In the past, the scope of the RING was generically "information services and sources" with the aim of providing "a map of accessible information sources with instructions on how they can be used effectively".
At the end of December 2013, a new version of the CIARD RING was published with:
- a stronger focus on datasets;
- improved metadata model for describing datasets;
- a more robust machine-readable layer for other services to access the featured datasets.
Information and data managers can still register generic web-based information services like web sites or search engines, but in order to seriously enhance the interoperability of agricultural data we encourage them to provide information on the actual data / metadata files that can be downloaded or accessed through special protocols in order to get the data in machine-readable formats. This is in short what we mean by “dataset” in the RING. Each information service that exposes at least one downloadable or machine-accessible file / stream at a URL, will be listed in the Datasets page in the RING.
In the RING, datasets can be registered as standalone sources or as part of a “collection” or “catalog”. This approach follows a well established model, defined by the W3C Data Catalog vocabulary (DCAT: http://www.w3.org/TR/vocab-dcat/) and adopted as a standard as the DCAT Application Profile by the European Union.
The introduction of this relationship between dataset and catalog/collection allows service providers to register the datasets that contribute data to their collection, link them to their collection and use this relationship to retrieve only collection-related datasets and execute operations on them.
The RING implements the DCAT vocabulary fully, so all metadata in the RING are machine-readable and can be queried through SPARQL queries. Technical information on the SPARQL endpoint and some examples of queries and the respective results are available at http://ring.ciard.net/rdf-store.
The implementation of this model in the RING has been facilitated by the agINFRA project.