Scientists create real-time smart city search engine

Computer scientists at Glasgow university are working on a search engine which aims to give users real-time information about their local area.

The European-funded project, known as SMART – or Search engine for MultimediA Environment geneRated content – will work by using sensors in cities, which will analyse what is happening in the area.

Dr Dr Iadh Ounis at the University of Glasgow’s School of Computing Science, told TechEye that these sensors could include CCTV cameras and microphones.

He said the search engine would differ from anything else out there at the moment because it would offer “real-time information.”

“News results on a search engine are typically delayed at the moment,” Ounis told TechEye.

“What we aim to do is bring users up-to the minute results using our sensors and combine these with social networking sites such as Twitter,” Ounis said.

Dr Craig MacDonald, a researcher at the University of Glasgow added: “Users will be able to see what is nearby to them. For example, if a user is on a road they are familiar with and there aren’t as many cars around, they would be able to type this into the search engine.

“Through our sensors and cameras around that area, plus looking at Twitter, we’d be able to give them a clearer picture as to what event was making the roads so quiet,” he added.

Dr MacDonald said another example would be last week’s Olympic torch appearance in Glasgow. With the new search engine, its analysis would have picked up “loud noise”, “more crowds” and “less cars”, as well as more Tweets, which would have shown this was the event taking place.

The SMART project will be built on an open-source search engine technology known as Terrier, which the university has been developing since 2004, and also builds upon the existing concept of ‘smart cities’.

Theses are physical spaces which are covered in an array of intelligent sensors which communicate with each other and can be searched for information.

SMART, which is a joint research initiative of  nine partners including Atos, Athens Information Technology, IBM’s Haifa Research Lab, Imperial College London, City of Santander, PRISA Digital, Telesto and Consorzio S3 Log, will be tested in a real city by 2014.