European Commission funds project to make Internet searches faster and easier

The Electronic Library

ISSN: 0264-0473

Article publication date: 1 June 2004



(2004), "European Commission funds project to make Internet searches faster and easier", The Electronic Library, Vol. 22 No. 3.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

European Commission funds project to make Internet searches faster and easier

European Commission funds project to make Internet searches faster and easier

The European Commission (EC) is funding a project to develop a way for search engines to work out the overall subject matter of a Web page and tackle the growing problem of finding the right information from the masses of unstructured text on the Internet.

For example, the term ATM is used in both the banking industry as an abbreviation for automated teller machine, and in the communications business as an abbreviation for asynchronous transfer mode. Today, a search referring to ATM would produce information on both topics.

BT Exact, BT’s research, technology and IT operations business, will lead the team of 12 European partners who will work on the Semantic Knowledge Technologies (SEKT) project. The team will develop technology that will revolutionize search engines and other knowledge management systems. Currently, such tools cannot conduct searches in context, which means that the user is presented with a long list of randomly mixed relevant and irrelevant Web pages. The only way to distinguish which information is relevant is for the user to manually look through results returned by the search engine.

Project SEKT will develop technology that will emulate the human ability to assess the context of the information presented, omitting any irrelevancies before delivering the results. The technology will automate the extraction of details such as the author’s name, his/her affiliation and address, or a product code and price from online content. This information can then be used to make searching more productive, enabling a new generation of Internet search engines that will make the Web a tool for finding knowledge rather than just for finding information.

The project will also develop tools that proactively deliver information to users based on their current interests and type of device they are using to browse the Web or other knowledge repository. For example, if an important new report is published of interest to two users (as predicted by the system), one with access only to a mobile phone could receive a short summary of the information via an SMS alert, while the other might be sent an e-mail with the report as an attachment.

SEKT is one of the first of a new breed of larger European collaborative “integrated projects” run by the EC, which aim to develop several related technologies towards a common business objective. Partners in the project consortium are: BT Exact, Empolis GmbH, Jozef Stefan Institute, University of Karlsruhe, University of Sheffield, University of Innsbruck, iSOCO S.A., Kea-pro GmbH, Ontoprise GmbH, SIRMA AI Ltd, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and Autonomous University of Barcelona. Initial case studies from which SEKT will be more widely executed include libraries in the legal, media and telecommunications industries.

BT Exact is BT’s research, technology and IT operations business. It specializes in telecommunications engineering, leading-edge network design, IT system and application development and has extensive expertise in business consulting and human factors. Its knowledge helps its customers across BT Group and in selected other businesses gain maximum advantage from their investments in communications networks and IT systems, develop new capabilities and open new opportunities.

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