In a follow-up to three previous actions plans, the Commission of the European Communities (CEC) at present operates a five-year “Program for the Development of the Specialized Information Market in Europe” (1984–88). This program aims in particular at improving the market conditions for information services to ensure their commercial viability and at developing specialized information products and services that are innovative and unique.
For the practical execution of the program, the CEC has defined a number of priority areas, one of which is factual materials data banks. The central activity of this area, the Materials Data Banks Demonstrator Program, aims at the joint demonstration of a pilot network accessible in all member countries of the European Community (EC) linking a number of European on-line data banks. A central user guidance system, which is under development, facilitates data-base location, access, and searching, and provides translation support.
The participating data banks are, by their origin, heterogeneous in structure, operational features, and language. The demonstrator program therefore is accompanied by harmonization efforts that address operational, linguistic, and terminology issues of the system. The progress of these supporting projects is of particular relevance to the present international activities on standardization for materials data systems.
A code of practice harmonizing the operational features of data bases joining the demonstrator program has been developed and come into force. A multilingual terminology project collects terms and definitions used by the cooperating data bases to establish a multilingual dictionary covering an estimated 2000 concepts. These activities refer to existing international standards wherever possible and foster exchange and harmonization with similar activities organized in other parts of the world.