Semantic Technology Powers the UK Parliament's Data Services

Background

The UK Parliament is a symbol of the transparent law-making institution since the inception of Great Britain as a state. There are even some rules and traditions originating in the Middle Ages that are still used in official legislation today.

As a part of its open policy and its role as a supreme representative body, the UK Parliament decided to include the general public in its activities and enhance the access to its published bills and documents archives in a more attractive and engaging way.

This mainly affected two of their websites - http://www.legislation.gov.uk and https://data.gov.uk/ - which aim to enable citizens to find UK legislation documents published by government departments and agencies, public bodies, and local authorities. As the UK Parliament’s website and data services are the main bridge between the UK Parliament and the citizens, these data services needed to be easily accessible and available 24/7.

The Challenge‌

The UK Parliament website suffered from complex and often duplicated information, non-responsive design and poor search functionalities. It needed a fresh approach to consumption and sharing of data, in a way that would benefit all stakeholders – Members of Parliament (MPs), parliamentary staff, and the general public. Consequently, these were the first steps in the implementation of this challenging project.

The Solution‌

This is where semantic technology provided the answer with the semantic graph database GraphDB, which keeps and manages information based on logical relationships and meaning. Sirma AI’s semantic graph database allows smooth data integration, visual graph navigation of the stored data as well as cross-enterprise data publishing and consumption.

The new technology is easy to set up and has been proven to scale in various production environments. Owing to its smooth backup, restore procedures and excellent performance, GraphDB brings the required stability to the system and guarantees its uptime, as proven through benchmarks conducted by the UK Parliament IT architects. GraphDB is also standards-compliant, which is critical for an organization like the UK Parliament.

The Result

With the help of semantic technology, the UK Parliament was able to remodel its information services and provide comprehensive information about the parliamentary sessions, what processes were involved in its work, and how people could access the offices of the MPs.

As a result, each user can now visit the page of a particular bill and quickly find out vote results on that bill, watch videos of speeches about it, etc. In addition, robust and well-functioning data services enable MPs to efficiently follow a bill’s progress and considerably improve the quality of their work.

Read the full case study here.