IT Support for Distributed Cooperative Work


EUROCOOP - 5303

Keywords distributed working, collaborative working, computer-supported collaborative work, project management support systems, civil engineering


Start Date: 01-JAN-91 / Duration: 24 months

[ contact / participants ]


Objectives and Approach

The EUROCOOP project aimed to develop powerful and effective systems for supporting distributed collaborative work. The approach adopted was to integrate components from a number of existing systems and to develop new collaborative tools based on the study of a large-scale technical application that encompasses many collaboration problems. Single components tools were developed that can be integrated with existing tools and that are able to interoperate with each other.

An increasing number of people are involved in projects that are distributed within or even between organisations, so that people often collaborate with others in different physical locations. EUROCOOP aimed to provide integrated computer tools and services to support such spatially distributed groups, with a particular focus on project management issues.

Project management is a difficult task in the best of circumstances. It becomes even more complicated if a geographically distributed group of people is involved. The EUROCOOP project paid particular attention to some of these problems.

Results

A task-monitoring system was developed which enables people to keep track of the status and results of ongoing collaborative activities. It provides support for asynchronous group work. It notifies those involved of deadlines and expected actions, alerts users in case of emerging difficulties, and enables them to delegate tasks to others.

Synchronous document preparation by a distributed group of people is important in many collaborative projects. A prototype of a synchronous shared window conferencing tool was developed. This especially supports the co-design of documents.

Information must be shared as required between members of a distributed work group. Such information will be of many different forms, and must be linked in many different ways. A distributed hypermedia provides support for the design of documents containing a broad range of different materials, including the ability to specify links between and within these documents. These links, i.e. the hypermedia structure, are stored in a distributed object-oriented database.

A user-centred approach has been taken in the design and development of these tools. The application area is the project management of the construction of a combined bridge and tunnel over the Great Belt in Denmark, a nearly 4 billion ECU project extending over 10 years, which is exemplary in terms of collaboration in large-scale technical projects. EUROCOOP prototypes and have been evaluated both at Great Belt A/S and by other potential users to identify generic user requirements common to a wider range of contexts. The results of these evaluations are being fed into further development work.

The EUROCOOP participants intend to exploit the results in the markets for mobile and business systems, and for workstations. The approach is to provide several tools that can be integrated with existing systems, and to extend existing tools to include CSCW (computer-supported cooperative work) functionality. In this way CSCW systems can be introduced gradually, overcoming the usual problems associated with their introduction.


CONTACT POINT

Mr Morten King
Computer Science Department
Ny Munkegade
Aarhus University
DK - 8000 AARHUS C
tel: + 45/ 8942.3188
fax: + 45/8942.3255

Participants

TRIUMPH-ADLER AG - D - C
BNR EUROPE LTD - UK - P
AARHUS UNIVERSITET - DK - P
EMPIRICA GMBH - D - A
X-TEL SERVICES LTD - UK - A
STOREBÆLTSFORBINDELSEN GREAT
BELT A/S - DK - A
JYDSK TELEFON (JTAS) - DK - A
GMD - D - A


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EUROCOOP - 5303, December 1993


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html version of synopsis by Nick Cook