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Openers of legal data were awarded in the Open Finland Challenge competition

Semantic Finlex will bring legal and juridical data to everyone's reach as a Linked Open Data service.

Eero Hyvönen and Jouni Tuominen from the award-winning team.

The prizes of the biggest Nordic innovation competition in digital openness, the Open Finland Challenge, were awarded in Helsinki on 3rd of December.

The category of Public Services & Active Citizens was won by Semantic Finlex, a group led by Eero Hyvönen, which will bring legal and juridical data to everyone's reach as an open Linked Data service.

It has been possible, already since 1997, to get to know the central contents of Finland's legistlation and case law  via the Finlex online service produced by the Ministry of Justice. However, the data has been readable as web pages only by people; machine-readable data required by applications in information technology, other online services and legislative applications hasn't been open before now.

In the Semantic Finlex project, the Linked Data Finland publication platform has amassed, among other things, 2,400 acts, 11,900 Supreme Court decisions and 1,500 Supreme Administrative Court decisions as well as extensive legislative concept collections.

– The first step is to open the data, the second one to increase our understanding about it, Eero Hyvönen sums up.

– Semantic Finlex creates a semantic dimension to legal data, in other words, it creates a network between the data items by explaining the connection between them. Currently, there are all in all already 4 million links between the data items, and more are added as the work continues and the amount of data keeps increasing.

Based on open linked legal data, it is possible to create a host of various services that will benefit the administration and citizens. Already we are operating a pilot version of a browser which links the words and longer phrases of Finlex in real time and automatically to data that provides background context for them. Hyvönen's aim in the future is to develop applications with the data service. These will include applications such as a smart search interface and recommendation system, with the help of which one can find important legislation and case-law pertaining to a certain problem.

– It is important also that whoever who has a good idea and the required competence can, based on the very same data service, realise desired applications from the same starting points as we do, Hyvönen stresses.

The Semantic Finlex service is Aalto University's cooperative project with the Ministry of Justice and is related to the national Open Knowledge Finland programme of the Ministry of Finance. Edita Publishing Oy and Talentum, as well as the Linked Data Finland project funded by Tekes, have also been participating in the project. Besides Eero Hyvönen, the awarded project group includes Matias Frosterus, Jouni Tuominen and Eetu Mäkelä from Aalto University and Aki Hietanen from the Ministry of Justice.

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