Citizen Dan Unveiled by Structured Dynamics; First Instance of the Open Semantic Framework

Citizen Dan, an open source system for local governments and organizations to publish and visualize community data and content, was unveiled today by its developer, Structured Dynamics (SD). Along with the software, SD also released a working demo site and full documentation. It is the first instance of the open semantic framework (OSF), a new paradigm for knowledge applications in the organization.

Coralville, IA, August 05, 2010 --( Citizen Dan, an open source system for local governments and organizations to publish and visualize community data and content, was unveiled today by its developer, Structured Dynamics (SD). Along with the software, SD also released a working demo site and full documentation.

"This release is really exciting for us since it is the first instance of our comprehensive open semantic framework," said Michael Bergman, Structured Dynamics' CEO. "OSF itself is the culmination of many individual pieces. In combination, we now have a generic semantic framework of tools, widgets and infrastructure applicable to any domain," he added.

Structured Dynamics indicated it developed the open semantic framework (OSF) to achieve two objectives: 1) provide a complete and comprehensive infrastructure for enterprises and organizations to leverage their existing information assets using semantic technologies; and 2) develop a new kind of application based on generic software, responsive to and driven solely by ontologies and the data fed to them.

"For some time SD's vision has been to shift the knowledge management paradigm from brittle and costly software apps to simple systems controlled by domain experts and users," said Bergman. "We think our ontology-driven apps based on adaptive ontologies achieve just that," he said.

"By virtue of the nature of the data and content fed to the system, the internal OSF ontologies know which actions and widgets can be invoked," said Frédérick Giasson, SD's CTO. "If the data is from a document, we know we can use a story tagger or concept explorer to view it. Similarly, geographical information can be mapped or numeric information can be plotted or graphed. By changing the data and ontologies, we change the nature and behavior of the app without modifying any software," he added.

The system is based on a suite of Web services called structWSF that conduct all dataset and content manipulations. Examples include query, search, browse, import and export, and dataset and record management. Requests made to these endpoints produce results sets, which are then read by the widgets and components hosted in a Drupal content management system for user display and visualization. As users interact with the interface, new queries and requests are issued to these endpoints, which produce new results sets, all in an interactive feedback loop.

"The system is a completely distributed Web-oriented architecture," notes Giasson. "The design enables distributed networks of endpoints and datasets to reside across the Web, which means multiple cities can participate and share information across the Citizen Dan network," he said.

This first release of Citizen Dan includes all baseline open semantic framework capabilities, including the:

* Concept Explorer — this Flex widget is a dynamic navigator of the concept space (ontology)

* Story Viewer —text content is tagged using the scones system (subject concepts or named entities), which then provides the basis for linking the content with concepts and other data

* Map Viewer — the map viewer is a Flex widget that presents layered views of different geographic areas

* Charting Widgets — the system provides a variety of charting options for numeric data, including pie, line and bar charts

* Filter Component — the filter component provides the ability to slice-and-dice the information space by a choice of dataset, type of data or data attribute

* Search Component — this component provides full-text, faceted search across all content in the system

* Dashboard Viewer — a dashboard view is created in the workbench and given a persistent name for invoking and use at any other location in the application

* Workbench — records and datasets and attributes may be selected, and then particular views or widgets may then be selected for as a nameable layout

* Exporter — multiple formats (spreadsheets via CSV, XML, JSON, RDF) can be exported, from slices to full datasets

* Importer — like the exporter, there are a variety of formats supported for ingesting data or content into the system

* Dataset Manager — new datasets can be defined, updated, deleted, appended and granted various access rights and permissions

* Records Manager — every dataset can have its records managed via so-called CRUD (create - read - update - delete) rights.

"We are committed to not only open source, but open release of the other parts that make for a total open solution, such as full documentation, best practices and methods, and ontology structures," Bergman said. "This is in keeping with SD's mantra that, 'We are successful when we're not needed,'" he said.


The Citizen Dan demo may be accessed at; it also includes download instructions. Bergman's blog post announcing the release is at

About SD

Structured Dynamics assists organizations to adopt Web-accessible and interoperable semantic data. Via structured, linked data and a combination of semantic technologies and Web services, information in any form and from any source can now be integrated and made interoperable. The company Web site is at
Structured Dynamics LLC
Steve Ardire