Now that emergency services are starting to use electronic data exchange more and more, it is important that all parties participating in this data exchange have agreement about the terms and definitions used. Or at least have access to the definitions of the terms used. An electronic data dictionary that is available on-line ensures that all parties can always consult the latest version of the data dictionary. In addition to making the terms available, it is recommended to also manage and maintain these terms in an on-line platform. This prevents the ‘disappearance’ of the definitions in text documents or spreadsheets on websites.

Firebrary, the electronic data dictionary for the fire service

Access to this dictionary must be possible for people, searching and reading concepts and definitions, as well as for software systems.
In the context of cross (language) border deployment of emergency services, it is important that it is possible to offer the definitions and terms in more then one language.
By using internationally recognized standards for the exchange of definitions and taxonomies, it is possible to apply standard software for the use of the data dictionary.
Emergency services are not the only government institutions that are in the process of establishing their concepts and terms in online platforms. It is therefore recommended to be able to connect with other government institutions when choosing platforms and standards.

For the Firebrary, the Fire Brigade Data Dictionary, the decision was made to offer the definitions as linked data according to the SKOS and SKOS-XL model, an international standard that makes it possible to provide the dictionary through the web. The big advantage is that no special tools are needed to use the definitions.
In addition, this method is already used by, among others, EuroVoc and the system catalog of the Dutch government. The latter in particular is interesting because it allows us to refer in its own domain definitions to concepts where the emergency services themselves are not ‘owners’. As an example, in the National Reporting Classification the term ‘Brand Gebouw’ is used and for the subdivision in types of buildings we refer to the law. This definition and concepts are also available in the system catalog so that we can directly refer to them. In the system catalog the legal ‘owner’ of the term ensures that this is available in the latest version.

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