WDG rolls out advanced search firepower to Vic govt

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Victorian web development services provider WDG has won a six-figure deal with that state’s Department of Human Services to deploy advanced search engine technology for 8000 intranet-connected employees and four public websites.

Victorian web development services provider WDG has won a six-figure deal with that state's Department of Human Services to deploy advanced search engine technology for 8000 intranet-connected employees and four public websites.

Arthur Spanos, CEO of WDG, said the deal involved two deployments of Infogistics RealTerm artificial intelligence-based search engine technology in Victoria's Department of Human Services. He could not divulge the value of the deal but said it was a 'six-figure sum'.

'Basically the technology will be working across four of their [primary] websites, and on their intranet too, which is used by about 8000 employees,' Spanos said.

WDG, which has 30 staff across Melbourne, Sydney and Auckland offices, in July signed with Scottish knowledge management developer Infogistics to distribute its RealTerm technology exclusively in Australia and rolled out that technology at the Department of Human Services.

Spanos said WDG felt RealTerm had great market potential, particularly in government. The advanced search engine-type technology can make finding information on the internet quicker than using standard search engines, such as Google, because it automates some steps.

'What differentiates it from a lot of other technologies out there is it is not a traditional software search engine-type of search. It uses artificial intelligence, [in this case] natural language capability,' he said. 'We have found search time can be reduced by about 40 percent.'

For example, a user typing in 'heart attack' into a search engine is commonly presented with myriad websites dealing with various subjects that may or may not be related to what the user seeks, such as 'heart attack' sufferers, 'heart attack' prevention, 'heart attack' statistics, songs with 'heart attack' in their titles, tenuously related things such as porn sites and so forth.

Most search engines have limited capability to refine such a search and that refining process must be done manually. When you enter a key term into RealTerm, it dynamically generates a secondary key word that helps define the context within which that word is actually found, Spanos said.

'The key isn't the search, the key is actually finding the information that you want,' he said. 'There's no shortage of search engines in the marketplace - but there is a shortage of technologies that will field the results.'

Spanos said RealTerm could be overlaid on existing search engines and was compatible with other applications so involved minimal extra investment. It was not licensed per PC but per CPU.

'It's not like they have to pay $10, $20 or whatever every time they use it ... It's per CPU and a single CPU is more than capable of filling requirements,' he said.

Research firm META Group has predicted the commercial search market to hit $US 5 billion in just over two years, especially as companies seek more contextually relevant web advertising in the face of increased privacy and anti-spam legislation.

Service providers are forecast to jump on a pay-for-performance internet advertising bandwagon set rolling by search vendors such as LookSmart and Google, META Group said, with major vendors such as MSN tipped to release proprietary search systems in the next year or so. Consolidation in the market can be expected, the research firm noted.

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