|Veröffentlichungsdatum||7. Apr. 2005|
|Eingetragen||30. Sept. 2004|
|Prioritätsdatum||1. Okt. 2003|
|Veröffentlichungsnummer||PCT/2004/291, PCT/NO/2004/000291, PCT/NO/2004/00291, PCT/NO/4/000291, PCT/NO/4/00291, PCT/NO2004/000291, PCT/NO2004/00291, PCT/NO2004000291, PCT/NO200400291, PCT/NO4/000291, PCT/NO4/00291, PCT/NO4000291, PCT/NO400291, WO 2005/032088 A1, WO 2005032088 A1, WO 2005032088A1, WO-A1-2005032088, WO2005/032088A1, WO2005032088 A1, WO2005032088A1|
|Erfinder||Knut Arve Hauknes, Pål WIK|
|Zitat exportieren||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patentzitate (4), Nichtpatentzitate (1), Referenziert von (2), Klassifizierungen (7), Juristische Ereignisse (5)|
|Externe Links: Patentscope, Espacenet|
SUBSCRIBER INFORMATION SYSTEM Field of the invention
The present invention relates in general to the field of telecommunications. More specifically, the invention relates to a method and a system for providing enhanced subscriber information, e.g. in a directory assistance service.
Background of the invention
A Directory Assistance (DA) service is a service supplied by a DA service provider in order to assist a customer who requests information regarding telecommunication subscribers. Subscriber information requested by DA customers typically relates to names of persons or companies, addresses, telephone numbers or facsimile numbers. Most of this information may readily be acquired by the Directory Assistance operator by means of queries to a database containing so-called primary subscriber data. In this context, primary subscriber data should be understood as the minimal set of data concerning the subscriber, which is provided by the telecommunication companies to the DA service. In practice, the extent of the primary subscriber data delivered by the telecommunication companies is governed by law or regulations.
DA customers frequently also request information which may not be directly derivable from the primary subscriber data. In particular, many customers request information regarding the subscriber's use or application of the subscription in question. For instance, information about a business sector associated with the subscriber is not directly derivable from the primary subscriber data.
Consequently, in order to provide an enhanced directory assistance service, there is a need for providing additional subscriber information in a directory assistance service.
Several approaches are previously known in order to provide additional or enhanced subscriber information in a directory assistance service.
According to one presently used approach, the DA service provider regularly supplements the database containing the subscriber data, by acquiring additional information directly from the subscribers. This makes it possible to give proper and rapid responses to DA customers' requests. However, this solution involves extensive resources and high costs. The success of this solution depends on the subscribers' response, and thus the DA will not have any assurance that all relevant amendments to the information are forwarded to the DA service provider. According to another presently used approach, the DA operator manually performs a telephone call or a Web search during the DA session, in order to acquire the requested additional information to the DA customer. This is time consuming and demands extensive personal costs. The quality of the service in this case depends on the ability of the DA operator to perform a correct and reliable search.
US-6 466 910 discloses a method and an apparatus for providing enhanced directory assistance in a communication network. According to this publication, a request for directory information about a listed party is first received from a requester. Then, a test is performed to determine if enhanced directory information about the listed party is available in an enhanced directory information database. If such enhanced directory information is available, it is converted to an audio format and provided to the requester by telephone. The publication does not specify how the database is build, neither does it describe the database's structure.
US-6 466 910 describes a solution for providing additional or enhanced information to a DA customer, on the condition that such information is available to the directory assistance system. However, no method for automatically updating the directory information database is apparently disclosed.
A satisfactory DA service must provide information with a high degree of reliability. Information related to a subscriber and publicly available in a system as e.g. the internet is not necessary provided by the subscriber himself. Such information can contain unintentional and intentional errors. With intentional errors it is referred to incorrect information that intentionally is supplied, to confuse users or cause other damages. There is a clear need for processing such information with regards to reliability before it is included as data in a DA service. On the other hand, some information available for a given subscriber can be of the sensitive type (medical records, security information, etc) and its use in the DA service can result in legal liability. Information related to the subscriber and obtained from a general information source such as the internet must thus be processed to avoid legal liability situations. There is also a possibility that a given subscriber is simply mentioned on the
Internet, and information related to this will not be useful in a DA service. This information must thus not be taken into consideration while creating the enhanced database.
Thus, there is still a need for a method and a system for providing an enhanced directory assistance service. In particular, there is a need for a method and a system for providing an enhanced subscriber information in a directory assistance service. Summary of the invention
According to a first aspect of the present invention, an object is to provide a method and a system for providing enhanced subscriber information, e.g. in a directory assistance service.
A further object is to provide such a method and a system which overcomes the disadvantages of the known solutions.
