Martin Kaltenböck

SEMANTiCS2015: Calls for Research & Innovation Papers, Industry Presentations and Poster/Demos are now open!

The SEMANTiCS2015 conference comes back this year in its 11th edition where it all started in 2005 to Vienna, Austria!

The conference  takes place from 15-17 September 2015 (the main conference will be on 16-17th of September and several back 2 back workshops & events on 15th) at the University of Economics – see all information: Continue reading

Thomas Thurner – the process to Vienna’s open data portal

On 17 May 2011 the time has come – the first Open Government Data (OGD) portal of a public administration in Austria was launched – and it was the capital Vienna that did this courageous and so important step in Austria and thereby took the role of a pioneer in the area of open data in our country – and hopefully will act as a model for communities, cities, states and the federal government (also important to be mentioned here is that the Open Commons Region Linz has been the first city government that has announced a data portal in Austria still before Vienna – launch date will be September 2011). is a first well done step in the area of Open Government Data for a modern and open City of Vienna. Open human- and machine readable data in several formats and from several categories (e.g. population, education, budget, leisure time and many more) are availabe for re-use now. Into the bargain available under the CC-BY-3.0 License of Creative Commons.

The road to 17th of May 2011 has started about 1 year ago – at least from the pointview of the Austrian (and Viennese) open data community: on the 8th of April 2010 a group of linked open data enthusiasts – representatives of universities, companies and the civil society – invited interested people to come to the 1st Open Government Data Meetup at the OCG (Austrian Computer Society) in Vienna. For talks there were Rufus Pollock of the Open Knowledge Foundation on site in Vienna as well as Stefano Bertolo of the European Commission has been hooked up via skype to shine a light on this – at this time – for Austria and Vienna very new topic of Open Government Data to present their experiences and best practices in the field to about 60 participants. The interest was very high – also on the side of the media – and therefore a basic interest as well as a first braod information in Vienna was built.
Afterwards everything went quickly until the 17th of May 2011 (and also if one year seems to be a long time I do think that it was an enormous performance of all involved parties to manage so much in only one year!) – after the mentioned MeetUp, the OGD Austria was founded – an initiative thats’ objective is to open (linked) government data (non personal) in Austria in human- and machine readable formats for re-use. To do this together with politics, administration, civil society and industry. Other initiatives as open3 as well as established institutions in the area of administration research as KDZ – Zentrum für Verwaltungsforschung or the Danube University of Krems or Joanneum Research – but also companies like the Semantic Web Company or Compass Verlag, and above all lots of representatives of the civil society who were interested in the topic of Open Government Data (it is important to say that in Vienna we do have a very active creative scene and web 2.0 community) did work together to push the field of open data in Vienna / Austria.

In June 2010 the Semantic Web Company (SWC) – with support from above mentioned institutions – submitted a proposal to the technology agency of the City of Vienna (ZIT) to build and implement a bundle of measures for awareness-building activities in the field of Open Government Data in Austria – the project: OGD2011 was born. The authorisation of this project (partly funded by ZIT) for sure helped a lot to inform the relevant stakeholders (politics, public administration, civil society, industry, academia and media) in the mentioned time period and to build awareness about the power, the potentials as well as about the challenges – and the important concrete steps – of Open Government Data!

The following measures were implemented and will be implemented in the course of OGD2011:

  • Open OGD Austria Stammtisch every second month (meetup, until today only in Vienna)
  • 4 Stakeholder Workshops (politics, administration, civil society, industry) in February 2011 to evaluate and identify as well as to discuss the requirements on Open Government Data in Austria from the viewpoint of the respective stakeholder group
  • Publishing of the OGD Digest Austria – Information around Open Data in Austria and international in print & PDF (until today 4 editions available)
  • Set up and operation of a mailing list as well as a XING group
  • Organisation of an open MeetUp on OGD on 15th of  Juni 2011 in Vienna
  • Set up and operation of open wiki spaces for collection of information and provision of relevant information in the field of Open Data
  • OGD2011 Conference on 16th of Juni 2011 in Vienna
  • And very important: about 40-50 bilateral talks with representatives of politicians and public administration in Vienna about OGD to raise awareness and clarify misconceptions
  • Networking with international initiatives on the topic of open data as the Open Data Network (Germany), the Open Knowledge Foundation (UK) or the ePSIplattform (just to name a few) to ensure continuous exchange on the topic – as well contentwise as about the process for an Open Government Data strategy – to learn from each other and to support each other…
  • Furthermore in July/August 2011 the Open Government Data White Book Austria will be published as a fundamental work on open data in Austria

Inspite the OGD2011 project is arranged for the whole country of Austria the participants at the workshops and events were mainly from Vienna – what is not really surprising as most of the Austrian public bodies are located in Vienna and the City and the State of Vienna has a special status in Austria.

In November 2010 another very important step happened becuase without an Open Government Data strategy it is nearly impossible to be implemented – the political YES to Open Data in Vienna in the programme of the government of the new red-green coalition.

Regarding the implementation of the City of Vienna received support by the EU project LOD2 – LOD2 did consulting on the following topics: Open (Government) Data, Linked Open Data, licenses and business models, as well as in the area of data sheets, meta data and URL schemas in the course of the LOD2 Publink Consultancy Services.

