Researchers and residents need fast access to the millions of documents and data that the Census Bureau produces. Existing search suffered from a clunky interface, and search result relevancy was lacking, leaving users frustrated.
Lucidworks and the Census Bureau partnered to deliver a user-friendly solution that was fast, scalable, responsive, and relevant that could quickly expand to searching additional parts of the site.
A new search app that uses categories and faceting makes finding agency data and documents easier than ever. Auditing dashboards provide administrators with insight into what users are searching for and what reports they’re accessing.
“We have a lot of data, documents, and reports available on our site,” said David G. Johnson, Website Support Manager at the Census Bureau. “Our site search has to meet both the needs of researchers at government agencies as well as everyday people looking for data and statistics about the world around them.”
The existing site search for census.gov was a conventional, full-text search that returned results matched to the documents and data, but suffered from a clunky interface and presentation. Parts of the site would require users to click through several pages of chronological archives to navigate to what they were looking for. Findability was further complicated as metadata and tags were not being included in the ranking of a query’s results.
The search team was familiar with Apache Solr and its compatibility with their in-house content management system. They looked at Lucidworks Fusion as a solution since it was built with an Apache Solr core and also offered a broader range of prebuilt components that would speed up development. Along with Fusion, the team considered Elasticsearch, but in the end preferred Fusion’s exposed services and architecture, which gave them more flexibility to tune relevance over Elastic’s more primitive “black box” approach.
The new search application built with Lucidworks Fusion provides much more flexibility for users to filter and target their searches faster.
Categories and faceting also assist users in quickly getting to the information they are looking for.
The application also includes robust dashboards for auditing and logs so content owners know what users are looking for— and if they are successfully finding what they need. The new solution connected to the agency’s existing single sign-on architecture and security infrastructure.