To achieve these objects, the invention comprises a method for providing enhanced subscriber information comprising the steps of: - acquiring primary subscriber data from a telecommunication data source,
- providing a domain identification based on the primary subscriber data,
- performing a web search based on the subscriber data and the domain data,
- coupling the primary subscriber data and the results of the web search to provide enhanced subscriber information. In a preferred embodiment, the method further comprises the steps of
- processing the enhanced subscriber information according to validating rules, and
- storing the processed enhanced subscriber information in an enhanced subscriber information database.
The invention also comprises a method for performing an enhanced directory assistance service, comprising the steps of receiving a request for information at an interface location, performing a search and delivering a response based on the search results, characterized in that the search is performed within enhanced subscriber information provided by means of the above mentioned method for providing enhanced subscriber information in a directory assistance server. The invention also comprises a computer system for providing enhanced subscriber information, comprising:
- means for acquiring primary subscriber information from a telecommunication data source,
- means for providing domain identification based on the primary subscriber information,
- means for performing a web search based on the primary subscriber information and the domain data, and
- means for coupling the primary subscriber data and the results of the web search to provide enhanced subscriber information. In a preferred embodiment, this system comprises means for processing the enhanced subscriber information according to validating rules, and means for storing the processed enhanced subscriber information in an enhanced subscriber information database.
The invention also comprises a computer system for performing an enhanced directory assistance service, comprising: the above mentioned system for providing enhanced subscriber information in a directory assistance service, and
- an interface for receiving a request for information and delivering a response and means performing a search for enhanced subscriber information based on the request.
The process of creating preliminary subscriber information is performed independently of the invention. This process is triggered when a subscriber orders a phone number from the telecommunication company sending some primary subscriber information. The telecommunication company assigns then a telephone number to a subscriber and stores the primary subscriber information which now contains the added telephone number in a primary subscriber information database. Brief list of drawings
The invention will be described in further detail by reference to the figures, wherein
Fig. 1 is a block diagram illustrating a system according to the invention,
Fig. 2 is a block diagram further illustrating the system according to the invention,
Fig. 3 is a flowchart illustrating the main steps of the method according to the invention,
Fig. 4 is a flowchart further illustrating the process of providing primary subscriber data,
Fig. 5 is a flowchart further illustrating the process of providing a domain identification, Fig. 6 is a flowchart further illustrating the process of performing a web search,
Fig. 7 is a flowchart further illustrating the process of providing enhanced subscriber information.
Fig. 8 is a block diagram illustrating the validation system.
Fig. 9 is a flowchart showing the validation process. Fig. 10 shows use of the system according to the invention to provide enhanced subscriber information. I Detailed description of the invention Fig. 1 is a block diagram illustrating a system according to the invention. The enhanced subscriber information system 100 is connected to a data source (telecommunication data source) 110 which contains basic subscriber information. The telecommunication data source can be regarded as the main input to the system and is the base currently used by DA providers. As mentioned before, one of the objects of the invention is to provide reliable additional infoπnation related to a subscriber. This information is stored in an enhanced information subscriber database 120. According to the invention a record in database 120 will contain most of the information from the corresponding record in database 110 and additional, reliable, non-sensitive information from other sources. In order to obtain the additional information, the system 100 is connected to the internet 140, and via the internet to general web servers 160. As will be explained later, the system 100 will be connected to a domain information web server (e.g. NIC/Whois server) 130 as a part of the quality assurance process performed on the additional information. A connection to a web server at a specific domain 150 is also part of this process.
Fig. 2 is a block diagram further illustrating the system according to the invention.
The enhanced subscriber information system 100 according to the invention comprises a processing unit 200. The system comprises also a memory 210 where the computer program to be performed by processing unit 200 is stored. In memory 210, different program blocks are identified by reference numbers 310, 320, 330, 340, 350. The process steps included in these blocks will be discussed later. The system comprises also a storage unit 220 for a primary subscriber table 222, a domain identification table 224 and a web search result table 226.
In relation to storage unit 220 it is to be mentioned that, depending on the type of contract existing between the telecommunication data company (which administrates telecommunication data source 110) and the company running the enhanced subscriber information system 100, some tables will be permanently stored in a memory in the DA service while in other cases tables will only be stored temporarily. This can be the case for most of the tables in system 100. In the present description a common unit is used for permanent and temporary storage of tables.
System 100 comprises further a display 230 with a corresponding display adapter 250, a user interface device or system 250 with an adapter 260, a network adapter 270 for communication with the internet 140, a communication adapter 280 for communication with telecommunication data source 110 via a device, system or network 170.
System 100 comprises also a communication adapter 290 for outputting the preliminary enhanced infoπnation. This information will be subject to a final validation process before it is stored in an enhanced subscriber information database. Although the validation process is shown as part of the system in figure 100, because it will be necessary for creating the final database, it is not considered as a part of the invention.
