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Government Linked Data (GLD) Working Group
Start Date: Jun 29, 2011
End Date: Jun 30, 2011
Venue: Room 515, Stafford II, Arlington, VA

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.


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.

  • A simplified protocol for exposing linked data, such as the Linked Data API
  • A mechanism for notification and propagation of changes to datasets, part of the field of dataset dynamics, such as SPARQL Push.
  • A vocabulary for expressing the similarity between entities, like owl:sameAs or skos:exactMatch
  • Any additional data formats or communications protocols
  • Any XML technologies, such as XML Schema and AtomPub, which are not part of the RDF stack. Although these technologies are widely deployed and can be effectively used for government data, standardization work on them, if undertaken, is separable enough from the work of this group to be better done in a parallel, coordinated, group.

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.)


If you are thinking about joining, please answer the schedule survey.

See list of current participants, (or with contact info), wiki user pages, nicknames

If you want to join this group, see How to Join.

If you are officially in the group, you will automatically receive group email and your w3.org login and password will work on this wiki.

The email archive for public-gld-wg@w3.org is at http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-gld-wg/.



  • F2F1: 29-30 June 2011, near Washington, DC, USA.

Teleconferences (official participants and invited guests only):

  • Time TBD
  • Dial +1-617-761-6200 or sip:zakim@voip.w3.org then conference code TBD#
  • IRC channel: #gld.
  • An agenda is sent 24 hours in advance; minutes follow within a day or two.

Website: http://www.w3.org/2011/gld/wiki/Main_Page
Organizers: W3C
Participation Requirements: By Invitation

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