Semantic Web Technology in Expert Group on “Software & Tools”

Recently the Semantic Web has gained significant traction due to the Linked Data movement. In particular, governments around the globe publish data sets about various topics such as health, transportation, energy, etc. Moreover, the bioinformatics community uses Semantic Web technology to store and retrieve large amounts of data sets. Also ZHAW is actively using Semantic Web Technology as part of the Bio-SODA project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation.

In this expert group meeting Fabio Ricci from Semweb presented SKOS – the Simple Knowledge Organization System. The presentation demonstrated how large knowledge graphs can be traversed more easily and faster when using a few fundamental semantic concepts. The basic idea is to use semantic concepts such as “broader”, “narrower”, “related” etc. in addition to a few needed extensions when designing a knowledge graph. Let’s assume, for instance, that a user searches for “eagle”. A broader concept could be “bird” while a narrower concept could “sea eagle”. Modeling data in SKOS enables more powerful semantic search and a richer set of results as opposed to simple, exact match searches. Fabio presented several interesting use cases where SKOS is currently applied such as the Bio-ZEN ontology framework which describes biological systems or Europeana which builds a European data model to describe millions of facts about the European cultural heritage.

The presentation was followed by a lively discussion about how Semantic Web Technology in general and the SKOS framework in particular could be made more widely known to the community outside the typical Semantic Web aficionados.

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