New search engine for local government ferrets out hidden information

A new search engine technology for local government, developed in Australia, is giving the staff of Lake Macquarie City Council on the NSW central coast a big edge in delivering great customer service.

The iFerret Enterprise Search technology, developed by iPlatinum, gives local governments the ability to locate and retrieve information that might otherwise remain hidden in databases, networks and document management systems. It does so using simple search methods and filtering techniques.
At Lake Macquarie, the technology is assisting staff to better understand a given situation about a customer, a property or a Council asset, and to make correct, timely decisions and achieve superior outcomes.

A pilot scheme involving 17 staff preceded the Council-wide roll-out of the technology, showing that iFerret saved staff an average of more than two hours a week in searching for information across the Council’s digital assets, including records management and email systems.

Mark Piper, Lake Macquarie City Council’s Corporate Information Manager, said that iFerret appealed to Council because the organisation had become aware that it was not making full use of its information and that its metadata was inconsistent.

“We wanted to ensure better informed decision-making by using existing resources and putting knowledge in the hands of every staff member,” said Mr Piper.

The kind of efficiency represented by the implementation of iFerret was evident when a customer wanted a search carried out on a particular subdivision yet only knew the name of the suburb in which the subdivision was occurring.

Julie Walker, Project Manager in charge of the implementation of iFerret, explained that Council’s Pathway property system required an application number, the property or applicant’s name, or the full address for a search to be carried out.

Using iFerret, with Pathway as the data source, the customer service officer searched using three phrases — ‘suburb name’, ‘developer name’ and ‘subdivision’.

The correct application number for the subdivision was immediately located, enabling the customer to view the application on Council’s website.

“Prior to the introduction of iFerret, the customer service officer would not have been able to locate the subdivision, because Pathway required the full property address,” said Ms Walker.

About iPlatinum
iPlatinum is an IT services and solutions provider focusing on specialist consulting, executive information, eBusiness and enterprise integration. The design, development and deployment of iFerret draws on iPlatinum’s lengthy history of delivering innovative information solutions to Australian local government authorities. The company was formed in 2001. To find out more please visit

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