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Public invited to provide input on the important steps towards improving interoperability across Europe


The European Commission seeks comments on three fundamental data entities.

From noon today, citizens will get a chance to participate in the development of three fundamental collections of technical definitions that will be used for online electronic public administration services. These definitions will help solve the problem of incompatible vocabularies used by the individual developers of public administrations’ IT systems.

Core Vocabularies help to describe data entities by defining their components. When applied in IT systems, these Core Vocabularies make data easier to reuse and share and can be used as a starting point for developing new electronic government (e-Government) services, helping to enable interoperability between widely different IT systems across sectors and borders.

Open review

A set of three Core Vocabularies are now open for a month-long public review, organised by the European Commission’s ISA (Interoperability Solutions for European Public Administrations) programme:

  1. Core Person Vocabulary
  2. Core Business Vocabulary
  3. Core Location Vocabulary

For example, the Core Person Vocabulary offers a model of the specific features that can be used to catalogue and describe a person, including their place of birth, their date of birth, and their gender. Specialisations of this Core Person Vocabulary would then specify the type of person, for example whether they were a voter, an employee, a passenger, or a patient.

The other two Core Vocabularies describe data entities in the domains of business and geographical location.

The three Core Vocabulary specifications now open for public review have been developed over the past three months by three Working Groups, one for each draft core vocabulary, totalling 67 experts. Each of the three Working Groups, or task forces, includes specialists from the European Commission, international standards organisations, academics and experts from 21 EU Member States.

The editor helping all three of the Working Groups is Phil Archer, a Semantic Web and e-Government specialist who works for the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

Crucial building blocks

The public’s comments are a crucial part of developing e-Government Core Vocabularies. Only when the comments resulting from this consultation have been taken into account will the Working Group seek endorsement from EU Member States. Endorsement does not make the use of Core Vocabularies a legal obligation, but it will give them further exposure.

Expert involvement

The Core Person Vocabulary Working Group is headed by experts from Eurojust; the Core Business Vocabulary Working Group is chaired by the European Commission’s Internal Market and Services Directorate-General; and the Core Location Vocabulary Working Group is managed by the European Commission’s in-house science and technical advice service, the Joint Research Centre (JRC).

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