Short report from SEMIC 2014

SEMIC 2014 Conference (Semantic Interoperability Community), titled "Metadata Governance & Management" was held on 9/4/2014 in Athens, Greece at the premises of the National Center of Public Administration and Local Governance, as another one of the related events in the context of the Greek Presidency of the Council of the European Union in collaboration with the Greek Ministry of Administrative Reform and e-Governance..

The event aimed to explore how Public Administrations can use semantic technologies to make information exchange efficient and effective, allowing them to operate at lower costs and provide better services. It was attended by 199 people from almost all member states of the EU (plus USA and Japan) as well as a number of 24 speakers from EU countries and USA.

The Conference consisted of the following Sessions:

  1. Introduction / Keynote speeches: Included, among others, a presentation from Vassilios Peristeras from the European Commission (and one of the people behind the Rural Inclusion ICT-PSP project that we were working on under the GRNET umbrella) ho highlighted the fact that there are already enough vocabularies and approaches developed so there is no need to develop new ones; instead, the existing ones should be reused. The outcomes are publicly available through the JOINUP web site
  2. Session 1: Metadata Governance and Management
  3. Session 2: Semantic Interoperability

Skipping the details, the common idea was that it is important for all stakeholders working with semantic interoperability to take into consideration the following aspects:

  • Using unique, persistent URIs;
  • Avoid using machine non-readable formats (PDF) when publishing data; instead use formats such as HTML (human-readable) and XML/RDF (machine readable);
  • Reusing existing standards instead of developing new ones, such as the ones already available through the JoinUP portal, the eGov Core Vocabularies, the DCAT AP for describing datasets etc.;
  • Define and develop sustainability plans for each new project and workflow;
  • Share all developments, standards etc. and keep them open;

The majority of the standards are available through the JoinUP portal, which acts as the central place to search for semantic assets. The e-Government Core Vocabularies are the main component and are further supported by other, more specific ones.

Among the various presentations (the slides will be available through the event’s website), the one of special interest for the agricultural community was the last one of the Conference. It was made by Johannes Keizer (UN FAO) titled "Open vocabularies, a need for linked open data infrastructures", which focused on the on the use of VocBench for the management of the AGROVOC theusaurus as a mean for publishing the thesaurus as Linked Data and the case study of AGRIS for enhancing semantic interoperability of the interconnected data sources.

Johannes Keizer presenting VocBench during the SEMIC 2014 Conference


You can find additional information in the Agro-Know blog post