Data provide the raw materials for research, innovation and business in the 21st century. Open, unbiased and transparent access to information is therefore a basic prerequisite for the free development of a digital society. However, internet searches have become highly monopolised. This has an impact on access to information and knowledge, hinders scientific research and industrial activities, and is detrimental to Europe’s digital sovereignty.
The OpenSearch@DLR project is addressing this area of digital technology, which is strategically important for the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) and for scientific research. It explores concepts for a distributed and open infrastructure for next-generation internet search. The aim is to ensure that the wealth of data on the internet is harnessed more effectively through impartial searching and that data and information are disseminated to provide a basis for free research and innovation.
To this end, DLR is participating in an initiative that involves European science and computing centres working together on research into open search. The basic principles behind this are distributed/federated computing to provide the necessary computing power, open source code for algorithm transparency and public moderation of the organisation and content of the open search infrastructure.
The OpenSearch@DLR project will analyse the open and transparent retrieval of information in science and computing centres and is intended to combine DLR’s activities in relation to the use of structured web databases, (for example, through web crawling and web scraping), and to develop pilot applications in the fields of information retrieval, knowledge management, information evaluation and transparency.
One key element of the Open Search initiative is the networking of existing expertise and computing capacity for internet searching, both within and outside DLR. In the OpenSearch@DLR pilot project, specific needs and potentials for an open internet search infrastructure for science are to be determined across DLR institutes and departments, while the opportunities generated by a sovereign internet search infrastructure in Germany and Europe will be assessed.