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—— Working document on the Information Society Technologies (IST) Programme ——
(Thematic Programme II, Fifth Framework Programme)

Excerpted from COM(97) 553
—— 5 November 1997 ——

Creating a user-friendly
information society

[ Key Actions ] [ Activities for Generic R&D of Technologies ] [ Support for Research Infrastructure ]

INTRODUCTION

We are undergoing a fundamental transformation: from an industrial society to the information society. Information society technologies increasingly pervade all industrial and societal activities and are accelerating the globalisation of both economies, in particular by providing SMEs with affordable access to the global marketplace, and societies.

Europe's industrial competitiveness, its jobs, its quality of life and the sustainability of growth depend on it being at the leading edge of the development and take-up of information society technologies. Also, by enabling communities in remote and rural areas to overcome isolation and to compete in the global economy, information society technologies contribute to cohesion in the European Union.

At the same time, the technologies underpinning the development of the information society are in rapid evolution. Advances in information processing and communications are opening up exciting new possibilities. There is a shift from stand-alone systems to networked information and processes. Digitisation is resulting in the convergence of information processing, communications and media. Content is of increasing significance. However, the increasing diversity and complexity of systems is also presenting new challenges for their development and use.

It will not be possible to realise the full potential of the information society in Europe with only today's technologies, systems and applications. Key requirements such as usability, dependability, interoperability and, above all, affordability are far from being sufficiently met for the broad deployment of information society technologies in all areas. Continuous efforts are required, in research, technological development, demonstration and technology take-up.

Strategic Objectives of the Programme

The strategic objective of this programme would be to realise the benefits of the information society for Europe both by accelerating its emergence and by ensuring that the needs of individuals and enterprises are met.

The programme would have four inter-related specific objectives, which would both focus the technology developments and enable the close articulation between research and policy needed for a coherent and inclusive information society. For the private individual the objective would be to meet the needs and expectations of European citizens for high-quality, affordable general-interest services. Addressing the requirements and concerns of Europe's enterprises, workers and consumers the objective would be to enable both individuals and organisations to innovate and be more effective and efficient in their work and business. Multimedia content is central to the information society; the objective here would be to confirm Europe as a leading force in this field and enable it to realise the potential of its creativity and culture. For the essential technologies and infrastructures that form the building blocks of the information society the objective would be to drive their development, enhance their applicability and accelerate their take up in Europe.

Novelty of the approach Community-funded research in information and communication technologies is integral to the overall strategy of the European Union for the information society, which was defined by the Action Plan 'Europe's way towards the information society' and revised in the Action Plan adopted in November 1996. In response to the needs of the next millennium, the Fifth Framework Programme introduces the Information Society Technologies Programme.

The context, rationale and objectives of this programme necessitate a new approach, one that introduces a single and integrated programme which reflects the convergence of technologies and media and of industries and markets, together with the increasing significance of content, and responds to the need to integrate research and development and take-up actions. To this effect, this programme consists of a set of four key actions centred on the four specific objectives and a specific activity on longer-term or higher-risk research on future and emerging technologies. These activities complement each other and are derived by grouping together the technologies, systems, applications and services and the research and development and take-up actions with the greatest affinity or interdependence. Each activity has its own specific focus and priorities, however, the key issues of usability of technologies, systems, applications and services, interoperability at all levels, dependability and affordability would be addressed ubiquitously throughout the programme.

The coordination and integration of the activities through a single work programme would allow a "theme" that cuts across the programme (e.g. interfaces, mobility or satellite-related activities) to be addressed in a coherent manner in more than one activity, each concentrating on and contributing from its particular perspective. Clustering and concertation would be used to focus, coordinate and integrate activities. The technological scope of the activities would provide the flexibility to re-focus over time, through the single rolling work programme (defined in consultation with the key actors), to respond to changes in industrial and societal needs and the technological context.

Socio-economic needs A vast range of goods, services and processes are being transformed through the integration and use of information society technologies. Work would target the quantitative and qualitative benefits that information society technologies offer in all industrial and societal activities, from more competitive methods of working and doing business to higher-quality, lower-cost general interest services or new forms of leisure and entertainment. Socio-economic research would be integrated throughout the programme, to support the take-up of information society technologies, and into its management. As too would be work on statistics, which are central to the information society and for which information society technologies offer new ways to attain the highest standards of quality and the widest and most rapid and accessible dissemination.

European added value Realising the full potential of the information society requires technologies, infrastructures, applications and services, accessible and usable by anyone, anywhere, anytime, whether it be for business or individual use. Collaborative research and technological development is needed to create both the critical efforts and the interoperability necessary to ensure this in Europe. Pan-European research is also needed to ensure that content, together with its creation and use, properly reflects the EU's cultural diversity and many languages.

