I would just make a few points regarding your project:
(1) If you envision this standard to be used by a small number of regularly interacting groups, you may be able to keep it narrowly restricted to its main topic.
(2) But if it is intended to integrate a large number of different groups or applications, it is essential to include a carefully structured and well-documented foundation ontology that will provide the basic concepts (I think of them as primitives) that can serve to define all the others. Otherwise, the various users will inevitably interpret elements differently, and use them inconsistently. This may not be fatal if you will only be doing statistical analysis to find approximate matches for concepts in different applications, but it will be fatal if it is to be used for logical inference.
(3) Schema.org is controlled by Google for its purposes and may be difficult to change if you discover that there are things in it that do not serve your purposes. Perhaps you can find the proper contact at Google who will accommodate your requests for changes in a timely fashion. If not, it can mined for useful structure, but if your purposes do not exactly match Google’s (it seems not), I would not recommend just adopting it without modification.
(4) There are several foundation (“upper”) ontologies available for public use, from the most comprehensive (OpenCyc) to SUMO/MILO, DOLCE, and (my own favorite, the one I am developing) COSMO. A number of others exist but may be less detailed or (in my opinion) less adaptable to use by multiple non-communicating groups.
I will be at the Arlington meeting, and if you are there will be happy to discuss my views on ontologies for data integration. If not, a telephone conversation can also be useful.
From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Greg Bloom
Sent: Friday, April 11, 2014 2:00 PM
Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Health/Human/Social Services: the Open Referral data standards initiative
Thanks Steve. It'd be great to discuss with you. I'm based out of the District of Columbia, but am traveling a lot between there and San Francisco Bay (the site of our other pilot).
As I said I'm having a hard time deciding on this conference, so I would appreciate an opportunity to talk with someone who is familiar with the scene and might help me figure out whether i should make a tough sacrifice to attend.
On Fri, Apr 11, 2014 at 1:53 PM, Steve Ray <steve.ray@xxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
You have hit my favorite topic – using ontologies for standards – so I’d be interested in speaking with you. I currently do some reverse-engineering of standards being developed in UML or XSD, turning them into OWL ontologies for validation and consistency checking.
I will be at the conference in Arlington. Where are you located normally?
Steven R. Ray, Ph.D.
Distinguished Research Fellow
Carnegie Mellon University
NASA Research Park
Building 23 (MS 23-11)
P.O. Box 1
Moffett Field, CA 94305-0001
Phone: (650) 587-3780
Cell: (202) 316-6481
I’m coordinating a new initiative to develop interoperability and open data within a particular field of 'human service informatics.' The field is often known as ‘Information and Referral,’ and is concerned with the aggregation and distribution of directory information for health, human, and social services (which services are available, who is eligible for them, and where/how to access them).
Currently, this field is still siloed, fragmented, nonstandardized, etc, which causes a lot of pain for everyone throughout the public and non-profit sectors. New web-based startups like https://www.1deg.org/ are offering great interfaces, but may potentially fragment the field even further.
We’ve got an unprecedented opportunity to fix this. A number of developments have recently emerged that could enable the development of ‘open’ platforms to freely circulate this information — among them, schema.org's schema for ‘civic services’ as proposed to the W3C. Given that this represents Google’s into this field, I believe it creates a political moment in which we can rally various players in this space around a new standard for ‘community resource directory data’ that would be interoperable between incumbents and newcomers, and the web.
In light of this (and other developments), I’ve convened a group of key institutional representatives and local stakeholders, and have offered up a proposal for developing a set of standards (and pilot sites that will test/evaluate these standards). My work is now being sponsored by Code for America, and we have funding for a pilot year to demonstrate some initial potential for success.
Our initiative is called Open Referral: http://openreferral.org
This document includes some more detail on our scope.
Among various challenges, one of the layers of our work is essentially ontological. We’re going to have to establish agreement on things like the differences between ‘services' and ‘programs’ (and/or ways to work around disagreement); and we’ve got a difficult taxonomy problem. I’m told by a couple of the subject matter experts in our network that, if we’re really going to develop a new standard successfully, we have to develop an ontology prior to (or at least along with) the technical artifacts. But I have to admit, whenever I say the word ‘ontology’ in discussions with stakeholders, I lose at least half of them. And frankly I find it daunting to parse the conversations on this list myself, although I have learned a bit from some of you and from some of the texts shared here.
So here’s what I’m looking for from your expertise
- Valuable, well-documented precedents for the role of ontology-development in data standards, from which we can learn by example. The more participatory (i.e. not just involving engineers, but actual users and stakeholders) the better.
- Advice in figuring out whether to attend the ontology conference coming up in Arlington. I think I can make it (at considerable sacrifice to my calendar) but I am highly unlikely to have enough time to really become versed in this subject by then. Will it be useful for someone who doesn’t consider themselves an ontologist, and is just trying to get a thing done?
- If there’s anyone to whom this sounds like an interesting project, we are certainly looking for expertise — anything from the 2 cents kind to the large exciting action/research project for which we can seek funding and field support etc etc.
So that’s my shpiel. Would love to discuss more on-thread or one-on-one, and if there’s some interest I’d even be happy to present on video chat — or, as I suggested, possibly even come to meet in person at the conference.
Thanks for reading,
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