Virtual, nomadic and ad-hoc teams are the foundries of modern business, an essential infrastructure that gets the real work done. These teams are highly dispersed, dynamic and adaptive, but organising them is a hard problem.
Your closest teammate could be ten time zones away and the team leader constantly on the road and out of reach. Some of the team are on siesta, others should be sleeping, while the head office is just waking up.
Organising even the simple processes of modern business – say a face-to-face meeting – becomes a huge problem in this scenario.
Team members also use a vast range of devices, so getting them quickly and efficiently is not as easy as it should be. Meeting organisers still have to go through several rounds of invitations until they find a date that works for the largest number of teammates.
But iterative processes like this are one thing that computers do very well. There is just one problem; up to now, they have had no understanding of context. Where people are, what they are doing, how they can be reached.
That may soon be a thing of the past, thanks to the work of the EU-funded inContext project.
“We are a research project, so we were not trying to make a context-aware application; rather we set out to develop the mechanisms and algorithms so that other people could make their applications context aware,” explains Schahram Dustdar, coordinator of the inContext project.
Vast services, and unique
“We developed a service-oriented architecture, called ‘pervasive collaboration service architecture’ (PCSA), that can be plugged into other scenarios and applications,” says Dustdar.
Others have developed context-aware applications in the past, but inContext has pushed the boat out in many ways.
Firstly, it is designed as a service, so it will be there for anybody to use. Secondly, it will be integrated into the projects of partners like Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard. Thirdly, it is inspired by autonomic computing.
This last feature is important, because it means that the PCSA can learn to identify specific types of emerging team interaction, based on a deep analysis of previous interactions, so it can set up the most efficient system for managing the team as it develops.
“What is particularly unique about this project is that it focuses on the work of the team as a whole, and manages collaboration from that perspective; whereas efforts in the past have focused on the individual,” suggests Dustdar.
Nomadic, virtual, nimble
The project has developed a vast number of services dealing with SMS, email, calendar, instant messaging, documents, scheduling, presence, location, context (what people are doing) and many, many others. Even better, new elements can be added to this bundle of services as needs emerge, so the system can adapt over time.
This bundle aims to support three types of team: nomadic, virtual and nimble.
Nimble teams form ad-hoc around a specific problem. “Imagine with a tsunami, for example, you would have the Red Cross, logistics and other experts who come together to solve a specific, emerging problem,” notes Dustdar.
Nomadic teams are typically salesforces, while virtual teams are long-term, dispersed teams organised around a specific goal. “A research project is a good example of this,” Dustdar explains.
The work is now done, and in small-scale user scenario tests among inContext’s industrial partners, the system has performed well. It has also been well received by the scientific community and generated over 50 high-quality science publications and formed the subject matter for many workshops.
The team was also active in standards efforts at the W3C and other bodies, and now the results will be incorporated into the products of the project’s industrial partners.
“But I think it has the potential for wider commercial application, and I hope it will achieve its potential,” concludes Dustdar.
The inContext project received funding from the ICT strand of the Sixth Framework Programme for research.
Christian Nielsen | alfa
A novel hybrid UAV that may change the way people operate drones
28.03.2017 | Science China Press
Timing a space laser with a NASA-style stopwatch
28.03.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.
To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
28.03.2017 | Life Sciences
28.03.2017 | Information Technology
28.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy