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Semantic Search Gets On The Map

By   /  February 4, 2011  /  No Comments

It’s as important for users to be able to visualize the content through which they must navigate – whether the data hails from the open source web or internal repositories – as it is to be able to discover semantically relevant information in the first place. A new partnership between semantic vendor Expert System and geo-analysis vendor Esri Italia aims at making both happen.

“We believe that … traditional search is actually a commodity,” says Luca Scagliarini, Expert VP, Strategic and Business Development. What isn’t a commodity is search that takes advantage of semantics for classifying, categorizing and indexing entities, finding relationships among them, and then displaying relevant discoveries as points on a map. “The result of our semantic engine enables us already to have a very rich way to navigate content by its attributes,” he says. “But you don’t just want the granularity of the anaylsis, but also a layer of visualization that enables the user to navigate content in different ways.”

The two companies working together should lead to the next version of Expert’s Cogito platform software letting users see their search results represented on a map, thanks to the ability to semantically understand and coordinate geographic mentions in text. Part of the upcoming release is a search and analysis engine capability to use the map as the search box, selecting an area and retrieving documents relevant to it,

Scagliarini gives an example of how such capabilities can play out for enterprise use. Consider the situation of a vp of a company with supply chains stretching across the globe – it’s important for that person to have a real-time view of what’s going on in those locales for issues that could impact the supply chain. Now, if that supply chain happens to involve moving oil across the Suez Canal, the VP probably didn’t need to do much digging across open web data to figure out that it’s time to think about contingency shipment plans.

But the situation is different when the signals are weaker – for instance, a breakout of illness in an off-the-radar part of the world where a factory exists. The only sources of up-to-the-minute information about that community may be a local newspaper, or perhaps word coming through on social media forums. Being able to discover such data that is semantically relevant to the location from these sources, and plot it out for quick insight, can be invaluable for that VP.

And, if you have to monitor a lot of information from many sites where factories are located, “having a layer on top that lets you turn on the web browser and look at a map and see some red dots automatically telling you something of interest is happening in those geo-locations is a way to be more effective,” Scagliarini says. “The idea is a map in this case but there are different visualization layers to make the work of analysts more effective and efficient at the end of the day.”

Expert expects to soon announce partnerships with other vendors to deliver additional presentation layers from which users can explore other visual navigatations through content.

Image: Courtesy Flickr/ jbachman01

About the author

Jennifer Zaino is a New York-based freelance writer specializing in business and technology journalism. She has been an executive editor at leading technology publications, including InformationWeek, where she spearheaded an award-winning news section, and Network Computing, where she helped develop online content strategies including review exclusives and analyst reports. Her freelance credentials include being a regular contributor of original content to The Semantic Web Blog; acting as a contributing writer to RFID Journal; and serving as executive editor at the Smart Architect Smart Enterprise Exchange group. Her work also has appeared in publications and on web sites including EdTech (K-12 and Higher Ed), Ingram Micro Channel Advisor, The CMO Site, and Federal Computer Week.

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