Convera offers Web organization tool

The E-Government Act of 2002 requires agencies to organize Web site information in a directory, and one company is offering a solution intended to make that task easier.

Through the creation of taxonomies, or hierarchical categories, agencies can organize the vast amount of information available. Although most use previously established taxonomies, the information needs to be updated and improved to make it easier to find, said Dale Hazel, senior vice president of marketing for Vienna, Va.-based Convera Corp.

"I think probably many agencies have taxonomies they put together," Hazel said. "Some of the challenges are how to improve them and modify them [in a way] that will allow the end user to be more effective."

Two years after the act goes into effect, agencies are expected to comply with the mandate to have the information efficiently classified, and Convera's Taxonomy Workbench software is designed to help agency officials deal with a process that is usually highly specialized, he said.

"There's a really big need to get information out to people, and the E-Gov Act addresses how that happens," Hazel said. "We find a lot of government agencies have people who do have an understanding of the information science behind this stuff. Our tool makes it easier for them to do their job and work with the people who may have a particular knowledge of the agency."

Taxonomy experts, such as librarians, can partner with agency officials familiar with the business processes to develop the categories, update existing taxonomies and modify the structure. Convera's tool allows users to work with existing categories and deploy them alongside an information retrieval system so internal and external users can access the information. The tool also enables agency officials to measure the efficiency of their organization by measuring the path to retrieving the information. Too many pieces of information or paths to get to it, mean too complicated a taxonomy, Hazel said.

"This allows agencies to automate the measurements around the taxonomies," he said. "We'll measure those things and allow a person like a librarian to engage in an iterative process where they can measure those things and make improvements to them and look at how end users are accessing information."

Convera charges $25,000 to more than $50,000, depending on the task's complexity, Hazel said. He said he has seen interest from civilian, defense and intelligence agencies, but would not name specific customers.

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