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Multi-agent Integration of Shared Statistical Information over the (inter)Net

Objective

The Web has had a profound impact on the way National Statistical Institutes publish data. Europe is moving towards a global market and providers of official statistics will have to work in this context. MISSION aims to provide a software solution that will address the issues raised by this context. It will utilise the advances in statistical techniques for data harmonisation, the emergence of agent technology, the availability of standards for exchanging metadata and the power of Internet information retrieval tools. The result will be a modular software suite aimed at enabling providers of official statistics to publish data in a unified framework, and allowing users to share methodologies for comparative analysis and harmonisation. The modules are distributed over the web and communicate via agents. Several scenarios are possible including that of a third party Independent Metadata Provider.

Objectives:
A software suite allowing statistical data providers to publish data on the Web, satisfying the following criteria:
(1) suppliers of official statistics can subscribe to an integrated network of datastores via an interface to their existing data;
(2) suppliers retain control over all aspects of access to their existing data;
(3) users can make requests in a declarative manner, with a minimum of understanding of statistics, or the domain area, and still retrieve meaningful results;
(4) users can tailor their working environment, from simple requests to detailed in-depth analysis;
(5) methods of data manipulation and analysis can be retained, re-used and published;
(6) libraries of metadata can be constructed and made available to other users;
(7) a flexible architecture allows third parties to act as Independent Metadata Providers, thus encouraging free exchange of knowledge;
(8) users can build up individual profiles, accessing data and methods most relevant to their needs.

Work description:
The architecture of the system comprise four basic logical, or conceptual, units or building blocks, which can be deployed in different scenarios. The components are: The Client, which is a Web based user interface connecting a user to all sites participating in the architecture. It obtains a request from the user, and sends an agent to search for a Library that can satisfy the request. The Library is a repository for statistical metadata, holding three different kinds of metadata: access, methodological and contextual. When a library receives a request, it analyses it, sending to other Libraries if necessary. Once it has built up an operation, it submits it to a Compute server. On receiving the reply to the request, it returns the answer to the Client. Te Compute server is a statistical analysis engine, which stores no information of its own. Based on the query it receives, it obtains the necessary data from various data servers, performs the request, and returns the result to the Library, which made the request. The Data server is the unit, which gives access to the data and holds the data management tools for registering and maintaining the system. We aim to develop this system in two stages, building a first prototype to test basic functionality, and a second prototype, which satisfies the full specification of the system. In addition a full UML based description of the system will be created. The prototypes will be tested in five sites: three National Statistics Offices, one university and one commercial oganisation.

Milestones:
Milestone I (month 4): Two deliverables identifying user requirements and the technical goals of the project
Milestone II (month 10): Two deliverables defining the formal specification of units and the protocols for communication
Milestone III (month 16): Results are delivery and evaluation of first prototype
Milestone IV (month 22): Delivery of second prototype
Milestone V (month 28): Evaluation and refinement of second prototype
Milestone VI (end of project): Final report and TIP

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts

Coordinator

THE UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH
Address
Old College, South Bridge
EH8 9YL Edinburgh
United Kingdom

Participants (6)

CENTRAL STATISTICS OFFICE
Ireland
Address
Skehard Road
Cork
DESAN MARKTONDERZOEK B.V.
Netherlands
Address
Raadhuisstraat 46
1001 EG Amsterdam
NATIONAL AND KAPODISTRIAN UNIVERSITY OF ATHENS
Greece
Address
30 Panepistimiou Str.
10679 Athens
OFFICE OF NATIONAL STATISTICS
United Kingdom
Address
1, Drummond Gate
SW1V 2QQ London
STATISTICS FINLAND
Finland
Address
Tyopajakatu 13
00022 Helsinki
UNIVERSITY OF ULSTER
United Kingdom
Address
Cromore Road
BT52 1SA Coleraine