Mario Campolargo is Deputy Director-General for Directorate-General of Informatics (DG DIGIT) at the European Commission. He sees the presence of the ISA2 Programme at Semantics 2017 is a brilliant opportunity to go on expanding the map of semantic interoperability and identify the latest trends that will help us to improve the impact of our actions in Europe
Can you tell something about your work/research focus?
A better connected Europe, in which public administrations can offer interoperable cross-border and cross-sector public services to businesses and citizens while reducing public expenditure, is our main goal at DIGIT. This is the reason why we initiated the ISA2 Programme, the latest programme in a row of initiatives aiming at digitising public administrations. It builds on the success of its predecessor, ISA Programme, which already developed more than 20 open source IT solutions.
Running from January 2016 until December 2020, the ISA2 programme is currently supporting 40 actions in different sectors.
Which trends and challenges you see for linked data/semantic web and why are they important for the ISA² programme?
Government data available on the Web is important to achieve greater transparency and accountability. It also allows the creation of new knowledge source and fosters creativity and innovation. The Directive on the re-use of public sector information (known as the PSI directive) is addressing this issue by encouraging public administrations to adopt open data policies and to allow broad use of their data records. In this context, linked data not only increases the impact of such policy but also benefits public administrations themselves. By re-using data, commonly-agreed metadata (e.g. vocabularies and taxonomies) and common identifiers (i.e. URIs) semantic interoperability is ensured during data exchange. This makes the provision of cross-border and cross-sector public services easier and creates economies of scale which are likely to result in significant savings.
This is why the ISA² programme has developed a number of semantic specifications and solutions which are free of charge and available to public administrations in Europe:
Core Vocabularies that public administrations can use and extend in the information exchange between systems, data integration, open data publishing and development of new systems.
DCAT Application Profile for data portals (DCAT-AP) provides a common specification for describing public sector datasets in Europe to enable the exchange of descriptions of datasets among data portals.
Asset Description Metadata Schema (ADMS) is a simple specification used to describe interoperability solutions, making it possible for everyone to search and discover them.
How can we make Europe more interoperable by digitising public administrations?
To address this challenge, the European Commission recently launched the new European Interoperability Framework (EIF). It offers public administrations 47 concrete recommendations on how to improve governance of their interoperability activities. It also offers them guidance to establish cross-organisational relationships; streamline processes supporting end-to-end digital services; and ensure that both existing and new legislation do not compromise interoperability efforts.
The successful implementation of the EIF through the EIF Action Plan will improve the quality of European public services and will create an environment where public administrations can collaborate digitally.
How are we making Europe more interoperable through semantic interoperability?
To better connect Europe, there is a need for a common understanding among organisations throughout the EU. That's why the ISA Programme initiated the SEMIC: Promoting Semantic Interoperability amongst the EU Member States. SEMIC helps those working in the area of government metadata management who want to check upon and possibly re-use semantic assets (metadata and/or reference data) and understand semantic interoperability requirements, approaches, tools, lessons learnt and case studies. At DIGIT, we are well aware of the fact that data and information are high-value assets for both public and private organizations. But they will deliver their full potential only by being secured, accessible, shareable and reusable. This is why several data and information management and governance initiatives are becoming increasingly important. Aiming at shaping long-term visions, these initiatives put in place the right processes, standards and tools for managing data and information, while encouraging a culture of information sharing and re-use.
With that aim, we recently held the SEMIC 2017 Conference, the 7th edition of the annual semantic interoperability conference. The event brought together inspirational talks and presentations on forward-looking data and information management initiatives from European public administrations, EU institutions and agencies and the private sector. The main focus of the conference was on how leading organizations in Europe are creating value from data and information for themselves and their stakeholders.
What are your expectations about Semantics 2017 in Amsterdam and what makes it special for the ISA² programme?
The presence of the ISA2 Programme at SEMANTICS 2017 is a brilliant opportunity to go on expanding the map of semantic interoperability and identify the latest trends that will help us to improve the impact of our actions in Europe, thus allowing all the Member States to walk together in the same direction with a unique goal: provide better public services to citizens throughout all along the EU.
Stay tuned to learn where and when SEMIC 2018 will take place and learn how to make Europe more interoperable through semantic interoperability.