Security and Privacy Ontology

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This page is intended to provide a focal point for the Security and Privacy Ontology Project; a hub for connecting to its artifacts, discussions, status and links to related projects and work groups. Most of the technical content for this project will be contained within its artifacts which will be linked to on this page and stored on GForge or other wikis. This page will provide sufficient content for project and document organization.


The scope of the project was defined by the answers to a set of scoping questions.

Project Documentation

Approved Project Scope Statement


An introduction to Description Language, OWL and Protege: OWL, Protege and Security-Privacy Ontology

May 2011 Status Report: Security and Privacy Ontology: HL7 Working Group Meeting; May 2011

Ontology Development Methodology

This methodology has been derived from a guideused by the Protégé team and demonstrates a basic model development process that shares some steps with HL7 HDF. The draft was written from the standpoint of developing an ontology from scratch.

Use Cases

Access Control Based on Category of Action

Access Control Based on Category of Object

Access Control Based on Category of Structural Role

Access Control Based on Category of Functional Role

Access Control Based on Multiple Role Values

Enable Design of Access Control System

Facilitate an Automated Decision Function

Other Ontologies

Situation-Based Access Control


This project uses the Protégé-OWL Editor for ontology editing and the Ontology Browser for Web-based ontology review.

Protégé-OWL Editor

The Protégé-OWL Editor operates on OWL 2 ontologies. It also handles SWRL. The Security and Privacy Ontology is currently edited with the Protégé 4.1 Release version.

Description: Protégé-OWL Editor

Download: download protégé

Ontology Browser

The Ontology Browser provides read-only access to OWL 2 ontologies.

Description: Ontology Browser

Brief guide: Getting Started

Draft Ontology

The current published draft of the Security and Privacy ontology will be available for download and hosted browsing as follows.


The Security and Privacy Ontology is distributed as a zip file containing an Ontologies directory, a set of OWL files representing the sub-ontologies, and an XML Catalog. Note that the catalog redirects ontology IRIs to the local file system. For example,, which does not yet exist on the Web, is redirected to the SecurityAndPrivacy.owl file.

Current published draft of the Security-Privacy Ontology for peer review: [TBD Posted - November 1, 2011]

Hosted Browsing

Apelon is voluntarily hosting the Ontology Browser to facilitate peer review of the Security and Privacy Ontology. Please respect that purpose.

To browse the current published draft ontology using a Web browser:

  1. Visit the hosted Ontology Browser: Ontology Browser
  2. Optionally (but recommended) to view the Ontology as enriched by an OWL reasoner:
    1. Click Options (on the right, towards the top of the page).
    2. Select HermiT from the pulldown list labelled Reasoner (under Model on the right).
    3. Click Ontology Browser at the top left.
  3. Enter the URL for an OWL file in the box labeled Specify the physical location of your ontology. Examples are shown in the following table with suggestions highlighted.
  4. Click load.
Sub-ontology URL Notes
SecurityAndPrivacy.owl file://localhost/C:/Ontologies/SecurityAndPrivacy.owl

The base HL7 Security and Privacy Ontology.

Intended to be normative once approved.

ASTMExampleRoles.owl file://localhost/C:/Ontologies/ASTMExampleRoles.owl

Presently contains the ASTM structural roles. A representative subset will be retained and the remainder discarded.

Imports SecurityAndPrivacy.owl.

ClinicalConditions.owl file://localhost/C:/Ontologies/ClinicalConditions.owl

Presently represents a handful of sample clinical conditions taken from the CSP-DAM.

Imports SecurityAndPrivacy.owl.

HL7ExamplePermissions.owl file://localhost/C:/Ontologies/HL7ExamplePermissions.owl

Represents the HL7 RBAC Permission Catalog.

Imports SecurityAndPrivacy.owl.

Obligations.owl file://localhost/C:/Ontologies/Obligations.owl

Presently represents a handful of sample obligations taken from the CSP-DAM.

Imports SecurityAndPrivacy.owl.

PurposesOfUse.owl file://localhost/C:/Ontologies/PurposesOfUse.owl

Presently represents a handful of purposes of use taken from the CSP-DAM

Imports SecurityAndPrivacy.owl.

SomewhereHospital.owl file://localhost/C:/Ontologies/SomewhereHospital.owl

Imports all of the preceding sub-ontologies. Thus, provides a basis for browsing them together. Adds classes used in relation to example SWRL rules (though SWRL rules are not accessible via the Ontology Browser.


  • An Ontologies directory is hosted on the same virtual server as the Ontology Browser. The preceding example URLs will direct the hosted Ontology Browser to OWL files on its local host (not your local host).
  • Eventually, HL7 ontologies may be hosted at a well known location such as (which doesn't currently exist). In anticipation, the IRIs for sub-ontologies and other elements of the Security and Privacy Ontology embody that location. Unlike Protégé, the current Ontology Browser software provides no way to redirect such IRIs. Therefore, we direct the Ontology Browser to the hosted files (having manually edited OWL imports within the hosted files accordingly).

Ontology Review Criteria

Suggested criteria for interim review of the Security-Privacy Ontology:

Related Projects

HL7 SOA Ontology WG


W3C OWL 2 Specification
OASIS Reference Ontology for Semantic Service Oriented Architectures