The Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission is investigating how the RDF encoding of spatial data can facilitate cross-sector interoperability and help reuse of the investments of INSPIRE in other data infrastructures, including Linked Data and Open Data Portals.
The e-Government and open data communities in Europe are increasingly looking at "Linked Data" approaches. In particular, the Resource Description Framework (RDF), a developer-friendly W3C specification for building the Semantic Web, can help data owners and data users to publish and combine different ‘self-describing’ datasets. Given its potential to help link geospatial data with other data sources, the JRC is developing RDF vocabularies for the INSPIRE spatial data themes, which will allow interested data providers to also use RDF (in addition to the default GML encoding) to share and link geospatial data in Europe
To ensure that these vocabularies follow a common approach, a proposal for common encoding guidelines has been developed. Formally, these guidelines follow the legal requirements in INSPIRE for specifying additional representations by showing how the spatial object types defined in the INSPIRE conceptual data models should be represented in RDF. Moreover, they act as a signpost for everyone who wants to use RDF to represent or consume INSPIRE data, especially those familiar with Semantic Web technologies.
A draft version of the guidelines is currently open for feedback and experts from the geospatial and Linked Data domains are welcome to provide inputs and contribute to the discussion. Following a review by the EC and Member State representatives working on the implementation of INSPIRE, the guidelines could eventually become additional encoding guidelines for geospatial data exchange in Europe.
To help put the draft guidelines in practice, JRC has launched two pilots with private sector partners from Spain and the Netherlands to illustrate how INSPIRE data can be used in e-Government services and processes, to demonstrate the feasibility of sharing INSPIRE data in RDF and to identify the benefits of representing it as Linked Data.
The current developments in the pilots and an introduction to the guidelines will be presented in a webinar on Tuesday the 4th of July at 11am CET.