TWI is a partner in an exciting European venture, taking e-business to a new level, by developing a virtual knowledge marketplace.
The project, known as INKASS, Intelligent Knowledge Asset Sharing and Trading, is funded by the European Commission and other contributors are Planet Ernst and Young, DFKI, Empolis KM, ICCS, ACCI and the University of St Gallen.
INKASS will facilitate the electronic transfer of knowledge between knowledge seekers and knowledge providers. In essence, providing a virtual knowledge-marketplace where providers can advertise and sell the knowledge they have and seekers can locate suitable providers. This exchange needs to occur in an ontology-enabled environment. In simple terms this means that all parties, ie providers and buyers, are able to use natural language when consulting complex web sites containing technical information. Because the search engine has an inbuilt knowledge structure, it is able to help non-expert users locate valuable information.
Further, INKASS aims to support the negotiation of contract terms and conditions between agents in the marketplace and also provide an execution environment for buyers and bidding sellers.
So what is TWI's role in the venture?
This e-knowledge marketplace will be targeted at European SMEs and their knowledge needs in the areas of professional services for business management and engineering. TWI is a 'guinea pig' on which to apply the electronic knowledge acquisition tools that are being developed and evaluated. By participating in this project, TWI aims to take its website service to the next level of development, taking advantage of all the additional functionality that the INKASS e-knowledge marketplace will provide.
An ontology-based search engine, called Orenge, is equipped with a framework of relationships between welding concepts. This enables the site to select responses to simple queries, and also to prompt further enquiries by active questioning of end users. The aim is to emulate the way in which a human expert interacts with an enquirer. The system has been developed at a prototype level and is on TWI's Intranet for evaluation.
The ultimate aim is to turn the INKASS platform into a successful and expanding commercial service. Watch out for future updates on the TWI web site.