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Consultation about UK e-Government meta-data standard starts

The snazzily titled Office of the E-Envoy (the cabinet office bit responsible for online government stuff) has put out version 4 of its e-Government Metadata Standard (e-GMS) for public consultation. New features include a way of integrating e-GMS metadata in webpages.

The e-GMS is essentially a set of Dublin Core (DC- the ubiquitous basic metadata standard) elements that should make finding and managing documents across the UK government sector easy and consistent. It is part of the e-Government Interoperability Framework: a set of standards that is intended to be rolled out across all government departments.

The idea behind the e-GMS is that a civil servant looking for, say, reports sent to a particular recipient won't have to guess what 'recipient' will have been called in any number of authorities (assuming the recipient will have even been recorded). Other good things include accessibility information that will let software know how to render particular content for people with specific accessibility preferences.

Because the standard is based on DC, it maps straight to other metadata schemes that have a similar basis. Most elements in the e-GMS, therefore, map straight to the IEEE Learning Object Metadata (LOM) standard that is in almost universal use in the e-learning world.

To anyone with an incling of government bureaucracies, it may come as a bit of a surprise that there is agreement on the one metadata standard. A closer look, however, reveals that the e-GMS is very much a baseline. Individual organisations are encouraged to adopt just the bare necessities, and fill the rest with their own extensions. This extends to the idea that "The e-GMS is flexible enough to allow the use of additional free text fields for internal use only."

The main changes in the present draft include a syntax for the inclusion of e-GMS metadata in HTML webpages, the inclusion of new encoding schemes for issues like rights, document preservation and subject, as well as a number refinements.

The consultation ends on 20 February.

The document can be downloaded from the ukgovtalk website.

Thanks to OLDaily for the link.

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