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Generic Architecture for Information Availability


The GAIA project is developing a sector and supplier independent Generic Architecture for Information Availability to support multilateral information trading. The GAIA architecture facilitates location and delivery of information, content & digital services through a scaleable brokerage model broadly applicable to distributed information supply chains and networks. The project will demonstrate applicability in three sectors -Music, Publishing and Technical Data.
The principal services are:

- Discovery of required Information, Goods & Services
- Location of Suppliers
- Negotiation of Service Level in terms of quality, delivery & price
- Delivery in the Digital Domain
- Authentication, Authority & Payment Management
GAIA has published an initial statement of Generic & Domain Requirements. The requirements were captured by analysing the needs of the demonstrator domains in comparison to the GAIA Reference Model. Internal drafts of the Reference Model have been made available for brokerage concertation in ACTS. They are a basis for the Interim and Final GAIA Standards which will be publicly released in the future.
As GAIA involves the development of services based on the agreed Reference Model and Standard, a number of internal framework reports have been produced to cover technology selection, state of the art, and design issues. The GAIA Design will pull this work together, with validation from the demonstration sectors and the standardisation and ACTS concertation processes.

Expected Impact
GAIA contributes to the specification of an agreed open architecture for information brokerage, capable of supporting the diverse requirements of a broad range of information trading scenarios. Through the construction of demonstrators for the trials described above, the project is generating both service and technology outputs capable of exploitation by the consortium and the project sponsors. Central to the approach taken is the development of generic tools within the GAIA architecture to provide key reusable services, including user access components and mechanisms to use data from existing repositories.

Main contributions to the programme objectives:
Main deliverables
A generic architecture which allows access to services using various network technologies. Trials included the publishing- technical data- and music domain.
Contribution to the programme
The sector- and supplier-independent Generic Architecture establishes an open platform for information trading.

Technical Approach
GAIA is providing a holistic architecture based on the principle of interworking interchangeable components, providing additionality to ongoing standardisation processes and taking into account the inevitable diversity of the telecommunications infrastructure. To ensure this technical and business portability, the GAIA architecture is:

- designed to be massively scaleable through distribution
- designed with reference to the standardisation process leading to a GAIA 'supra-standard'
- engineered to exploit interoperable standards-based information protocols
- engineered to exploit a heterogeneous bearer infrastructure taking account of desktop, set-top and mobile connections
- implemented using configurable generic toolsets
- rendered through 'thick' and 'thin' user access components
- exploiting emergent distributed services -directory, security as well as catalogues

Summary of Trial
The GAIA service will be trialled in the Music, Publishing & Technical Data domains. The involvement of representative bodies and user communities in the trials, and also at the requirements capture and design validation stages, will validate the GAIA architecture and contribute to the establishment of business cases for information trading. Further validation of the generic GAIA architecture is being sought through participation in the Standardisation process and through ACTS Chains.
Whilst the GAIA project will be making its demonstrator service accessible over public networks (including the Internet) and over European Broadband connections (e.g. as provided by JAMES), it is important to be able to demonstrate and evaluate the service in a controlled environment. Four GAIA partners have advanced preparations for mounting the service in private internetworking environments which include ATM switches.

Key Issues
The GAIA architecture must support an information economy in which Information Brokers will offer service economies and refinements that enhance the supply chain to the advantage of both suppliers and consumers. The service must recognise the critical features of the digital economy:

- Content sources and format will remain heterogeneous
- Metadata will be constructed through a variety of means
- Information needs will be satisfied through proactive and reactive means
- Customer requirements must be applied to distributed resources
- Customer service preferences will be a keystone of agent technologies
- Authentication, copy protection, tarrifing & payment must operate securely throughout
- No player should be constrained to a single role and no role should be monopolistic
- Quality, completeness, pervasiveness and independence of service will be differentiators

Relationship to other projects
GAIA's Reference Model is a generic framework for information brokerage systems. GAIA is working with other ACTS projects in both Domain 1 and Domain 5 to get consensus on brokerage reference models. Of particular note is the SIA Chain, in which GAIA leads development of the Enterprise Models guideline, and the cross-domain Virtual Broker Cluster, which also involves such projects as ABS, OSM, COBRA and others.
The GAIA Standard describes the GAIA system and is a specialisation of the GAIA Reference Model. GAIA draws upon previous and ongoing work in standardisation, e.g. Z39.50 (ISO 239.50) ISO ILL, DAVIC. The GAIA Functional Architecture is based on 'Functional Units' with CORBA specification of interfaces used to build the GAIA Broker, and Open Standards protocols for interworking between Brokers.

Call for proposal

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Fretwell-Downing Ltd
Brincliffe House 861 Ecclesall Road
S11 7AE Sheffield
United Kingdom

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Participants (18)

Center for Tele-Information
Codus Ltd
United Kingdom
Computer Securities Technologies AB
Dialogue Communications Ltd
United Kingdom
Index Data IS
National Centre for Popular Music
United Kingdom
Nexor Ltd
United Kingdom
North West Labs Ltd
Q-Ray BV
Screenphones Ltd
Teltec UCD-CS
United Kingdom
Western Bank
S10 2TN Sheffield

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University Hill, Administration Bldg.

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University of Thessaloniki
Warp Records Ltd
United Kingdom