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A European project applies the Semantic Grid to satellites and insurance companies

Spanish researchers have participated in a European Project, called OntoGrid, which has been applied to both the analysis of satellite mission quality and to prevent European motorists from swindling car insurers.

These are just two of a long list of other possible applications in the business world. In the final project review, concluded in August 2007, experts from a number of European organizations agreed that the project had achieved outstanding scientific and technological results, as well as having a big impact on technological and user communities.

The OntoGrid Project was coordinated by the Ontology Engineering Group based at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid’s School of Computing (FIUPM) and led by Asunción Gómez. The project’s technical coordinator was Professor Carole Goble from the University of Manchester, and the Spanish researcher Oscar Corcho, now based at the FIUPM. Other project partners were the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (Greece) and the University of Liverpool (UK), as well as several Spanish and Dutch companies.

The results of this project are now being applied to the development of other projects like ADMIRE. ADMIRE kicked off in March 2008, with the aim of applying part of the research conducted in OntoGrid to the field of river flood simulation. SemsorGrid4Env, another project, which is to start up in September 2008, is to exploit part of the OntoGrid research applied to the field of forest fire forecasting.

According to Oscar Corcho, the project’s software architect, the Semantic Grid has countless applications, related not only to problems requiring a lot of computing power, but especially to issues where there is a huge volume of data that can be explicitly and clearly described and used for decision making.

Satellites and insurance companies

OntoGrid emulated the actual satellite quality analysis implementation, which it applied in a report generation platform related to the satellite mission. The system can easily gather information for the user from satellite data through new analyses and visualization tools. This system saves a lot of message classification time.

Another application using OntoGrid was to provide high added value services for European-based international car insurance companies. The insurance application is called CarRepairGrid and is based on an imaginary company, Damage Secure, which is responsible for controlling all the aspects of car insurance damage claims across a group of insurance companies.

The success of the undertaking would depend on increasing quality and efficiency of the claim submission processes between the consumer, the damage repair company and the insurance company. If the CarRepairGrid program could work without human intervention, it would save many millions of euros.

Fraud prevention

Additionally, OntoGrid has also been applied in insurance companies to prevent international car insurance policy frauds. Car insurance claims involve many people —the victim, the insurance company, lawyers, witnesses, etc.— and there should be a chain integrating all the parties.

Nowadays, one strategy adopted by fraudsters is to submit accident claims to several international companies. As the communication among these companies about claimants is far from effective, the fraudster pockets the money from several insurance companies. Thanks to CarFraudGrid, the application of this specific service, these companies would have easy and simple access to the claimants’ information, ruling out such frauds.

The latest OntoGrid application is called DamageRecoveryGrid, a program to help insurance companies to negotiate accident costs.

Semantic Grid

OntoGrid is the result of integrating the Semantic Web and Grid technology and has merited European recognition and support. The European Union has funded its application to the business world, investing 2.64 million euros, more than half of the 3.54 million euros that the now complete three-year initiative has cost.

The Semantic Grid is a revolution in integrated services and applications. New business models are emerging thanks to the creation of virtual organizations, and companies can share and integrate resources beyond current technical and organizational limits. The Semantic Grid offers the possibility of easily setting up virtual organizations, enabling a group of individuals and institutions to share Grid resources for a common purpose.

Globally distributed collaboration

Grid computing provides large-scale computer and data systems through globally distributed collaboration, bringing it closer to the world of services and information management.

The Semantic Grid is an extension of the current Grid in which information and services are given a well-defined meaning, better enabling computers and people to work in cooperation.

The other mainstay of this project is the Semantic Web, a branch of artificial intelligence designed to get the machine to understand Internet contents and help network users to do their job.

Grid from the inside

A Semantic Grid application is built on a Grid architecture. This architecture is composed of a series of modules, Grid services, which provide specific functionalities. The Semantic Grid’s input is the provision of two levels of semantic services, some related to the provision of semantics and others to the semantic consumption load. Other services it provides are any special- or general-purpose Grid services application, developed to supplement any of the above services.

Knowledge Grids are a basic Semantic Grid function. Knowledge Grids can be used to solve complex problems like tsunami or stock exchange forecasting. Additionally, Data Grids are able to distribute heterogeneous data, enormously improving searches of a satellite mission analysis database or a complicated DNA database, for example. Equipment Grids coordinate and optimize the use of devices, like a telescope. Finally, the Corporate Grid shares and integrates applications beyond organizational and service boundaries. If a fire breaks out in a chemicals factory, the Grid would consult the toxics detection information and weather forecasting services to find out in which direction the toxic gases are likely to expand before taking the respective action.

Eduardo Martínez | alfa
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