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Silicon Valley's County Expands Web Abilities

Web portal featuring natural-language technology will be a workbench for Santa Clara County's 15,000 employees
Northern California's Santa Clara County will soon go live with an employee portal featuring improved self-service capabilities. The county, which employs 15,000 people and is home to many of the cities that make up Silicon Valley, is using InQuira Inc.'s updated natural-language search engine for the portal.

InQuira's search engine includes analytic capabilities that help the software understand what users are looking for, even if the query words they suggest are a bit off the mark. It also can push content it thinks a user might want to see. InQuira 6.5, which becomes available this week, includes support for multiple languages, an adapter for integration with Siebel Systems Inc.'s customer-relationship-management software, and dictionaries for nine vertical industries. InQuira says typical deployments cost about $500,000, including software, services, and maintenance.

Improved role-based self-service capabilities will let employees access information more quickly and provide them with information that may help them at their jobs--even if they didn't ask for it, county officials say. For instance a county hospital nurse doing a search for specific clinical information might also receive Web links to clinical best practices. "We see the employee portal as the workbench for the entire staff," says county CIO Satish Ajmani. "As this [portal] grows with information and documents people use on a daily basis, we need that kind of search capability."

The county also plans to deploy the InQuira technology on its public Web site. According to IT architect and planner Matt Woo, InQuira's analytics will help the county determine what content is missing, based on public inquiries.