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Network Programme

CONTENTS

1. SUMMARY: LONG-TERM TECHNOLOGICAL GOALS

i3, to which i3net will provide a supporting infrastructure, is an Esprit Long-Term Research pro-active initiative. The long-term technological goal which unites the participants in i3net is to develop the necessary building blocks (new models, techniques, technologies, demonstrators and research prototypes) for novel human-centred interfaces for interacting with information, aimed at the broad population. i3 aims at a radical departure from present-day man-machine interface concepts, and does this under the assumption that this can only be done guided by a long-term vision intertwining human, societal and technological factors. The initiative aims to launch research on new forms of interaction that will place the human as an active participant in rather than a passive recipient of information. i3 interfaces have the following characteristics:

  • aimed at the broad population
  • intuitive to use
  • independent of location
  • flexible and interoperable
  • will empower the citizen
To guide the work to be done in the i3 projects to be selected in early 1997, two human-centred visions, or "Schemas", for future interfaces have been selected: the Connected Community and Inhabited Information Spaces.

The Connected Community replaces the conventional human-system interaction view with a new one in which new interfaces act as a mediating influence in human-human interaction. The aim is to focus the interface research specifically around people who make up a local geographic community. The focus lies on a new kind of interaction which is complementary to the individual-global interaction that will be supported by the Internet-like and associated services.

Inhabited Information Spaces is built around the idea of designing and developing large scale information systems in which the individual is seen as an active participant rather than a passive consumer. The design of virtual spaces for action and interaction with information and other people is seen as the key challenge; specific research challenges include: techniques for building and inhabiting spaces, scaleability of large spaces, linking different spaces, relating real and virtual spaces, and designing spaces so that they are easy and enjoyable to participate in.

The long term technological goals of i3 can only be achieved by joint efforts on a European scale. i3net will provide a supporting infrastructure and basic services, and offer mechanisms for communication, collaboration, integration and joint co-ordination of the work to be done by i3 Schemas and projects. The i3 work and its results are of potential interest to a very large European stakeholder audience from education, science, arts and design, and business including the computing and telecommunications industries, contents providers and end-user organisations. i3 has a strong interest in creating and maintaining a high profile vis-à-vis its stakeholders. Those communities will be brought together and linked to i3 by i3net as i3net nodes or through general information dissemination with the aims of promoting the integration of the diverse and highly interdisciplinary communities involved, communicate i3 initiatives, events, progress and results, and channel input into i3. In addition, i3net will liaise with the CEU and relevant EU and national RTD programmes, projects, networks and professional organisations, and explore contacts with research laboratories and organisations abroad, including North America and Japan. Building i3 systems and interfaces requires a massive joint effort by the computer science and engineering communities, the human-computer interaction community, the design and arts communities, academia and industry. These communities are traditionally separated. i3net will provide a platform which bridges the gaps, and which ensures that all parties are offered optimal conditions for fruitful cooperation, both in the short term (through collaboration) and in the long term (through training). Industrial uptake will be pursued through the establishment of two-way communication channels with technology providers and end-user organisations. i3net will create a legal entity which will allow the network to generate income of its own. Finally, i3net will, in line with the EU's current policy, open up towards the East, with the medium term goal to create one single Network in intelligent information interfaces, covering both Western and Central and Eastern Europe.

2. APPROACH

The present network programme is an initial plan which describes in detail the first steps to be taken in establishing i3net and exemplifies subsequent work. The building-up of i3net will be carefully planned and proceed in stages, as follows. Three stages are envisioned. In the first stage, months 1 through 6, i3net will carry out a series of tasks aimed at setting up a basic network infrastructure and preparing for the Call for project proposals. In the second stage, months 7 through 12, i3net will continue the build-up tasks and provide support for the launch of projects in the summer of 1997. In the third stage, months 13 through 36, i3net will act as a supporting infrastructure for i3 projects and actions as well as for the relevant communities outside of i3. The staged approach implies that i3net will re-specify its task agenda at least twice: after project selection, in February 1997, and after project start, in July 1997. This will lead to an evolving, increasingly specific network programme based on participation of the projects and capable of supporting the i3 projects as they are within an already established overall i3net infrastructure. i3net will be free to launch additional tasks and initiatives as and when needed to enhance the likelihood of success of i3 as a whole.

