The objective of TAP-EXTRA is to take the technology of enhancing complex software with co-operative, explanatory behaviour, and apply it to an application for the control of the rainstorm network of Bordeaux.
Such behaviour is aimed at two classes of users:
- it will enable a new class of users, less expert in the domain, to make use of the application;
- it will support confidence building and training with more experienced users.
The effectiveness of the system will be assessed in terms of the comparative quality of the users decision making with and without the benefit of the explanation facilities. In this way, the concrete benefits of the technology will be made apparent.
TAP-EXTRA draws on the results of two previous Esprit projects. The application was developed in PAYDIRT (P5473), a project which was concluded early in 1994 and in which Lyonnaise des Eaux, one of the partners in TAP-EXTRA, was a major participant. PAYDIRT has shown that knowledge-based techniques can provide efficient help in real-time monitoring systems; but it still requires that users be expert in the domain. The facilities for adding explanatory, co-operative behaviour comes from I-SEE (P6013), a project in which Lyonnaise des Eaux was also involved, with the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (CCLRC).
The project is directed at automated control and optimisation techniques for complex and possibly safety critical systems. Industrial applicability is widespread: there are applications with similar characteristics in the water industry, and other industrial applications where there are requirements for operators to monitor complex data in real time, where expertise is at a premium and where there are business benefits from opening the application to new classes of user. An important element of the project is the pro-active relation of the work to other industry sectors.
The partners are approaching the work through a number of activities proceeding in parallel and interacting with each other. These can be summarised as:
- acquisition or user requirements, specifically the users needs for explanatory information, followed later in the project by evaluation sessions which will feed into the development, and a final evaluation to assess, quantitatively as far as possible, the final benefits;
- customisation of the I-SEE tool kit, i.e. setting up the required knowledge models, explanation techniques, etc. for the new application;
- modifications to the PAYDIRT application, which will be required to interface with the I-SEE explaining software.