Search is dead: Long live 'findability'

NASA among agencies making enterprise searches more dynamic, interactive

In the world of search tools, there’s a new buzz phrase: “findability vs. searchability.”

“Search is broken,” said Bob Carter, vice president and general manager of Vivisimo Inc. of Pittsburgh. “Results are not shared, saved or collected. Search technology doesn’t factor in who I am, what I do, where I am or what I know.”

The search experience should not end with just a list of results, said Carter, speaking May 3 at the 2010 Knowledge Management Conference, held by 1105 Government Information Group. 

At the NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., officials have embraced the virtues of findability. Two years ago, they implemented Google as their internal and external search engine, said Manjula Ambur, branch head for information management.

“Google has enterprise software you can bring inside the firewall,” she told conferees. “It’s been in operation since May 2008 with no major problems.”

The search engine, featuring a simple, easy-to-use interface, gives Langley scientists and engineers the ability to find the technical information they need to do their work and help NASA Langley meet its mission goals, Ambur said. It provides a unified search of disparate internal and external data sources, including documents, journals, images and books, and puts them together on one page.

When building the tool with Google, officials sought input from Langley users and from NASA security experts “to make sure the firewalls are working the way they should be.”

The tool currently has about 3,000 users who perform about 13,000 searches a month, mostly for technical data. Ambur said Langley’s scientists and engineers like the tool’s Google-like searching, its internal/external data integration, and fast, one-step findability.

To generate user feedback, the tool includes a button labeled, “Did you find what you’re looking for?” which helps officials plan and deploy improvements. Some enhancements in progress include the ability to save and share results and the addition of user-defined key matches, Ambur said.

Langley officials are working with three other NASA centers to take the tool NASA-wide, Ambur said.

About the Author

Richard W. Walker is a freelance writer based in Maryland.

Featured

  • Cybersecurity

    DHS floats 'collective defense' model for cybersecurity

    Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen wants her department to have a more direct role in defending the private sector and critical infrastructure entities from cyberthreats.

  • Defense
    Defense Secretary James Mattis testifies at an April 12 hearing of the House Armed Services Committee.

    Mattis: Cloud deal not tailored for Amazon

    On Capitol Hill, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sought to quell "rumors" that the Pentagon's planned single-award cloud acquisition was designed with Amazon Web Services in mind.

  • Census
    shutterstock image

    2020 Census to include citizenship question

    The Department of Commerce is breaking with recent practice and restoring a question about respondent citizenship last used in 1950, despite being urged not to by former Census directors and outside experts.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.