Once people find data that might meet their purpose, they need to know where it came from and how it was processed, to help them know if it is applicable to their problem; to understand the level of quality and trustworthiness, and to apply it to their own problem.
As well as helping with data discovery, metadata is also important for helping people understand data once they find it. The web based nature of linked data makes it easy to connect data at a fine grained level to definitions, explanations and contextual information.
Use of standards is an important element of consistency and predictability in how data is presented, as well as making data more likely to be supported by good software tools.
What makes data easy for someone to understand depends greatly on their background and their purpose. Well-structured, documented, machine-readable linked data is a sound starting point for presenting data in many different ways: for example as a CSV download, or a map-based visualisation, or through a web-based explorer. Linked data makes it possible to offer many different views on an authoritative underlying collection of data.
The various Environment Agency linked-data-powered apps and explorers are good examples of the ways that data can be made more understandable for users.
A selection of the numerous apps available at https://environment.data.gov.uk/appgallery
Linked data is an enabling mechanism for these various views: directly using 'raw' linked data is generally only for specialists carrying out analysis or building more 'friendly' views for broader groups of users.
To explore Defra's linked data, go to https://environment.data.gov.uk/. For enquiries about the data, or to talk to the team about your data, please Submit Feedback/Report an issue.
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