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Downscaling Entity Registries for Poorly-Connected Environments

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Emerging online applications based on the Web of Objects or Linked Open Data typically assume that connectivity to data repositories and entity resolution services are always available. This may not be a valid assumption in many cases. Indeed, there are about 4.5 billion people in the world who have no or limited Internet access. Many data-driven applications may have a critical impact on the life of those people, but are inaccessible to those populations due to the architecture of today’s data registries.

Examples of data registries include the domain name registries. These are databases containing registered Internet domain names. They are necessary for all Web users wishing to visit a website knowing its URL (e.g. http://semweb4u.wordpress.com) rather than its IP address (e.g. http://76.74.254.120). Another example of data registry is the Digital Object Architecture (DOA) which assigns unique identifiers to digital objects (e.g. scientific publications).

Registries are critical components of today’s Internet architecture. They are widely used in every-day Web activities but their usage is severely impaired in poorly connected or ad-hoc environments. In this context, centralized data management – as typically used by current data registries – is of limited practicability, if only possible in the first place. There is a need for hybrid models mixing decentralized and hierarchical infrastructures to support data-driven application in environments with limited Internet connectivity.

Philippe Cudré-Mauroux and myself, received a $200,000 research grant from VeriSign Inc. (PDF version) to investigate such novel approaches for data registries. During this 12 months project, we will develop decentralized solutions to the problems of entity publication, search, de-duplication, storage and caching. A running prototype will be tested on the XO laptop, a laptop used by young learners in developing countries – most often in a mesh context with limited Internet connectivity.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us to ask for information about this project, we’d be happy to talk more about our plans :-)

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