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Master Thesis Proposal: An application built on open Linked Data from the Linköping municipality

During the past decade, the Semantic Web has emerged as an evolution of the human readable web, towards a web of macine processable data with formal semantics. To interpret the semantics of online resources, ontologies are used to model the domain of interest. Data on the other hand is published using graph-based formats such as the W3C standard RDF. The biggest success of the Semantic Web so far has been the publishing of vast amounts of so-called Linked Data. Linked Data is data published in RDF format, with URI:s identifying each data element, so that individual elements can be (and are) linked to other dataelements, also outside your own dataset.

The open data movement in Sweden has been boosted by EU directives (e.g. the PSI directive) and national legislation, so that most Swedish public sector organizations are now publishing their data on the Web at a larger scale. However, very few such initiatives use the principles of Linked Data, which makes many datasets available hard to (re)use directly in your applications. This is often intended to be remedied by publishing API access to data, rather than downloadable files, but still the developer has to learn and comply with that specific API format, rather than simply use a standardized format such as RDF and its query language SPARQL. It becomes even more complex if several datasets are to be used together, potentially originating from different data providers. Publishing open data, and giving access to data through APIs is of course a great step forward, however, to really make data useful and easy to use, one might also want to consider new technologies such as Linked Data, and standard languages, such as RDF and OWL.

Recently the Linköping municipality has started publishing open data on their website, and they intend to keep adding datasets continuously. Data is either available as downloadable files, or through public APIs, depending on the dataset. So far, none of these datasets are available in RDF or as Linked Data.

The aim of this master thesis is to choose one or more of the available datasets at Linköping municipality, choose suitable existing RDF/OWL vocabularies for the data, and transform the data into Linked Data in RDF. This includs adding external links to the data, either by finding existing RDF datasets to integrate with, or by transforming another dataset (e.g. from another municipality or public organization in Sweden) to RDF as well. In parallell the student should design and develop a demonstrator (e.g. Web application) that uses the Linked Data, and in particular tries to exemplify one or more of the potential benefits that the transformation and linking of the data has provided, i.e. it should be a showcase for the benefits of Linked Data.

Recommended skills to attempt this thesis include good knowledge of logical languages (preferably, but not necessarily, previous knowledge of RDF/OWL and/or Description Logics), web languages such as XML and HTML, and programming experience, preferably in Java and/or web-based languages, such as PHP or Javascript.

How to express interest in this topic:

In order to make sure that the student will be able to complete thesis, I usually ask the student to do a small "test" before we agree on starting up the thesis. This is not an exam, just a test to see how quickly the student is able to get into the field. It is also an opportunity for the student to learn more about the technologies involved and see if you are really interested in them, before you start!

So if you are interested in this topic, please access this page and follow the instructions (i.e. fill out the questionnaire and do the small modelling task).

Note that you are free to find any online reading material you like, and use any tool of your choice. But please do not spend more than a day or so (spread out over one week) on this task, so as not to waste too much time if you in the end find it too difficult or not interesting, and in order to let me see how fast you catch on to the techniques and languages.

Don't forget to send me an e-mail expressing your interest in the thesis topic, including the solution to the modelling task, when you are done!

Page responsible: Eva Blomqvist
Last updated: 2013-01-21