I think that in total the following indicators were crucial for the success of the Open Government Data movement in Vienna so far:

  • Broad awareness raising at all involved stakeholder groups
  • Collaboration of all stakeholders and establishing of an open dialogue between these groups
  • Political commitment on the highest level
  • High interest as well as engagement on the side of the public administration at the City of Vienna
  • High interest and support by the media – most of all by the Open Data Blog of futurezone
  • Support of the OGD2011 project by ZIT to enable a basic funding for concrete activities and measures
  • Building of a strong community for Open Data and therefore permanent presence of the topic in the public
  • Evaluation and representation of potentials and opportunities – but also of existing risks – of Open Government Data in Vienna
  • Exchange of knowledge and experiences with international initiatives to learn from each other and use best practices vice versa
  • Intense analysis of: licenses, meta data, data description (data governance) and a very well done implementation of phase 1 of by the City of Vienna (with support by LOD2 et al.)

But this phase one of only be a start – the City of Vienna already announced continuous exchange between the public administration and the community for further development of the data portal (and today on 26th of May 2011 we had the first meeting with about 50 participants and really very fine discussions about 2 hours long). Further an online survey is planned for summer 2011 (to ask the public for concrete data needs) and an open data challenge is planned for the end of 2011 on the basis of Viennese Open Government Data – and there will also happen something in the area of the scope of the provided data sets (more data will be opened) as well as in the area of the provision of additional data formats and interfaces (along the lines of the EC and UK the City of Vienna wants to follow the path of Linked Open Government Data)….

… I am absolutely curious about how the process of Open Government Data in Vienna will go on from here in 2011 and 2012!

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Author Martin Kaltenböck is CFO of the Semantic Web Company Wien and co-founder and member of the executive board of the OGD Austria


Andreas Blumauer

Lyndon Nixon (STI): “Clear guidelines on how to best make use of Linked Open Data by enterprises is needed”

The European Semantic Technology Conference 2009 will take place in Vienna at the beginning of December 2009. Andreas Blumauer (Semantic Web Company) talked with Lyndon Nixon who is the program advisor of this conference:


SWC: In its own saying the European Semantic Technology Conference brings together the smartest minds in Semantic Technologies. What will be the highlights of this year’s conference?

There are many highlights this year! We have a full program of presentations, workshops, panels and a keynote by Susie Stephens from Johnson&Johnson. On top of this, the first day will see the first ever ESTC Innovation Seed Camp, where enterpreneurs and young start ups are invited to pitch their ideas to a panel of venture capitalists and there will be cash prizes! Besides the main program, an open demo space will continually offer new showcases of semantic technologies and products, while a networking zone gives attendees a relaxed space to make business away from the conference hectic. We will also be holding matchmaking sessions, where attendees can schedule one-to-one meetings with other attendees organized by a handy online tool. Finally, in line with ESTC’s focus on semantics and innovation – during the two days we will give participants the chance to check out two innovative conference tools: an electronic vCard exchange and the “Web Comparator”. So, too much to explain, but you can get full information on every aspect of the conference at its webpage

SWC: How would you describe the state of the art in semantic technology business especially in Europe?

We are at a very exciting period in the enterprise uptake of semantic technologies, which can be seen in the growth in attendance at events such as ESTC. Semantic technologies are finally maturing and can be used away from toy examples in real, critical business processes. Technologies are being standardized and tools aligned to those standards, while progress in being made in supporting the sorts of extensions that businesses need (see OWL 2, or SPARQL 1.1). This year, the case studies and the business applications that will be presented are going to reflect that. We are still inside the early adopter phase in semantic uptake, with the critical mass of companies still checking out semantics at a research and prototyping level. However, the balance is shifting and enabling the technology transfer to real business projects is key; ESTC’s focus on direct contact between the technology vendors and the business clients – the networking zone, the open demo space, or the matchmaking sessions – is a reflection of the importance of an event such as ESTC to bring these two groups together.

SWC: One of the big issues at the moment is Linking Open Data. How do you perceive this development and how can you start?


Yes, Linked Open Data is an interesting development, making a significant amount of semantic data about a broad subject range available to everyone. I think it has real value in the research community where large data sources have been needed. For industry, I would say its value is less straight-forward: the data is not always so clean and care needs to be taken before building business applications on top of it. Clear guidelines on how to best make use of Linked Open Data by enterprises is needed. ESTC picks up on this in its program this year: we will have an expert panel precisely on this subject! Of course, leveraging the Linked Data Cloud in the enterprise is already a topic for many organisations – one of our paper sessions is on Linked Data and I am sure there will be plenty mentions of it elsewhere during the conference!

SWC: In recent years large IT-companies and system integrators have rather been playing around with semantic web technologies than identifying the semantic web
 as a market opportunity. Do you think that this situation has changed already?

I think a lot of these companies are being cautious – the Semantic Web was so hyped to industry in its first years that a certain level of cynicism grew. Now, that we have in my opinion very real and valuable tools and technologies built on semantics, the companies are being careful in how to present this to the market. There are already many very encouraging examples of semantics making inroads in key markets where data heterogeneity, integration, and management have become key issues: I think Health Care and Life Sciences is simply the market which is being most open about it (the ESTC keynote speaker Susie Stephens will also report on semantic technologies in this market). There are further examples we just don’t know about, because companies don’t want to let their competitors know, or mention that it is semantics which is being used.

SWC: Please add another statement which is important for you!

ESTC 2009 will be *the* meeting place in Europe this year for semantic technology vendors and users – don’t miss it!

Andreas Blumauer

December 2009: Austria will be the hot spot of the Semantic Web World

There will be a series of events around the Semantic Web & Linked Data in Vienna and Graz at the end of this year. This is a comprehensive list of all of these events, which might help you to make a decision to come to Austria:

Linked Data Camp

Linked Data Camp

The Jackson tribute might have been a flop for Vienna, but this is history! So, what are you waiting for – come & join the party!

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