Wiki of the Month May 2011
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OpenEI is a web-based system that enables widespread sharing of energy information, including data, tools, models, and other digital resources. It was launched by the United States Department of Energy on December 9, 2009. It has subsequently been named as a "flagship initiative" in the Department's Open Government Initiative plan, and has been listed as a "featured innovation" on Whitehouse.gov. Several high-profile individuals have commented on OpenEI, including Dr. Steven Chu, Tim Berners-Lee, and Tim O'Reilly.
OpenEI currently provides two primary mechanisms for sharing structured information: a Semantic MediaWiki instance for collaboratively-managed resources, and a non-wiki dataset upload mechanism for contributor-controlled resources. In both cases, the resulting data is made available via Linked Data standards whenever possible. Development of the system is led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, in collaboration with other national laboratories.
Currently, the OpenEI Semantic MediaWiki instance has over 1.1 million property values spanning more than 850 unique properties. The Semantic Forms extension is used to provide forms-based editing for particular pages types. For example, one section (or "Gateway") within OpenEI is focused on energy utilities. The following forms are used to enter information for utility providers and their rate structures, respectively:
SMW properties are also used to manage metadata for energy-related images. In particular, OpenEI maintains what is believed to be the world's largest collection of energy-related map images at:
SparqlExtension is another key extension for OpenEI. It is used to perform SPARQL queries into semantic data that lives outside of the OpenEI wiki (such as DBpedia or an OpenEI Dataset that itself contains RDF data). The results of these queries can then be pulled into OpenEI pages in a variety of formats, including tables and graphs.
Finally, visualizations of semantic information are provided by Semantic Result Formats, related extensions, and custom MediaWiki Widgets. Notable visualizations can be seen on the following OpenEI pages:
OpenEI is open to the entire world. It is already used by scientists, policy analysts, students, and other people interested in energy. Whether you're a veteran of the energy industry with a unique dataset to contribute or an everyday consumer looking to understand how to lead a more energy-efficient lifestyle, we believe that OpenEI has something for you.