Linked Open Data and Low Carbon Development
Offering multiple explanations for a concept increases understanding and using LOD allows both humans and machines to semantically connect related content. This is a huge advantage in our increasingly complex world!
Especially in the field of clean energy, the increasing availability of LOD is really beneficial. To make sense of the often complex factors contributing to climate change and the highly technical solutions thereof, as well as rapid development in national and international policy regarding these factors, access to high quality and timely information is crucial.
The clean energy info portal www.reegle.info and the energy info wiki www.openEI.org see themselves as gateways to a wealth of information regarding renewable energy, energy efficiency and climate change issues. They are hosted by REEEP (Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership – where I work) and NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory) respectively. Both organizations have a strong commitment to the idea of Linked Open Data (LOD) and have been integrating the core principles of LOD into their online portals.
In an effort to increase awareness about the possibilities associated with publishing and consuming LOD, we organized a well-attended workshop in Abu Dhabi in January 2012. Alongside the event, we brought out a publication explaining the basics of LOD, as well as the first steps for any organization considering joining the LOD cloud. “Linked Open Data: The Essentials” (published by Semantic Web Company and REEEP) is available as a downloadable PDF, as well as a booklet which can be ordered.
“Linked Open Data: The Essentials” also highlights some best practice examples, two of them being reegle and OpenEI. Reegle’s country energy profiles are a prime example of mashed up open data. These dossiers present the reader with statistics, maps, general facts and policy and regulatory details in a pleasant design. The information is provided by LOD providers such as DBpedia (Wikipedia), the UN and the World Bank, OpenEI and other highly trusted sources. Reegle has also developed an extensive thesaurus covering clean energy and climate compatible development with full liked data capabilities, which is available for free to re-use as a widget or word press plugin, and which is currently used as the basis for a brand-new API. Of course reegle provides all its datasets as Linked Open Data free for re-use and provides datasets in RDF (Resource Description Framework) format and via a SPARQL endpoint on our data portal.
OpenEI (Open Energy Information) has always seen sharing as one of its key missions. The data is available in RESTful API, RDF and SPARQL, for integration into external websites. But even when browsing the site, users benefit from a variety of LOD sources which enhance and increase the information presented. For example, several definitions offered in the glossary are collected from different LOD sources and OpenEI’s country pages feature information from a variety of sources, including reegle’s country energy profiles. This is easily possible when organizations rely on LOD, because when several websites describe the same things they can all be connected and give users a more rounded picture of sometimes difficult subjects.
Our expected end-users include the educational sector, helping students across the world study laws and regulation, efficient engineering, and the latest ideas in clean energy from many different authoritative sources in a single gateway. Specialists and project developers can quickly gather valuable information about specific regions and areas focusing on energy-relevant issues.
Integrating the principles of LOD has had a pleasant side-effect which has been highlighted in the recent workshop in Abu Dhabi: sharing data is often a starting point for fruitful collaborations between organizations with a similar agenda. Sharing data very often also means sharing the work burden. Each organization can then focus on their specific areas of expertise, while freeing up resources from areas that can be taken over by other organizations. Sharing the results of such targeted efforts generates high-quality content, and makes it available to all stakeholders in renewable energy, energy efficiency and climate adaptation/mitigation.
We are committed to increasing the share of information available as LOD, and will continue to actively support other organizations thinking of joining the LOD cloud.