Innovative cloud network to simplify travel planning
An EU-funded project aims to boost the competitiveness of Europe's travel industry by developing a cutting-edge cloud services platform capable of pulling together data from millions of service providers. The platform would allow travellers to access more diverse and flexible travel services faster and more securely than is currently possible - simplifying journey planning.
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The BONVOYAGE project is developing a platform to exploit an information-centric network (ICN), a cutting-edge conception of how the Internet could operate more efficiently. The aim is to deliver information faster to travellers than is possible on current online travel platforms, better protect content and user privacy, and gather real-time data from many more travel providers.
The current Internet model is based on the Internet Protocol and provides users with communication channels between hosts. With ICN, all information, an image for example, is given a name, which does not include references to its location. Users’ requests for specific content are routed toward the ‘closest’ copy of such information, which could be stored in a server, in a cache contained in a network node or even on another user’s device. Taking routing decisions based on the information name could help to meet ever-growing demand for content, services and applications, believe BONVOYAGE researchers.
Information delivered faster to users
In this concept, the network infrastructure caches content at servers closer to users, making it available to them faster. It also naturally supports mobility and multicast communications and eases the operation of fragmented networks, or sets of devices disconnected from the rest of the network.
Also, ICN secures the content itself, instead of securing the communication channels, allowing for more flexible protection of content and user privacy. It is important to stress that all such functionality is executed by the network itself, at the network layer, and not by applications running on end-hosts.
BONVOYAGE’s services would be based on an evolution of ICN known as ‘Internames’, and would use an indexing system to label and retrieve information without tying the data to a particular host or server located in the network. This naming system identifies all elements involved in network communication, including content, services, users and devices.
Better protection for content and user privacy
The open-source BONVOYAGE platform would allow travel services to more easily interoperate with each other, share and interlink data. This allows transport providers to keep their data in their premises, with their specific formats and interfaces, rather than having to transfer data to a third, centralised party or to comply with specific formats, says project coordinator Nicola Blefari Melazzi of the Consorzio Nazionale Interuniversitario per le Telecomunicazioni in Italy.
“Internames provides a highly efficient network communication and processing system, and interoperability with existing and future networking systems,” adds Blefari Melazzi. “It addresses one of the main problem of intelligent transport systems nowadays – how to collect transport information not only from big airlines and train operators but also from all the millions of small providers.”
The project’s open source solution would enable transport providers to publish their data, and application developers and even single travellers to search for and fetch the data. It would integrate the travel information from different providers by automatically analysing, indexing and retrieving information from various databases, such as those used by air, road, railway and urban transport providers.
It would also gather and deliver real-time data from many more providers, including traffic reports and weather forecasts, and collect and deliver information from sensors, vehicles, goods and travellers.
“The Internames network anticipates the evolving and highly distributed and mobile nature of data flowing from many data-centres, sensors, vehicles, goods and people on the move,” Blefari Melazzi explains.
For example, a sensor providing traffic information is identified by a name, as is a piece of database content, or particular travellers, trains, buses, cars, bicycles, and planes. A transport service and an itinerary would also be identified by a specific name in the network. The platform would also allow anyone to:
For travellers, the platform would be able to identify the best route and service providers in real time, based on their needs. The platform would also provide travellers with an uninterrupted online connection en route by automatically switching from one access network and internet service provider to the next. They would also be able to get data directly from the transport providers rather than from a third party.
BONVOYAGE plans to trial and demonstrate its services and communication network in large-scale, real life application scenarios. The approach could also be used to establish networks for public and private sector use. For example, it could help EU countries set up a common platform for sharing transport-related data.