At this point, i3net's planned tasks are of the following types:

  • Network building and maintenance tasks.
  • Information dissemination and collection tasks.
  • Research support tasks.
  • Technology transformation tasks.
  • Training tasks.
  • Non-profit organisation.
The planned tasks are specified in Section 3. It is conceivable that more task types may be decided upon by or after the planned re-specifications of i3net's task agenda, including the creation of Task Groups focusing on issues specific to each schema.

3. WORK PLAN

The specific tasks which are already planned for i3net are described in this section under the headings of the six task types introduced in Section 2. A short description is provided of each task including information on when the task will begin, produce milestone results and, in some cases, end. Most tasks, whenever initiated, are expected to run through the lifetime of i3net. Following the description of the tasks belonging to each task type, examples are provided of possible tasks and i3net roles that may be added as i3 and i3net are progressively being built up. For ease of reference, each task is uniquely defined through a task type number and a task number. New tasks, task types and revisions of existing tasks will be expressed in terms of tasks and task types throughout the lifetime of i3net. Note that some of the tasks are packages of sub-tasks. A quantification of effort in Kecus can be found in Section 7. While reflecting our best judgement at this time, the quantification of effort obviously involves a considerable amount of non-quantifiable judgement at this point.

The time span of the present network programme is 3 years. A thorough review of goals and accomplishments should take place after the second year, in order to provide a starting-point for possible follow-up activities.

For each of the task types we plan the following actions and milestones, to be reached at the time specified.

3.1 Network building and maintenance

Task 3.1.1 Building and running the Network

A basic infrastructure will be set up and maintained to link and keep the i3 communities together, support projects and offer opportunities for joint activities. In addition to the specific infrastructural efforts described in the tasks below, the basic infrastructure includes the communication needed for network coordination which will consume a large part of the Co-ordinator's time, administrative support, and Co-ordinating Group meetings (Section 5.2) throughout the lifetime of i3net. In general, as part of its support to projects and actions, i3net will consider making use of external expertise, such as PR/advertising consultants for specific market areas associated with i3, press agencies that will advice on press releases, technical graphics agencies, television and radio broadcasting companies and individual programme makers, and independent market strategists.

Task 3.1.2 Eastern and Central Europe

i3net will address the interests of the Eastern and Central European countries as follows. In the second year, we will start extending i3net towards the East. In line with the EC's current policy, all initiatives in this area will be aimed at eventually constructing a single network, covering all of Europe. Membership of i3net task groups and other bodies (Section 5.2) will be open to Eastern and Central European nodes. In parallel with the extension of i3net towards the East, a survey of i3-relevant organisations in Eastern and Central Europe will be drawn up. The survey is expected to attract considerable interest from industry. The survey will be maintained, updated and extended, in close collaboration with other projects oriented towards Eastern and Central Europe.

Possible network building and maintenance activities include: (a) The building of relationships between i3net and organisations outside Europe.

3.2 Information dissemination and collection

Task 3.2.1 i3 Call preparation

i3net is in the process of forming an i3 Call Communications Group (CCG). The CCG will involve a professional advertising and communications agency to publicise the call. It will also create an i3 visual identity. The CCG will organise Call events in collaboration with professional conference organisers. These events will enable SMEs and other parties to meet potential members. The CCG will disband itself after project selection in early 1997.

Task 3.2.2 Information dissemination

i3net's basic communication structures will be put in place during the first 12 months. Main ingredients will be:

  • the electronic mailing list i3List for i3 external and internal communication use. This information includes job advertisements, conference announcements, CVs of students looking for jobs, pointers to i3net sites active in specific research or product development areas, messages, discussion and requests in both directions;
  • the electronic mailing list i3Forum for i3 internal use as a discussion forum. Electronic forums may be added as required;
  • an i3 World Wide Web server whose pages should attract a large number of electronic visitors. As i3 progresses, it may be considered to enhance the i3 WWW facility with intelligent information interface properties developed by i3 projects or otherwise;
  • an experimental version of the newsletter i3News;
  • an experimental version of an information archive/server for the community; and
  • a video conferencing facility.
In the 2nd year, i3net will initiate an on-line seminar series using Mbone facilities.

Task 3.2.3 Information collection

In the 1st year, i3net will initiate a stock-taking exercise of who is doing what in the field of i3 in Western Europe. The survey is expected to attract considerable interest from industry.

Possible information dissemination and collection activities include: (a) Initiatives in collection and dissemination of research and development resources for intelligent information interfaces using i3net's information server. (b) Standards surveys. (e) The setting up of Information Dissemination and Collection Task Groups as needed.

