SwissCast - An Information Casting System for Switzerland

Funding: Swiss National Science Foundation

Project Leader: prof. Maurizio Decina, Politecnico of Milan, Italy.

Period: 3 years: 1 October 1997 - 30 September 2000


Until today, the Internet communication metaphor for information access has mainly been that of browsing, i.e. that of Information Providers offering on the WWW some kind of information, formatted according to their own criteria, and that of a user searching actively for the information he needs. This communication concept, around which the World Wide Web is built, was functional to a usage of the Internet restricted to a relatively small community, essentially the academic one, whose information needs, pertaining contents and information format, were well known to the information providers. Thus, the limits of the concept of browsing are becoming more and more apparent: firstly, the search for information becomes increasingly inefficient, a problem that frustrates the users and leads to bottlenecks in the network; secondly, content and structure of the retrieved information correspond less and less to the needs of the specific user, precisely because information providers don't have in mind user’s needs at the moment of selecting and formatting the information itself.


The goal of the SwissCast project is to build a prototype of a communication service based on the Internet infrastructure and services, capable of retrieving and submitting selected information for a group of users, and to study through the practical exercise of this prototype some main issues about communication and information retrieval on Internet. The SwissCast system will be built on the model of the American Pointcast service, that is a service that retrieves information from Information Providers, selects it and casts it through a series of channels and finally, broadcasts it to the users via Internet; the can select the information according to its specifics interests by sending a user profile to the system’s administrator.

My contribution

I was the main developer of the software platform  that we called "SwissCast". It is a server-side application written in Perl language and uses MySQL as back end database. This platform is currently used by our local University Research Office to deliver customized information on research projects, grants, news, etc.
As of September 2001, I and other colleagues started a new company: Telos Internet Solutions which intention is to commercialize SwissCast software licenses. 

Publications (see publications page for pdf files)

J1 Benedetto Lepori, Lorenzo Cantoni, Riccardo Mazza. The history and practice of push communication: some critical reflections. SCOMS- Studies in Communication Sciences. Vol. 2 Num. 1 Jan 2001. ISSN 1424-4896
R1 Maurizio Decina, Lorenzo Cantoni, Benedetto Lepori, Riccardo Mazza, Paolo Jannuzzi. The SwissCast information push service, a multidisciplinary research, a multifaceted experience. In: ACM SIGIR'99 Workshop on Customised Information Delivery. August 19, 1999 - Berkeley, California
TR4 B. Lepori, L. Cantoni, P. Jannuzzi, R. Mazza, S. Tardini. L'applicazione SwissCast nel campo della ricerca scientifica, SwissCast Project, Università della Svizzera Italiana, Aprile 2000 (technical report)
TR3 L. Cantoni, P. Jannuzzi, B. Lepori, R. Mazza. Delivering Relevant Information to Interested Users, Internal scientific report, Università della Svizzera Italiana, June 1999. (technical report)
TR2 L. Cantoni, N. Dal Degan, B. Lepori, R. Mazza, F.  Scaroni. Push on the Net: between Market & Technology, SwissCast Project, Università della Svizzera Italiana, June 1998. (technical report)

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