Bringing Europe together through Semantic Interoperability

Mario Campolargo

Mário Campolargo, Deputy Director-General for DG Informatics, European Commission

In DIGIT at the European Commission, we aim for a better connected Europe, in which public administrations can offer interoperable cross-border and cross-sector public services to businesses and citizens while reducing public expenditures. This is the reason why we initiated ISA², the latest programme in a row of initiatives focusing on digitisation of public administrations. It builds on the success of its predecessor, ISA Programme. Under this programme the European Commission already developed more than 20 open source IT solutions. Running from January 2016 until December 2020, the ISA2 programme is currently supporting about 40 actions in different sectors.

The main challenge that public administrations face when providing digital public services, is a lack of common understanding of interoperability across the EU. For that, we need linked data enabling public administrations to define links between datasets. The Directive on the re-use of public sector information (known as the PSI directive) is addressing this issue by encouraging public administrations to adopt open data policies and to allow broad use of their data records. Putting data into such context creates new knowledge source and fosters creativity and innovation.

Another goal is to make government data available on the Web in order to achieve greater transparency and accountability. Semantic interoperability is crucial for this. It reduces the consequences of interoperability conflicts and helps solve problems resulting from the environment in which data is exchanged across borders. In fact, thanks to semantic interoperability, governments can come up with smarter and more efficient public services and applications, and businesses and individuals can develop new tools and services to work with, analyse, and make sense of the data.

The ISA Programme initiated the SEMIC: Promoting Semantic Interoperability amongst the EU Member States to boost a better connection among organisations across Europe. SEMIC helps those working in the area of government metadata management who want to check upon and possibly re-use semantic assets (metadata and/or reference data) and understand semantic interoperability requirements, approaches, tools, lessons learnt and case studies. At DIGIT, we are well aware of the fact that data and information are high-value assets for both public and private organisations. But they will deliver their full potential only by being secured, accessible, shareable and re-usable. This is why data and information management initiatives are becoming increasingly important. Aiming at shaping long-term visions, these initiatives put in place the right processes, standards and tools for managing data and information, while encouraging a culture of information sharing and re-use.

The presence of the ISA² Programme at SEMANTiCS 2017 is a brilliant opportunity to go on expanding the map of semantic interoperability and identify the latest trends that will help us improve the impact of our actions in Europe, thus allowing all the EU Member States to walk together in the same direction with a single goal: to provide better public services to citizens all along the EU.

Stay tuned to learn where and when SEMIC 2018 will take place and learn how to make Europe more interoperable through semantic interoperability. 

Monday, 4 September, 2017