Researchers outline real-time search engine plans

Internet search

University of Glasgow computer scientists are developing a search engine that will give people real-time information about the city they are in.

The European-funded project, known as SMART, intends to develop and apply a system to allow users to search and analyse data from designated sensors.

Standard search engines, such as Google and Bing, are unable to answer search queries of this type.

By matching search queries with information from physical sensors across a city and cross-referencing data from social networks, such as Twitter, users will receive detailed responses to questions they ask.

The engine intends to help users find events that friends have been to and ascertain how busy a city centre is.

The researchers said that standard search engines, such as Google and Bing, are unable to answer search queries of this type.

The SMART project will be built upon an open-source search engine technology called Terrier, which has been under development at the university since 2004.

Dr Iadh Ounis from the University of Glasgow's School of Computing Science, said the search engine would answer high-level queries by automatically identifying cameras, microphones and other sensors.

The results will then be created based on the feedback given by these distributed sources in an intelligent way.

"SMART builds upon the existing concept of smart cities'; physical spaces which are covered in an array of intelligent sensors that communicate with each other and can be searched for information," said Dr. Ounis.

The search results sourced from these smart cities could be reused across multiple applications, he added, to make them more effective.

The University of Glasgow has been working on the project alongside nine other partners.

They include Atos, Athens Information Technology, IBM's Haifa Research Lab, Imperial College London, the City of Santander, PRISA Digital, Telesto and Consorzio S3 Log.

Ounis said he expects to test the system out in a real city before 2014.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.