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Help: What is Linked Data?

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Data designed for the Web

This site uses an approach called Linked Data for representing the information it holds. You don't need to know about this to use the site, but some background knowledge may be useful.

Linked Data is based on a set of principles and open standards designed to exploit the strengths of the Web. The most important of these is the use of URLs as identifiers, not only for web pages and files, but also for real world things like places and organisations and abstract concepts like age range or a classification of types of crime. When you look up that URL, in your browser or via other applications, you get useful information back.

If something has a URL you can link to it, and importantly one thing (like 'Glasgow council area' say) can be linked to another (such as a data point about Glasgow).

Linked Data makes use of mechanisms of the HTTP standard, such as content negotiation to enable delivery of information in a range of different formats; and behind the scenes the data is represented using the Resource Description Framework (RDF). There is a standard query language for data in the form of RDF called SPARQL. This is used behind the scenes on this site to retrieve the data for each web page. The site also allows any user to run their own SPARQL queries to retrieve data in a fully flexible way.

For technical details of how to make use of the data on the site in machine readable formats, refer to the API tab on the Getting Started page.


Most pages in this site have an API tab which includes contextual details of how to access the data programmatically. The API tab on the Getting Started help page describes some overarching principles.