Better Search for Better Citizen Services

Last week we added a more powerful search engine to SeeClickFix — allowing our government users to find data more quickly, more accurately and more exhaustively. Now when you type a phrase into the search bar it will query all the text in the summary, description, address, and custom fields using natural language processing.

First let’s talk about speed. The new search engine is more than 10 times faster and does not slow down as the data set gets larger. That’s important — more than three million issues have been reported on SeeClickFix! This saves time, and there are moments where that saved time is the key to successful service delivery. For example when you get a phone call from a concerned citizen, being able to instantly search for issues on their street is helpful.

Additionally, you can now search all fields in the SeeClickFix database. This changes the way you manage issues. For example, not all graffiti get categorized as graffiti. Someone may submit a blight issue and then describe graffiti in the description field. Now, you can search the term “graffiti” and see all the graffiti issues, across multiple categories, instantly.

We are using natural language processing, so you can search for things like “large potholes on State Street” and then see “huge”, “giant”, “enormous”, and “colossal” “potholes”, “sinkholes”, and “road issues” all on State Street. The search engine can even match similar phrases like “abandoned vehicle” to “car on side of road”. What’s more, all these queries will be intelligently presented in order of relevance.

That brings us to our last point: relevance. Our new search engine is great at finding exactly the issues that you are looking for, but it doesn’t stop there. You will see the most relevant issues at the top but also all the related issues all in order of importance. If you don’t find what you’re looking for right away, just scroll a bit — it’s probably just a bit further down the page.

For more information on SeeClickFix Admin tools, head to gov.seeclickfix.com/tour