Professional web application development for small to medium enterprises.

UK government launches public beta for data

The UK, like the US before it, has today launched the government data project. These projects hope to tap in the large pool developers to produce innovative applications utilising this vast amount of data. Web founder Sir Tim Berners-Lee said:

"It's such an untapped resource...Government data is something we have already spent the money on... and when it is sitting there on a disk in somebody's office it is wasted."

According to the W3C - Putting Government Data online, government data is put online typically for 3 reasons:

  1. Increasing citizen awareness of government functions to enable greater accountability;
  2. Contributing valuable information about the world; and
  3. Enabling the government, the country, and the world to function more efficiently.

The UK government data is made available in raw format, but the emphasis is placed on using linked data.

Why linked data?

Linked data is about publishing and interlinking data on the web. Applications can link data from various sources to build a more complete picture than is otherwise unavailable from one source.

To enable linked data, you need:

  1. a standard language/model for storing data, and
  2. a method for querying the data store.

W3C defined:

  • RDF (Resource Description Framework) for the data store, and
  • SPARQL (SPARQL Protocol and RDF Query Language). This is pronounced sparkle.

In the RDF language, all knowledge is expressed as a triple comprising:

  1. a subject
  2. a predicate or verb, and
  3. an object

The real power of RDF comes from using the same vocabulary to describe each of the three. Standard vocabularies such as the Dublin Core, the FOAF, the RDFS, and the OWL allow applications to easily relate objects from different data stores, and thus to enhance data in one store with data from another store.


If you want to find out more on government data, and related technologies, you are encouraged to follow the links below: