Abstract: The Second World War (WW2) is arguably the most devastating catastrophe of human history, a topic of great interest to not only researchers but the general public. However, data about the Second World War is heterogeneous and distributed in various organizations and countries making it hard to utilize. In order to create aggregated global views of the war, a shared ontology and data infrastructure is needed to harmonize information in various data silos. This makes it possible to share data between publishers and application developers, to support data analysis in Digital Humanities research, and to develop data-driven intelligent applications. As a first step towards these goals, this article presents the WarSampo knowledge graph (KG), a shared semantic infrastructure, and a Linked Open Data (LOD) service for publishing data about WW2, with a focus on Finnish military history. The shared semantic infrastructure is based on the idea of representing war as a spatio-temporal sequence of events that soldiers, military units, and other actors participate in. The used metadata schema is an extension of CIDOC CRM, supplemented by various military history domain ontologies. With an infrastructure containing shared ontologies, maintaining the interlinked data brings upon new challenges, as one change in an ontology can propagate across several datasets that use it. To support sustainability, a repeatable automatic data transformation and linking pipeline has been created for rebuilding the whole WarSampo KG from the individual source datasets. The WarSampo KG is hosted on a data service based on W3C Semantic Web standards and best practices, including content negotiation, SPARQL API, download, automatic documentation, and other services supporting the reuse of the data. The WarSampo KG, a part of the international LOD Cloud and totalling ca. 14 million triples, is in use in nine end-user application views of the WarSampo portal, which has had over 690 000 end users since its opening in 2015.
Keywords: Linked Open Data, semantic web, military history, World War II, Finland, cultural heritage, digital humanities
Journal: Semantic Web, vol. Pre-press, no. Pre-press, pp. 1-14, 2020