EU: ISA Programme Key Specifi…

EU: ISA Programme Key Specifications for interoperability to become W3C standards

Published on: 29/03/2012

The Asset Description Metadata Schema (ADMS) together with three Core Vocabularies (Core Person, Core Business, and Core Location) which were created by   the EU's Interoperability Solutions for European Public Administration (ISA) programme will be contributed to the    W3C's Government Linked Data (GLD) Working Group. The GLD Working Group was set up in 2011 to provide standards and other information which help governments around the world to publish their data as effective and usable Linked Data using Semantic Web technologies. The ISA Programme outputs will be published by the GLD WG as First Public Working Drafts for further consultation within the context of the typical W3C standardization process. The desired outcome of that process will be the publication of these vocabularies as open Web standards available under W3C's Royalty-Free License.

Many highly reusable data models, code lists, XML schemas, vocabularies and RDF data models - just to name a few examples of semantic assets - are lying dormant in a multitude of websites, databases and file systems. This is an extraordinarily wasteful state of affairs, even more when many of these assets were created thanks to public funding. Moreover, many public administrations are facing rising costs of development and maintenance of their information systems to ensure that data flows seamlessly through different systems within and across borders.  Still today, it is not easy for public administrations to discover reusable data models, valuable code lists and other similar specifications. As these assets are not easy to discover on the web, public administrations spend resources recreating them over and over again. It is not only the money that is spent on reinventing the wheel but also the money needed to fund endless mapping and convergence projects between similar specifications. To help solve this, the European Commission has launched in October 2011 a multidisciplinary working group of experts from EU institutions, Academia and Standardisation Bodies to create the ADMS specification, a common vocabulary to describe semantic interoperability assets. ADMS enables a federated publishing paradigm in which publishers of semantic assets can easily describe what their assets are about and where they can be found on the Web. As information about semantic assets becomes well-defined tools may be created to unambiguously search and process them. This working group reused a modified version of W3C's methodology for developing standards.

Although there are many cross-border public services in the EU, citizens and businesses are still not receiving them in a seamless and efficient way. When citizens of one member state receive services in another, the necessary exchange of data is often hampered by incompatible data standards and specifications. In response, to this challenge, the European Commission launched in November 2011 a multi disciplinary Working Group of experts from EU institutions, Academia and Standardisation Bodies to develop three common core vocabularies to be used in the development of public sector IT systems. These Core Vocabularies are simplified, reusable, and extensible data models that capture the fundamental characteristics of an entity in a context-neutral way. Adherence to Core Vocabularies guarantees organisations to attain a minimum level of cross-border and cross-sector interoperability. The current specification contains three core vocabularies:

  • The Core Business Vocabulary, chaired by DG Internal Market (DG MARKT)/F2, responsible for the European Business Registry project;
  • The Core Location Vocabulary chaired by Joint Research Centre (JRC)/H6 Digital Earth and Reference Data (INSPIRE Directive); and
  • The Core Person Vocabulary chaired by Eurojust, promotes interoperability in the judicial domain via the EPOC IV project.

The same modified version of W3C's methodology, used for the ADMS work, was also used for developing the three Core Vocabularies.

The ISA Programme will further promote the adoption of all the above-mentioned specifications in National Interoperability Frameworks, national eGovernment projects and within the European Commission. Being published as W3C standards will increase the possibility for adoption of these vocabularies by European public administrations and beyond.  It is also a clear example of the positive impact the ISA Programme has on promoting semantic interoperability in Europe.

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