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Theme fund: NGI0 Discovery
Start: 2019-10
End: 2022-10
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Verticals + Search

YaCy Grid SaaS

YaCy Grid Search-as-a-Service creates document crawling indexing functionality for everyone. Users of this new platform will be able to create their custom search portal by defining their own document corpus. Such a service is an advantage as a privacy or branding tool, but also allows scientific research and annotation of semantic content. User-group specific domain knowledge can be organized for custom applications such as fueling artificial intelligence analysis. This should be a benefit i.e. for private persons, journalists, scientists and large groups of people in communities like universities and companies. Instances of the portal should be able to self-support themselves financially: there is turn-key infrastructure to handle payments for crawling/indexing amounts as a subscription on a periodical basis while search requests are free for everyone. The portal will consist of free software, and users can download the portal software itself together with the acquired search index data - so everyone can start running a portal for themselves whenever they want.

Why does this actually matter to end users?

Search and discovery are some of the most important and essential use cases of the internet. When you are in school and need to give a presentation or write a paper, when you are looking for a job, trying to promote your business or finding relevant commercial or public services you need, most of the time you will turn to the internet and more importantly the search bar in your browser to find answers. Searching information and making sure your name, company or idea can be discovered is crucial for users, but they actually have little control over this. Search engines decide what results you see, how your website can be discovered and what information is logged about your searches. What filters and algorithms are used is unclear for users. They can only follow the rules laid out for them, instead of deciding on their own what, where and how to find the information they are looking for.

Instead of relying on just a few companies for the incredibly important task of organizing online information, users can also collaborate and organize search and discovery together, providing more control over indexing and ranking, as well as better privacy protection. YaCy is a long-running project where peers index the contents of websites themselves and use decentralized search software that is not managed by a central organization or authority , preventing for example censorship or user tracking.

The peer-to-peer approach to web search not only gives users more control and privacy protection, it can also allow organizations, businesses and individuals to organize their own search portal. This project intends to use the existing indexing and search technology of YaCy to create decentralized, peer-to-peer search as a turnkey service. This can be useful for example for universities who need specific search tools to go through massive caches of scientific research, or companies that want to index and look through specific domain knowledge. This way, anyone can easily customize search how they see fit, all the while protecting user privacy.

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This project was funded through the NGI0 Discovery Fund, a fund established by NLnet with financial support from the European Commission's Next Generation Internet programme, under the aegis of DG Communications Networks, Content and Technology under grant agreement No 825322.