We’ve yet to make the perfect search. But we’re trying. In fact, over the past few months, we’ve tweaked a specific algorithm more than 20 times. We continually strive for better performance to help our clients get better results. Here’s a snippet on how we do that.
For some of our clients, understanding the ever changing political and security environment in Iraq is a must. It’s business critical for them and to get it wrong could lead to significant losses, not just financial.
But accessing information is difficult.
There are a myriad of news sources, local and international, as well as blogs and social channels. Our clients get overwhelmed by these and asked us to help reduce complexity by delivering relevant news and commentary to them, in one place, and on demand.
The team loves a challenge and was quick off the mark to make a difference. Max and I mapped out news sources, while Rayiez set about connecting to those sources, aggregating them, and stacking them up on a wall on one of our applications.
Once we had all the content in one place, we figured that we needed a way of filtering results to deliver relevant content. This is more difficult than it sounds.
One journalist might write ‘protest’ while another might write ‘demonstration’. We also figured that if the client was searching for something in ‘Umm Qasr’, a town in South Iraq, then they might also be interested in ‘Safwan’ and ‘Zubayr’, two towns nearby. So Max and I worked on building matches and extended them to other words like ‘riot’ or ‘civil unrest’. Rayiez meanwhile started building those rules into an algorithm, which searches content based on our logic.
By the end of the sprint, we had a great system for retrieving information. Our clients responded so positively that we’ve begun to open up the algorithm to them, allowing them to iterate it to more closely match their evolving needs.
We’ve not yet made the perfect search but like most good journeys, getting there is half the fun. If you want to learn more about how we work then you can get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.