African research is on the rise, doubling the amount of research in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)-based fields between 2003 and 2012 (Worldbank). While at this point, African researchers produce only 1 percent of the world’s research, the quality of that research is measurably improving. And that’s where the United Nations Economic Commision for Africa (UNECA) is stepping in to help. UNECA launched their Explorit Everywhere! federated search application this month, aiming to improve opportunities for scientific discovery in Africa as part of their ASKIA Initiative:
“The Access to Scientific and Socio-economic Information in Africa (ASKIA) Initiative is under the Public Information & Knowledge Management Division of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. It defines a framework for bringing together scientific and socio-economic information for the African community, including scientists, researchers, academics, students, economists and, policy-makers, over an interactive online portal acting as a one-stop shop to such knowledge and associated information from/on Africa. The overall goal of the initiative is to strengthen knowledge discovery and access by tapping into global scientific and socio-economic knowledge on and from Africa.”
The launch of UNECA’s customized Explorit Everywhere! application offers users a rich digital search experience from any screen, and the ability to search and translate results into four different languages. The next-generation ASKIA portal, based on responsive design, offers an innovative multilingual search experience to African users.
With an estimated 120 million people in Africa speaking French, an additional six African countries speaking Portuguese and English as the dominant
language in scientific research, the ASKIA application offers the ability to search and display results in these three languages, as well as Spanish, with the click of a button even if the sources are in different languages. Results are automatically translated into the language of the source to search, and then translated back to the language of the user when results are returned. Other languages may be considered for future upgrades.
In order to reach the ever-growing group of mobile users in Africa, UNECA’s application was built with responsive design. Using this platform, the application will automatically detect the browser a user is coming from and adapt the display appropriately, loading a mobile friendly version of the application for tablets and smartphones and a desktop page otherwise. With smartphone and tablet growth expected to increase 20-fold in Africa over the next five years, trumping online activities normally performed on laptops or desktop computers, this was an essential update to broaden the reach of the application to users across Africa.
Also included in the new launch is the MyASKIA feature. MyASKIA implements the Explorit Everywhere! MyLibrary feature allowing users to save and tag selected results under their account. At any time users can email, export, print or download their results.
UNECA’s vision is far reaching and they plan on integrating other features in the future to help capture, manage and disseminate local content. Deep Web Technologies is proud to support UNECA with their ASKIA initiative, promoting information dissemination and discovery across Africa.
Explore their search here: http://askia.uneca.org/askia/