This year, I was conference chair of the SEMANTiCS conference, which was held 11-14 Sept in Amsterdam. The conference was in my view a great success, with over 310 visitors across the four days, 24 parallel sessions including academic and industry talks, six keynotes, three awards, many workshops and lots of cups of coffee. I will be posting more looks back soon, but below is a storify item giving an idea of all the cool stuff that happened in the past week.
With the launch of the Big Data Europe platform behind us, we are telling the world about our nice platform and the many pilots in the societal challenge domains that we have executed and evaluated. We wrote everything down in one comprehensive paper which was accepted at the 7th international conference on Web Engineering (ICWE 2017) which is to be held in Rome next month.
The paper “The BigDataEurope Platform – Supporting the Variety Dimension of Big Data” is co-written by a very large team (see below) and it presents the BDE platform — an easy-to-deploy, easy-to-use and adaptable (cluster-based and standalone) platform for the execution of big data components and tools like Hadoop, Spark, Flink, Flume and Cassandra. To facilitate the processing of heterogeneous data, a particular innovation of the platform is the Semantic Layer, which allows to directly process RDF data and to map and transform arbitrary data into RDF. The platform is based upon requirements gathered from seven of the societal challenges put forward by the European Commission in the Horizon 2020 programme and targeted by the BigDataEurope pilots. It is validated through pilot applications in each of these seven domains. .A draft version of the paper can be found here.
The full reference is:
Sören Auer, Simon Scerri, Aad Versteden, Erika Pauwels, Angelos Charalambidis, Stasinos Konstantopoulos, Jens Lehmann, Hajira Jabeen, Ivan Ermilov, Gezim Sejdiu, Andreas Ikonomopoulos, Spyros Andronopoulos, Mandy Vlachogiannis, Charalambos Pappas, Athanasios Davettas, Iraklis A. Klampanos, Efstathios Grigoropoulos, Vangelis Karkaletsis, Victor de Boer, Ronald Siebes, Mohamed Nadjib Mami, Sergio Albani, Michele Lazzarini, Paulo Nunes, Emanuele Angiuli, Nikiforos Pittaras, George Giannakopoulos, Giorgos Argyriou, George Stamoulis, George Papadakis, Manolis Koubarakis, Pythagoras Karampiperis, Axel-Cyrille Ngonga Ngomo, Maria-Esther Vidal. . Proceedings of The International Conference on Web Engineering (ICWE), ICWE2017, LNCS, Springer, 2017
On 21 and 22 March, researchers from VU’s Web and Media group attended ICT.OPEN, the principal ICT research conference in the Netherlands. Here over 500 scientists from all ICT research disciplines & interested researchers from industry come together to learn from each other, share ideas and network. The conference featured some great keynote speeches, including one from Nissan’s Erik Vinkhuyzen on the role of anthropological and sociological research to develop better self-driving cars. Barbara Terhal from Aachen University gave a challenging, but well-presented talk on the challenges regarding robustness for quantum computing.
As last year, the Web and Media group this year was well represented through multiple oral presentations with accompanying posters and demonstrations :
- Oana Inel, Carlos Martinez and Victor de Boer presented DIVEplus. Oana did such a good job presenting the project in the main programme (see Oana’s DIVE+@ICTOpen2017 slides), through the demo and in front of a poster that the poster was selected as best Poster in the SIKS track.
- Benjamin Timmermans, Tobias Kuhn and Tibor Vermeij presented the Controcurator project with a demonstration and poster presentation. In the demo the ControCurator human-machine framework for identifying controversy in multimodal data is shown.
- Tobias Kuhn discussed “Genuine Semantic Publishing” in the Computer Science track on the first day. His slides can be found here. After the talk there was a very interesting discussion about the role of the narrative writing process and how it would relate to semantic publishing.
- Ronald Siebes and Victor de Boer then discussed how Big and Linked Data technologies developed in the Big Data Europe project are used to deliver pharmacological web-services for drug discovery. You can read more in Ronald’s blog post.
