Convera debuts search portal for government professionals

The tool is for policy and business decision-makers rather than citizens searching for government information.

govmine

Search technology company Convera has launched a free search Web portal targeted at government professionals, becoming the third recent entrant in the government search market.

In January, the government revamped its official search engine FirstGov, choosing newer search technologies from Vivisimo and Microsoft. The portal uses Vivisimo’s Clusty.com search engine and Microsoft’s MSN Search. In June, Google introduced a free Web site for searching federal, state and local government Web sites via its trademark interface.

Many government agencies have installed Convera’s technology platform. The new Web site, called govmine, is not affiliated with the government.

Kurt Gastrock, Convera’s chief operating officer, said govmine’s service differs from Google’s ranking system, which relies on an analysis of links among Web sites to determine an individual page’s value. Govmine’s results are based on pattern recognition and semantic technology.

"We’re not just capturing keywords or character strings," Gastrock said. "We’re actually capturing the context of the content as we index it. We’re capturing the meaning.”

Gastrock added that the tool targets people who regularly make policy and business decisions and knowledge workers who use search engines for research. In contrast, FirstGov is best at helping citizens retrieve information about the government, he said.

Convera chose to reach out to government workers because of its history of doing business with agencies, Gastrock said.

The company knows how to efficiently categorize search results for government professionals, he said.

For example, an employee can search for “serotonin” and see results categorized in the following order:

  • Diseases and pathological conditions (25,547 results)

  • Treatment (21,618 Results)

  • Symptoms (2,612 Results)

  • Side effects (9,693 results)

  • Drug toxicity (864 results)

  • Food and drug recalls (Nine results)

“Based upon our reading of all the documents when we index [for individual agencies], based upon the information that is out on the Web and the relationships between meanings, we understand the context of their searches,” Gastrock said.

Convera encourages government agencies to send feedback on the feature, which is a beta version. The company expects to launch a finished version by the end of the fiscal year, according to company officials.

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