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Study on use cases and benefits of ISA² specifications

ISA² specifications – use cases and benefits

Published on: 21/01/2019 Last update: 22/01/2019 Document

The SEMIC action of the ISA² programme seeks to promote the use of semantic tools and solutions to overcome interoperability challenges between Member States public administrations when maintaining and exchanging data for the execution of European Public Services. To support this objective, the action has produced semantic specifications and solutions, which are available to public administrations in Europe free of charge.  This study provides an overview of the potential use cases of ISA² specifications, focusing on Core Vocabularies and DCAT-AP, and assesses their potential benefits based on the identified use cases, illustrated by practical examples.

Use cases and benefits of ISA2 specifications


Core Vocabularies

The Core Vocabularies are “simplified, reusable and extensible data models that capture the fundamental characteristics of a data entity in a context-neutral and synthax-neutral fashion”[1]. Core Vocabularies focus on defining most relevant characteristics of a concept, which can then be extended into context-specific data models depending on public administrations’ needs (for example a national context in a specific Member States). Public administrations can use and extend the Core Vocabularies in the following contexts:

  • Open data publishing,
  • Data integration,
  • Publication of Linked Data,
  • Information exchange between systems, and
  • Development of new systems.

The use of Core Vocabularies, based on known practical examples, allows European public administrations to implement various use cases and, more generally, contribute to the seamless exchange of data between public administrations, within a single Member State, between national and/or regional authorities, but also between Member States and at EU level.

The Core Location Vocabulary, for example, by providing a set of classes and properties to describe a location represented as an address, a geographic name, or a geometry, enables interoperability among land registers and any other ICT based solutions exchanging and processing location information.


The DCAT Application Profile for data portals in Europe (DCAT-AP) is a specification based on the Data Catalogue Vocabulary (DCAT) for describing public sector data sets in Europe. DCAT-AP provides a common specification for describing public sector datasets in Europe to enable the exchange of descriptions of datasets among data portals and the search across data portals.

There are many known users of DCAT-AP to aggregate content and descriptions into a single point of access. The European Union Open Data Portal is one of the most well-known use cases, in which DCAT-AP is used for metadata publishing and to ensure interoperability of data portals and data coming from different sources at national level. At national level, there are many Member States and EEA countries using DCAT-AP for the publication of Linked Data on national open data portals, including Belgium, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland.

The study examines use cases and expected benefits for each of these use cases.


Interested in ISA² specifications?

Do you want to know more about our ISA² Core Vocabularies and how they can bring value to your organisation? Visit our Core Vocabularies pages on Joinup via this link.

Do you want to learn more on how your organisation can use DCAT-AP? Visit our DCAT-AP pages on Joinup via this link.


[1] European Commission, e-Government Core Vocabularies Handbook.


Type of document
General case study