Brussels, 19 Apr 2006
NEWS, the News Engine Web Services platform, has completed its research phase. The project, a collaboration between researchers in Germany, Israel, Italy and Spain, has developed a platform of news services that will 'classify, annotate and analyse news stories'.
The research partners now aim to commercialise the platform. 'News classifications up to now typically consisted of about 12 terms, like sport, world news, finance, that a journalist knew off by heart,' Dr Ansgar Bernardi, deputy head of the Knowledge Management Group at DFKI, the German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence, told IST Results. The project was funded under the information society technologies (IST) strand of the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6). 'That's not very precise. Our system can automatically analyse a story and access 1,300 classification terms to define it,' he said.
In practise, this means that news items can be found easily, and 'intelligently'. The platform rests on established 'semantic Web' projects, which aim to provide a universal medium for making computers 'understand' web pages.
The searches give a broad variety of subjects, giving results of a large data set that defines the content of the stories. So, a query about the President of the European Commission in April 2005 will display a series of articles about Mr Barroso from a year ago.
The system does need to be 'trained' to analyse specific topics. To avoid confusions, for example if you want Michael Jackson the singer but end up with Michael Jackson the beer critic, then this could be a handy gadget. 'It really started out as a by-product of our main work, but it works well and I think it may generate quite a bit of scientific interest,' says Dr Bernardi. 'We expect that platform users will take the basic functionality and develop around it to respond to the information they want to analyse.'
The two years of research have proved fruitful so far, and interest has produced funding for further research. 'We have developed a great network during the project and the consortium has agreed to offer mutual support for a further two years. In the meantime we are pursuing commercial opportunities. Several news agencies are interested in the platform,' he said.
The partners include the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence, Ontology Ltd in Israel, news agency Agenzia ANSA in Italy, news agency Agencia EFE in Spain and Madrid's Universidad Carlos III.