The InteliGrid European project, which started a year ago, wants to deliver the full potential of grid computing by building an intelligent network aware of all its components. This 'smart grid' approach is intended to suit the needs of complex industries, such as aerospace, shipbuilding or construction, where a large number of partners need to collaborate to solve a single problem. One of the requirements for this grid project is 'data comprehension.' In other words, the computers on the grid must learn to 'know' what data 'means.' And the promoters of the project think that they're on a successful path to help to build safer airplanes, buildings or bridges.
"We hope that we can augment Grid technology to provide a stable and secure collaboration platform on one hand, and a platform into which players can plug in and get out rather quickly on the other," says Professor Žiga Turk, coordinator of the InteliGrid and researcher at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia.
But before collaborating, the different nodes -- or computers -- on the grid need to understand each other.
"Since the 16th century, when architects started more regularly to use documentation to share designs, the meaning has been implicit. A line on paper is a line and it can stand for anything," says Prof Turk. He adds that computerised drafting did not change much in that respect. Humans understand what lines stand for and can make intelligent decisions about them.
"But computers don't [understand]. For computers to assist more intelligently in the design process, the design must be composed of higher-level objects, such as walls, windows and so on. Applications and services can assist humans more intelligently if working with these meaningful objects," says Prof Turk.
So, like Tim Berners-Lee, Turk and his European 'virtual' team are working on semantics. They've made a lot of progress so far and hope to deliver full demonstrations of their system in 2007.
For example, below is an illustration showing what they want to achieve in the area of infrastructures, specifically the geotechnical design of tunnels (Credit: InteliGrid).
In their own words, "engineers are accustomed to building infrastructure grids such as water and electrical grids. InteliGrid acts as a building grid where engineers can codesign and manage facilities at a new level of security, interoperability and performance."
And below is another example in management of facilities (Credit: InteliGrid).
Here what the researchers say about this particular aspect: "The InteliGrid platform provides coordinated resource and competency sharing to the different organisations involved in the design, construction and use of facilities."
Sources: IST Results, December 15, 2005; and various web sites
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