A bus 205 connected to the above mentioned devices 200, 210, 220, 240, 260, 270 and 290 is used to transfer information between them. Fig. 3 is a flowchart illustrating the main steps of the method according to the invention.
The method is a computer- implemented process, performed by a processing unit in the enhanced subscriber information system 100, when the processor executes a computer program held in the memory of the enhanced subscriber information system 100.
The method starts at the starting step 300.
First, in step 310, primary subscriber data is acquired from a telecommunication company's data source, e.g. a telecommunication database .110. Details of this process are disclosed below with reference to fig. 4. Next, in step 330, a web domain identification, in particular a domain name, associated with the subscriber in question, is provided. Details of this step are disclosed below with reference to fig. 5.
Next, in step 350, a web search is performed based on the primary subscriber data and the domain identification provided in step 330. Details of this step are disclosed below with reference to fig. 6.
Finally, in step 370, coupling of the primary subscriber data and the result of the web search performed in step 350 is performed to provide enhanced subscriber information. Details of this step are disclosed below with reference to fig. 7.
As a result, enhanced subscriber information is provided, which may further be stored in an enhanced subscriber information database 120 which may be used by the DA operator or by an automatic DA operating service, in order to give a DA customer enhanced subscriber information.
Fig. 4 is a flowchart further illustrating the process of providing primary subscriber data. The process starts at the starting step 310.
In the receiving step 312, the primary subscriber data are received from the telecommunication data source 110 as a batch or as a single data entity, by a push or pull operation. I In a first embodiment, step 312 comprises receiving primary subscriber data by a push operation initiated by the telecommunication data source.
In an alternative embodiment, step 312 comprises the step of submitting of a request to the telecommunication data source, followed by the step of receiving said primary subscriber data as a response to said submitting substep.
In any of the two above embodiments, step 312 may comprise receiving a batch of primary subscriber data or receiving a single entity (record) of primary subscriber data.
Then, in step 314, the primary subscriber data is stored in a primary subscriber table 222. This table, as mentioned before, can be stored permanently or temporarily in a memory in system 100.
Fig. 5 is a flowchart further illustrating the process of providing a domain identification.
The process starts at the starting step 330. First, in step 332, a request is created based on the primary subscriber data provided in step 310.
Next, in step 334, a request is submitted to a domain information web server (e.g. a NIC/Whois-server) 130 on the Internet 140 querying for URL's registered to organization name and/or number (the organization name and/or number being part of the primary subscriber data). The choice of primary subscriber data used for the request will vary in different countries.
Next, in step 336, a response is received from the domain server 130.
Next, in step 338, a domain identification corresponding to the primary subscriber data is extracted from the response. Finally, in step 340, the domain identification is stored in domain identification table 224. Again, as mentioned before, table 224 can be permanently or temporarily stored in a memory in system 100.
As a result of this process, a link is established between the subscriber and one or several domains. Fig. 6 is a flowchart further illustrating the process of perforating a web search.
The process starts at 350.
The process utilizes an existing search engine provided by a web search server 160 on the Internet. The search engine provides a web search limited by domain and other limiting conditions as keywords, distance between keywords, and HTML code / HTML tags defining a table structure.
First, in step 352, a search condition is created, based on the primary subscriber information provided in step 310. In another embodiment, the search condition is limited only by keywords and aliases.
Several criteria can be used to limit the search condition. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the search condition is limited by domain (provided in step 330), distance between words, and table rules. The "domain" limitation will rule out mere reference to the subscriber, intended errors, and sensitive information. The principle behind this is that all information situated at a specific domain will be controlled by the domain's owner, so that no intended incorrect information will be found in this location. Other parties, whishing to harm the domain's owner or confuse the public, will not be allowed to post information here.
The "distance between words" limitation will lead e.g. to functions related to telephone numbers. An example of such a limitation will be: "If Key_word closer than 23 characters from Phone-Number return Key- Word AND Phone_Number".
The "table rules" limitation is based on the fact that cells in a table are related to one another following fixed rules, so that it is possible to assume that information belonging to a certain group of cells will be related to a single object (subscriber). Thus, in cases where the HTML code /HTML tags define a table structure, telephone numbers can be mapped to contact persons, department structures, and e- mail addresses. Another limitation preferably applied to the search condition is a
"security/sensitivity" limitation. This will prevent extraction of sensitive information.
Next, in step 354, the search condition is submitted to the search engine.
Next, in step 356, a response is received from the search engine. Finally, in step 358, the response is stored in a web search result table.
It is possible within the scope of the invention, to combine all or some of the limiting conditions to obtain narrowly focused results. In a preferred embodiment of the invention the search condition is limited by the domain in combination with any other limitation or group of limitations. The aim of using a "domain" limitation is to ensure that the search results belong to a reliable source, and do not contain intended errors. Later in the process a quality control is performed to ensure that the search results do not contain unintended errors.
