News release

Joint venture to shape the future of the Web

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19 November 2012

SoFWIRed launched

University of Southampton in the UK and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft in Germany come together to launch SoFWIRed, a new collaborative venture in Web and Internet Science

Two of the world’s leading institutions at the forefront of Web and Internet Science have announced a major collaborative project, which will help shape the future of the World Wide Web and associated smart services and technologies.

Researchers from the University of Southampton and Germany’s Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft will set the agenda of the digital age for decades through a series of activities that will lead to the development of comprehensive, interoperable platforms for data and knowledge-driven processing of open data. The project will also investigate aspects of collective intelligence through social collaboration and crowd sourcing, dynamic web objects and internet services.

One of the principal aims of the collaboration will be to develop the concept of a ‘Web Observatory’ to enable researchers to share data about how the Web and society evolve over time, analyse how it impacts on business activity and develop mechanisms and tools to enable further interpretation and analysis.

The project will be headed by Southampton’s Dean of Physical and Applied Sciences, Professor Dame Wendy Hall and Professor Nigel Shadbolt from University of Southampton and the two ITC Fraunhofer Institutes for Intelligent Analysis and Information Systems IAIS (Sankt Augustin) and for Open Communication Systems FOKUS (Berlin).

Southampton is renowned for making the breakthrough in developing the low-loss optical fibres which now ‘drive’ the internet and continues to lead applied research into the power of the information that the Web holds and the ways it continues to transform our lives.

Fraunhofer is Europe’s largest application oriented research organisation whose research has formed the basis of a wide range of technologies for industry and products in everyday use, such as the MP3 player and apps for mobile phones.

“The World Wide Web has had profound effects on society with each emerging wave creating both new challenges and new opportunities available to wider sectors of the population than ever before,” says Professor Dame Wendy Hall. “Working in unison, the University of Southampton and Fraunhofer are perfectly poised to make the breakthroughs that will produce the enabling technologies of the future as well as our understanding of how best to exploit these technologies for the benefit of all in society.”

Professor Dr. Ulrich Buller, Senior Vice President Research Planning of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and Director of Fraunhofer UK Research Limited, says: “It is foreseen that the cooperation between University of Southampton as the world leading institution in the field of web and internet research and the two Fraunhofer-Institutes IAIS and FOKUS as extensive experts in development of intelligent information and communication systems would open new dimensions in the area of ICT at large.”

Ends

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft

Web Science, University of Southampton

Optoelectronics Research Centre, University of Southampton