How semantic technologies transform public administration

Fri, 08/07/2015 – 07:37, by Nika Mizerski

We are very happy to have representatives from all fields at SEMANTicS 2015 with hands-on experience in implementing semantic solutions.

Simon Dalferth is an advisor to the directorate at the Council of the European Union for strategic developments on information and knowledge management. He is also strongly involved in the Open Data initiatives of the public body.

Simon will share his project experience as a speaker at SEMANTiCS 2015.

Take a first look how the public administration can benefit from semantic technologies and Open Data.

You are responsible for the information systems architecture at the Council of European Union. Which role do semantic technologies play in your current IT strategy?

Simon Dalferth: We aim to transform the General Secretariat of the EU Council into an organisation, which places a strong emphasis on how information is created, managed, and aggregated into knowledge. Therefore, we have defined that “knowledge management is the ultimate objective of all information management activities” as one of the guiding principles of our Enterprise Architecture framework. As semantic technologies are an important knowledge management enabler, it is safe to state that they play a key role in our IT strategy.

Where do you see the most important challenges in information and data management at the Council in the coming 2-5 years? Where could semantic technologies support the Councils ICT landscape best?

Simon Dalferth: We are currently undertaking a major overhaul – conceptually and technically – of our information, data and knowledge management approach. As information provision to our clients (EU member states) is our core business, we are exploring semantic technologies as a core component in this overhaul. We are currently in an exploratory stage, but see an important role for semantic technologies in the way we provide information to our own staff, by allowing them to retrieve information and formalised knowledge more efficiently. Adding a semantic layer to our information could also allow us to provide our clients with a much richer experience by simplifying information retrieval and by providing context on multiple dimensions (theme, meeting, process). It could also play a major role in the interinstitutional cooperation at EU level by adding a rich layer on the data that EU institutions exchange when they collaborate.

You just launched the Councils Open Data Pilot project and the Council participates in the EU Open Data Portal. Why are Open Data initiatives so important and where is this movement heading?

Simon Dalferth: The European Council is encouraging public institutions to provide information as open data in the context of administrative modernisation, better services and transparency. As the General Secretariat of the Council is the public administration supporting the Council of the EU and the European Council, we took this call to heart and decided to embark on a pilot project to scope out the practical challenges involved in providing data that we already make available in as linked open data. This has been a great success, so we decided to build on the lessons learned and add another two data sets for 2016: on our documents and on public requests to access to documents. This is data that is regularly requested, so making it available in reusable format should also make our life easier. At the same time, we are developing a general approach to the handling of our business information. This will build on the experiences we have made with the two pilot projects. In other words, the way forward on open data and on semantic technologies for us is closely linked to each other.

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