Linked Open Data for Sustainable Development – LOD pioneers make their case at the Open Knowledge Conference in Geneva

25-09-2013, Vienna, Austria

Amid a veritable flood of new information on everything from ecological trends to genomic mutations released as part of Open Data movements around the world, practitioners are faced with both vast opportunities, as well as colossal challenges in compiling, updating, analyzing and sharing that information.

Conference-goers pack the LOD workshop at OKCon

Amid a veritable flood of new information on everything from ecological trends to genomic mutations released as part of Open Data movements around the world, practitioners are faced with both vast opportunities, as well as colossal challenges in compiling, updating, analyzing and sharing that information. This year, the world’s leading conference on Open Data, the Open Knowledge Conference (OKCon), from 16-18 September in Geneva, set out to answer three key questions in the global Open Data effort: how to broaden access to data; how to deepen access to data; and how to ensure interconnectedness in the Open Data ecosystem. In tackling the third question, Florian Bauer of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP), along with Jens Laustsen of the Global Buildings Performance Network (GBPN) and Martin Kaltenboeck of Semantic Web Company (SWC) showcased two innovative applications of Linked Open Data (LOD) to open up information flow, bring organizations and practitioners together, prevent duplication and create a lasting network.

The OKCon workshop: “How LOD Supports Sustainable Development and Climate Change Development”, was itself an example of the type of interconnectedness LOD is designed to foster. SWC and REEEP began their professional rapport with a project to develop a Clean Energy Info Portal (reegle.info) including Country Energy Profiles using LOD, and the reegle Tagging  API. The key to understanding and unlocking LOD is a demonstration of actual case studies – which was exactly what this workshop achieved through its demonstration of live web tools and partnerships.

Conference participants were eager to learn more about LOD, a fact evident in the overwhelming attendance to the workshop.  The 20 person capacity room overflowed to nearly 50, many of whom sat on the floor and in the hallway to take part in the discussion.  
The workshop kicked off with an open round table, allowing audience members to introduce themselves and share what they were looking to take home from the event.  LOD was, in general, not widely covered at OKCon. But as the next step in true Open Data, LOD was understandably on the minds and tongues of a number of participants, who were interested in learning more about both the technology and business sides of the LOD movement. The audience hailed from diverse fields among sustainable development, climate change mitigation, as well as government representatives interested in opening up their data, and the Open Data technical community.  
From a technical perspective, workshop participants were very interested in unlocking the nuts and bolts of LOD: how it is done, taxonomies, data management, processing and storage – and how exactly raw data is transformed into knowledge.

For their part, business leaders participating were interested in potential costs and benefits for a site like REEEP’s or GBPN’s, and how engaged the target groups had become for the two platforms. Legal questions such as licensing restrictions and other legalities were also relevant. Of course, users were interested  in looking at case studies of LOD links with action on climate change, sustainability and renewable energy. REEEP, GBPN and SWC were able to make a compelling case that the benefits of LOD far outweigh the costs, particularly in minimizing or preventing duplicative efforts. Particularly in the Sustainability and Climate Change milieu, populated by numerous organizations pursuing like  goals through often similar methods, it is crucial  that organizations focus their efforts. Access to extensive reliable and continuously updated data worldwide is absolutely critical to achieving these outcomes.

For those unable to attend the workshop (or fit in the room!), links to workshop presentations, as well as to additional information and technical literature on Linked Open Data, can be found at the end of the page. REEEP has also created a Q&A on the reegle blog as a space to continue the discussion on LOD and its role in supporting sustainable development.
 

 

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REEEP Team
Quinn Reifmesser's picture

Quinn Reifmesser

Head of Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning, PFAN