European competitiveness Information society technologies are integrated in or support products and processes in all sectors of the economy. To be competitive in the global marketplace Europe needs to master both the supply and use of information society technologies. To this end, to accelerate the realisation of knowledge as innovation, this programme would integrate actions to stimulate the take-up of information society technologies with the research and technological development to ensure that the conditions and requirements for their use can be met. In addition to demonstrations and trials, these include actions to stimulate the development and diffusion of the skills necessary to take-up research and development results (such as validations, assessments, awareness building, first-user actions and best-practice initiatives) and consensus building and standardisation activities.

Links with Other Programmes

Articulation with the other thematic programmes is based on concentrating the activities concerned with the development, demonstration and take-up of information society technologies in this programme and concentrating their deployment (application-specific integration research as well as use) in specific domains in the other thematic programmes. In particular: (i) work addressing health or the environment, particularly that under the key action on Systems and Services for the Citizen , would be closely coordinated with the related work in both Programmes 1 and 3, in particular that in the key actions on 'Health and the environment' and 'Quality and management of water'; (ii) work related to transport and transport means, in particular that under the key action on Systems and Services for the Citizen , would be closely coordinated with the relevant work carried out under Programme 3, in particular that under the key actions on 'Sustainable mobility and intermodality' and 'New perspectives in aeronautics'; and (iii) work addressing New Methods of Work and Electronic Commerce would be closely coordinated with the corresponding work on competitive and sustainable development in Programme 3. In addition, the satellite-related activities in this programme would be coordinated with related activities in Programmes 1 and 3 in the context of the Commission's Space Coordination Group.

Reflecting the global nature of the information society, international cooperation would play a major role in the development and take-up of information society technologies. This needs to be reflected in the participation in and operation of this programme and in its linkages with the horizontal programme on 'Confirming the international role of European research' addressing support for organisations from third countries. Specific activities to facilitate the participation of organisations from third countries and to maintain links with European-trained specialists in third countries would also be used in addressing the international dimension of the programme. Links with the horizontal programme on 'Innovation and participation of SMEs' and with EUREKA, Trans-European Network actions and the Structural Funds would be used to establish routes and mechanisms for the further take-up and the deployment of results. The work on skills development and socio-economic research integrated in this programme would be enhanced through the appropriate links with the horizontal programme on 'Improving human potential' and European Social Fund initiatives. This programme's work on Research Networking would interface with the 'Improving human potential' programme's support for access to large computing facilities and with the 'support for research infrastructure' activities of the other thematic programmes. Where appropriate, work will complement and be coordinated with that in the COST Programme.

Key Actions
[ New Methods of Work and Electronic Commerce ] [ Multimedia Content and Tools ] [ Essential Technologies and Infrastructures ] [ TOP ]
Systems and Services for the Citizen
Rationale

Given the significant weight of general-interest services in its GDP, a key challenge for the European Union is to improve their quality while containing their costs. Both the overall competitiveness of the EU economy and the visibility and social impact of the information society would be durably improved if the modernisation of these services were achieved in terms of flexible access to them by everyone and of improved quality and efficiency of service delivery.

RTD is needed to support the transition towards new paradigms that affect the evolution of sectors of general interest. In the field of health the new paradigm includes the informed citizen caring for his/her own health and the stakeholders responsible for the continuity of health services in a regional setting. In the field of persons with special needs, including the elderly and the disabled the new paradigm aims at ensuring full access, participation and equality for all citizens. In the field of administrations, citizens have come to expect the provision of a transparent and efficient one-stop-shop for individually tailored services oriented towards their everyday life. In the field of environment, what is at stake is to support sustainable development through the harmonious co-existence, including health, between further competitive economic development, the optimal use and re-use of what essentially are limited natural resources, and the environment. In the field of transport, the vision is one of building the mobile society within the information society through the introduction and use of information society technologies to improve effectiveness and safety of all transport modes and provide new mobility options in a sustainable way.

If a European approach to research, technological development, take-up and standardisation is maintained, the total potential general-interest services market (equipment, systems, services) in Europe will be substantially in excess of 1000 BECUs.

KEY ACTIONS
quick link
+ + + +
Systems and Services for the Citizen
+ + + +
New Methods of Work and Electronic Commerce
+ + + +
Multimedia Content and Tools
+ + + +
Essential Technologies and Infrastructures

TOP

Objectives and RTD priorities

This work would foster the creation of the next generation of user-friendly, dependable, cost-effective and interoperable general-interest services, meeting user demands for flexible access for everybody, from anywhere, at any time. Work would cover RTD addressing the whole of the key action, as well as specific RTD in the following fields: health; special needs, including ageing and disability; administrations; environment; and transport. Certain of the ubiquitous issues addressed throughout the whole of this programme would need to be addressed further in order to pay due consideration to the needs and expectations of the typical users in this key action, in particular the user-friendliness and acceptability of new services, including the socio-economic and ethical aspects. Integrated application platforms are needed to provide seamless interaction between citizens, businesses and administrations - these would be demonstrated and assessed in "digital sites", in particular cities or regions, paving the way to "digital communities".

