ERCIM News No.35 - October 1998
EUROMAP - The Language of Tomorrows Information
by Cinzia Giachetti
EUROMAP is a European Com-mission-supported project dedicated to promoting greater awareness of language technology in the emerging Information and Communication Society. From the summer of 1998 to the spring of 1999, the EUROMAP network will be carrying out a comprehensive information campaign in Europe. The goal is to help researchers, developers, suppliers and users of language technology to prepare for the forthcoming European Commissions new Framework Programme for Research and Development.
This wide-ranging research and technology development agenda will provide significant funding opportunities for innovative new projects in language technology over the next four years. EUROMAPs task is to ensure that the right technology partners come together to propose the most innovative and effective projects.
Language Technology: New Market Opportunities
Language technology opens a new chapter in the history of our Information Society. It can enrich our digital environment with many of the natural expressive functions of human language, that have so far been lacking in human-machine interaction. By combining computing power with the depth and flexibility of human language processing, language technology applications and services can radically improve the efficiency and user-friendliness of our information and communication tasks, covering business and leisure activities, government and education, services and life at home. Here are some typical applications of language technology today:
- automatic translation services that can be called up from a web site
- dictation systems that automatically transcribe lawyers spoken notes
- search engines with language intelligence to filter right first time information from multilingual document bases
- speaking screens that allow visually-impaired users to work at standard knowledge tasks
- multilingual electronic dictionaries to help readers working a second-language.
As language technology integrates into the computing and telecommunications fabric, it is creating a market for specialised products and services. One of EUROMAPs key tasks is to monitor this new potential and help language technology researchers, suppliers and users make the most of the opportunities it offers.
Leveraging EUROMAPs Research Findings
During 1996 to 1997, EUROMAP made a thorough survey of the active players in European language technology, collecting details on the policy-makers, research and development laboratories, product and service suppliers and, to a certain extent, users. The research covered 17 countries, from Iceland to Greece and Ireland to Austria.
Today, EUROMAP is using this in-depth knowledge of the language technology terrain by ensuring that each national community concerned with the research, development and production of language technology is fully aware of the issues, the potential, and above all the upcoming support for language technology within European development.
EUROMAPs Awareness Actions
The EUROMAP network will carry out a broad range of awareness actions designed to inform interested parties about the progress and potential of language technology in their country and across the Union.
Over the next year, these actions will gradually focus on the specific requirements that language technology researchers, developers and suppliers will need to meet to benefit from funding made available under the EC Fifth Framework Programme.
In each country, the local EUROMAP office will:
- offer a unique language technology helpdesk providing full information on the active local language technology community - R&D, suppliers, policy makers, and in some cases users
- publish information about language technology projects supported by the European Commission, including findings and their implications
- organise workshops and seminars devoted to the potential for language technology across the digital economy, in telebusiness, online publishing, business processes, learning environments, human-machine interaction and the networked information society as a whole
- provide EC Framework Programme information and tutorials to potential partners in language technology projects organised within this new European R&D effort
- provide a partner-search facility to help researchers, developers, suppliers and/or users who wish to participate in cross-border projects in Europe.
The EUROMAP Network
EUROMAP is a network with 17 local nodes - known as National Focal Points (NFPs) - one in each of the national language communities within the European Union, and including Iceland and Norway. Each NFP is experienced in technology transfer support, and is responsible for carrying out the communication actions for promoting language technology awareness in its country. More information is available on the EUROMAP website at http://www.cpr.it/euromap
Cinzia Giachetti - Italian National Focal Point, Consorzio Pisa Ricerche
Tel: +39 050 972365