For the OpenWebSearch.EU project CSC – IT center for science in Finland (also known as the Finnish Computing Center for Science) has joined forces with 13 other renowned European research centers to create an open European research infrastructure on the Internet. The aim of the project is to contribute to Europe’s digital sovereignty and to support an open and human-centered search engine market. The European Commission has just approved the financing of the Horizon Europe project in the amount of 8.5 million euros.
As a reminder, the Finnish Computing Center for Science provides computing support and modeling, computing and information services to universities, research institutes and companies in Finland. It is owned by the Finnish state and Finnish universities, managed by the Ministry of Education and Culture and operates on a non-profit basis.
Free, open and unbiased access to information – we have lost these basic principles of web search and urgently need to restore them. This is why we will create an open European internet search infrastructure, based on European values and jurisdiction, said Michael Granitzer of the University of Passau and the Open Search Foundation, coordinator of the OpenWebSearch.EU project.
Over the next three years, researchers will develop a core European Open Web Index (OWI) as a foundation for new Internet research in Europe. In addition, the project will lay the foundations for an open and extensible European Web Search and Analytics Infrastructure (OWSAI), based on European values, principles, legislation and standards.
Three areas will be central to CSC’s contribution to this project; infrastructure for developing and storing an open web index, natural language models and knowledge graphs, as well as an open web search ecosystem and sustainability. It will be a long-term commitment from our side with great potential to provide new services, especially based on web indexes created from Finnish and Swedish content,” said Hanna-Mari Puuska, director of CSC.
The project was created due to concerns about the imbalance in the search engine market. Despite being the backbone of our digital economy, web search is controlled and restricted by a few administrators such as Google, Microsoft, Baidu or Yandex. Information as a public good with free, impartial and transparent access is no longer under public control. This imbalance threatens democracy and limits the innovative potential of European research and the economy.
The role of the World Wide Web as an infrastructure for research and society as a whole cannot be underestimated. But it takes a huge effort to collect and organize data from the web so that it can be used for information retrieval or as a data source for research, explains CSC director Perster. Actual research is dominated by a few companies with primarily commercial interests. So what they offer us will always be a compromise between maximizing their ad sales and general utility. So can we as users trust that research results are unbiased and comprehensive? With this project, we will demonstrate and test the infrastructure and technologies needed to serve society with open web indexes on which public and commercial services can be built.
The OpenWebSearch.EU multidisciplinary consortium of 14 European partners believes that an open web search infrastructure will not only contribute to Europe’s sovereignty in web browsing and search: it will benefit all of us as citizens. Depending on your own preferences, we will finally have a real choice when choosing search engines again.
OpenWebSearch.EU is the first EU-funded project to deliver tomorrow’s web search. It started in September 2022. The 14 partner institutions will initially work together over a period of three years. The project received funding in the amount of 8.5 million euros from the European Union program for research and innovation Horizon.
What search engine are you using?
What do you think about this project?
A better way than the Qwant initiative? Totally pointless considering online research habits are ingrained? congratulate and watch carefully what will come of it?
What do you think about the arguments presented justifying the existence of this project?
According to the study, one in five searches on TikTok contain misinformation. Young users have started replacing Google with the search engine TikTok