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Southampton department releases public data in open linked data format

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The School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) at the University of Southampton has become the UK’s first university department to release all its public data in open linked data format for public reuse. This includes data about research papers in the EPrints archive, people in the school, research groups, teaching modules, seminars and events, buildings and rooms.

'The University of Southampton has pioneered some of the most important developments in the semantic web and open access in recent years. This announcement will ensure more data is released in the right format to enable new innovative uses of the information,' said Professor Nigel Shadbolt of ECS.

All public (RDF) data from rdf.ecs.soton.ac.uk and eprints.ecs.soton.ac.uk is now available and can be reused for any legal purpose, including derivative works and commercial use. The school has opted for a Creative Commons public domain (CC0) licence to allow the data to be reused.

'We believe that in the future this will become common practice for certain types of open data, and it is our responsibility to lead the way in setting the standards of best practice,' explained Christopher Gutteridge, ECS web projects manager. 'We have decided not to make attribution of our data a legal requirement, as this makes it difficult to create large scale mashups. So, rather than "MUST attribute", our policy is "please attribute". Obviously an attribution would be nice, but we don’t want to restrict innovation by requiring it under all circumstances.'

All the ECS information released is already available as HTML on the School’s websites. What’s new is that by providing the RDF it is possible for other computers to understand the information.