The DCAT Application Profile for data portals in Europe (DCAT-AP) is a specification based on the Data Catalogue Vocabulary (DCAT) developed by W3C.
This application profile is a specification for metadata records to meet the specific application needs of data portals in Europe while providing semantic interoperability with other applications on the basis of reuse of established controlled vocabularies (e.g. EuroVoc) and mappings to existing metadata vocabularies (e.g. Dublin Core, SDMX, INSPIRE metadata, etc.).
Also, DCAT-AP provides a common specification for describing public sector datasets in Europe to enable the exchange of descriptions of datasets among data portals. DCAT-AP allows:
- Data catalogues to describe their dataset collections using a standardised description, while keeping their own system for documenting and storing them.
- Content aggregators, such as the European Data Portal, to aggregate such descriptions into a single point of access.
- Data consumers to more easily find datasets through a single point of access.
DCAT-AP has an extension GeoDCAT-AP for describing geospatial datasets, dataset series and services. Another extension, StatDCAT-AP, provides specifications and tools that enhance interoperability between descriptions of statistical data sets within the statistical domain and between statistical data and open data portals.
1. What are the benefits of using DCAT-AP?
One of the main benefits of DCAT-AP is ensuring consistency by providing a standard for the description of metadata which is published by data portals across Europe. Also, DCAT-AP assists data re-users and data providers with the following activities:
- Data reusers can get an overview of which datasets exist and which public administrations are maintaining it, in particular if the datasets are in another Member State enabling multilingual access to information. For this, data publishers and portals maintain catalogues of datasets that are made available by public administrations on their websites. The quality of the description metadata in these catalogues directly affects how easily datasets can be found.
- Data providers encourage reuse of their datasets by making them searchable and accessible by listing it on one or more data portals which can significantly reduce costs.
2. Who developed the solution?
DCAT-AP is a joint initiative of:
- The DCAT-AP Working Group;
- the Directorate-General for Informatics: DG DIGIT - in particular the SEMIC action of the ISA² programme;
- the Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content & Technology: DG CONNECT; and
- the Publications Office of the EU.
3. How is DCAT-AP maintained?
DCAT-AP is maintained based on DCAT-AP own Change and Release Management Policy.
All changes in the specification are discussed with the DCAT-AP Working Group to make sure that changes do not negatively impact the operation of implementations and the interoperability across the network of data portals, and publicly communicated.
4. DCAT-AP key milestones
- In December 2021, the DCAT-AP version 2.1.0 was released.
- On 4 February 2020 W3C published version 2 of the DCAT specification as a W3C Recommendation.
- In November 2019, the DCAT-AP version 2.0.0 was released.
- In May 2019, the DCAT-AP version 1.2.1 was released (bug fixes).
- In November 2018, the DCAT-AP version 1.2 was released.
- In September 2017, the DCAT-AP version 1.1 was released.
- In February 2015, the ISA Programme of the European Commission launched an activity to revise DCAT-AP
- On 13 March 2014 the Coordination Group of the Interoperability Solutions for European Public Administrations (ISA) Programme endorsed the DCAT-AP specification.
- On 16 January 2014 W3C published the DCAT specification as a W3C Recommendation.
- On 1 September 2013 DCAT-AP was implemented on the Open Data Interoperability Platform (ODIP) of the Open Data Support service initiated by DG CONNECT of the European Commission. The platform contains harmonised descriptions of more than 77.000 datasets from 16 European data catalogues.
- From April 2013 till May 2013 the DCAT-AP specification was created by a Working Group with representatives from 16 European Member States, the European Institutions and the US, following an open and inclusive process of consensus building.
5. DCAT-AP at one glance
6. Get started
Download DCAT-AP latest and previous releases.
Discover the technical documentation of DCAT-AP.
Get acquainted with the Change and Release Management Policy for DCAT-AP.
Read the paper on DCAT-AP Towards an open government data ecosystem in Europe using common standards.
Check metadata files for integrity and consistency against the DCAT-AP specification with the DCAT-AP Validator.
7. Get involved!
Do you want to participate in the work of our DCAT-AP Working Group? Share your comments and change requests via the GitHub DCAT-AP repository.
8. DCAT-AP users
DCAT-AP has been successfully implemented by...
European Union institutions and bodies:
- The European Commission DG CONNECT with the European Data Portal
- The Publications Office of the European Union with the European Union Open Data Portal
- The European Commission DG JRC with the JRC Data Catalogue
National public administrations across Europe:
- The German GovData Business Office with the German Data Portal
- The Belgian Federal Public Service for ICT with the Belgian open data portal
- The Belgian Federal Public Service for ICT with the command line RDF validator with built-in ruleset for DCAT-AP 1.1
- Open Knowledge Belgium with DCAT-BE
- CKAN with the DCAT harvester
- The Dutch Ministry of Interior and Kingdom Relations with the Dutch open data portal
- The Open Data Portal of Switzerland with the Geocat CKAN Harvester
- The Spanish Open Data Portal
- The Irish Department of Public Expenditure and Reform with the Irish open data portal
- The Federal Statistic Office FSO with the Swiss open data portal
- The Swedish DIGG Agency for Innovation and the Swedish national data portal
- The Swedish DIGG Agency for Innovation and the DCAT-AP manager
- The Swedish DIGG Agency for Innovation and the DCAT-AP validator for oppnadata.se
- The Swedish MetaSolutions and the EntryScape Catalog
- The Belgian city of Ghent and its open data portal
- The Italian Digital Agency (AGID) with DCAT-AP_IT
- The Norwegian Agency for Public Management and eGovernment (DIFI) with the Norwegian open data portal
9. Any questions?
Contact the SEMIC team.
10. About SEMIC
Visit the SEMIC collection on Joinup.