Ontologies for UNECE standards

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It is generally agreed that standards, such as GS1 standards, facilitate trade by providing a common vocabulary that can be used by both buyers and sellers during transactions. GS1 DataBars (e.g. GS1-128 Bar Codes) take advantage of GS1 standards to code information about products that can then be easily exchange between the trade partners within the GS1 Global Data Synchronization Network.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) provided a coding system enabling the identification of a broad range of meat and poultry products that has been incorporated in to the GS1 system (the details of this implementation are not relevant for this paper).

Each standard for meat, established and promoted by UNECE, is an example of a good practice. However, it is currently a static document (printed or in either PDF or DOC formats). Such documents are themselves difficult to process, search for particular fragments, and compare. For instance, it is problematic to compare versions of catalogs, to track changes and updates of the files.

To take a full advantage of the UNECE standards their computer processable versions are needed. We created a representation of the UNECE standards for beefone of sixteen UNECE standards for meat. We treat it as a case study that shows benefits of such a representation. It is the first stage of a larger project that is targeted towards translating all of the UNECE meat standards into a machine-understandable representation.

We also intend to place our representation of the UNECE standards for meat within the wider context of Web vocabulary. It is a fact that GS1 Web vocabulary is being aligned with schema.org vocabulary and their future integration is expected. Both are designed to support richer product description in the Internet enabling a more precise Web search.

That is why our representation follows the Linked Data good practice. All the elements from the UNECE standards have their own dereferenceable IRI. Their content of the representation is accessed by a SPARQL Endpoint. We would like to also propose our representation to be used by Schema.org. IRIs of cuts of beef or muscles can serve as the external enumerations for Schema.org types. We are going to submit to Schema.org a proposal of hosted extension consisting of a few types and properties that are related to meat. This is ongoing work carried out within W3C MEAT PRODUCTS COMMUNITY GROUP.

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