The European Interoperability Framework (EIF) defines semantic interoperability as the preservation of meaning in the exchange of electronic information. The lack of semantic interoperability between European e-Government systems is one of the major obstacles in the provision of cross-border and cross-sector digital public services.
SEMIC is a European Commission initiative (funded under Action 1.1 and Action 2.15 of the ISA Programme) to improve the semantic interoperability of interconnected e-Government systems. It focuses on the following activities:
To bring the issue of semantic interoperability to the attention of policy makers and ICT solution developers, a Semantic Interoperability Conference (SEMIC) is held annually with around 100 to 150 participants. Furthermore, Action 1.1 acts as an observatory and brings news and events about initiatives and issues related to semantic interoperability to social media such as the Joinup platform, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
SEMIC encourages the sharing and reuse of interoperability solutions by making collections of reusable interoperability solutions searchable on Joinup. These collections are described using the Asset Description Metadata Schema (ADMS). ADMS is a vocabulary to describe interoperability solutions making it possible for ICT developers to explore and search through collections of interoperability solutions owned by standardization bodies, public administrations, and software vendors. In October 2013, 25 partner organisations have shared their collections of in total more than 2000 interoperability assets, using the Asset Description Metadata Schema (ADMS).
The e-Government Core Vocabularies are simplified, re-usable and extensible data models that capture the fundamental characteristics of an entity in a context-neutral way. So far, Core Vocabularies have been developed for the concepts ‘Person’, ‘Registered Organization’, ‘Location’, and ‘Public Service’. This work has been created by international Working Groups with representatives from EU Member States, aiming to reach a consensus.
SEMIC forsters the interoperability of open data portals by building consensus on and promoting the DCAT Application profile for data portals in Europe (DCAT-AP). DCAT-AP provides a common specification for describing public sector datasets and enables the exchange of descriptions of datasets among data portals. The ultimate aim is to allow users to search through different collections of open datasets from a single point of access. DCAT-AP was developed in a common project with the Publications Office of the European Union, DG CONNECT, and DG DIGIT.
In the context of SEMIC, a number of studies on Linked Open Government Data (LOGD) were conducted. These studies include among others a study on ‘Good practices for persistent URIS (URI study)’ and on ‘Business Models for Linked Open Government Data (BM4LOGD)’, case studies (e.g. the LOGD case study) and pilots (e.g. Core Location pilot). In 2013, six Linked Open Government Data pilots were carried out in collaboration with public administrations in several EU Member States. The pilots were intended as a proof-of-concept to demonstrate the value of applicability of the Core Vocabularies to harmonize and publish Linked Data.
In 2014, a ‘Survey on good practices for the Management and Governance of Structural Metadata’ was conducted. On the basis of a number of pilots with EU institutions, including the Directorates-General for Competition and for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, and the Publications Office of the European Union, a common inter-organisational approach for the management and governance of structural metadata is created.