Now at the midway point in its research and development, the 30-month IST-funded project is creating a semantically-enriched Web-based software platform to ensure that e-government information and services are consistent and up to date across departments and administrations.
“E-government services are becoming cheaper and easier to deploy, however, the focus to date has largely been on the front office,” explains OntoGov coordinator Dimitris Apostolou at Planet in Greece. “The back office needs to catch up, especially as this is where information and services are updated, something that is a largely manual process at present and therefore prone to errors and inconsistencies.”
At the heart of the problem is the gap between the perspectives and goals of policy makers and the technical realisation of e-government, a situation that frequently leads to e-government services being set up without the behind-the-scenes technology needed to support them.
OntoGov aims to provide that support by using semantics to control, maintain and modify information automatically right down the service chain, eliminating inconsistencies and increasing the efficiency of public services. So far the project partners have developed an easy to use Service Modeller with a graphic interface that will allow a non-IT expert public official to modify information and services based on changes in legislation. Similar to a business process modelling tool, the Service Modeller uses semantics to link together and modify all information relevant to a specific service. Over the coming months the project will also develop an ontology management system to maintain and support ontology evolution and propagation from one service to another, and will also create a service configuration system aimed at providing tools for IT administrators to develop and deploy software for new service models. Tracking and auditing components will monitor changes during run-time.
“A change in legislation governing driving licences, for example, would be input into the platform and the system would modify all the related services accordingly, identifying through ontologies what information pertains to what service model,” Apostolou says.
Three pilots of the OntoGov system are due to be tested in late 2005 and early 2006 at two municipalities in Greece and Spain and at the Swiss Federal Chancellery, reflecting the vast potential for the system to be used in different types of public administrations offering e-government services in multiple areas.
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Source: Based on information from OntoGov