Living Topics

Connecting words, phrases, and terms in a legal context, in use for effective government


We have added TERMDAT capabilities to the concept, and worked together on the FEDLEXplorer project at Open Legal Lab 2023. Please use the GitHub Discussion if you have any further ideas or feedback on this challenge.


Unsere Challenge besteht darin, den Puls der Schweizer Regierung zu fühlen, indem wir aktuelle Terminologiedatenbanken mit Daten und Publikationen der Verwaltungen kombinieren. Wörter, Phrasen und Begriffe im Behördenkontext haben eine Besonderheit: Sie beziehen sich oft auf juristische Konzepte und sind Grundlage für weitreichende Entscheidungen. Standardbegriffe (in der Informatik auch "benannte Entitäten" genannt) müssen gut definiert sein, oft mit einer rechtlichen Grundlage. Um mit diesen domänenspezifischen Vokabularen arbeiten zu können, werden sie in Terminologiedatenbanken organisiert - wie z.B. TERMDAT, ein Dienst des Bundeskanzleramtes.

Our challenge is to take the pulse of the Swiss Government by combining up-to-date terminology databases with data and publications of the administrations.

Words, phrases, and terms in a governmental context have a special feature: they often relate to legal concepts, and are basis of far-reaching decisions. Standard terms (also called “named entities” in computer science) need to be well defined, often with a legal basis. To be able to work with this domain-specific vocabularies, they are organized in terminology databases - such as TERMDAT, a service of the Federal Chancellery.

Screenshot of TERMDAT

The goal of this challenge - which continues the work started at the recent GovTech Hackathon - is to harness the expressivity of terminologies provided by TERMDAT and related databases, to create a high-quality and up-to-date map of current topics being addressed in the open publications of government.

"The Swiss Confederation currently has almost 40k employees (~36k full time equivalents). It is not only difficult for the citizens of Switzerland to grasp the breadth and depth of which topics are worked on, the same is valid for the employees within the Swiss Confederation. Therefore, it is important to have a good high-quality overview of the ongoing work and the change of focus in regard of ongoing themes globally. Conversely, the specialists working on the terminology database are not able to read all new texts being published every day and would welcome a tool which would allow them to harvest newly coined terms or terms being used in a new context or with a different translation. Finally, end-users of texts might want to be able to click on a given (technical) word and receive a definition of that word."

(From original Living Topics challenge by BK Federal Chancellery)

Screenshot of API docs, Jupyter notebook, search results.


Possible outputs

  • Simple list or feed (e.g. RSS...)
  • Directed graph dataset (Jena, Neo4J, ...)
  • Visualisation of topics (Vega, D3, ...)
  • Update Wikipedia for main concept
  • Propose a method to update Wikidata

Further ideas & related projects

  • Open Legal Lab 22 - Project using BK data & RDF
  • GovTech - Parliamentary Data Project
  • Connect Parliament API Data :
  • Invite the / GLAM community to help with Semantic Web, e.g.
  • There is currently no sort order on - but via API you could see the latest edited or created topics
  • Are all terms referencing laws, or do some reflect documens from current activites of an administration? Some (e.g. medecin-conseil in English references an external site)
  • Whose job is it to keep track of the activities of various administrations? General secretary of the department. BK connects the general sectretaries. At the top is the Spokesman (André Simonazzi). How is quality controlled across languages and departments e.g. GovTech PR
  • Make it easier to compare the legal basis and structure of Swiss government with other nations, e.g.

Event finished

Event started

Repository updated

26.03.2023 22:58 ~ loleg


Hallo, Welt

Initial commit

Saw a GitHub error today? Read security notice, rotate your keys

24.03.2023 13:32 ~ loleg


We worked with the TERMDAT API, found minor inconsistencies, got help from Raphaël (BK) to collect the data we needed.

24.03.2023 13:30 ~ loleg


Joined the team

23.03.2023 08:38 ~ Timothy

Edited (version 7)

17.03.2023 16:19 ~ l00mi

Edited (version 5)

17.03.2023 16:19 ~ l00mi

Joined the team

17.03.2023 16:16 ~ l00mi


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