The Web Observatory:
A global data resource for the advancement of economic & social prosperity

Sponsored by the Web Science Trust, a global not for profit institution with a secretariat at the University of Southampton that can leverage the web science research resources of the University labs affiliated with the Web Science Trust (WSTnet) including Brazil, China, Korea, Europe and US, and the existing partnerships with W3C and the Web Foundation.

Organisational Framework

The Web Observatory’s ambition is to provide:

• Semantic Catalogues to globally locate and describe existing data sets owned by many organisations (public and private)

• Identify Collection Systems to gather new global data sets

• Identify Analytics Tools to analyse and visualise data sets

Backed by a cohort of preeminent researchers under the auspices of the WST who can validate and interpret the data and advise industrialists, policy makers and the wider public as to its true significance

Our first preference is to point to existing data sets and tools but we may also sponsor the hosting of ‘homeless’ and ‘orphaned’ data sets and the development of new collection, analysis and visualisation tools

As a global resource, we will leverage both the ability of industry to contribute large scale systems, expertise and data sets and seek global governmental funding of web science research

To find out more visit the Web Observatory

Tools and Standards

One of the key objectives of the Web Observatory will be to enable the discovery and sharing of data sets and tools with other Observatories and we are indebted to Prof Jim Hendler’s group at RPI for their work in developing a schema.org extension designed to enable this important feature.

The main wiki entry for the proposal is:
and the Web Observatory Schema is at

A paper introducing this proposal is available in our selection of Web Science papers

How to get involved

The essence of taking part in the Web Observatory is three-fold:

  1. Describe some/all of your web datasets, projects, and/or tools in metadata
  2. Maintain a service to notify other systems/crawlers of the metadata
  3. Participate in ongoing discussions to continue to advance the scope and quality of the Web Observatory eco-system

The sharing can be done in a number of ways

  • Share datasets indirectly with other Web Observatories
  • Download/install existing Web Observatory software
  • Extended your existing system to add Observatory features

Share datasets with other Web Observatories

Sharing an existing dataset is easy using the recently accepted schema.org extension in which a small amount of markup is added to the pages containing links to the datasets you are sharing allowing standard search engines to discover them. Alternatively, you can list your dataset on our portal (you must create an account to do this).

Click here and also here to find out more about the schema.org WO extension

Download/install existing WO software

Members of the Web Science Trust network of Labs (WSTnet) will be offering a number of open source Web Observatory platforms and tool for download. The first available Web Observatory system is available from the University of Southampton with a suite of tools from RPI. Please click here to register your name/contact details to be contacted about a Web Observatory installation for your organisation.

Extended your existing system to add Observatory features

We anticipate that some organisations will want to integrate their existing system to publish and consume data from the Web Observatory eco-system. WST will be publishing papers and technical guidance over the coming months. We look forward to welcoming you to this exciting project.