Application of Semantic Web Technology in E-Business: Case Studies in Public Domain Data Knowledge Representation

Application of Semantic Web Technology in E-Business: Case Studies in Public Domain Data Knowledge Representation

Sotirios K. Goudos (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece), Vassilios Peristeras (National University of Ireland, Ireland) and Konstantinos Tarabanis (University of Macedonia, Greece)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-611-7.ch099
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In the E-Business and particular in the eGovernment domain special focus is often given to the demand side, i.e. the everyday practice and reality of citizen and business contacts with government and businesses. Information services available online from public administration are the first stage for e-government. This stage has drawn a great amount of effort from many countries worldwide in order to satisfy the demand for readily available information. The implementation of an information system that will serve this demand is not always an easy task. This is due to the inherent difficulties that exist in the public administration domain. There are many complicated services with numerous executional paths, depending on the type of process. In many cases divergent and conflicting legislation may exist for the same case, which complicates the search effort for the average citizen. As a result, it may be difficult for a citizen to find, based on the relevant legislation the correct information regarding the formal documents and the procedure that must be followed for a certain service.
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Several information technologies exist for the creation of web-based E-Business applications. The use of Semantic Web (Berners-Lee, Hendler, & Lassila, 2001) and Semantic Web Services (Fensel, Bussler, & Maedche, 2002) technologies to enable the interoperability of systems and applications is gaining momentum worldwide.

The state-of-the art technology in a web environment is adding semantic meaning to web recourses. Currently these resources are usually only human understandable: the mark-up (HTML) only provides information for textual and graphical information intended for human consumption. Semantic Web aims for machine understandable information that can be processed and shared by both computers and humans. Tim Berners-Lee (2001) provides the definition of the Semantic Web as “an extension of the current one [Web], in which information is given well-defined meaning, better enabling computers and people to work in cooperation.”

An E-Business information system can be implemented in several different ways. For example a set of business rules could be modeled using simple if – then rules in any programming language. Process modeling using a workflow system is also an option. Relational databases using SQL queries could also be selected for the implementation. The semantic technology is not a competitor of the above-mentioned technologies since they apply to different types of applications for different reasons but there are some areas of overlapping. It is not an easy task to design the relational database or the workflow system to represent a complex scenario. In simpler cases the relational model or if-then rules can be used. But in complicated cases an ontology model provides more flexibility and robustness in design and implementation. The advantage of semantic technology over the above-mentioned technologies lies on the fact of creating machine-readable data capable of modeling complex cases. The same information can be shared not only among humans but also among clever agents in the web. Another major advantage is the fact that information using semantic technologies can be distributed anywhere in the web. Ontologies can be imported, merged with others, populated and expanded in a distributed way. This kind of scalability is perhaps the most important advantage of the semantic technology. More details about the relation of ontologies to formalisms currently used in software engineering can be found in (Tran, Lewen, & Haase, 2007).

Key Terms in this Chapter

KIF: Knowledge Interchange Format is a computer-oriented language for the interchange of knowledge among disparate computer programs.

Semantic Web service: They are the server end of a client-server system for machine-to-machine interaction via the World Wide Web. Semantic services are a component of the semantic web because they use markup that makes data machine-readable in a detailed and sophisticated way.

XML: Extensible Markup Language is a general-purpose specification for creating custom markup languages.

Web Service: A software system designed to support interoperable machine-to-machine interaction over a network.

RDF: Resource Description Framework is a family of W3C specifications that have been used as a general method for conceptual modeling of information that is implemented in web resources.

Reasoner: A software system able to infer logical consequences from a set of asserted facts or axioms.

Description Logics: A family of knowledge representation (KR) formalisms that represent the knowledge of an application domain by first defining the relevant concepts of the domain (its terminology), and then using these concepts to specify properties of objects and individuals occurring in the domain.

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