Most of you will be familiar with Data Model patterns. All those solutions to generic problems, presented in books from the likes of Len Silverston and David Hay. Some of these patterns, such as the Party Role abstraction, have been widely adopted. All people involved in data modeling and database design have benefited from these ideas.
Over the years, small physical models have been available (for a price) from these authors and many others. For a significantly higher price tag, large "Enterprise" or "Industry" models have been available from database vendors that provide generalised cover of a business sector. Because of the customisation involved, implementing these has produced mixed results. Nevertheless, conceptually such enterprise models are a good idea.
Our goal is to bring these ideas into today's world by facilitating collaboration on the development of models and physical database schemas tailored for use with minimal customisation by the New Zealand IT community and the enterprises for whom they work. We intend that these collaboratively designed models will be available for them to use in any way they choose free of charge.
The tool that we are going to use for this project is the Open Data Model (ODM).
The ODM is a Wellington developed, SaaS enterprise software package of a class known as a Metadata Repository. It is a large product with many functions but at its heart is a semantic model built using an approach largely indistinguishable from logical data modeling. What does somewhat distinguish it is that physical schemas are generated directly from the metadata collected in this process. What makes the ODM particularly well suited for the purpose this group will put it is that it has been designed from the ground up for the collaborative development of all content, with peer review processes built in and discussion boards that permanently link discussions to the objects discussed.
The ODM is a federation of public and private domains. All content in the public domain, including downloadable schemas is available to use free of charge under creative commons license (CC BY).
In the public space, we have already created a number of data models, for example, several variants of Party Role Models and a quite large Public Health Information model. The purpose of this group is to bring collective expertise (both database design and subject matter) to bear on the refinement of these public data models and the development of further data model patterns and large-scale models that might be of interest and use to all members.
The majority of the collaboration will be done on-line; the meetups are for purposes of education and discussions around the concepts of collaboration and database design. We believe the group will be of interest to people involved in database design, those interested in mechanisms for sharing public data and subject matter experts in fields that could benefit from the development of good data semantics.