3.3 Support for collaborative research

i3net's role is not to co-ordinate the research carried out by i3 projects. These projects have their own research agendas. Yet i3net, as a community that will come to include the majority of relevant European actors in the field of intelligent information interfaces R&D, is in a unique position to contribute to Europe-wide research co-ordination in an indirect way, by providing an infrastructure for research which is aimed at convergence, integration and complementarity. In addition, i3net may provide a range of useful services to i3 projects.

Task 3.3.1 Annual conference

The annual i3 conference, the first of which will be the projects "kick-off" event towards the end of year 1, will include thematic events on topical issues in intelligent information interfaces which can influence the execution of specific projects, such as "wireless communication" or "film making techniques for advanced prototypes". i3net will form a group for organising the kick-off event for i3 projects in June 1997.

Task 3.3.2 Workshops

Starting in year 2, i3net will support and endorse the organisation of topical research workshops with academic and industrial participants as required by projects. Some of these may be organised as special sessions at conferences, contributing to the establishment of a high profile internationally for i3 as a whole.

Task 3.3.3 Consultancy

Starting in year 2, i3net will organise the timely provision of external expert consultancy to projects as and when required.

Task 3.3.4 Project milestones

Support mechanisms and facilities will be provided for milestone events on request from projects.

Task 3.3.5 Results packaging

i3net may help packaging and targeting the results of i3 projects for a range of audiences including, e.g., city councils interested in urban regeneration, design associations, entertainment providers, civic and non-governmental organisations, university planners or standards committees.

Possible support for collaborative research activities include: (a) Investigation into a long-term research strategy in intelligent information interfaces and approaches for its realisation. This could be a useful step for i3 towards establishing itself as a world-class actor in its field. (b) Like other Networks of Excellence, i3net might consider initiating project proposals in relevant areas. (c) Results emerging from basic and applied i3 research are currently difficult to combine or compare. As the i3 work unfolds, i3net might be called upon to organise i3-wide exercises in absolute and comparative evaluation of commercial and research prototypes, their components and related tools. Facilities for comparative evaluation will help researchers and industrialists in identifying the most promising R&D directions. (d) Again, as the i3 work unfolds, i3net might have a role in the definition of models for i3 resources, common interfaces and representations. (e) Managing possible common i3 research facilities and/or supporting links to the research and development facilities of interested companies who are not directly involved in i3 projects. (f) The setting up of a Research Task Group as and when needed. One of the roles of this group would be to encourage PhD students and academic and industrial researchers working in HCI, systems development and related areas to initiate projects with i3 paradigms and concepts as part of their work. The Research Task Group may organise, e.g., workshops for researchers, organise a brokering service for researcher exchange across projects, and organise i3 events at relevant conferences.

3.4 Technology transformation

At the business end of i3, the work to be done addresses software developers, manufacturers, telecoms, investors, design studios and other agencies involved in development, manufacturing and distribution of information products and services. i3net will have an important role in promoting the transformations of the developed technologies into marketable products. Conversely, industrial needs should have an impact on the academic research agendas and i3net can help channelling those needs into i3.

Task 3.4.1 Paradigm and concept promotion

From an experimental start in year 1, i3net will promote the incorporation of i3 paradigms and concepts into industrial products and services, working with, e.g., innovation centres, design associations or software publishers associations to attract industrial interest and follow-up investment in projects.

Task 3.4.2 Industrial input

Starting in year 2, i3net will establish mechanisms that will help ensuring that researchers in academia are kept up to date about the priorities of market-oriented development, for instance by organising consultations with influential user and provider representatives and organising specific events targeted at high-level industrial policy makers.

Possible technology transformation activities include: (a) surveys of global market opportunities. (b) Intellectual property rights issues survey. (c) Initiatives in the fields of standards and descriptive guidelines based on consolidated i3 results and in close interaction with national and European institutions. (d) Supportive actions for the establishment of new professions, such as interaction design. (e) Creation of a modest brokerage facility for member search. (f) The setting up of a Business Task Group as and when needed.

3.5 Training

It is essential that a pool of researchers with the necessary skills exists in Europe for the area identified by i3. These human resources can be considered to be an important output of the i3 initiative. The innovative and interdisciplinary nature of the i3 Schemas may also place unique demands on the skill sets of future research personnel. As one example, the challenges of deriving general requirements for technologies on the basis of creative artistic experiments with new media are likely to require researchers to become skilled in domains outside of traditional disciplinary boundaries. i3net will help establish and grow these skills as needed. through, i.a. providing tutorials in particular technical areas and the setting up of master classes held by established researchers.

