Linked open data in the public sector

The following post is an excerpt from my thesis entitled Linked open data for public sector information.
Having reviewed the theoretical foundations for technical openness and data quality of linked data, this section turns to the ways in which linked open data is used in practice in the public sector. Contrary to the popular belief, linked open data is not any more confined to the research institutes producing pilots and prototypes. It is used in practice, and the public sector is one of the central areas in which linked data is being adopted.
To find out about the role of public sector data in the ever-increasing web of data, the Linked Open Data Cloud diagram may be consulted. This diagram depicts the connections between the existing linked data sources that are published under the terms of an open licence. Progressive changes made to this diagram over time illustrate the growth of the web of data that now contains more than a billion triples. The cloud is partitioned in broad subject categories that include a category for “government”. According to the State of the LOD Cloud [1] survey from September 2011 the datasets in this category represented 42.09 % of triples in the cloud. However, these datasets accounted only for 3.84 % of outbound links to external datasets.
The Linked Open Data Cloud features datasets from the public sector of a number of countries. The U.S. is represented by their pioneering Data.gov project started by the Obama administration in May 2009. In the United Kingdom, the adoption of linked open data in the public sector was kick-started by research projects, such as AKTivePSI [2]  at the University of Southampton. The research activity quickly developed into an official part of work of the public sector and gave rise to Data.gov.uk, one of the most comprehensive and progressive government data catalogues to-date. Aside from the other countries, initial experiments with linked open data for the data produced in the public sector are also conducted in the Czech Republic by an un-official initiative OpenData.cz.
The thriving growth of linked open data activities in the public sector pointed to a need for coordination and development of standards and best practices. The W3C has taken the lead and established the Government Linked Data Working Group to help guide the adoption of linked open data in the public sector. The group is scheduled to run until 2013, but it already published several recommendations, such as the Cookbook for open government linked data [3].


  1. BIZER, Chris; JENTZSCH, Anja; CYGANIAK, Richard. State of the LOD Cloud [online]. Version 0.3. September 19th, 2011 [cit. 2012-04-11]. Available from WWW: http://www4.wiwiss.fu-berlin.de/lodcloud/state/
  2. ALANI, Harith; CHANDLER, Peter; HALL, Wendy; O’HARA, Kieron; SHADBOLT, Nigel; SZOMSZOR, Martin. Building a pragmatic semantic web. IEEE Intelligent Systems. May—June 2008, vol. 23, iss. 3, p. 61 — 68. Also available from WWW: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/265787/1/alani-IEEEIS08.pdf. ISSN 1541-1672. DOI 10.1109/MIS.2008.42.
  3. HYLAND, Bernardette; TERRAZAS, Boris Villazón; CAPADISLI, Sarven. Cookbook for open government linked data [online]. Last modified on February 20th, 2012 [cit. 2012-04-11]. Available from WWW: http://www.w3.org/2011/gld/wiki/Linked_Data_Cookbook

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