The organization

Wellington is New Zealand's centre of government and the world's southernmost capital city. It is also the country's cultural capital, third most populous urban area in New Zealand and home to many museums, theatres and arts festivals.

Wellington City Council's long-term strategic vision, Towards 2040: Smart Capital, builds on Wellington's strengths to help achieve economic growth, greater success and an improved quality of life for all Wellingtonians.

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Public Sector
New Zealand
  • Curator
  • Faceted Search
  • Auto completion

The challenge

Wellington City Council found themselves in a common predicament — a looming deadline for the replacement of their Google Search Appliance.

This was no small Google search implementation. Search was essential across multiple websites, including the main council and library website. Incredibly, search-specific features were used by up to 3000 people an hour. A service disruption or degradation of the user experience was simply unacceptable.

The approach

With a swift timeline, Wellington City Council took a conservative approach. They would procure a like-for-like replacement of their Google Search Appliance, ensuring neither end-user search features nor administrative controls were lost in their migration to a new platform.

Council staff were also looking to the future, and were keen to ensure that their new search platform would grow with their anticipated needs. Specifically, they wanted to know that their chosen platform had the capability to provide:

  • a significantly enhanced search experience to end users, with robust useful search functionality and user interface features;
  • greater administrative controls, empowering both the content teams and development teams alike; and
  • the capability to scale licences seamlessly to provide search across additional websites and content repositories.

The solution

Funnelback was chosen as the platform of choice through tender. Presenting an ambitious timeline, with just 22 days between the start of the project and the start of the go-live process, efficiency was of the utmost importance.

Wellington City Council came with very clear requirements, further refined collaboratively in the Technical Discovery phase with Funnelback partner Squiz. Requirements included:

  • Like-for-like or similar search results from GSA to be displayed in Funnelback;
  • Richer UI e.g. type-ahead suggestions, expression-based searches;
  • Improvements in result relevancy – including the ability to tune the search to deliver better results;
  • A solution sized to handle double the current volume of search queries; and
    Rapidly returned search results.

an open laptop showing WCC's search results page

During this phase, a range of additional search functionality and administrative controls were uncovered and included without increasing either the quoted cost or timeline. These included:

The result

Drawing on the experience of over twenty successful Google migrations, Funnelback was deployed via a proven implementation approach.

It was important that website users experienced no decline in the search service or result quality. Through the use of Funnelback’s automated relevance tuning and a collection of training data provided by the project team, enhanced search result quality was achieved in short order.

In addition to a range of new search functionality, the Funnelback Curator allows the content team to promote certain content or messages in response to keywords or other search attributes. Wellington City Council’s web team now also have the insights and analytics tools to manage, understand and fully leverage their information.

Wellington City Council boasts a future-proof search solution that empowers end users and site administrators alike.