- Benjamin Timmermans and Zoltan Zslavik also presented the CrowdTruth demonstrator, which is shown in this short demonstrator video.
- Sabrina Sauer presented the MediaNow project with a nice poster titled MediaNow – using a living lab method to understand media professionals’ exploratory search.
— Victor de Boer (@victordeboer) March 21, 2017
Last week, BigDataEurope was present at the principal ICT research conference in the Netherlands, ICT.OPEN, where over 500 scientists from all ICT research disciplines & interested researchers from industry come together to learn from each other, share ideas and network.
This is the first time that the NWO, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, added the “Health” track, a recognition of the increased importance of ICT in the domain of diagnosis, drug discovery and health-care. We presented a short paper written by Ronald Siebes, Victor de Boer, Bryn Williams-Jones, Kiera McNeice and Stian Soiland-Reyes covering the current state of the SC1 “Health, demographic change and well-being” pilot which implements the Open PHACTS functionality on the Big Data Europe infrastructure.
We succeeded to demonstrate the ease of use and practical value of the SC1 pilot for researchers in the domain of Drug Discovery and developers of Big Linked Data solutions and are looking forward to further strengthen our collaboration with the various. The paper was accepted as a poster presentation but also selected for an oral presentation at the “Health & ICT” track.
For those curious about the Big Data Europe technology stack and who rather view videos than read descriptions and documentation, we have started a youtube video channel where BDE researchers explain the how, why and what of the BDE stack. Embedded below is a short clip of Hajira Jabeen explaining how BDE enables someone to get started with Big Data. More clips are available on the channel.
On 9 December 2016, the second workshop for the Big Data Europe Health, Demographic Change and Wellbeing societal challenge was held in Brussels. The aim of this workshop was to highlight progress from the BigDataEurope project in building the foundations of a generically applicable big data platform which can be applied across all Horizon 2020 societal challenges. This workshop specifically focused on health, and showcased our first pilot’s application to early bioscience research data.
The workshop had 15 participants, from within the health domain and outside it, including many participants from the European Commission. Together we discussed different perspectives on how we may use appropriate H2020 instruments and work programmes to better integrate the ecosystem of linked data repositories, data management services and virtual collaboration environments to increase the pace of knowledge sharing in health.
The workshop featured presentations from BDE’s Simon Scerri and Aad Versteden on the general goals and progress of the BigDataEurope project and the BDE infrastructure respectively. After lunch, Ronald Siebes (BDE / VU Amsterdam) presented the first pilot in this specific domain. More information on that pilot can be found here. An extensive round-table discussion followed, in which possible options for new applications and connections were considered.
One question raised was whether the generic BDE infrastructure can be used by European SMEs. The fact that the BDE infrastructure is completely Open Source, very easy to install and features intuitive interface components makes re-use relatively simple even for smaller institutions and companies.
A significant part of the discussion focussed on possible new use cases for expanding the scope of the pilot. One suggestion was to look at post-hoc integration of clinical data, which represents a typical problem of data ‘variance’. This would require integrating information from different versions of medical questionnaires, which may be recorded or stored in different ways. Data provenance is also a key concern, as keeping a trail of what has happened to clinical data is crucial to tracking patients’ histories. Once integrated, this data could then be mined to identify biases or data patterns.
Finally, the workshop participants discussed potential connections to other European projects. Here many projects were mentioned including the MIDAS project, the Big-O project on childhood obesity, the PULSE projects and IMI / IMI2 projects including EMIF. We will be seeking collaborations with these projects and will continue to develop new and interesting Big Data use cases in this domain in the coming year.
For its 10th anniversary, the Web Science Trust organized an event Webscience@10. For this event, a Webscience@10 TV channel was launched to showcase different research and education initatives around the world. On behalf of the VU Network Institute and W4RA, we submitted our Web of Voices video as well as a short introduction to the W4RA team.
