The transformation of society towards a digital economy and government austerity creates a new context leading to changing roles for both government and private sector. Boundaries between public and private services are blurring, enabling government and private sector to collaborate and share responsibilities. In Belgium, the regional Government of Flanders embedded the re-use of public sector information in its legislation and published a data portal containing well over 4000 Open Datasets. Due to a lack of interoperability, interconnecting and interpreting these sources of information remain challenges for public administrations, businesses and citizens. To dissolve the boundaries between the data silos, the Flemish government applied Linked Data design principles in an operational public sector context. This paper discusses the trends we have identified while ‘rewiring’ the Authentic Source for addresses to a Linked Base Registry. We observed the impact on multiple interoperability levels; namely on the legal, organisational, semantic and technical level. In conclusion Linked Data can increase semantic and technical interoperability and lead to a better adoption of government information in the public and private sector. We strongly believe that the insights from the past thirteen years in the region of Flanders could speed up processes in other countries that are facing the complexity of raising technical and semantic interoperability.
This paper is related to the projects ‘OSLO and CRAB as Linked Open Data’ and the ‘Flemish Building Registry’, funded by Flanders Information Agency, Belgium and the program Flanders Radically Digital, Belgium.