Government Linked Data Working Group Charter

The mission of the Government Linked Data (GLD) Working Group is to provide standards and other information which help governments around the world publish their data as effective and usable Linked Data using Semantic Web technologies. The group, a part of the eGovernment Activity and closely connected with the Semantic Web Activity, will collect and make available information about government Linked Data activities around the world. It will use that information and the experience of its participants to develop W3C Recommendations for Best Practices and for RDF Vocabularies necessary for publication of government data in RDF, as Linked Data. Concurrently with this Working Group, W3C has chartered the eGovernment Interest Group for broad community discussion of government use of the Web

How to Join the GLD Working Group

Start DateJune 2011
End date31 May 2013
ConfidentialityProceedings are public
ChairsGeorge Thomas, US HHS
Bernadette Hyland
Staff Contact
Sandro Hawke (0.3 FTE)
Usual Meeting ScheduleTeleconferences: Weekly, plus optional task forces
Face-to-face: 2-4 per year, possibly multisite with video


This group will develop standards-track documents and maintain a community website in order to help governments at all levels (from small towns to nations) share their data as high quality ("five-star") linked data. This group is exclusively focused on data publication using Semantic Web standards, deployed on the Web following linked data principles, as introduced by Tim Berners-Lee in 2006, in Linked Data.

Out of Scope

Several possible standards which might be of use to governments deploying linked data are out of scope for this group, such as those listed below. Discussion of these technologies is welcome in the parallel eGov Interest Group or Semantic Web Interest Group. Those groups can form task forces to investigate and incubate work in areas such as these for possible standardization in future Working Groups.

While the group is prohibited from developing or standardizing solutions outside of its scope, it may, in its materials, mention and explain them as possible solutions, as long as it does not mandate them.

Consulting is also out of scope of the group: while the group will contain experts and will be talking to people who might want to make use of that expertise to solve specific problems, the group will not provide consulting or any kind of customized solutions; instead, it will seek to provide the assistance through publication of materials which directly and indirectly support the people trying to solve the problems. If individuals in the group provide consulting, they must make clear they are not representing or acting on behalf of the group in doing so.


Note on "optional" items: where items are described as "optional", they are to be considered a lower priority and produced only if the chairs decide addressing them does not significantly endanger the schedule. Typically, the production of optional elements is done in a loosely-coupled task force, with the output later incorporated by the Working Group if ready in time.

In all of its work, the group will design for personal privacy and information security, documenting considerations and the possible impact of its work.

Community Directory

The Working Group will construct and maintain an online directory of the government linked data community, containing the following items:

  1. Deployments, at every stage of the effort from initial consideration to maturity, with (when available) success stories, lessons learned, and ongoing challenges (concrete use cases)
  2. Vendors of linked data products and services
  3. Contractors (firms and individuals) offering linked data services
  4. End-User Applications which are available to the general public
  5. Optionally: Research groups, researchers, and sources of research funding
  6. Optionally: Outreach and Advocacy groups, individuals, and funding sources
  7. Optionally: Training materials and programs, including classes, tutorials, and books

Optionally, other items deemed relevant and appropriate by the group may be included.

All items are to be listed and described from a neutral point of view, without the group performing any evaluation or expressing any judgments. If any material in the directory is contested, the group may decide to cite and quote third-party refutations.

The group is only charged with building and maintaining the directory until the end of its charter. Optionally, the group will construct the directory to be largely self-sustaining and arrange for its control to be transferred to some responsible party, either inside or outside of W3C.

Optionally, the directory may serve as a demonstration (or "dogfood") project, but the group is strongly advised to focus on content, not mechanism, using something like wiki pages, unless a better system is available.

Because of the brand association between this directory and W3C, W3C management reserves the right to final say in any disputes concerning the directory, even if hosting and day-to-day maintenance are provided by a third party.

Best Practices for Publishing Linked Data

The group will produce one or more Recommendations which address the following issues:

  1. Procurement. Specific products and services involved in governments publishing linked data will be defined, suitable for use during government procurement. Just as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines allow governments to easily specify what they mean when they contract for an accessible Website, these definitions will simplify contracting for data sites and applications.

  2. Vocabulary Selection. The group will provide advice on how governments should select RDF vocabulary terms (URIs), including advice as to when they should mint their own. This advice will take into account issues of stability, security, and long-term maintenance commitment, as well as other factors that may arise during the group's work.

  3. URI Construction. The group will specify how to create good URIs for use in government linked data. Inputs include Cool URIs for the Semantic Web, Designing URI Sets for the UK Public Sector (PDF), and Creating URIs (data.gov.uk). Guidance will be produced not only for minting URIs for governmental entities, such as schools or agencies, but also for vocabularies, concepts, and datasets.

  4. Versioning. The group will specify how to publish data which has multiple versions, including variations such as:

    • data covering different time periods
    • corrected data about the same time period
    • the same data published using different vocabularies, formats, and presentation styles
    • retracting published data
  5. Stability. The group will specify how to publish data so that others can rely on it being available in perpetuity, persistently archived if necessary.

  6. Legacy Data. The group will produce specific advice concerning how to expose legacy data, data which is being maintained in pre-existing (non-linked-data) systems.

  7. Cookbook. The group will produce a collection of advice on smaller, more specific issues, where known solutions exist to problems collected for the Community Directory. This document is to be published as a Working Group Note, or website, rather than a Recommendation. It may, instead, become part of the Community Directory site.