— Health and ageing, disability and other special needs
In the area of health, work would cover both new generation computerised clinical systems, advanced telemedicine services and health network applications to support health professionals, continuity of care and health service management, and intelligent systems allowing citizens to assume greater participation and responsibility for their own health. For the aged, the disabled and other persons with special needs, the work would address person/system interfaces and adaptive and assistive systems to overcome problems caused by environmental barriers and by physical or intellectual impairments, as well as intelligent systems and services to support autonomous living, social integration and participation in the information society.

RTD PRIORITIES: professional health care: systems enhancing the ability of health care professionals for prevention, diagnosis, care and rehabilitation, such as intelligent systems for non-invasive diagnosis and therapy, intelligent medical assistants, and advanced medical imaging; advanced telemedicine applications; "virtual hospitals" offering single-point-of-entry services; high-speed secure networks and applications for linking hospitals, laboratories, pharmacies, primary care and social centres for continuity of care; health service workflow management and re-engineering; new-generation electronic healthcards for sophisticated health data objects; personal health systems: systems for personal health monitoring and fixed or portable prevention systems, including advanced sensors, transducers and micro-systems; personal medical advisors for supervision of prevention and treatment; tele-systems and applications for supporting care in all contexts; user-friendly and certified information systems for supporting health education and health awareness for citizens; "design-for-all" products, systems and services , including improved participatory design methods, multimodal terminals and universal interfaces; adaptive systems: communication tools for persons with special requirements, mobility support devices, both at home or in the wider environment, robotics control systems; multimedia applications for supporting daily living and social integration at home, work, education, transport, leisure, etc., social support and intervention networks, new methods of service delivery; long-term research to create the knowledge and understanding to underpin the development of future services.

— Administrations
Work would focus on multimedia systems and services addressing the specific needs of Community and national administrations, in particular to support the widening and deepening of the EU, and offering interactive services to citizens and/or making them available at natural meeting-points for people, especially in remote and rural areas. Attention will be paid to improving effectiveness and internal efficiency.

RTD PRIORITIES: technologies and systems for on-line democracy and for improved, distance- and language-independent, access to information and services , in order to support one-stop service access and transaction handling for citizens and businesses; multilingual personalised services and intelligent multifunctional systems facilitating interaction between citizens and Community and national administrations, including the development of virtual fora (public hearings, opinion polling, etc.); systems and tools for enabling statistics to play their role in enhancing the transparency and accessibility of administrations and for promoting multimedia data interchange between administrations; the innovative applications to support the adaptation of Community and national administrations to the information and processing systems needs of Community policies.

— Environment
Work would focus on new-generation monitoring, forecasting and decision-support systems and services for administrations, industries and the public, together with advanced systems and services for the identification, assessment, monitoring and prevention of risks, and for the management and mitigation of emergencies, both natural and man-made (including anti-personnel landmines).

RTD PRIORITIES: monitoring, forecasting and decision support: intelligent information systems on air/water/soil quality and for monitoring and management of natural resources; advanced systems for water/air/sea/soil/waste pollution monitoring, prevention and warning; high-performance systems and advanced tools for environmental data fusion, data mining and modelling, including geo-referenced data; integrated information tools and support systems for sustainable development and to improve ecological and resource efficiency; risks and emergencies: advanced management systems exploiting satellite imagery, remote sensing, sensor systems, real-time systems, and communication networks.

— Transport
Work would focus on intelligent infrastructure and vehicle systems for the management of all modes of transport, including for intermodal operations and "mobility chains" for freight and passengers, for safety and operational efficiency in all modes, supporting inter alia actions in Programme 3, as well as for information, mobility and tourism related systems and services.

RTD PRIORITIES: surveillance, positioning and guidance systems and the necessary enhancement of space and ground-based communication and positioning infrastructures, fixed, on-board and portable interactive multimedia devices, and tele-payment systems - in particular for traffic and demand management, collective transport, fleet and freight operations supporting the whole logistics chain, telepayments and user information; new traffic control systems with advanced interfaces, environment, simulation and prediction tools; on-board human-centred systems for safety and efficiency, including vision enhancement, obstacle detection and advanced warning, crash-avoidance, driver impairment watch; telematic systems for intelligent vehicle and autonomous aircraft operations; personalised travel information systems including tele-reservation and payment; multimedia systems and services on weather, tourism , and leisure; on-board "info-mobility" services, including infotainment; virtual mobility services.

[ Systems and Services for the Citizen ] [ Multimedia Content and Tools ] [ Essential Technologies and Infrastructures ] [ TOP ]

New Methods of Work and Electronic Commerce
Rationale

More than 70% of office workers use a PC. Over 2 million people in Europe already "telework" for part of the week. According to one industry estimate, goods and services worth approximately 4 billion ECU were traded electronically in 1996 and this figure is expected to rise to 200 billion ECU by the year 2000. Information society technologies are radically transforming the way people work, the way organisations operate and the way that consumers undertake purchases.

Despite these dramatic changes, we are only at the beginning, continued technological development and take-up is needed to enable new ways of working and conducting business that enable Europe to be competitive in the global marketplace, and which improve the quality of working life and provide increased confidence for consumers.