Task 3.5.1 Training needs

Starting in the second half of year 1, i3net will investigate the needs for training in i3 relevant subjects and take appropriate action to meet those needs, addressing university departments, art and design schools etc. who run graduate or undergraduate courses in HCI, interactive media or smart products.

Task 3.5.2 Educator workshops

Starting in year 2, i3net will bring together educators in a series of workshops to incorporate the i3 paradigms and concepts into their curriculum or student projects.

Task 3.5.3 Summer schools

Starting in year 2, i3net will organise an annual European Summer School, dedicated each year to a different topic in the area of intelligent information interfaces and attracting a mixed audience from academia and industry.

Possible training activities include: (a) The organisation of European student projects and competitions. (b) WWW book production. Since the topics of the summer schools and workshops are intended to be relevant for a wide audience, course material and workshop results might be published in the form of books when needed. (c) In the field of academic training, i3net may consider developing common M.Sc. curricula components on a European scale. (d) In order to ensure that industry and users are kept informed of the most recent developments and best practice in the field, i3net may consider organising a series of bullet courses for industry, on specialised topics, with prominent teachers from the research field. Special publicity for these 2-5 days courses could be made amongst SMEs, who are not normally in a position to maintain a research division with sufficient capacity to keep up with the latest developments. (e) Organise the creation of WWW courseware. (f) Manage exchanges of personnel between i3net industrial, end-user and academic nodes. (g) The setting up of a Training Task Group as and when needed.

3.6 i3 Foundation

Task 3.6.1 Non-profit organisation

In the 1st year, i3net expects to establish a legal entity in the form of a non-profit organisation, the i3 Foundation, that can start generating income for i3 with a view to eventually becoming self-supporting. As soon as i3net has established the i3 Foundation, it will become possible to play an active role as a full project partner in future projects emerging from the i3net community, with special responsibility for the dissemination of knowledge and expertise generated by these projects. i3net's existing infrastructure will offer an excellent starting point for such activities.

4. NODES

The initial nodes of i3net are:

Centre for Cognitive Science, Roskilde University and The Danish Computing Centre for Research and Education (UNI-C), Denmark (Coordinator)

Computer Science, University of Nottingham, UK

Computing Department, Lancaster University, UK

Corporate Design Department, Philips International, Eindhoven, the Netherlands

The Research Centre, Domus Academy, Milano, Italy

Forschungszentrum Informationstechnik, Gesellschaft für Mathematik und Datenverarbeitung, Sankt Augustin, Germany

Laboratoire d'Informatique pour la Mécanique et les Sciences de l'Ingénieur (LIMSI/CNRS), Paris, France

Laboratory of Image Analysis, Aalborg University, Denmark

Meru Research, Delft, the Netherlands

Numerical Analysis and Computing Science, Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan, Stockholm, Sweden

Psychology Department, Victoria University of Manchester, UK

Swedish Institute of Computer Science, Stockholm, Sweden

Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie, Karlsruhe, Germany

5. MANAGEMENT AND ORGANISATION

5.1 Overview

i3net is made up of:

  • the Co-ordinating Node;
  • the i3net Co-ordinating Group (i3net CG) which is the main decision-making body of the network;
  • Partner Nodes, i.e. those working on i3 projects, including their sub-contractors;
  • a growing number of industrial, end-user and academic Associate Nodes, i.e. nodes not directly involved in carrying out the i3 research;
  • Links with the EU Commission will be maintained through its representative in the Co-ordinating Group.
General administration of i3net is being carried out at the Co-ordinating Node (CCS, Roskilde University and UNI-C).

5.2 i3 Net Co-ordinating Group

The i3net Co-ordinating Group (i3net CG) is the main decision-making body of i3net. i3net CG currently consists of CCS, Roskilde University and UNI-C (Coordinator), a representative of C2, i.e. the proposers of the Connected Community schema, a representative of INSCAPE, i.e the proposers of the Inhabited Information Spaces schema, and a representative of the i3net proposers, to be referred to as members. When the schema projects have been launched by mid-1997, the i3net CG will be extended to ensure that the i3net CG and its bodies and mechanisms can be jointly seen as representative of Schemas, projects and i3net associate nodes.

