December 21, 2011

Discover French Monuments through the Open Data!

A screenshot of the great project

The opening of the site some days ago was soon followed by other initiatives, and marked an acceleration of the Open Data movement in France.

The people from Antidot wanted to contribute to this new movement, showing that there is a huge interest on developing new ways to mesh data from different sources through semantic web standards, and that is quite easy to do it with the ability of tools like their solution Antidot Information Factory, managing data easily in an industrial approach.

And because France remains year after year the first tourist destination, because their territory is full of architectural treasures and heritage, they chose to perform a search application that allows you to explore nearly 44,000 historical French Monuments. You can check it here.

Some technical explanations:
The tool was performed by exploiting open seven data sources:

  1. The list of protected buildings available This data source describes 43,720 monuments in a CSV file.
  2. The list of passenger stations of the national rail network with contact information as provided by This data source stations in 3065 described an XLS file. It is exploited to locate buildings near the train station.
  3. The list of the Paris metro stations with contact details provided by OpenStreetMap. This data source described 301 stations and is exploited to locate buildings near a Metro station.
  4. Data from the official code geographic (COG) of the INSEE. This data source describes 22 regions, 99 departments, more than 4,000 townships and administrative centers in an RDF graph.
  5. The photos of historical monuments proposed by Wikimedia Commons. This data source, particularly fueled by the competition Wiki loves monuments, provides 122,828  pictures  to 12,586 historical monuments designated by their code PA: This is a code issued in a unique way for each monument and present in the list.
  6. The description of the historical monuments of Wikipedia provided by DBpedia. This data source described in RDF 3.64 million objects, including 413,000 places. This source is directly accessible from the information from Wikimedia Commons.
  7. The location information via Yahoo! PlaceFinder. This source can geotag their address from the monuments, not in location-based Wikimedia Commons or DBpedia
The result is a web search to find historical monuments: 

  • Full text search
  • In a region, department or city given
  • Type of monument: Church, Castle, statue, industrial site
  • By historical period: prehistoric, medieval, Renaissance etc.
  • By type of owner: person or private corporation, municipality, state ...
  • With all possible combination of these criteria as "faceted search" very simple to handle.

This application was carried out in four days by one person, without involving developers and simple configuration of our solution Antidot Information Factory. This shows, if still needed, the power and accuracy of the approach and Semantic Web technologies promoted by the W3C.

This application demonstrates that the Open Data favors the emergence of new uses: for the provision of data that are easily linked to other data, the only limit is our imagination and our ability to offer innovative new services and useful !

Thank you to all data providers that have made possible this achievement, including the Ministry of Culture and Communication for a list of historical monuments and the National Company of Railways for the list of stations, with a special mention for Wikipedia contributors, you can support with a donation.

This text was originally post in French here, and CC-BY-SA licensed.

December 13, 2011

Victor Balaguer Museum uploads his collection of paintings to Wikipedia

Museum's gallery. Ajuntament de Vilanova i la Geltru- CC-BY-SA-3.0

The Biblioteca Museu Víctor Balaguer is a museum founded in 1884 by Víctor Balaguer, a Catalan politician and writer. Is one of Catalonia’s oldest and most singular museums. The building keeps almost all the original decoration and collections, so the visitor is able to know how the museum was like in the 19th century.

Thanks to a collaboration between the museum of Vilanova and Amical Viquipèdia, Mireia Rosich, museum director, realized that Wikipedia is the fastest way to reach their audiences, so she aproved the content donation as part of a mid-term collaboration project.

During last weeks, about fifty paintings from the second half of the nineteenth century have been uploaded to Commons, They are artworks painted by leading artists of the time as Marià Fortuny, Ramon Martí Alsina, Joaquim Vayreda or Ramon Casas, among others. 

Releasing by parts
 We decided to create "packs" of 50 images to make more sustainable and easy to-do, as pics are uploaded manually by the volunteers. Using this system, we can monitorize and create part-time wikiprojects with shorter and handy lists, and so...over 50 articles of the highlights of the museum have already been created in Catalan Wikipedia, and now they are ready to be translated into other languages.

Using museum content and descriptions
The Museum has also released some data related to each artwork, and a short description and related history. With this information, it has been really easy for Wikipedians to start the articles and create some good stubs that now are being improved both by the Wikimedians and some museum professionals. 

For the Director of the museum, this project is highly appraised, so the whole team are encouraging everyone to help them improving the related articles.

Making it mid-term sustainable
To boost this relationship into local visitors and friends of the museum, on Friday 13 January will be a workshop of editing Wikipedia at the Library Museum. If we can reach local already-lovers of the museum, it will be better both for the museum and for the Wikimedians, as we will gain some new editors