With the Internet growing at over 60% per year, new business opportunities are continuously emerging for electronic commerce, with lower costs, wider markets and more choice for consumers. Particularly for SMEs and individual entrepreneurs, for whom electronic commerce provides the possibility for affordable channels to the global marketplace. It is vital for all Europe's businesses that the new marketplaces are open, accommodate European business practices, internationally interoperable and reliable. However, the enabling technologies continue to evolve very rapidly. European research and technology development is essential to the coherence of and confidence in these new marketplaces in Europe.

Consumers and businesses must both have confidence in the integrity of information and services; confidence to publish material without suffering from IPR piracy; confidence that their right to privacy be respected and personal data will not be abused, and confidence in the security of electronic payment systems. New models of "best practice" need to be established. Research and technology development is essential to the preservation of consumer protection and for trust and in new methods of work and electronic commerce.

KEY ACTIONS
quick link
+ + + +
Systems and Services for the Citizen
+ + + +
New Methods of Work and Electronic Commerce
+ + + +
Multimedia Content and Tools
+ + + +
Essential Technologies and Infrastructures

TOP

Objectives and RTD priorities

The aim of this key action would be to enable European workers and enterprises, in particular SMEs, to increase their competitiveness in the global marketplace, whilst at the same time improving the quality of the individual's working life, through the use of information society technologies to provide the flexibility to be free both from many existing constraints on working methods and organisation, including those imposed by distance and time. It would cover both the development and the trading of goods and services, in particular in the electronic marketplace, and take into account the different requirements of the individual worker, consumer and of businesses and organisations. Considerations of the global context and socio-economic factors would guide the work in this action, and the objective would be to develop and demonstrate world-best work and business practices, exploiting European strengths such as electronic payments, smart cards, mobile systems, software for business process modelling and enterprise management and consumer protection.

— Flexible, mobile and remote working methods and tools
Work would focus on enabling, validating and demonstrating competitive, flexible and human-centred work methods and business organisation, by means of an integrated approach to the combination of business process and work organisation, human resource management, and information society technologies, informed by socio-economic and legal requirements analysis and considerations of the global context and actual business practice. It would address the needs of workers, enterprises and consumers alike. Best-practice pilots and scaleable demonstrations, together with dissemination actions to stimulate broad experimentation and adoption would be major features of the work.

RTD PRIORITIES: work methods: telework and networked cooperative working; simulation- and virtual-reality-based methods, for both individual and collaborative working; entrepreneuship and portfolio working; organisation: integrating new or re-engineered work methods, structures and electronic commerce in all sectors, including administrations, taking into account existing practices; agile, extended, virtual enterprises and networks of individuals; integration of the value chain, including workflow management; socio-economic issues: (including the necessary statistical methods and tools); analysis of change; organisational methodologies, including benchmarking, scenario planning, transformation methods and change and risk management; human resources and training; human factors, usability and ergonomics for workers and consumers; the legal and regulatory framework, including consumer protection.

— Management systems for suppliers and consumers
Work would focus on seamless end-to-end support, covering both tangible and intangible products, for electronic trading and distributed virtual enterprises and marketplaces. It would cover applications or systems for interactions within and between consumers, individual entrepreneurs, businesses and administrations. It would address both business and work processes covering the full value chain and the information society technologies needed to support them.

RTD PRIORITIES: information society technologies systems to address processes in development , including: life-cycle support, design, engineering and maintenance, logistics and distribution management, quality control, productivity measurement; systems to address processes in marketing and sales , including: customer interaction, negotiation and contracting, mass customisation, packaging and trading; systems to address processes in financial services , integrating where appropriate support for the EURO, including: ordering, billing and payment, accounting and taxation; public and private procurement; systems to address processes in management , including: decision support and planning; virtual and real marketplace management systems; personnel management; systems for on-line business information search and management, including directories and catalogues and multimedia digital assistants.

— Information security
Work would focus on technologies to boost trust and confidence in the information infrastructure, and in its services and information resources, as being reliable, efficient and user-friendly for new methods of work and doing business. This includes protecting information integrity, managing intellectual property rights and enhancing privacy.

RTD PRIORITIES: digital signature and certification techniques; electronic authentication techniques; representation of product data; prevention of fraud and misrepresentation of goods; electronic IPR management technologies; privacy enhancing technologies, including those avoiding the improper collection, recording and disclosure of personal and business data; secure electronic transactions and payments, including anonymous ones; integrating next-generation smart-cards; critical systems management and reliable next generation electronic commerce infrastructures; support the development of and conformance to the legal and regulatory framework; technologies to generate confidence in meaningfully managing vast amounts of data by businesses and consumers, including user customisation; take-up : concertation for ensuring interoperability and contributing to internationally recognised standards.