The i3net Coordinator is ex officio member of the i3net CG, and acts as chairperson. Representatives of DGIII (LTR division) are invited to attend all i3net CG meetings. In addition, the i3net CG may invite individuals with relevant expertise to attend particular meetings. Proposals for new tasks and for standing or ad hoc committees with specific remits, such as Task Groups or Special Interest Groups, can be made by all partner nodes whether or not solicited by the i3net CG.

i3net CG meetings may be held in person or as videoconferences. Only the members of the Co-ordinating Group have voting rights, and the chairperson has a casting vote. The Group will be regarded as quorate if three fourths of the Group's members are present. There will be a minimum of three Co-ordinating Group meetings annually. The chairperson will be responsible for calling an extraordinary meeting of the Group if requested to do so in writing (including electronic mail) by a member.

The i3net CG will:

  • be responsible for i3net as a whole;
  • monitor the execution of planned i3net tasks;
  • approve new tasks to be undertaken by i3net;
  • approve the creation of Task Groups, Special Interest Groups and other mechanisms;
  • decide on Associate Node membership.
5.3 Admission procedures

Partner Nodes:

The i3net Partner Nodes are the initial nodes and the organisations that are partners in and sub-contractors to i3 projects.

Associate Nodes:

i3net membership will be open for organisations that wish to join as Associate Nodes. The services offered to Associate Nodes by i3net will be defined by the i3net CG. Decisions on the addition of new Associate Nodes as well as on appropriate admission criteria are taken by the i3net CG.

5.4 The i3net Foundation

For reasons of continuity, visibility and expediency, i3net will consider establishing a Foundation which will serve as an instrument for the i3net CG in cases where it is desirable for i3net to present itself as a legal entity. It should bring i3net into a position in which it can enter into agreements, hold property rights, open bank accounts, etc., just like any other legal entity.

5.5 Task Groups

As mentioned in Section 3 it may be appropriate to establish one or more Task Groups (TGs). TGs carry out activities of programme-wide importance. Each TG has a Convenor approved by the i3net CG and TGs report to the i3net CG. TGs typically have a small kernel (typically 3 members) for continuous activities, and are temporarily extended for specific tasks (e.g. workshops, courses, events). TG members mainly consist of Partner Nodes but may call upon expertise from elsewhere as required. Each TG will be responsible for a Work Package, consisting of a number of tasks as described in Section 3.

Task allocation takes the form of a quadruple: (i) a specification of the work to be carried out, (ii) a named individual who is responsible for the execution of the task, (iii) a deadline by which the task has to be completed, and (iv) a budget.

5.6 Special Interest Groups

The i3net CG may approve Special Interest Groups (SIGs) at any time across i3net in order to accommodate topic-oriented cooperation activities. SIGs focus on topics of importance across Schemas, projects and the Network. Each SIG has a convenor approved by the i3net CG. SIGs are expected to mainly consist of Partner Nodes and have Partner Nodes as their targets but membership is open to any individual from i3net or other networks collaborating in the SIG. SIGs can apply for financial support for specific activities falling within the scope of i3net's objectives.

6. RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHER PROJECTS

An important task for i3net will be to establish links with other EU, national and international projects, programmes and networks. With respect to EU programmes and projects, it is acknowledged at this point that results from i3 projects could feed into the downstream programmes of Esprit or ACTS, in the further development of such research. In addition the models, techniques and insights gained from i3 projects could provide input for future Telematics projects that might integrate, test and deploy applications in the user context. i3net may consider seeking additional support for initiatives directed towards Eastern Europe and the rest of the world through appropriate EU programmes, such as Copernicus and INCO.

7. RESOURCES REQUIRED

Given the need for a staged build-up of i3net in response to the selection, launch and actual operation of i3 projects (Sections 2 and 3), the following budget represents our best estimate at the present time.

i3net budget in KECU for 3 years (total 1 MECU)

Year 1
Year 2
Year 3
Network building and maintenance (A) 9595 95
Information dissemination and collection (B) 10065 65
Research support 1550 50
Technology transformation 1050 50
Training10 4040
Foundation10 00
i3net CG Nodes 6050 50
Totals300 350350

A: Breakdown of costs per yearB: Breakdown of costs per year
Labour (CCS) 70Labour (CCS) 40
Travel 15Equipment 35 (only year 1)
Other costs 10Travel 10
Other costs 15

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