Building Block: Terminology
Maturity: BETA
Terminology logo.

Short Description: Registry of definitions and terms with defined nomenclature standards, metadata, synonyms and sometimes a knowledge map for a particular domain of knowledge (eg agriculture), used to facilitate semantic interoperability.

Full Description: The terminology services ICT Building Blocks helps ensure that data passed through applications in the system are coded and classified in the same way. These services help establish, search, verify and view the vocabulary stored in codified reference lists according to standardized nomenclature and data formats. Terminology services components can disseminate standards and facilitate the management of changes in standards over time. Many applications use their own local terminologies, but these may need to be mapped to the standard reference terminologies in a time-consuming manual process. Terminology services may use push or pull interfaces to other applications, depending on the implementation, to ensure data exchanged through them is interpreted, aggregated, analyzed and compared without loss in accuracy. This ICT Building Blocks lets users of an application make use of codes and value sets without having to become experts in the fine details of a particular coding system and terminologies.

Other Names: Thesaurus, Ontology services

Key Digital Functionalities:

  • Allows external applications to access or search for standard terminology along functionalities with explanations and cross-mapping to local terminologies, if any
  • Offers source-related terminologies for a given term in the dictionary
  • Provides metadata and meta-description for the terms
  • Ensures interoperability of data between cross-sectoral applications (eg vector pest data between agriculture and health)

Examples of use in different sectors:

  • Agriculture sector: 
    • FAO Agrovoc is the main terminology standard in agriculture
    • It is a controlled vocabulary covering all areas of interest including food, nutrition, agriculture, fisheries, forestry and environment
    • It is published by FAO and edited by a community of experts
    • Apart from Agrovoc, Pesticide Environmental Stewardship (PES) by Cornwell University has a glossary of terms related to pesticides
    • Population census (definition of income group, standards related to type of housing, and terminology such as literate and semi-literate)
  • Health sector: 
    • Several terminology reference standards such as DICOM, HL7, ICD-10/PCT, LOINC, etc are used widely for payments and insurance claims processing as well as different supply chain applications


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