[ Systems and Services for the Citizen ] [ New Methods of Work and Electronic Commerce ] [ Essential Technologies and Infrastructures ] [ TOP ]

Multimedia Content and Tools
Rationale

Content is a key asset in the global information society. Technological advances have provided ever-improving information processing and communications infrastructures. Increased research is now needed to address digital content, so that it can be produced effectively, given attractive functionalities, exchanged or traded securely, retrieved confidently and used or re-used in a variety of digital ways. European research and development is needed to ensure that future technologies and tools enable content, together with its creation and use, properly reflect the EU's cultural diversity and many languages, in order that the full potential of the EU's creativity can be realised in both social and industrial contexts.

The current turnover of Europe's content industries is estimated by the OECD at around 178 billion ECU. Digital information products (both on-line and off-line) are growing at an exponential pace, for example the number of registered World-Wide Web sites increased from 50 in 1992 to seventy thousand at the end of 1995 and 650 000 in Autumn 1997. As we make the transition to the information society, work is needed to promote European excellence in advanced multimedia content systems, services and technologies. In particular it is critical to improve the functionality and usability of digital content for international business and social applications, promote new education and training systems, and enable cultural and language diversity.

KEY ACTIONS
quick link
+ + + +
Systems and Services for the Citizen
+ + + +
New Methods of Work and Electronic Commerce
+ + + +
Multimedia Content and Tools
+ + + +
Essential Technologies and Infrastructures

TOP

Objectives and RTD priorities

Work would cover new models, methods, technologies and systems for creating, processing, managing, networking, accessing and exploiting digital content, including audiovisual content. An important research dimension would be new socio-economic and technological models for representing information, knowledge and know-how. The work would address both applications-oriented research, focusing on publishing, audiovisual, culture and education and training and generic research in language and content technologies for all applications areas, and would include validation, take-up, concertation and standards.

— Interactive electronic publishing and digital heritage and cultural content
For interactive electronic publishing, work would focus on new publishing and media paradigms for both commercial and private use (including the evolution of the World-Wide Web). It would address future publishing systems able to handle new combinations of content and to provide users with new levels of interaction and control, and cover new forms of content such as virtual objects, in multi-user environments, or immersive, animated content. Three fast-evolving application areas would be addressed: knowledge publishing, in particular for scientific and business content; lifestyle publishing, in particular for news, entertainment and information for the citizen; and geographic and statistical information, including related socio-economic information, particularly where complex information needs new presentation forms for the non-specialist user. The work on digital heritage and cultural content would aim to expand the key contribution of libraries, museums and archives to the emerging "culture economy", including economic, scientific and technological development. Actions would particularly address new digital processes and cover business and economic models, especially those which stimulate new partnerships through networking and new services for the citizen.

RTD PRIORITIES for interactive electronic publishing: generating creative content through advanced tele-collaborative real-time authoring and design systems and skills development (for example for 3-D or virtual reality design and conceptual modelling); systems for the generation and re-use of content from different media; collaborative creative expression and publishing; managing digital content by supporting distributed and networked content; processing large sets of data in innovative ways (e.g. visualisation, scenario development or spatial analysis); devising new metrics for valuing information assets; personalising content delivery (via push or pull technologies), by cost-effective content packaging, advertising and transactions, customer profiling and individualised design and presentation (in a manner that respects the user's right to privacy); exploring the limits between domain-specific and domain-independent content; for digital heritage and cultural content: integrated access to heterogeneous distributed collections and repositories in digital and traditional form (e.g. library holdings, museum exhibition material, public archive contents, multimedia art or sound archives, digital film collections); improving the functionalities of large-scale repositories of content by providing rich and powerful interactive features and advanced management and copyright techniques; preservation of and access to valuable multimedia content from multiple sources, covering electronic materials and electronic surrogates of fragile physical objects.

— Education and training
This work would aim at providing the EU with a blueprint for a seamless and cost-effective implementation of advanced technologies for enhancing education and training systems. This work would focus on the common needs of different teaching and learning processes, on new approaches to lifelong learning, and on innovative ways of integrating multimedia pedagogic material.

RTD PRIORITIES: improving the learning process through more autonomous and more individualised learning - work would include local learner support, peer learning, remote tutoring, curriculum/course design systems, and accreditation systems; developing higher quality learning material by improving: the quality of the content itself, the embedded pedagogical or didactic approaches, and the adaptability to learner needs - work would address new instructional design tools, learner modelling techniques, modelling methods for knowledge transfer, as well as learning ergonomics, and would cover content ranging from simple hypermedia to advanced simulations; broadening access to learning resources and services for all - work would address common platforms allowing full access to services across heterogeneous networks, including harmonised identification and retrieval of knowledge resources.

— Human language technologies
This work would focus on advanced human language technologies enabling cost-effective interchanges across language and culture, natural interfaces to digital services and more intuitive assimilation and use of multimedia content. Work would address written and spoken language technologies and their use in key sectors such as corporate and commercial publishing, education and training, cultural heritage, global business and electronic commerce, public services and utilities, and special-needs groups. Work would also develop electronic language resources (e.g. dictionaries or terminologies) in standard and re-usable formats.

