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Nowadays, governments are increasingly taking advantage of Information and Communication Technologies to provide services over the internet (the so-called e-Government applications) to citizens, businesses, employees, and agencies. We argue that e-government services will benefit from being distributed and intelligent, and thus, that they can be modelled as Multi-Agent Systems (MAS). The field of MAS focuses on the design and development of systems composed of autonomous entities which interact within an environment in order to achieve their common or individual goals. Nevertheless, although humans can be seen as autonomous entities, most MAS methodologies and infrastructures do not consider direct human participation. In general, the human role is limited to acting behind the scenes by customising provided agent templates. The resulting agents participate in the system on humans’ behalf. In order to overcome this limitation we propose using 3D Virtual Worlds, which is one of a very few technologies that provides all the necessary means for direct human inclusion inside software systems. 3D Virtual Worlds are 3D graphical environments where humans participate represented as graphical embodied characters (avatars) and can interact there by using simple and intuitive control facilities. We advocate that 3D Virtual Worlds technology can be successfully used for “opening” multiagent systems to humans. This idea is used in Virtual Institutions, which combine Electronic Institutions and 3D Virtual Worlds to engineer applications where participants may be human and software agents. In this chapter we present the prototype v-mWater, a virtual market based on trading Water. It is an e-Government application in the agriculture domain modelled as a Virtual Institution where participants are irrigators and employees of a hydrographic basin. We present the specification of the system, the virtual world generation from this specification and its deployment using the Virtual Institution eXEcution Environment (VIXEE). Finally, we show an example execution of our virtual market in order to illustrate the advantages of our approach.
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- v-mWater: An e-Government Application for Water Rights Agreements
- Springer Netherlands
- Chapter 34