A search engine for smart cities

Researchers look to make physical aspects of cities searchable.
Written by Tyler Falk, Contributor

Soon a search engine could do more than just search the Web, it could search the physical aspects of your city.

With sensors -- such as cameras and microphone arrays -- used to make cities smarter, researchers are developing a way to make it easier to collect, filter, and analyze data from the urban environment. Ultimately making that data searchable. The EU-funded project, known as the SMART (Search engine for multimedia environment generated content), is in its infancy. The search engine is expected to be tested on a real city by 2014.

The sensors in cities will be valuable for not only smart cities, but security/surveillance, social networking, e-science, and more, the researchers say. Here's how they envision that this search engine could be applied:

"[A] news agency could ask the SMART search engine questions regarding the occurrence and evolution of certain events, i.e. “What is happening now?”, “Which places are crowded?”, “What are the specific trends in the city?”, “Where are riots and fights happening?” and more. The answers to these queries will be provided in the form of multimedia streams mixing multimedia data acquired from the physical world (i.e. sounds/images) along with textual data stemming from sensors and metadata steams (including social networks)."

And as Iadh Ounis, one of the researchers from the University of Glasgow, told BBC, "The search results sourced from these smart cities can be reused across multiple applications, making the system more effective."

Learn more about the project here.

Photo: Flickr/Alfred Hermida

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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