RTD PRIORITIES: adding multilinguality to systems at all stages of the information cycle, including content generation and maintenance in multiple languages, localisation of software and content, automated translation and interpretation, and computer-assisted language training; enhancing the natural interactivity and usability of systems where multimodal dialogues, understanding of messages and communicative acts, unconstrained language input-output and keyboard-less operation can greatly improve applications; enabling active assimilation and use of digital content , where work would apply language-processing models, tools and techniques for deep information analysis and metadata generation, knowledge extraction, classification and summarisation of the meaning embodied in the content, including intelligent language-based assistants.

— Information access, filtering, analysis and handling
This work would focus on advanced technologies for the management of information content to empower the user to select, receive and manipulate (in a manner that respects the user's right to privacy) only that information required when faced with an ever increasing range of heterogeneous sources. Improvements in the key functionalities of large-scale multimedia asset management systems (including the evolution of the World-Wide Web) would support the cost effective delivery of information services and their usage.

RTD PRIORITIES: mastering information: rich descriptive models of digital information content, covering all media types and supporting all human senses, in addition to spatial and temporal aspects; associated tools to enable users to develop information profiles, possibly based on vague concepts and enabled via personalised agents; radically new cognitive relations between the system and users via individualised metaphors or visualisation techniques; information management systems: new organisation and management methods for multimedia information sources - work would explore advanced techniques for data warehousing integrating access control mechanisms, quality assurance, integrity control and technical protection of multimedia "fragments", and payment systems; information categorisation, labelling and filtering enabling selective information retrieval and filtering (including for the control of illegal and harmful content).

[ Systems and Services for the Citizen ] [ New Methods of Work and Electronic Commerce ] [ Multimedia Content and Tools ] [ TOP ]

Essential Technologies and Infrastructures
Rationale

A television now contains more than one million lines of software. In 1996 more than 34 billion microprocessors were sold for embedding into products. Today around 50 million European citizens have mobile phones. These examples illustrate the scale of the pervasiveness of information society technologies.

With such a ubiquitous role in products and processes competitiveness is critically dependent on the information society's essential technologies and infrastructures. At the same time, the usability, dependability and, above all, the affordability is far from that required for their broad take-up. Continued research is needed, to enable Europe to master their supply and use.

The convergence of communications, computer networking and broadcasting poses a major policy and technological challenge to Europe over the next decade. Interoperability and interworking of diverse infrastructures and services must be assured at European level, and industrial-led consensus on a European or global charter for service and network management will need a strong foundation of collaborative technology development.

The rapid and coherent deployment of next generation infrastructures and services needs joint efforts to create the necessary critical mass.

KEY ACTIONS
quick link
+ + + +
Systems and Services for the Citizen
+ + + +
New Methods of Work and Electronic Commerce
+ + + +
Multimedia Content and Tools
+ + + +
Essential Technologies and Infrastructures

TOP

Objectives and RTD priorities

The work would address the convergence of information processing, communications and networking technologies and infrastructures. The priorities would be to enhance their applicability and accelerate their take-up. The focus would be on technologies and infrastructures common to several applications, while those specific to one application only would be addressed in the context of that application in other parts of the Framework Programme.

— Information processing, communication and network technologies
Application requirements often call for heterogeneous multi-processor architectures and increasingly exploit broadband networks, including wireless communications. The work would focus on the development and convergence of information processing, telecommunications and broadcast network and system technologies.

RTD PRIORITIES: concurrent systems technologies and tools for the sharing and interactive use of remote resources and concurrent activities in geographically dispersed locations, in the context of heterogeneous hardware and software architectures and systems; real-time systems handling large volumes of data; basic technologies and tools supporting real-time embedded systems applications - related work should actively contribute to, or adhere to, standards; interoperability and interworking particularly at the network management and service levels, to increase capacity, flexibility and functionality and to promote the introduction of competition and new services (including the evolution of the Internet); generic service management models capable of handling the increased network complexity, new architectures and the requirements for network dependability and security are required; technologies for network integration (fixed and mobile, including satellite links) and new service independent architectures and systems, to ensure all users have affordable access to broadband multimedia nomadic services; reliable high-capacity terabit optical transmission; a major effort in photonic technologies for end-to-end optical transparency in core and access networks, including communication management in the optical domain; take-up: measures to promote and transfer best practice, for concertation to contribute to standards, and to validate technologies and services in field trials.

— Engineering and technologies for software, systems and services
The work would centre around the development, deployment, operation and evolution of software-intensive systems in goods and services as well as in production and enterprise processes.

RTD PRIORITIES: software and systems engineering work would focus on dependable, survivable and scaleable systems and address the reduction of the development cycle and costs; the use and further development, as required, of reliable methods and tools will be a central issue; the integration of custom and off-the-shelf components into systems would be a key aspect; service engineering would address the integration of heterogeneous platforms and networks and the increasing complexity and sophistication of the new services and their creation and provision - the objective would be to develop technologies and tools for rapid, customised and cost-effective service creation, deployment, provision and management that provide for an open information and communications service infrastructure, with the necessary reliability, security and quality of service; software technologies work would foster knowledge-based methods and tools, which increase the usability as well as the capability of systems and the intelligence in the network, this includes the timely collection, production, dissemination and communication of high-quality information (including statistical and management information); take-up: best practice and other take-up measures will be a priority; work will be complemented by the validation and assessment of technologies and services in field trials, and by concertation measures to contribute to standards.

