Back on August 1, Ralph Hodgson declared Data Independence Day , to celebrate the opening of oegov, a website that collects and organizes ontologies and data sets about government. Along with recent developments in open data in the US government, this creates a an opportunity to mash-up government data in a way that has not been possible before.
We're celebrating next week at ISWC with a tutorial on building semantic web applications for government. The tutorial will show attendees how to use semantic web standards to create their own data mashup applications. A lot of the features of the semantic web come in to play - distributed vocabularies (using SKOS, of course), linked open data, RSS, etc. The idea is that each attendee will walk away from the workshop with their own app that they created from data now available from the goverment.
Controlled vocabularies play a big role in this - bigger than you might have thought possible. After all, if two people use a common controlled vocabulary well, they can share data. But if they use it badly, well, then data quality issues dominate. Fortunately, there are some controlled vocabularies being used in the government in a pretty consistent way. They are published in convenient forms on OEGov, where they can be used as terminology hubs for mashing up information.
The workshop is part of the International Semantic Web Conference 2009, to be held near Washington, DC from 25-29 October (the workshop itself will be held on Oct 26 in the afternoon, and you can register without attending the whole conference!). The conference this year has a special focus on government data and applications, and should be a great event for anyone interested in openness of government data.