and was designed, in part, on the basis that we would eventually see massive amounts of machine processable data and information published for consumption on the web – exactly as we are beginning to see as governments publish various national and state level datasets.

As additional background reading on the topic, Tim Berners-Lee talks about how RDF might apply directly to Open Government Data in his June 2009 article: “Putting Government Data online”.

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(the rest of this post contains a combination of quoted text and information in tables, both of which are hard to reproduce on GovLoop - the remainder of the original post can be read on my blog by following this link.)

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Profile Photo Oliver Bell

Government has always had the responsibility to use available tools in a responsible manner. Your line of argument could be applied to a wide array of new technologies that we have seen introduced into citizen service platforms over the last several decades.

It would be naive of me to suggest that your "big brother" scenario would not happen, but personally I feel it would also be irresponsible of me to discount a technology that could bring real benefit to government process simply because an unfavorable outcome is possible.