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ERCIM News No.49, April 2002

A Cluster of European Projects on Agents and Middleware Technologies

by Massimo Busuoli and Emanuela Rasconi

European Take-Up of Essential Information Society Technologies - Agents and Middleware (EUTIST-AMI) is a cluster of 13 different application-oriented projects that aims at demonstrating the potential of agent-based systems and middleware technologies when applied to real industrial environments.

EUTIST-AMI started in July 2001, and is intended to create a replication effect in order to push the use of these technologies within European industry. EUTIST-AMI, coordinated by ENEA UDA (Italy) in collaboration with LogOn (Germany), CSIC (Spain), SZTAKI (Hungary) and DFKI (Germany), will last for three years and its purpose is to improve the efficiency of the management and the dissemination of the results deriving from the 13 projects within the cluster. It also helps emphasising the European dimension of the projects. A key benefit of the cluster is the ability to coordinate dissemination activities. As the results of the individual projects become available, the coordinators will organize European wide dissemination campaigns. These will focus on success stories of the projects, in order to show other potential users the benefits that these two types of technology can offer.

The effectiveness of the message is also reinforced by the fact that the 13 projects are realized by partners coming from nine different European countries: Italy, France, Hungary, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, United Kingdom, Sweden and Spain.
Each project represents a real example in which agents and middleware technologies are used to solve problems relevant to a different industrial area. For example, in MODA-ML (a project realized by a Franco-Italian consortium) the problem of the data exchange in the supply chain of the textile sector will be addressed by providing a common language based on XML technology (one of the main languages used to realize middleware tools). This will allow the electronic exchange of data or documents (such as orders, technical documents, and administrative information). This should lead to a five to ten fold reduction in costs compared to the processing of paper documents.

In the medical sector, the MOWGLI project (realized by an Italian consortium) will use middleware to process patients' data. This involves the retrieval and exchange of all of the heterogeneous information (such as patients' demographic data, the allocation of diagnostic machines, and diagnostic exams, reports, and images) which is generated in a radiology department by patients from the time they enter the hospital until they leave. The information related to the individual patients will be available in electronic format and in a secure and confidential way through the Web. This will reduce to zero the use of paper for exchanging information between administrative, clinical and diagnostic staff, allowing the possibility of real-time feedback from a radiology examination.

A good example of the use of agent technology in the public administration is the CASSY project (realized by a German consortium) in which agent technologies are used to create a virtual receptionist that will provide the citizens of a German city with administrative information and personal assistance. The receptionist is able to answer requests made by citizens in natural language thus easing the problem of navigation within the web site and reducing the level skills needed to interact with the site.

These are only three examples from the 13 projects; more information about the other projects and the cluster as a whole can be found at the EUTIST-AMI website. EUTIST-AMI is funded by the European Commission within the Information Society Technology initiative of the Fifth Framework Programme.


Please contact:
Massimo Busuoli, ENEA UDA-Agency
for Sustainable Growth, Italy
Tel: +39 051 6098 178

László Kovács, SZTAKI
Tel: ++36 1 279 6212