— Mobile and personal communications and systems
The target of the work would be the move to an integrated seamless network that ensures global personal connectivity and enables access to wireless multimedia communications and services by anyone, from anywhere, at any time, with capabilities, quality and performance comparable to those of fixed network services.

RTD PRIORITIES: work would focus on the development and evolution of new generations of affordable terrestrial and satellite broadband wireless architectures, systems and technologies, for both private and public environments, supporting advanced services and maximising spectral efficiency and network performance; full coverage will be addressed through a multiplicity of radio systems deployed in a muli-layer, multi-dimension cell architecture; service mobility and terminal roaming across wireless and wired networks would be a priority; software reconfigurable networks, systems and terminals, to facilitate improved network planning, interoperability and interworking; miniaturised, low-cost, low-power mobile and portable communication terminals (both hardware and software aspects); technologies, services and applications supporting interactive mobile and personal multimedia services, with regional or global coverage and integrated where appropriate with navigation services; take-up: a key aspect will be validations and demonstrations of broadband interactive mobile multimedia technologies and services; a major effort will be dedicated to technology assessment and concertation measures to contribute to standards.

— Multisensory interfaces and visualisation and simulation technologies
Work would address the provision of intuitive ways to capture, deliver and interact with systems. Work would include the development and integration of advanced sensor, actuator and display technologies, as well as simulation and visualisation environments.

RTD PRIORITIES: multimodal multisensory interfaces and novel tools and devices - validation and assessment would be central to this work; technologies including image and auditory scene processing, understanding and synthesis will be developed and integrated for new solutions for the work and leisure/entertainment environments; the work would progressively facilitate the introduction of technologies such as augmented vision and virtual reality; the development and integration of a range of advanced display technologies for professional and consumer applications would be addressed; emphasis would be given to the development of low-cost and low-power interfaces well as the use of new flexible materials for portable and mobile subsystems; included are issues such as user adaptability, user interaction modelling and profiling; simulation: work on simulation environments would include pre-processing, advanced post-processing (including visualisation and virtual reality) and tools for the validation of simulation with experimental and archival data; tools to support the integration of simulation in industrial and business processes would be a priority; work would also address tools to support the interoperability of heterogeneous software and hardware systems; the work will be complemented by validations and assessments, together with first-user actions and other best-practice initiatives and concertation networks.

— Peripherals, sub-systems and microsystems
Work would address the need for advanced intelligent (computing and communications) network peripherals which can have multiple functionality yet remain user-friendly. Work on sub-systems would cover the building blocks of information processing and communications systems and networks. Work on intelligent microsystems would, in this context, cover miniaturised systems comprising sensing and/or actuating with processing functions, and normally combining two or more of electrical, mechanical, optical, chemical, organic, biological, magnetic or other properties, integrated onto a single chip or a multichip hybrid.

RTD PRIORITIES: integration, low-power consumption and miniaturisation would be the drivers for technology development for peripherals and terminals , as well as software and hardware modules for content capture, storage and manipulation; the development of advanced mass storage methodologies is a key requisite; sub-systems: in addition to basic building blocks a major focus will be home systems; microsystems work will be concentrated on facilitating the broader application of intelligent microsystems, primarily for the medical, biochemical, environmental, automotive and aerospace applications, as well as their use in measurement and control systems or sub-systems; the primary aim is to transfer competence from research to industrial use and to facilitate access to existing technologies for prototyping and small volume production; the integration of optical interconnects into microelectronic subsystems and microsystems for high-performance applications (e.g. electro-optical circuit boards); the work will be supported through measures complementing those in Programme 3 addressing the manufacturability of intelligent microsystems and the associated assembly, interconnect, packaging, materials and equipment technologies, together with support for the appropriate design and simulation activities; take-up: the work will be complemented by concertation for coordination and to contribute to standards, and in particular for microsystems by first-user actions.

— Microelectronics
Work would address materials, equipment, processes, design and test methodologies and tools which enable the development of electronic components, their packaging, interconnection and application. The approach would be system-oriented and application-driven, and would aim at reinforcing strengths and exploiting technological opportunities drawing on appropriate microelectronic technology solutions best filling generic application requirements.

