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Parliament of Finland on the Semantic Web

More information about this project is available at the Finnish homepage and in the publications below.

Project Idea

The ParliamentSampo - Semantic Parliament (SEMPARL) is a consortium research project, which produces a linked open data and research infrastructure on Finnish parliamentary data, and develops novel semantic computing technologies to study parliamentary politics and political culture. SEMPARL brings together researchers at the University of Helsinki, University of Turku, and Aalto University, with complementary, multi-disciplinary expertise in language technology, political and media research, and semantic computing and web technologies, respectively. The project makes three major contributions.

  1. First, it responds to the demand for an easy to use and “intelligent” access to the newly digitized Finnish parliamentary data by providing the data as a national Linked Open Data (LOD) infrastructure and service for application developers, researchers, citizens, the government, and the media.
  2. Second, the project studies long-term changes in the Finnish parliamentary and political culture, which experiences most recently the impact of new digital means of communication and interaction. These use cases in political and language research are pioneering studies using the Finnish digital parliamentary data. They lay solid ground for Digital Humanities (DH) research by developing and applying new methodologies for prosopographical research, political network analysis, and semantic analysis of political language.
  3. Third, the new data service enriches semantically content in other related Finnish LOD services. The LOD-based solution, the large internationally enriched national consortium behind the project, and the empirical research based on semantic web technologies will secure the availability, usefulness, interoperability, and sustainability of the data service. The novelties of the project concern, in particular, the modeling and integration of bilingual and heterogeneous data and the use of semantic web technologies for a holistic and long-term perspective on the MPs, their political language, network building and connectivity.

The project is funded by the Academy of Finland as part of the DIGIHUM 2020-2022 programme on Digital Humanities.

Parliament of Finland at VPK House in 1907


The SEMPARL consortium project has three main objectives:
  1. The project creates a Linked Open Data research infrastructure around parliamentary data (PLOD), and facilitates, as a broader societal aim, the usability of and the accessibility to the data of the Parliament of Finland. A central feature of the representational and democratic political culture is the openness of the political process and the availability of its documentation. PLOD is based on the “7-star” Linked Data Finland concept and platform LDF.fi and the national ontology services, developed by UH and Aalto in previous longstanding development projects. On top of the data service, SEMPARL develops intelligent user interfaces for different user needs (“application perspectives”), which build on previous works of Aalto University and HELDIG centre (with international partners), such as the U.S Congress Prosographer and the BiographySampo service for prosopography. The data work is done in collaboration with the Parliament of Finland and Ministry of Justice.
  2. The project engages in Digital Humanities research and solves novel research questions about the Finnish parliament, national representative politics, and political language in the long-term. The project offers an innovative approach to the study of parliamentary politics by using and enriching large digital data. Speaking is literally what parliaments are about, and parliamentary talk offers a rich source for studying parliamentary and political cultures, political language, and also language and societal phenomenon in general. SEMPARL aims to study national representative politics and the political language they use.
  3. The project studies the impact of digital communication technologies on political communication and language. Political talk and interaction is increasingly digital. Moreover, with the digital information flows, the arenas where political debate takes place are difficult to distinguish. The project aims at studying political communication of the MPs in social media, and looks into the impact of digital communication technologies for political language. The research hypothesis is that hybrid practices of political communication develop, as the MPs are able to connect with different audiences. Besides looking at the intersection and influence between digital and analogue political language and communication, the project explores the ethics of digital parliamentary data. The project produces and enrichens public data, which contains valuable societal information about decision-making. At the same time, in social media, the limits of private and public becomes blurred, and the opening of this data requires attention in the project.

Contact Persons and Collaborators

  • Professor Eero Hyvönen, University of Helsinki (HELDIG) and Aalto University. Project consortium leader and the Principal Investigator (PI) at University of Helsinki (HELDIG).
  • Adjunct Professor Kimmo Elo, University of Turku, Centre for Parliamentaty Studies. PI at University of Turku.
  • Staff Scientist, Dr. Jouni Tuominen, Aalto University and HELDIG. PI at Aalto University.

The project steering committee includes, in addition to the PIs above, Matti La Mela (Aalto), Ari Apilo (Parliament of Finland), Sari Wilenius (Parliament of Finland) ja Aki Hietanen (Ministry of Justice). The project also has an Intenational Advisory Board: Dr. Laura Hollink (CWI, Centrum Wikunde & Informatica, Amsterdam), Prof. Bruno Martins (University of Lisbon), and Prof. Andra Siibak (University of Tartu, Estonia, Institute of Social Studies).



Eero Hyvönen: Sampo Model and Semantic Portals for Digital Humanities on the Semantic Web. DHN 2020 Digital Humanities in the Nordic Countries. Proceedings of the Digital Humanities in the Nordic Countries 5th Conference, pp. 373-378, CEUR Workshop Proceedings, vol. 2612, Riga, Latvia, October, 2020. bib pdf link
Eero Hyvönen: Linked Open Data Infrastructure for Digital Humanities in Finland. DHN 2020 Digital Humanities in the Nordic Countries. Proceedings of the Digital Humanities in the Nordic Countries 5th Conference, pp. 254-259, CEUR Workshop Proceedings, vol. 2612, Riga, Latvia, October, 2020. bib pdf link
Eero Hyvönen: Building and Using a National Linked Open Data Infrastructure for Digital Humanities: The Finnish Approach. Proceedings: Data for History 2020. Modelling Time, Places, Agents., Berlin, August, 2020. Accepted, conference postponed to 2021. bib pdf link
Eero Hyvönen: Semantic Sampo Portals for Digital Humanities Based on a National Linked Open Data Infrastructure. Proceedings of the Digital Humanities in the Nordic Countries. 5th Conference, CEUR Workshop Proceedings, 2020. Vol-2612. bib pdf link
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