6 July 2009. In partnership with iSOCO and 11811, researchers from the Ontology Engineering Group based at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid’s School of Computing led by Oscar Corcho have developed an ontology-based semantic search engine specialized in information on State, regional and local government procedures.
Citizens using the search engine enter a query, and the search engine will return the information they need to renew their driving licence, pay a fine, have their name registered in a census or fill in their tax return.
This sophisticated means of querying information works thanks to the search engine’s capability to interpret the query. This makes it a lot more powerful than today’s standard search engines: not only does the search engine contain all the information about administrative procedures, but also this information is organized as ontologies to improve the search result.
The search engine has been designed for operators that receive thousands of calls daily from Spaniards inquiring about administrative procedures. Companies using this search engine will be able to search information faster and thereby provide end users with an optimized service.
To build this search engine, researchers have extracted information from public databases and used it to generate ontologies. These ontologies model the body of knowledge on Spanish public administration procedures.
This way they gathered substantial quantities of metadata. Thanks to these metadata, the search engine provides an optimized service for users by automating and simplifying the search, reducing search time and at the same time returning a finer tuned response to the query.
The research project is part of a university and industry partnership. It is based on original technology by iSOCO, a groundbreaking European Web 3.0 firm that develops innovative solutions turning information into an asset for businesses and organizations. The company combines strategic analysis with the latest technology to come up with solutions for transforming business relations and driving the networked economy. In the research field, iSOCO Lab is a landmark international R&D centre specializing in the Information Society. It was founded in 1999 as a spin-off from the CSIC’s Artificial Intelligence Institute. (The CSIC is Spain’s national research agency.)
The semantic search engine developed as part of this research project was transferred to 11811. 11811 is the first private company in Spain to provide telephone numbers and value-added information about services, companies, institutions and private persons. The company is a subsidiary of the German Telegate firm. Employing around 3000 employees, Telegate operates in several European countries and is listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. 11811 provides its services through the telephone number after which the company is named and 11880 (international information) in Spain.
The technology developed for this project can be applied to other branches of knowledge and has caught on to the trend among public authorities to offer citizens full, fast and practical information on their services and activities. Ontologies are extremely useful for this purpose.
The search technology used as groundwork in this project is based on research by iSOCO published in 2004: Contreras J., Benjamins V.R, Blázquez M, Losada S, Salla R, Sevilla, J. Navarro D., Casillas J., Mompó A., Patón D., Corcho O., Tena P., Martos I: A Semantic Portal for the International Affairs Sector, published in Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Knowledge Engineering and Knowledge Management (EKAW 2004), Springer, pp. 203-215, 2004.