What Can We Do With Linked Data?

Linked data might seem like a big and alien concept. There’s all this information out there and it is increasingly being compiled into useful subsets of searchable information that people are able to interact with. If that sounds a little too computer-speak, I’ll try it another way. Collecting data is not new. Different companies, agencies, and people, have been recording information for years. Recently, there has been more of an effort to bring all of that information together in order to use it for other purposes. I’ll give you a few examples. I’ll start with what I do, because I think it’s pretty cool.

Medical facilities can link data to improve patient care by allowing for more coordination between various specialists, primary care doctors, and pharmacies. Linked data can also assist researchers in making correlations between patients with diagnoses and patients with those same symptoms. This type of information can provide unbiased health information to medical professionals with an eye to facilitate healthcare advances. For example, researchers can more easily catch cancer clusters if the information is searchable by geographic region.

But what else can we do with linked data?

Libraries can use metadata to link themselves to other libraries and the internet as a whole. By using standard fields, libraries can give and receive catalog information from other locations, allowing users to find the book or resource they need from almost anywhere. As we grow more dependent on things like Google for information, some librarians are hoping that by inputting the metadata from their catalogs into searchable query format, people will be able to find reliable, accurate information however they look for it. You can’t find a book on the information you’re looking for if you don’t know it exists in the first place.

Cities are looking into data linking in order to improve quality of life and to be more efficient. If they can figure out, over the span of the different energy sources available, there are specific areas where people are using excessive energy, they can divert more power to those areas. Or they can create a targeted conservation effort, or give those people incentives for more alternative energy sources. If they have data linked regarding traffic patterns and accidents, they can determine if a road may need another traffic light, to be widened, or if other safety precautions are needed. Police across various agencies can look at areas that are extremely safe and compare them with areas that are not, and see what makes them different. Then they can try to correct some of the deficiencies.

There are a million more possibilities of what we can do when we all share the information we’ve gathered. Linked data is an exciting field and I am incredibly proud to be a part of it!