23 May 2012 - During a round-table meeting in Brussels, the Coordination Group of the Interoperability Solutions for European Public Administrations (ISA) Programme has endorsed four open specifications for e-Government interoperability.
The ISA Coordination Group is a body of EU Member State representatives that ensures the continuity and consistency of the Actions carried out under the ISA Programme. During its May 23 meeting in Brussels, the ISA Coordination Group representatives have unanimously endorsed four key specifications that result from the ISA Programme: the Asset Description Metadata Schema (ADMS), and the Core Business, Core Location, and Core Person Vocabularies. These specifications were developed by two multi-disciplinary Working Groups between November 2011 and April 2012.
At the meeting, Mr Vassilios Peristeras, ISA Programme Manager, explained the significance of the endorsement: although it does not make the specifications legally binding, it is an important milestone as the EU Member States acknowledge the work and commit to further exploit and disseminate it at national level. He also highlighted the fact that the ISA Programme has reached an agreement with W3C, whereby the specifications will undergo a standardisation process piloted by the W3C Government Linked Data Working Group as from June 2012. During this process, the ISA Programme will promote pilot implementations of the specifications, which are expected to become a cornerstone of public sector information exchange in Europe.
E-Government Core Vocabularies
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. Core Vocabularies help describe data entities by defining their core components. When applied in IT systems, these Core Vocabularies make data easier to reuse and share and can be used as a starting point for developing new electronic government (e-Government) services, helping to enable interoperability between widely different IT systems across sectors and borders.
Three core vocabularies have been developed by the Core Vocabularies Working Group following a process and methodology based on W3C’s best practices. More than 60 people of 21 EU Member States have participated in the Core Vocabularies work. The Core Vocabularies were released for public review on February 17 2012, during which over 20 comments were received. Version 1.00 of the specifications, expressed in UML, XML, and RDF formats, was released to the general public on 11 May 2012 and includes the following:
- Core Business Vocabulary: this specification enables interoperability among business registers and any other ICT based solutions exchanging and processing information about businesses. The task force responsible for this vocabulary was chaired by DG MARKT/F2, involved in the European Business Register project;
- Core Location Vocabulary: this specification enables interoperability among land registers and any other ICT based solution exchanging and processing location information. The task force was chaired by JRC/H6 Digital Earth and Reference Data;
- Core Person Vocabulary: this specification enables interoperability among people registers and any other ICT based solutions exchanging and processing information about people. The task force was chaired by Eurojust. Eurojust promotes interoperability in the judicial domain via the EPOC IV project.
Asset Description Metadata Schema (ADMS)
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 easily discoverable 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 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.
ADMS is developed by following a process and methodology based on W3C’s best practices. More than 60 people of 20 EU Member States as well as from the US and Australia have participated in the ADMS Working Group. A working draft of ADMS was released for public review in January 2012. Over 20 comments were received by the general public and several Member States, which were discussed with the Working Group and taken into consideration for version 1.00, released to the general public on April 18 2012. The ADMS is expressed in in UML, XML, and RDF formats. Several, Member States and Standardisation Bodies have started to implement ADMS and will participate in the first wave of the federation of semantic asset repertories, for which Joinup will act as a central platform.
All four specifications are released to the general public under the ISA Open Metadata Licence v1.1, which allows any interested party to use, re-use, modify, and redistribute the work for both commercial and non-commercial activities.
Specifications moving to W3C standards
The four specifications will be contributed to the W3C’s Government Linked Data (GLD) Working Group. This Working Group was set up in 2011 to provide standards and other information which help governments around the world publish their data as effective and usable Linked Data using Semantic Web technologies. ADMS and the Core Vocabularies 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.
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