If the domain limitation is not used, then other limitations must be used to prevent errors. Fig. 7 is a flowchart further illustrating the process of providing enhanced subscriber information.
The process starts at step 370.
First, in step 372, the primary subscriber data provided in step 310 and the web search result obtained in step 350 are coupled to one another by merging. The merging is based on the available, most significant identifiers, such as organization number and/or organization name (primary subscriber data). An example of such a merging follows: "Telephone number 22334455 is registered to org. # 44556677 (organization number), while domain www.firmaet.no is registered to org. # 44556677. If Keyword "ticket service" is the nearest keyword to 22334455 in text at www . firmaet. no , build record: org# 44556677, 22334455, ticket service. Another example is: telephone number + 345 22 33 44 55 is registered to Salim Import, Main Street 123b. Domain www.salim.ta is registered to Salim Import, Main Street 123b. If Keyword "Ticket reservation" is the nearest key word to + 345 22334455 in text in domain www.salim.ta build record : org. name "Salim Import", + 345 22334455, "Ticket Reservation".
As mentioned earlier, in the preferred embodiment of the invention, where domain information is used to limit the search condition, the WEB data will have known origin and are securely related to company name. The data can thus safely be joined with telecommunication records containing the same identifier. If this is not the case a domain identification merging in step 372 is necessary to ensure this.
Next, in step 374, enhanced subscriber information is created, based on the result of the merging step 372. According to a preferred embodiment of the invention this information is validated in a validation system.
Fig. 8 is a block diagram illustrating the validation system. The system comprises a processing unit 400 for processing the enhanced subscriber information provided in step 374 according to validating rules, a memory 420 for storing the validation program, a storage unit 420 for storing the processed enhanced subscriber information in a enhanced subscriber information database 120, and an adapter for communication between database 120 and an interface for receiving a request for information and delivering a response. I Fig. 9 is a flowchart showing the validation process. The process starts at step 390. Next, in step 392 the enhanced subscriber information from step 374 is compared with validation tables, these tables contain e.g. allowed combinations of ZIP codes and addresses, allowed family names, allowed combinations of business names, organisation ID and industry. If the information is valid, that is, if there is a match between information in the validation tables and the enhanced subscriber information, the latter is checked for misspelling and minor errors (step 396) and stored in the enhanced subscriber information database (step 397).
If this is not the case (step 395) the enhanced subscriber information is discarded. In the post process the preliminary enhanced subscriber information is compared with available registers for two equally important purposes: a) To validate if information is correct. If the business owning phone #22334455 is assigned to the automotive industry in tax register, and the apparatus return "22334455; service phone; dental implants" than the record is rejected, as the element "Dental implants" is not found in the "Automotive industry's products& services database" b) To validate if the compiled information has become sensitive. The package is checked against privacy registers. If phone# 22334455 is assigned to "secret phone number", reject package. After post-process a) and b) data is entered into the enhanced DA Database.
In the above mentioned process, the expression "enhanced subscriber information" is used to refer to each single record linked to a subscriber.
Figure 10 shows how the enhanced subscriber information database 120 is to be used. The enhanced information database 120 is available within the enhanced DA service. Queries can be directed to the base, and replies received. The figure shows three possible scenarios for performance of a DA service. In all the illustrated cases, an API interface handles the database's inputs/outputs. In case I, an operator at a Call center receives a request for information from a user via e.g. PSTN, a mobile network, or IP NW. The voice request processed, information is requested end received from the database. In case II, the user has access to the API Layer via a computer (terminal/PC) and the query/reply is transferred via the internet/x.25, etc. In case III, the user communicates with the database via e.g. a cell phone (mobile, PSTN, NW), and the query is sent as an SMS or a voice query. In any case, a typical request from the user will be e.g. "Give me the telefax number of company n ". The reply will be- "The telefax number is +4788888888". The above mentioned cases illustrate some uses of the invention. The database will also be useful in other scenarios.
It will be clear for the skilled person that some processes in system 100 are initiated by events, as e.g. creation of a subscriber (process 310 will be triggered). Other processes (e.g. 350, 370) are loopings based on timers continuously scanning for altered WEB data.
Other organization identifiers may be used as substitutes or supplements to organization name for searching domain information servers (e.g. Whois), and joining WEB data with telecommunication data. Ex in Norway Organization number is a mandatory identifier for registration of URL's in domain ID servers (e.g.Whois) and for telecommunication subscriptions.
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|Internationale Klassifikation||H04M3/493, H04L29/00|
|Unternehmensklassifikation||H04M3/4938, H04L29/00, H04M3/4931|
|Europäische Klassifikation||H04M3/493D, H04L29/00|
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