W3C Day in Spain: HTML5 and Government Linked Data

Every year, since 2006, the W3C Spain Office and its host, CTIC, organize W3C Day, an event on Web standards for the Spanish community. The 2012 edition was held in the spectacular city of Granada, Andalusia, and was framed as a parallel track in the Open Source World Conference, an event which gathered together more than 8000 people for a couple of days.

W3C Day was initially created as a private forum, only for W3C Members. Nowadays, Members are still the protagonists, but in a public event. All of them are invited to share their professional experiences, challenges, and thoughts taking part either in panels or giving talks. The speakers attracted over 200 attendees from all around Spain, most of them with a high technical profile. As in previous years, the event served as a forum to discuss common topics regarding standards, and Web technologies in general. The Open Web Platform was the cornerstone of the conference, complemented with a recurrent and interesting subject: Open Government Data, which is in the limelight at all levels of the Spanish public administration.

The Open Web Platform

Dominique on the stage, during his talk

Dominique Hazaël-Massieux, MWI Activity Lead, opened the conference with a great keynote on HTML5. He showed some striking demos on Mobile Web Apps developed using HTML5 and some Javascript code. According to the public, Dom’s talk was extremely eye-opening and motivating.

Linked Data and the Semantic Web technologies also had an important slot in the agenda. After Dom’s keynote, Alberto Abarca (Linkatu), presented some interesting use cases of Linked Data in industry. Linkatu is a success story of a start-up providing eHealth solutions based on Linked Data.

A novelty of this year’s edition was the call for lightning talks announced weeks before. Eight 5-minute talks were presented by enthusiastic developers, students, professors, and professionals from different sectors. An interesting experience, because this served as a bridge between the public and the speakers.

Open Government Data in Spain

The Open Government Data session was particularly interesting. Seven well-known panelists from different Spanish public administrations and other sectors related to Public Sector Information (PSI) reuse broke the ice writing provocative posts on their blogs some days before. On these posts, all the speakers brought up awkward questions and answers which served with preparation for the panel.

Carlos de la Fuente, Head of Technology Services at CTIC moderated the panel which represented a picture full of Linked-Data stars and technical commitment, but lacking political impulse in Spain. Of course, politicians’ minds are changing and there are exceptions such as some recent announcements of transparency and PSI reuse laws in Spain. In this regard, Emilio García, Technical Advisor at the Ministry of Territorial Policy and Public Administration, emphasized the recently issued Royal Decree on Reuse of PSI, which urges Spanish public bodies to write and support a strategy on reuse of PSI. María Jesús Fernández (Zaragoza City Council), Alberto Ortiz de Zárate (Basque Government), and Cristina Puente (Andalusia Government), who lead mature OGD initiatives, presented the issued they are faced with. To complement the discussion of public sector representatives, in the panel were Jorge Campanillas, expert on ICT legislation, and José L. Marín, CEO at Euroalert, a company which processes public procurement information from different European administrations.

The need of a coordinated Open Government Data community in Spain was one of the conclusions that arose from this session. This was a serious proposal, and after some conversations with the speakers and other stakeholders, the W3C Spain Office decided to launch a public group, where government bodies, citizens, and industries are invited to discuss about legal issues (definition of licenses, and terms of use), technical challenges (definition of common taxonomies, vocabularies, and repositories to store them), and more. This group is in an early stage, and focused on Spain, but further actions are being considered. Why not a W3C Community Group on OGD in Spain?

Session on Government Linked Data

Most of the panelists of the day explained the benefits of exposing public information in Linked Data. The last session was focused on how a developer may reuse that data. Asunción Gómez, Head of the Ontology Engineering Group (UPM), presented several Linked-Data-based applications, some of them using public administration data, and others industrial data. Her speech was complemented by a short workshop on reusing Government Linked Data: SPARQL, libraries, and visualization/mashup tools.

During the W3C Day in Spain, some people demanded more technical training events. Although the next edition of the W3C Day is far away, the W3C Spanish Office will hold a workshop on HTML5 in a couple of months. Stay tuned!