Standard Vocabularies

The group will develop one or more W3C Recommendations to guide governments publishing data in which RDF vocabulary terms to use in information about certain common concept areas. The publishing granularity, in terms of which topics are covered in which documents, is left to the group to decide.

The group will have to determine whether it is better to reuse existing widely-deployed terms such as foaf:name and dc:temporal, in their existing name space, or mint new URIs in a w3.org name space. Even if the group decides to mint new URIs, it should link them to equivalent concepts (using, for example, owl:equivalentProperty links) unless there are strong reasons not to.

The decisions behind these deliverables will be closely related to the Best Practice advice on Vocabulary Selection (above), although the factors affecting W3C URIs are somewhat different from those affecting government URIs.

The group will gather and publish use cases and requirements for vocabularies to cover each of the following areas, and it will produce W3C Recommendation(s) defining the meaning and usage of each element in these vocabularies, where they are not already defined in suitable open standards. The group will also produce documentation, examples, and, optionally, test cases and OWL ontologies for these vocabularies.

  1. Metadata, suitable for provenance (in coordination the Provenance Interchange Working Group), data catalogs (see the dcat data catalog vocabulary and the Comprehensive Knowledge Archive Network CKAN, and VoiD), data quality, timeliness of data, status, refresh rate, etc. The Library Linked Data Incubator Group reports offer some use cases and possible technical inputs.

    One challenge in metadata is granularity, as some attributes apply to vast ongoing collections of data, while others apply to particular triples, and most apply to some intermediate size dataset or graph.

  2. Statistical "Cube" Data. The group will produce a vocabulary, compatible with SDMX, for expressing some kinds of statistical data. This need not be as expressive as all of SDMX, but may provide a subset as in the RDF Data Cube vocabulary. It may also include ways to annotate data to indicate its assumptions and comparability.

  3. People, such as elements of FOAF or vCard in RDF. This is an area for particular attention to privacy considerations.

  4. Organizational Structures. Such as the Epimorphics the organization ontology (see also its requirements document).

  5. optional: Geography, Spatial Information, such as latitude and longitude. Inputs include W3C Geospatial Ontologies Incubator Report the European INSPIRE Directive, and vocabulary elements of GeoSPARQL. (See liaisons.)



The group will document significant changes from this initial schedule on its home page.
WebsitesInitial "Beta" ReleaseStable OperationTransition to Post-WG Operation
Community DirectorySep 2011Dec 2011Jan 2013
"Cookbook" Advice SiteDec 2011Mar 2012Jan 2013
Best Practices for Publishing Government Linked DataDec 2011Oct 2012Dec 2012Mar 2013Apr 2013
Recommended Vocabularies for Government Linked DataDec 2011Oct 2012Dec 2012Mar 2013Apr 2013

Timeline View Summary

Dependencies and Liaisons

W3C Groups

eGovernement Interest Group
The IG may be able to provide use cases, contacts, and information for the Community Directory. If it does a Community Directory project, the two might share data and infrastructre. If it does Data Licensing, it will be important to make sure any details that need to be different for Linked Data are noted.
Provenance WG
The Provenance Interchange Working Group is chartered to support the widespread publication and use of provenance information of Web documents, data, and resources. Its work is likely to be very useful for government linked data deployments, and the GLD WG should make sure its use cases are understood and, if possible, addressed by this group.
The RDF WG can provide technical reviews and its work could potentially be informed by use cases provided by GLD WG.
Points of Interest (POI) WG
The POI WG may provide the the Geography vocabulary, or at least settle some of the design issues.
W3C Offices
The W3C Offices may serve as an effective way to reach governments around the world.

Furthermore, Government Linked Data Working Group expects to follow these W3C Recommendations:

External Groups

Open Geospatial Consortium
For the GeoSPARQL vocabulary, general spatial information system expertise


In general, people participate in this group as representatives of W3C member organizations. At least one representative from each participating organization is expected to devote significant time to this effort (about one day per week, or more, depending on duties), to accept and complete appropriate action items on a timely basis, and to travel to face-to-face meetings, as scheduled by the chairs, 2-4 times per year.

On a case-by-case basis, using the invited expert process, people may be allowed to participate as individuals, not representing an organization.

To be successful, the Working Group is expected to have between ten and thirty active participants for its duration.

Participants are reminded of the Good Standing requirements of the W3C Process.


This group primarily conducts its work on the mailing list public-gld-wg@w3.org (public archives). The mailing list member-gld-wg@w3.org (W3C member-access-only archives) may be used for administrative purposes, such as travel planning.

Information about the group (deliverables, participants, face-to-face meetings, teleconferences, etc.) will be available from the group's home page.

The group's first face-to-face meeting is scheduled for 29-30 June 2011, in the Washington, D.C., area (details).

Decision Policy

As explained in the Process Document (section 3.3), this group will seek to make decisions when there is consensus. When the Chair puts a question and observes dissent, after due consideration of different opinions, the Chair should record a decision (possibly after a formal vote) and any objections, and move on.

Patent Policy

This Working Group operates under the W3C Patent Policy (5 February 2004 Version). To promote the widest adoption of Web standards, W3C seeks to issue Recommendations that can be implemented, according to this policy, on a Royalty-Free basis.

For more information about disclosure obligations for this group, please see the W3C Patent Policy Implementation.

About this Charter

This charter for the Government Linked Data Working Group has been created according to section 6.2 of the Process Document. In the event of a conflict between this document or the provisions of any charter and the W3C Process, the W3C Process shall take precedence.

Sandro Hawke, sandro@w3.org, editor

Date: 2011-11-14 16:35:49 $