Technicalities

Britain looks to take Data.gov concept to the next level

Site under development will apply Semantic Web technology

ACROSS THE POND.GOV: The United Kingdom’s Cabinet Office is developing a Web site in the style of the U.S. government’s Data.gov, and although the Office of Management and Budget got there first, the U.K. version might come out of the gate a little ahead in terms of technology.

The essential idea of www.data.gov.uk is based on the same one as Data.gov: Make government data accessible and available for reuse through a single Web portal. However, the British version, developed by Web founder Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Nigel Shadbolt of the University of Southampton, could leapfrog Data.gov in one respect: its use of Semantic Web technology, something Berners-Lee recently encouraged the stateside Data.gov developers to pursue.

The Semantic Web would link data in machine-readable formats, essentially creating a worldwide database. Anyone from academic researchers to students looking for online information sources to work on term papers can search Data.gov and parse data, and semantic links would make everything easier to find.

But it remains to be seen how well it will work. The Semantic Web is a nascent concept, and the U.K. site is members-only — developers have to apply to access the site. Last month, after about three weeks in operation, it had enlisted about 1,000 developers and had 1,000 datasets to work with. The site is expected to go live in December, and if it proves effective, it might be OMB’s turn to up the ante.

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is editor of Defense Systems. Follow him on Twitter: @KevinMcCaney.

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