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Ruben Verborgh

The ERA Knowledge Graph: Leveraging Semantic Web technologies for digital interoperability in the Railway domain

by Julián Rojas Meléndez, Marina Aguado, Polymnia Vasilopoulou, Ivo Velitchkov, Dylan Van Assche, Pieter Colpaert, and Ruben Verborgh

The European Union Agency for Railways acts as an European authority, tasked with the provision of a legal and technical framework to support harmonized and safe cross-border railway operations throughout the EU. So far, the agency relied on traditional application-centric approaches to support the data exchange among multiple actors interacting within the railway domain. This lead however, to isolated digital environments that consequently added barriers to digital interoperability while increasing the cost of maintenance and innovation. In this work, we show how Semantic Web technologies are leveraged to create a semantic layer for data integration across the base registries maintained by the agency. We validate the usefulness of this approach by supporting route compatibility checks, a highly demanded use case in this domain, which was not available over the agency’s registries before. Our contributions include (i) an official ontology for the railway infrastructure and authorized vehicle types, including 28 reference datasets; (ii) a reusable Knowledge Graph describing the European railway infrastructure; (iii) a cost-efficient system architecture that enables high-flexibility for use case development; and (iv) an open source and RDF native Web application to support route compatibility checks. This work demonstrates how data-centric system design, powered by Semantic Web technologies and Linked Data principles, provides a framework to achieve data interoperability and unlock new and innovative use cases and applications. Based on the results obtained during this work, ERA officially decided to make Semantic Web and Linked Data-based approaches, the default setting for any future development of the data, registers and specifications under the agency’s remit for data exchange mandated by the EU legal framework. The next steps, which are already underway, include further developing and bringing these solutions to a production-ready state.

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Published in 2021 in Proceedings of the 20th International Semantic Web Conference.

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Cite this article easily using its BibTeX entry:

@inproceedings{rojas_iswc_2021,
  author = {Rojas Mel\'endez, Juli\'an and Aguado, Marina and Vasilopoulou, Polymnia and Velitchkov, Ivo and Van Assche, Dylan and Colpaert, Pieter and Verborgh, Ruben},
  title = {The {ERA} Knowledge Graph: Leveraging {Semantic Web} technologies for digital interoperability in the Railway domain},
  booktitle = {Proceedings of the 20th International Semantic Web Conference},
  year = 2021,
  month = nov,
  series = {Lecture Notes in Computer Science},
  publisher = {Springer},
  url = {https://julianrojas.org/papers/iswc2021-in-use/},
}

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IEEE
J. Rojas Meléndez et al., “The ERA Knowledge Graph: Leveraging Semantic Web technologies for digital interoperability in the Railway domain,” in Proceedings of the 20th International Semantic Web Conference, 2021.
ACM
Julián Rojas Meléndez, Marina Aguado, Polymnia Vasilopoulou, Ivo Velitchkov, Dylan Van Assche, Pieter Colpaert, and Ruben Verborgh. 2021. The ERA Knowledge Graph: Leveraging Semantic Web technologies for digital interoperability in the Railway domain. In Proceedings of the 20th International Semantic Web Conference (Lecture Notes in Computer Science), Springer.
LNCS
Rojas Meléndez, J., Aguado, M., Vasilopoulou, P., Velitchkov, I., Van Assche, D., Colpaert, P., Verborgh, R.: The ERA Knowledge Graph: Leveraging Semantic Web technologies for digital interoperability in the Railway domain. In: Proceedings of the 20th International Semantic Web Conference. Springer (2021).
APA
Rojas Meléndez, J., Aguado, M., Vasilopoulou, P., Velitchkov, I., Van Assche, D., Colpaert, P., & Verborgh, R. (2021, November). The ERA Knowledge Graph: Leveraging Semantic Web technologies for digital interoperability in the Railway domain. Proceedings of the 20th International Semantic Web Conference.
MLA
Rojas Meléndez, Julián, et al. “The ERA Knowledge Graph: Leveraging Semantic Web Technologies for Digital Interoperability in the Railway Domain.” Proceedings of the 20th International Semantic Web Conference, Springer, 2021.

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