CAMH tackles indexing with Google search appliances

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health needed to upgrade its manually edited, software-based searching feature to a constant management system. So, its team did a Google search and found the Google Search Appliance.

CAMH set up two appliances. The first indexed all documents for site visitors to navigate through, and the second facilitated internal searches for corporate intranet and documents.

“They needed a better search solution, both for there site search, as well as, internally,” Scott Goodhew, Google’s enterprise sales manager for Canada, said. “They wanted to be able to search their corporate intranet, the same way you and I would search the Web.”

CAMH’s Webmaster, Alan Tang, said the organization opted for the solution because of Google’s ranking algorithm system, as well as its reputation for simplicity.

“You really just want to deliver the useful results to people, especially when you have over 10,000 page results,” Tang said.  “Plus, we’ve had software-based search engines before that we would be constantly tweaking or they would run out of resources because they were on the same machine as the server. That hasn’t happened with this system.”

While happy with the system thus far, Tang did have a wish-list of things he’d like to see for future incarnations.

“Improvements to some of the reporting features would be nice,” Tang said. “Our departmental users like to get regular reports on who’s looking for what and, right now, it’s a manual process where we have to go in and create a report to send to them. It would be nice to have something that would automatically kick that out to people.”

Tang also expressed the need for a more efficient start-up process, which he said took a little longer than expected.

“It wasn’t the simplest thing to get rolling with,” Tang said.  “You don’t start off with anything on the box, so you’ve got to start digging it up for yourself.”

Goodhew said Google encourages feedback from clients and relay suggestions to the engineering staff on a regular basis.

“Every client has requests for different functionality,” Goodhew said.

With these issues aside, the CAMH webmaster said the speed and easy maintenance of the search system has made their Web site extremely functional, without any performance slowdowns.

Tang said the lack of any positive feedback from end-users and staff is a testament to the system’s effectiveness. 

“We don’t get any negative feedback anymore,” Tang said. “That may sound a bit underwhelming, but, from our point of view, the best thing a server can do is be transparent, so that people can use it, find what they want, and go their way.”

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