On-line information provider MAID Plc has joined forces with Digital Equipment Corp’s AltaVista Internet Software subsidiary to install its InfoSort data engine in to the AltaVista internet search technology. The two companies believe they will be able to create a fast and very accurate data retrieval engine for business applications on the Net. AltaVista already deals with around 30 million search requests a day. InfoSort is MAID’s proprietary indexing and search system which is said to enable generally unmanageable amounts of information to become more cost effective, focused and relevant. It enables multiple sources to be combined and searched simultaneously, and uses a system that categorizes data to its precise meaning via a thesaurus and proprietary procedures, which differs from AltaVista’s present free text system. Larry Rees, the company’s director of strategy and marketing described the agreement as a very natural fit and says that customers will have access to more accurate data, faster. He says the agreement comes as a result of several months’ discussions between the companies. It is anticipated the joint search engine will be up and running at the end of the year. MAID said the agreement comes as part of its expansion plan following its flotation on Nasdaq last year, which brought with it planned losses after it borrowed $40m to aid its growth (CI No 2875). The London-based company has more than doubled its employees to around 450, opened offices across the world and struck agreements with companies such as Microsoft Corp, IBM Corp and CompuServe Inc. The Alta Vista agreement also includes plans for AltaVista and MAID to develop an Intranet software package that will enable businesses to use the InfoSort technology on an internal corporate network.