New search system up to the challenge

The City of Gosnells has become the first local government in Western Australia to use iFerret, an Australian-developed system for searching ‘real world’ information from vast local government information stores.

Since recently employing iFerret, the City has been able to retrieve hundreds of documents in a matter of minutes, saving days of work.
A recent example highlights its capabilities when Chief Executive Officer Ian Cowie asked staff to source information requested by the WA Ombudsman.

Within 30 minutes, a spreadsheet was presented to Mr Cowie detailing the documents – a year’s worth of correspondence contained in 550 documents was drawn from the City’s information systems.

The City’s Information Management Services Coordinator Kevin Barnett, who has been involved in the trial, training and implementation of the system, was most impressed by iFerret’s ability to delve into the City’s various records areas and rapidly recover years of information.

“Like most local governments, the City of Gosnells uses a range of structured and unstructured data repositories,” he said.

“These systems provide valuable transaction processing capability, however they also create islands of information. There’s a wealth of information that is not used adequately because staff either don’t know it exists or they have trouble accessing it.

“We have had three real world examples in which iFerret delivered exactly what we wanted in minutes. It saved us days of work.”

In results similar to the Ombudsman’s request, the City was able to provide correspondence between it and a developer over a two-year period. The data was contained in 450 documents, which were packaged into a schedule from which staff could easily reference that the documents did belong to the developer.

Another request for information came from the City’s lawyer who, in court, had to table the costs associated with a development. Within minutes, the 45 relevant documents were located in the email archive, the City’s records system and on network drives.

The City of Gosnells is now one of 40 local governments around Australia using iFerret.