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Use Case 8 - Linked Open Government

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Use Case: Open Government: Linked Open Data




Rick Murphy

Problem Definition

Despite recognizable success in some areas of electronic government over the past ten years, governments struggle to keep pace with innovations created by citizens empowered by the decentralized architecture of the world wide web. Whether we call it open source or crowd source, the new science of networks has shown that in many significant cases the productive capacity of a diverse and keenly interested group of citizens greatly exceeds the capacity of a few specialists directed by an authority. When citizens use widely available technologies, the cost of coordinating these citizens exhibits a marginal rate approaching 0. Open government in a 21st century democracy means civic engagement by a culture that values read, write and remix on the world wide web. Given this vision of a connected and transparent democracy, a web of data requires that we develop an approach to sharing information with few technological barriers. Sharing information with few technological barriers means that we identify resources in standard formats such as URIs and develop approaches to expose government data in formats such as RDF.

Target population

Citizens directly engaged with Federal agencies.


An open government with linked open data means introducing current technologies to create a new level of transparency, accountability and participation; integrating citizens into the business of government by making government data available in universally accessible formats; and c) establishing pilot programs to involve citizens in the work of agencies. See Obama's Technology and Innovation Plan. Linked data connects distributed data across the Web. With linked data, citizens use the Web to connect related data that wasn't previously linked, or use the Web to lower the barriers to linking open government data. Universally accessible formats such as URIs and RDF imply the formalization of how government resources are identified and represented. The Federal Enterprise Architecture Reference Model Ontology is an example of how U.S. Federal government resources are identified and represented with URIs and RDF.

Target software

Media of various types including social utilities, graph visualization, design time specification and run time execution. Various artifacts of the read, write and remix culture including binary, text, audio and video.

Identified problems or limitations

Agencies will want to define a new set of information technology architecture principles that align open government with citizen engagement in a networked society enabled by linked open data. Linked data is one essential step in better information sharing. For more on information sharing, see U.S. Federal Information Sharing with Shared Concepts Using the Federal Enterprise Architecture Reference Model Ontology in OWL-DL

Related initiatives

Linked Data, Open Gov Data, Sunlight Foundation, GovTrack, AppsForDemocracy, Web Science