An Agent Certification Ontology

Author
Dorian Taylor
Created
January 23, 2014
Namespace URI
https://privatealpha.com/ontology/certification/1#
Preferred Namespace Prefix
acrt

This document specifies a vocabulary for asserting the existence of official endorsements or certifications of agents, such as people and organizations.

While there are plenty of linked data vocabularies for expressing licensing rights on intellectual property, as well as those for cryptographic certificates, as well as methods of referencing catalogues of private and government certifications, as well as ways of expressing the privileges of certifications, there appears to be no other concise way to say something like the following:

I have been granted a passport, by the government of Canada, with the number XY123456, issued on October 16, 2010, which expires on October 16, 2015.

Here is the same assertion expressed in Turtle using the proposed vocabulary:

<http://doriantaylor.com/data/passport> a acrt:Certification;
    acrt:qualification <http://dbpedia.org/page/Category:Passports>;
    acrt:authority <http://www.ppt.gc.ca/>;
    acrt:principal <http://doriantaylor.com/person/dorian-taylor#me>;
    # (never do this for real, at least for public consumption)
    acrt:proof <http://doriantaylor.com/file/my-passport.jpeg>;
    dct:coverage <http://dbpedia.org/page/Canada>;
    dct:identifier "XY123456"^^xsd:string;
    dct:issued "2010-10-16"^^xsd:date;
    dct:valid "2015-10-16"^^xsd:date .

Note that this assertion says only in informal terms what the certification is, and what it allows me to do. This vocabulary is intended neither to describe the privileges granted by the certification, nor to describe the artifact that embodies the certification. It simply connects the subject of the certification to the issuing authority and their official serial number of the account.

I chose a passport for the example because it is about as banal as a certification gets: it merely certifies that I am who I say I am and that I am a Canadian citizen. This vocabulary could be used equally for drivers' licenses, business licenses, fishing licenses, dog licenses, etc., as it is intended only to encode and store a hint that such certification exists. It is also intended to be used for encoding achievements, awards, academic degrees, and public and private training certificates. It even could be used to convey information about reputation points on social networks or services like Mozilla Open Badges.

The purpose of this vocabulary is record-keeping and exchange, and likewise is its application context. The actual vetting mechanisms of the certifications in question are out of scope.

Classes

At this time, there is only the single class, Certification.

Certification

This class represents the abstract notion of certification, of an agent, by another agent, that the first agent possesses some property or set of properties implied by the certification, potentially within some spatiotemporal scope, and which may or may not be designated by some identifier.

Examples:
  • The issuance of a government-regulated privilege, e.g. driver's license
  • The issuance of an academic degree to a particular person
  • An officially-recognized trade qualification, e.g. a welding ticket
  • A mandatory professional status, e.g. bar association membership
  • A private certification of achievement, e.g. CISSP
  • An errors and omissions insurance policy
  • A pet license, where the principal is an animal
  • The notarization of an affadavit
  • An award (e.g. 2014 Nobel Prize in physics)
  • Anything that resembles some entity underwriting some attribute, privilege, skill, achievement, or claim of some other entity.

Back to Top

Properties

Many of the requirements of this vocabulary can be achieved with Dublin Core terms.

What follows are terms peculiar to certification itself.

qualification

This property specifies what achievement, skill, or fact is being certified.

The range of this term is left open, but should probably reference something abstract like a skos:Concept, an org:Role (itself a subclass of skos:Concept), or a skill, such as modeled by the Cognitive Characteristics Ontology.

Domain:
acrt:Certification
See also:
skos:Concept
org:Role
The Cognitive Characteristics Ontology

Back to Top

principal

This property specifies who or what agent is being certified.

The principal of the certification can be any agent, like a person, company, animal, AI, whatever.

Domain:
acrt:Certification
Range:
foaf:Agent
Inverse of:
acrt:has-certification

Back to Top

has-certification

This property specifies that an agent possesses a given certification.

Domain:
foaf:Agent
Range:
acrt:Certification
Inverse of:
acrt:principal

Back to Top

authority

This property specifies who (or what) is doing the certifying.

The issuing authority can, once again, be a person, business, institution, or any other kind of agent.

Domain:
acrt:Certification
Range:
foaf:Agent
Inverse of:
acrt:certifies

Back to Top

certifies

This property specifies that its subject, an agent, has issued a certification.

Domain:
foaf:Agent
Range:
acrt:Certification
Inverse of:
acrt:authority

Back to Top

proof

This property points to some proof of the certification, like a scan of an official document or a page on the issuing authority's website that corroborates the certification.

The range of this term is left open, but should probably reference a document. It could even point to an actual cryptographic certificate.

Domain:
acrt:Certification
Inverse of:
acrt:proves
See also:
The Cert Ontology

Back to Top

proves

This property asserts that its subject is somehow proof of a given certification.

Range:
acrt:Certification
Inverse of:
acrt:proof

Back to Top