Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Archive for the ‘Public Data Sets’ Category

Gov 3.0 Has Entered The Building

by April 8th, 2010

By Michael Riedyk

…Web 3.0, built on the foundations of the Semantic Web, is not much of a replacement of Web 2.0, but, rather, an important addition. According to Wikipedia, the Semantic Web is “an evolving development of the World Wide Web in which the meaning (semantics) of information and services on the web is defined, making it possible for the web to “understand” and satisfy the requests of people and machines to use the web content.”

….the development of the World Wide Web has four stages or quadrants plotted along two axes – Increasing Social Connectivity and Increasing Knowledge Connections and Reasoning.

The four stages are briefly described as the following:

  1. The Web (Web 1.0) – “Connects Information” – has minimal social connectivity and knowledge connections and reasoning, and uses such technology as file servers, search engines and person-to-person file sharing.
  2. The Social Web (Web 2.0) – “Connects People” – still has minimal knowledge connections and reasoning but increasing social connectivity, and consists of blogs, social networking, mash-ups and the like.
  3. The Semantic Web (Web 3.0) – “Connects Knowledge” – has some social connectivity but increasing knowledge connections and reasoning, and relies on artificial intelligence, thesauri and taxonomies, and bots.
  4. The Ubiquitous Web (Web 4.0) – “Connects Intelligence” – will have increasing knowledge connections and reasoning as well as incoming social connectivity, and will rely on new technologies like automatic intellectual property, semantic wikis and smart markets.

While Web 2.0 is all about people engaging in social networks, Web 3.0 is the actually same but for machines or software applications (apps). Lets call Web 3.0 the “Facebook for Apps”.

The problem with HTML is that it works great for people, but not so good for apps that want to collaborate on information. Therefore, the  World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) developed the Resource Description Framework (RDF), an XML standard that defines relations between data (sources), relations and its semantics (what it is).

For example, when you publish something about “New York”, we all know that it is about a city. But apps don’t know that, so they couldn’t use that information. RDF provides a format that adds metadata and explains, in this case, that “New York” is a city. Other apps that look for information on New York can now use all information related to that RDF file.

With the semantics web, the web transforms from a bunch of unstructured web pages and separate databases into ONE BIG DATABASE!

The impact of the semantic web is massive. Applications can search, filter and aggregate information for us, rather than spending hours behind Google to collect manually. Apps could even give you personalized advice based on your profile, location and real-time data that is available on the web somewhere.

Back to the New York example: if I was to click on the word “New York” in this text, I would instantly get a flightplan (based on my schedule), the best attractions to go to (based on the fact that I have a family of four), a list of hotels that fit my current budget and personal preferences, friends who will be around and suggestions for people to meet. Thus, an unlimited amount of information and databases that match my personal profile and interests, without spending hours behind Google.

When will this happen? It is actually happening now already. More and more databases are published online or accessible via API’s. We only need to wait until more organizations make their data available in RDF. Once that happens, the web starts transforming into one database and we can start building intelligent apps on top of that.

What does this all has to do with Government or Gov 3.0? Well, following the Web 3.0 definition,

Gov 3.0 kicks-off when Governments start publishing Open Data using the semantic web standards (RDF).

The recent Open Government directive in the US and in the UK expect governments to publish their databases online. Open Data will be the next big trend in Government all over the world. The Open Gov West event in Seattle I attended last week was an important milestone: what started as a small event for a few people grew into a big event with almost 200 attendees from all over the US. The main question was a call for standards.

I have an important message for everyone who attended and those who are currently working on Open Data projects:

Publish all of that Open Data in RDF format. Chances are, this time governments and Gov 3.0 will be the driving force behind Web 3.0!

And we are a step closer to the Ubiquitous Web.

Government Keeps Troubled-Doctors List A Secret

by April 2nd, 2010

By John Ryan

Over the past 20 years, health-care providers in Washington state have paid out more than $1 billion in malpractice lawsuits. That’s according to a federal database that helps hospitals avoid hiring incompetent caregivers. It’s a lot harder for members of the public to dig into the backgrounds of doctors and nurses.

Rest of story here.