Home 10 Ideas For Web of Data Apps

10 Ideas For Web of Data Apps

At the end of last week, we posted an open thread asking what application you’d build (or would like someone else to build) using linked data or open data. The thread was inspired by Georgi Kobilarov. In this post, we list 10 of the best ideas we received.

A number of the suggested apps were for social good, for example apps for improving sustainability and finding missing persons. Other apps were more lifestyle-oriented, for example for cooking and genealogy. A few were business focused, such as a brand marketing app and a point-of-sale system. Of course a couple were just plain ol’ geeky, which we love too! You can find all 10 ideas below.

Firstly, a quick refresher course on the terminology. Linked data is data that has been uploaded to the Web and linked to other sources, but is not necessarily open for other developers to re-use. Often when people use the term “linked data,” they mean data that has been uploaded in a structured format, for example RDF. Open data is data that has been uploaded to the Web and is freely available to use, but isn’t necessarily linked to other data sources. The term “open data” is often used for unstructured data, for example CSV files (spreadsheets). The ideal, of course, is data that is both linked and open. We should note however that these definitions are not universally agreed on, but they’re good enough for the purposes of this post.

Missing Persons

Juan Sequeda, co-founder of Semantic Web Austin, has an idea for using linked data “to integrate data from displaced populations, specifically in Colombia.” He references a BBC report from September 2009, about using semantic Web technology to enable people to search currently incompatible databases of missing persons in Columbia.


Bernard Vatant from Guillestre, France, wants to see “the Web of Data enable people anywhere in the world to find out smart, sustainable and low-cost solutions to their local development issues.” For example, success stories in farming, water supply, energy, education and health “in environments similar to mine, anywhere in the world.”

In short, Bernard wants a linked data equivalent to WiserEarth – an online community for people interested in sustainability.

A Better World

Aldo Bucchi from Chile wants an app to tackle “negligence, corruption and lack of accountability.” Specifically he mentioned a recent 8.8 magnitude earthquake in Chile, which resulted in hundreds of deaths. Aldo believes that some of those deaths were avoidable, because of what he claims was “corruption and malpractice in the construction business.” He thinks that a Web of data would help identify such things, as well as help “rebuild the country faster and in a more agile manner [with] the “loose-coupled coordination” that is naturally derived from a shared data substrate and a single world view.”

Genealogy App

Sherry Main from Orange County, California would like an app for genealogy. Wrote Sherry:

“It would be amazing to be able to map and locate where your family is from, has been, and what notable events happened. If there was an application on a mobile device that pinged you when you are within a particular radius of say, my great-grandmother’s birthplace, as I walked around a town, that would make real-world experiences more meaningful […] As photos become geo-tagged going forward, imagine being able to get a push notification that showed an important family or historical photo to you as you stood or walked by that location.”

Cooking App

Bart Stevens wants to be able to “select a (difficult) recipe and submit this to a service.” He wants the following information back:

1. Where can I find the ingredients.

2. Place an order/make a reservation (@bakery, butcher or fish shop) for certain ingredients.

3. A route (street) map, per store.

4. Maybe a payment system.

Point-of-Sale & Inventory System

Daniel O’Connor would like to see a point-of sale-system and inventory system, for example for a small office supplies store.

He beckons us to imagine this: “I receive a new product, scan the barcode of it. My system queries the web for the supplier name, product data, etc […] recognizes the supplier and hits their URI for the product.
It assimilates all of the recommended price information (ie: good relations); depictions and populates my system.” You can read the full scenario in his extended comment.

Brand Marketing

John Davidson suggests that linked data can be used to assist brand marketers, specifically to find out more about their customers. He offers this example:

“A customer becomes a fan of a popular hair care brand on Facebook. She separately opted-in on the brand site to receive email alerts for new products, promotional offers that she can redeem in stores, etc. Are these distinct, separate events or are they somehow connected? By integrating these streams from the “Web of Data” the brand marketer can understand that she is an advocate for their brand. She also has several dozen or more friends she regularly interacts with in social channels. The marketer can engage her with special offers to promote their cool new products with friends in her network. The subsequent buzz and chatter sends friends to their stores to buy the new hair care products and the cycle repeats.”

Research Assistant

A comment on Georgi’s blog suggests an app to review literature. “Professor Aloha” wrote that he/she would create an application that could “take any research topic and backtrace (through articles, dissertations, presentations, and their accompanying reference lists) all published research articles on that topic, sorting them by year of publication, author, country of origin, journal and major findings.”

Enriched People Profiles

Atif Latif from Austria would like to build an aggregator for all of the possible resources related to a person on the Web. The end result, said Atif, “will be [a] highly semantified and enriched profile of a person.” Atif is working on this as we speak, with a beta app named CAF-SIAL. Good luck Atif!

In a separate comment, Kingsley Idehen of semantic Web company OpenLink Software mentioned “Verifiable Identity,” noting that “all databases (including the Web of Linked Data) need verifiable identity.”

Website-less websites

Nathan suggested a number of things, our favorite being “Website-less websites”. Nathan wrote that “when all the data is typed and in a single format (let’s say rdf) then the need for websites and webpages can completely be disposed off, rather we can view the information in an array of clients side applications each with there own benefits (like we do currently with twitter clients), The entire web can theoretically and quite easily just be one big API.”

Bruce Wayne of Factoetum wrote in a separate comment that he is developing “services that will have in impact in bringing about a Website-less web.” He gives an example of a list of book titles.

Those are 10 suggestions from the ReadWriteWeb community. Perhaps some enterprising entrepreneurs or developers will pick up a few of these ideas for their next startup!

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The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

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