Finto is a joint project of the National Library of Finland, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Education and Culture. The aim of the project is to build a national-level ontology service.
The Finto project is based on the FinnONTO research project by the Aalto University and the University of Helsinki which developed semantic web infrastructure for Finland during 2003-2012. However, the focus of the Finto project is on production and therefore, though based on services and applications developed during a research project, the aim is different. Chief concerns are stability and usability, since the service needs to be reliable enough to support further services whose function depends on it.
The first part of the project ended in May 2014 but the whole project is planned to be complete in 2017 after which the maintenance phase will begin. During the project we also plan to build a consortium of the different content providers and other interest groups relating to ontologies in Finland. This Finto consortium would then guide the further development and use of ontologies on national scale.
Overview of the Finto Service
An ontology is an explicit, machine-readable specification of concepts and the relations between them in a given domain. Every concept and relation is given a unique identifier (URI) and the meanings behind these are made explicit. If different organizations use the same identifiers for the same concepts in their metadata descriptions, the integration of data is more simple.
The Finto project has two main parts. The first one is the ontology service itself, where we aim to build a reliable, centralized channel for the publication and utilization of ontologies with common interfaces and formats for ease of use. The different ontologies in the service can be browsed using a web browser, but we also provide a REST interface as well as a SPARQL endpoint, so the ontologies can be integrated into other applications. All the software we develop is open source.
The other focus of the Finto project is the Finnish General Upper Ontology YSO and its Swedish counterpart ALLSO. The idea is for YSO to provide the concepts that are common across domains and these are then complemented by more specific domain ontologies. We have deployed this structure in the form of KOKO, a combination of YSO and fifteen different domain ontologies ranging from agriculture to health to seafaring. The KOKO ontology is already in use in, e.g., various museums as well as in pilot use in the national broadcasting company Yle.
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