D.C. site gears up for questions
- By Matt Caterinicchia
- Jun 28, 2002
Visitors to Washington, D.C.'s government Web site soon will be able to
search it just by asking a simple question.
Jeeves Solutions, the enterprise software division of Ask Jeeves Inc.,
will launch a question-based search engine on the Web site (www.dc.gov) July 15.
The service will be similar to the Ask George search engine on the Washington
state Web site (access.wa.gov). That search engine
is designed to let users ask questions in natural language and get relevant
answers about the government's services and organizations.
Like Ask Jeeves and Ask George, the D.C. search engine eventually will
have a name, and it will ask, "What can we help you find?"
Jeremy Rosenblatt, the chief technology officer for Jeeves Solutions,
said that the natural question-and-answer approach is the way to go. "Our
goal is to get people to their final answer in three clicks or less," he
In a crisis situation, constituents need answers, and they need them
fast, Rosenblatt said. Although call centers can be helpful, they often
are understaffed, and information is not always readily available, he said.
"Self-service avoids hold times as well as providing immediate information
to the user," Rosenblatt said.
Michele Mehl, the senior communications manager for Jeeves Solutions,
said that tourists in the D.C. area will be able to access information on
cultural attractions as well as many other places of interest. Mehl also
provided sample search questions that may be beneficial for residents in
* Where can I find more information on neighborhood schools?
* How can I obtain a federal tax identification number?
In March, the Navy selected Jeeves Solutions to power its Distance Support/Anchor
Desk Web site (www.anchordesk.navy.mil).
By using Ask the Chief, service members can search for answers about such
topics as technical and logistics support, distance learning, chaplain services
and quality-of-life services.
As for the future, Jeeves Solutions is working with several other government
agencies, Rosenblatt said.