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Using w3c org ontology to describe Ireland’s entry to the EU (i)

November 22, 2014

eGovernment EU Institutions working on interoperability (“Joinup”) have commited to the W3C their work on an ontology describing organisations. This follows work by Dave Reynolds.

There are also ontologies and vocabularies for Registered Organisations, EU institutions, job descriptions and do on. All very useful – really ! – but in trying to use them to describe the history of the Irish accession and membership of the EU I have come across a few things that have led to some customisations and extensions – a new ontology in fact. Of course, this is part of the beauty of Linked Data and I hope to have some real data to publish soon for review.

The dataset should include, starting at 1950, the history of Ireland’s interaction with the EU and the events that took place from them, in context. This will include organisations, events, ministries, ministers, locations, dates, and outcomes, and so will require some thought and analysis to avoid duplicating what is there already and to make correct use of the classes and properties already defined.

There are a few things to consider, not least the definition of a “state” for a “government” and a “ministry” or “department”. The Location ontology allows for geometric coordinates and spatial descriptions for instance, but the organisation ontology on the other hand doesn’t cater for a political or economic location to be described. So I am adding that and making use of another ontology (the Agricultural Information Management Standards geopolitical ontology/thesaurus). This will be joined by an object property.

The Joinup vocabulary for EU institutions includes historical names for the economic organisations and treaties – like the European Coal and Steel Community for instance – and is described using SKOS. This gets included as a reference source in my ontology. Treaties are not described as particular things so I’m working on adding that too. Prov-o may or may not help here. The CPSV catalog describes the Public Service but appears incomplete or still in development. It also doesn’t seem to link to the org ontology in any way, so I’ll tackle that as well. There is also a vocab for institutions names and civil service roles that will be useful, as long as I can link it back to foaf properly – still trying to see how for now !

Of course this all highlights a  issues and advantages of open world ontologies

  • your modelling perspective defines what you want to use and how you see other work – I see some gaps and connections that others may not, or that were not important or particular at the time, or that in fact need or can only be defined depending on your perspective
  • its possible to make up for that by joining and linking classes in a new ontology that reflects your vision
  • it can be hard work trying to figure out what exists already and where and how to extend it
  • tool support (in Protege at least) is lacking when it comes to creating individuals as well as new classes and properties – ideally I want to pick a class, then get some completion help to allow me to see the class hierarchy and the available properties (like a programming IDE – Eclipse or Idea for instance). I resort to sparql.
  • How to coin linkable URI and  where to publish  with a content negotiator and sparql endpoint ?

Still, it’s going to take some time, but should be interesting to come up with something that can be reviewed, corrected and evolve – without reinventing the wheel. Success will be measured in how many inbound links it gets !

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