RTD PRIORITIES: application and hardware/software co-design methods and tools; the key technology requirements would be addressed through support for semiconductor materials and equipment development and assessment, packaging and interconnect technology, notably for the most advanced generations; the focus would be on broadening applicability through the development of cost-effective active and passive silicon, silicon-based, or compound semiconductor components and subsystems for applications with generic characteristics, in particular mobility (low power, high frequency wireless communications), high complexity/high performance systems, systems resistant to hostile environments in terms of reliability and endurance, measurement and control; the development, integration or customisation of advanced signal and data processing functions into sub-systems together with their associated memory and input/output functions, will be a priority, together with macrocells and support tools for classes of applications; optical technologies: new optical sources, optoelectronic integrated circuits, active and passive optical components and devices at new wavelengths, including optoelectronic devices based on organic compounds; take-up: promotion of application and design competencies will be addressed in thematic clusters; a major effort will be devoted to technology assessment, first-user and other best practice measures.

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Activities for Generic Research and Development of Technologies

Future and Emerging Technologies

It has been shown that major technology-based industrial and societal advances can arise from unexpected scientific and technological ideas, ideas that were originally treated as curiosities. Few foresaw the importance of the World-Wide Web when it was first developed or, going further back, the industrial impact of lasers when they were "just interesting scientific phenomena".

This specific activity on future and emerging technologies would cover research that is of a longer-term nature or involves particularly high risks - compensated by the promise of major advances and the potential for industrial and societal impact. Such research would typically be either transdisciplinary or in an emerging discipline. It would reinforce the link and flow of ideas, initiatives and people between academia and industry in the EU. This activity complements the domain-specific work integrated in each of the key actions.

To ensure a seamless coverage of the information society technologies the door needs to be kept open to any new idea with a potential industrial or societal impact, in a bottom-up fashion. This openness would need to be reinforced in specific areas with highly focused well-coordinated pro-active initiatives of a strategic nature. Flexibility is essential just as is an appropriate balance between proactive initiatives which need careful, but rapid, planning on the one hand and, on the other hand, openness to new highly promising ideas as they arise.

The Open Domain

By definition the topics addressed cannot be prescribed. Project proposals could include, in a non-prescriptive way, knowledge technologies (covering technologies for the representation, creation and handling of knowledge), technologies for computation- or bandwidth-intensive applications, future devices and circuits (including those based on quantum, photonic or bio-electronic effects and technologies for very large scale integration), and ultra-complex systems (such as ultra-high performance computers and super-intelligent networks).

Proactive Initiatives

Complementing the open domain, a number of proactive initiatives having a strategic perspective and addressing areas of substantial future growth, where close coordination across different projects is necessary, would be defined in the course of the execution of the programme. The definition of topics would be based on their potential for long-term industrial and societal impact (including employment through "start-ups"), on the opportunity offered by scientific advances or a combination of both. The planning of the proactive initiatives would need to make allowance for the necessity to be able to react rapidly if windows of opportunity present themselves unexpectedly through scientific advances.

Initiatives would each consist of a set of autonomous but closely coordinated and appropriately networked projects. The networked nature of the initiative could be reinforced with some central research facilities when these provide economies of scale to the participants of multiple projects. For example, experimental shared nano-fabrication facilities, model spaces or communities for experiments in the areas of interfaces or virtual reality, and so forth.

The actual choices would be made at appropriate times through consultations with the research community, following the setting of an agenda that draws on a very broad body of scientific and technological opinion. In this context, advance knowledge would be sought through a combination of a series of strategic workshops, aimed towards setting trends and research targets, and a technology-watch activity, to be carried out in close cooperation with the JRC's 'Institute for Prospective Studies' and the 'Scientific and Technological Options Assessment' Unit of the European Parliament where appropriate.

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Support for Research Infrastructure

Research Networking

Broadband Interconnection of National Research and Education Networks

The objective would be to facilitate the supply of trans-European broadband interconnections between national research, education and training networks (which are currently fragmented into local islands of connectivity) at capacities and of a quality matching the aggregated need of Europe's academic and industrial researchers and to keep the resulting network at the forefront of the state of the art. This would imply an upgrading of the existing capacity of 34 Mbits/s via 622 Mbits/s to gigabits/s, including support for different levels of 'Quality of Service' and the necessary connectivity to third countries. This would allow effective European collaborative research and education activities (including the creation of "virtual laboratories" and "virtual institutes"), enabled by the deployment of state of the art Internet-based applications within the academic and industrial research communities. This work would support research in all fields and therefore the whole Framework Programme.

Advanced European Experimental Testbeds

The objective would be the integration of leading-edge collaborative research and development, demonstration and take-up activities, from all key actions in this programme, addressing future generations of communication technologies, protocols, services and distributed applications. This experimental interconnection of the testbeds of individual operators, industries, universities and research facilities in Europe (together with necessary connections to third countries) would provide a practical basis for collaborative research efforts (e.g. in photonic networks, service configuration protocols or mobile broadband services). It would also lead to the early availability of the most advanced infrastructure, which would in turn allow for early experiments with advanced applications (e.g. remote high-volume data visualisation, meta-computing or networked immersive virtual reality) requiring very high bandwidth or new services. It would also enable Europe to play a leading role in defining, standardising and validating the next generations of network protocols (including those for the Internet) and other emerging broadband services. It would contribute to the long-term interoperability and seamlessness of advanced network infrastructures, services and applications.

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