27 September 2010. Researchers from the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid's Ontological Engineering Group (OEG) based at the Facultad de Informática has developed a service, as part of the GeoLinked Data initiative, which uses Spanish public data to relate geographical information to statistics. This way, they have managed to locate and relate spatial data with an unprecedented level of detail (granularity). The sources of the data integrated in this service are, on the one hand, the National Geographical Institute (IGN) and the National Geographical Information Centre (CNIG), and, on the other, the National Statistical Institute (INE). Although the the data from these sources of information are all available to the general public, the new service simplifies access and visualization.
Tool users can, for example, analyse the relations between the coastal regions of Spain and statistics concerning unemployment, population, housing and industry. The information is represented graphically on a map of Spain, which is updated every time new data are queried. Additionally, the statistical data are displayed as time series by years, and illustrate the trend of a selected parameter over a 10-year period, related at all times to the queried geographical information.
Thus, Spain joined the club of countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, with open public data initiatives. The Spanish initiative can relate holiday resorts on a map to the rate of unemployment in the region. This is an important point in view of the size of the tourist industry in Spain
Integrated in Linked Open Data
All the information from this service is integrated into the Linked Open Data (LOD) initiative. LOD is a world data network now containing over four and a half million references organized by subject bubbles connected to each other via the Internet. This world data network is one of the pillars of the future Semantic Web.
Most of the data in LOD is in English, and, as yet, it contains very few examples of geographical data. For this reason, the work of the UPM’s Facultad de Informática researchers on entering Spanish geographical data into LOD is groundbreaking.
Thanks to this research, some 21.5 million descriptions have been generated within LOD, making Spanish now the second language of this world database, with around 4% of its contents in Cervantes' tongue.
The process of transforming these information sources according to the LOD principles was as follows:
The UK (see video) and US Governments are also spearheading efforts to make their public data available to all interested parties over the Internet (data.gov, data.gov.uk), and, at the European level, there is a Commission directive aimed at making public data accessible for citizens. This new application can, therefore, be said to be pioneering the opening of Spanish public data to society. The research is not complete, as it is open to the inclusion of more data.
The project research group is led by Asunción Gómez Pérez, Director of the Artificial Intelligence Department of the UPM's Facultad de Informática and of the Ontological Engineering Group. The research group members are Óscar Corcho, Luis M. Vilches-Blázquez, Boris Villazón-Terrazas, Alexander De León, Víctor Saquicela, Freddy Priyatna, , Carlos Buil, José Mora and Jean Paul Calbimonte are all members.
The members of this group received an Honorary Mention in the "Open Government Data" track of the Triplification Challenge 2010 for the paper "Geographical Linked Data: a Spanish Use Case", presented at the 6th International Conference on Semantic Systems (I-SEMANTICS ), held in Austria in early September.
The National Geographical Institute is represented in this project by Sebastián Mas Mayoral, Director of the National Geographical Information Centre, and Antonio Rodríguez Pascual, Head of the CNIG's Geographical Information Infrastructure Area.
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ACM Technews 27.09.2010