‘Data is the new oil’, once said Neelie Kroes, former Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda, aptly describing how the growing amounts of data are changing businesses and our lives. The year was 2012. By that time, many companies had already started drilling for the ‘new oil’ and some had not only found it, but had been also refining it to create links to other domains and to take advantage of the network effect of Linked Data integration and innovation.
Enterprises have come to realize that interlinked and integrated services and flexible data integration enhance user and customer experience. Businesses have been increasingly using and supporting Linked Open Data sets to boost efficiency and save resources and costs.
The global drive to increase interconnectedness leads to the creation of many linked data sets, and some of them have become an integral part of various companies’ ways of doing business.
Here’s our take at several popular free, machine-readable, open and linked datasets and how companies have been incorporating them.
DBpedia is a crowd-sourced community effort to extract structured information from Wikipedia and make it available on the Web. The English version of the DBpedia knowledge base contains descriptions of 4.58 million things, including persons, places, creative works, organizations, species and diseases. The BBC uses it in its Dynamic Semantic Publishing, in which it has mastered the art of integrating Linked Open Data to provide interlinked and highly relevant content, help spread the word and help the world benefit from linking open data sets.
The BBC is also using and contributing to the Musicbrainz dataset which collects music metadata and makes it available to the public. It’s not only the BBC, a lot of large companies as well as start-ups are using MusicBrainz. Universal Music uses MusicBrainz metadata to enrich its own metadata, Google uses it for its Knowledge Graph, Amazon – for its music offers. Spotify uses Musicbrainz in its streaming service.
In the interlinked data universe, Musicbrainz and Wikidata are interconnected and Wikidata uses Musicbrainz to enrich and enhance both sets of linked open data. Wikidata – a free knowledge base with 20 million+ data items – serves as central storage for the structured data of its Wikimedia sister projects including Wikipedia, Wikivoyage, and Wikisource.
Wikidata is also in collaboration to collect and keep track of cultural heritage objects by describing those materials with structured information. One of its partners is the Europeana project aimed at making Europe’s rich heritage easier for people to use for work, for learning, or just for fun. Across the Atlantic, the digital humanities heritage is supported by the Digital Public Library of America whose Metadata Application Profile is based on the Europeana Data Model (EDM). This is an area of humanities naturally prone to interlinking due to its global impact and interest, and Linked Open Data only makes it easier to build upon more and more links following agreed-upon standards.
The Digital Public Library of America is a partner in the Open EBooks initiative, part of the White House’s ConnectED Initiative. Not only governments use and support the LOD movement. Global scientific, technical and medical publisher Springer is using LOD to enrich its own metadata and link it to other available data in the LOD cloud.
The LOD cloud also features GeoNames which contains 11 million place names available for download free of charge. Apart from interlinks with DBpedia, GeoNames serves as existing free resource to the world’s geography of media organizations such as the early adopter, the BBC, as well as The New York Times, the Norwegian Broadcasting Corp, and the Guardian. Maps are a natural use of GeoNames, and Bing Maps, Multimap and OpenStreetMap are using GeoNames, among other sources.
As far as the pharmaceutical, healthcare and life sciences industries are concerned, we have the US National Library of Medicine which has published the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) as Linked Data. Being a specific scientific field, healthcare and life sciences need common understanding of the data. One such collection is the SNOMED terminology resource, which is used by pharmaceutical companies, including AstraZeneca, to help integrate and link data from various sources for gaining insights.
As you can see, a variety of industries, creative arts and cultural heritage projects are leveraging the power of Linked Data in the increasingly interconnected world. The freely available and machine-readable Linked Open Data enriches organizations’ data and helps enterprises discover new links and insights. By unleashing the power of semantic technologies, those organizations will ultimately stay ahead of competitors in increasing customer engagement and loyalty, and raising returns on investments.