As previously announced, the pilot implementation for the Big-Data-Europe platform for Societal Challenge 1 (the Health domain) facilitates the Open PHACTS discovery Platform functionality. The Open PHACTS platform is built for researchers in Drug Discovery. It uses databases of physicochemical and pharmacological properties stored in a RDF Triple Store. This interconnected data is exposed through a Linked Data API composed of interoperable data. The system caches query results via a Memcached module. In the context of the SC1 pilot, most functionalities of the platform is now successfully replicated via Docker containers on the BDE infrastructure.
Please do try this at home! The pilot can be installed on Linux (through Docker compose) or Windows (through Docker toolbox). Installations instructions are available on the pilot’s GitHub page. By design the technology itself is independent from the domain. Once you got familiar with the code and got it running by yourself, you should have enough experience to upload your own Linked Data, and create your own API.
On 29 August, the 4th International Workshop on Downscaling the Semantic Web (Downscale2016) was held as a full-day workshop in Amsterdam co-located with the ICT4S conference. The workshop attracted 12 participants and we received 4 invited paper contributions, which were presented and discussed in the morning session (slides can be found below). These papers describe a issues regarding sustainability of ICT4D approaches, specific downscaled solutions for two ICT4D use cases and a system for distributed publishing and consuming of Linked Data.. The afternoon session was reserved for demonstrations and discussions. An introduction into the Kasadaka platform was followed by an in-depth howto on developing voice-based information services using Linked Data. The papers and the descriptions of the demos are gathered in a proceedings (published online at figshare: doi:10.6084/m9.figshare.3827052.v1).
During the discussions the issue of sustainability was addressed. Different dimensions of sustainability were discussed (technical, economical, social and environmental). The participants agreed that a holistic approach is needed for successful and sustainable ICT4D and that most of these dimensions were indeed present in the four presentations and the design of the Kasadaka platform. There remains a question on how different architectural solutions for services (centralized, decentralized, cloud services) relate to eachother in terms of sustainability and when a choice for one of these is most suited. Discussion then moved towards different technical opportunities for green power supplies, including solar panels.
The main presentations and slides are listed below::
- Downscale2016 introduction (Victor and Anna) (slides)
- Jari Ferguson and Kim Bosman. The Kasadaka Weather Forecast Service (slides)
- Aske Robenhagen and Bart Aulbers. The Mali Milk Service – a voice based platform for enabling farmer networking and connections with buyers. (slides)
- Anna Bon, Jaap Gordijn et al. A Structured Model-Based Approach To Preview Sustainability in ICT4D (slides)
- Mihai Gramada and Christophe Gueret Low profile data sharing with the Entity Registry System (ERS) (slides)
[This post is based on the Information Sciences MSc. thesis by Onno Valkering]
To make widespread knowledge sharing possible in rural areas in developing countries, the notion of the Web has to be downscaled based on the specific low-resource infrastructure in place. In this paper, we introduce SPARQL over SMS, a solution for exchanging RDF data in which HTTP is substituted by SMS to enable Web-like exchange of data over cellular networks.
The solution uses converters that take outgoing SPARQL queries sent over HTTP and convert them into SMS messages sent to phone numbers (see architecture image). On the receiver-side, the messages are converted back to standard SPARQL requests.
The converters use various data compression strategies to ensure optimal use of the SMS bandwidth. These include both zip-based compression and the removal of redundant data through the use of common background vocabularies. The thesis presents the design and implementation of the solution, along with evaluations of the different data compression methods.
The application is validated in two real-world ICT for Development (ICT4D) cases that both use the Kasadaka platform: 1) An extension of the DigiVet application allows sending information related to veterinary symptoms and diagnoses accross different distributed systems. 2) An extension of the RadioMarche application involves the retrieval and adding of current offerings in the market information system, including the phone number of the advertisers.
For more information:
- Download Onno’s Thesis. A version of the thesis is currently under review.
- The slides for Onno’s presentation are also available: Onno Valkering
- View the application code at https://github.com/onnovalkering/sparql-over-sms