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Semantic Frameworks for e-Government

1st January 2006 to 31st December 2009
Successful e-Governance initiatives are built upon an adequate understanding of the interactions and processes that are to be supported. This understanding needs to be shared by a community of stakeholders, users, and developers from a range of organisations and disciplines; it needs to evolve to incorporate new knowledge, as well as changes in policy and structure; and it needs to be recorded and made available in the form of accurate, up-to-date documentation. The basis of a shared understanding is a common semantics: the community needs to agree, to some extent, upon the meaning of key terms or actions. Natural language is sufficient for such a semantics only when the concepts are straightforward, the community is small or homogeneous, and the period of time over which understanding must be maintained is short. For complex problems, large or diverse communities, or long-lasting collaborations, a more formal approach is required. At a bare minimum, we require something equivalent to a dictionary, providing standard definitions for the community to use. A definition might explain the meaning of a word, the purpose of a piece of data, or the intended interpretation of a message or action. An informal explanation may be supplemented by more precise statements: categorising or classifying the elements being defined; formalising relationships between them; and explaining how they might be used in combination. e-Governance requires a significant degree of formalisation and computerisation of semantics. The size of the community, the rate of evolution, and the importance of documentation make it essential that the semantics can be accessed, maintained, and incorporated into delivered systems without the need for extensive, error-prone manual intervention. This project sets out to explain how this can be achieved, at no additional cost, through the use of simple, practical frameworks for semantics-driven development.

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