Better search can help government serve people when they need it most

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As citizens, we interact with the government at various points in our lives. Many interactions serve as important rites of passage like obtaining a marriage or business license, claiming a new dependent on a tax return, or filing for retirement benefits. Other interactions serve as a safety net like obtaining financial assistance after a disaster or reporting a scam attempt. No matter the reason for transacting with the government, citizens want the interaction to be as frictionless as possible.

Deloitte characterizes frictionless as a way of accessing a service with little to no effort on the part of the consumer – there are no hoops to jump through, no demands for information, no frustrating barriers. The US federal government, for example, in its Executive Order on Transforming Federal Customer Experience and Service Delivery to Rebuild Trust in Government, aims for frictionless government interaction by enabling the public to access government resources in one to three clicks from USA.gov, their digital front door.

Since every government resource and detail behind it cannot reside on a single webpage, citizens rely on search to keep to that one to three click metric. At Elastic, the power of search doesn’t stop there.

Gain insight into citizen needs from search behavior

When Elastic works with organizations to improve digital customer experiences, we help them to index their data so end-users can search over it. In the case of search for website properties, organizations can easily use Elastic’s built-in web crawler to ingest searchable information. We also help them analyze website visitor search behavior with built-in analytics and our free, powerful visualization tool, Kibana. Search activity is a window into understanding web visitors, their needs, and their preferences. Using this insight, customer experience strategists can understand why web visitors are coming to the site, and identify content opportunities and gaps.

For example, when the City of Wilson, North Carolina decided to rehaul their website, they used Elastic for website indexing, search analytics, and web performance monitoring. Not only were citizens able to find information faster with blazing fast search, but the city was able to see what citizens searched for during extreme weather events and promptly provide self-service resources on the website and in the community.

Improve relevance with natural language processing, adaptive relevance, synonyms, and tuning

Government websites and applications are employing human-centered design more frequently, putting shortcuts to services associated with key life events and common topics/services front and center. Still, when citizens get to many informational websites or applications, the search bar is often the first place they go. At Elastic, we continually fine-tune website and application search performance to make them faster, but just as importantly, we augment core search capabilities to help end-users find relevant information:

  • Natural language processing: pre-trained models, powered by machine learning with a myriad of applications like text classification, sentiment analysis, and named entity recognition. These can provide the foundation for semantic search, understanding user intent beyond keywords.
  • Adaptive relevance: automated suggestions for content that should be promoted based on what information users are seeking.
  • Synonyms: directs users to the right content by creating associations between common search terms.
  • Relevance tuning: search relevance adjustments such as weights and boosts that promote high impact content and improve conversion rates.

It’s also important not to lose sight of government personnel, especially citizen-facing personnel, who need information at their fingertips to address citizen needs. Whether personnel is interacting with citizens via chat, email, phone, video, or in-person, they too need fine-tuned workplace and application search that makes procedures, policies, files, and other resources located across internal content repositories easy-to-find for faster resolution times.

Enable departmental data sharing with cross-cluster search

According to the President’s Management Agenda, “when a person experiences a disaster or loses a job, federal government services should meet them where they are instead of asking them to navigate government siloes.” Thus, it’s important that government leaders and personnel who work behind the scenes in areas like student loan or unemployment benefits processing, have a way to search across legacy systems or data silos, with speed and data security.

Elastic enables role-based departmental data sharing with ease. Within milliseconds of data ingested from legacy or siloed systems, we help users classify data at its source and normalize it for querying using the Elastic Common Schema (ECS). At this point, role-based access control (RBAC) and attribute-based access control (ABAC) can be structured so that it is clear what data can and cannot be shared. We then facilitate role-based data access, analysis, visualization, and sharing using Elastic Cross-Cluster Search (CCS) and Kibana. The data itself resides in its compliant environment but is queried at the endpoint. Elastic CCS helps users bring questions to the data, thereby enabling compliant data analysis and sharing through the power of search.

Use search to keep website and applications fully performant

Whether visitors are applying for military pensions or small business loans on a government website, or government personnel are processing stimulus checks or driver’s licenses through cloud-based applications, they have similar expectations to 40% of website visitors that expect a load time of two seconds or less. To ensure sites and applications are always available to support these key life events, it’s critical to collect, store, and analyze data such as detailed event logs, resource usage metrics, and application traces. With this telemetry data, web and IT administrators can speed up issue resolution with automatic anomaly detection powered by machine learning and rich data analytics.

For example, when the United Kingdom’s Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency needed a way to build a self-service developer platform, they deployed Elastic Cloud to manage telemetry data flow from Kubernetes and their serverless DevOps infrastructure. With Elastic, DVLA now develops new applications for more than 80 million drivers in their aim to “Get the right drivers and vehicles taxed and on the road as simply, safely, and efficiently as possible.”

Put search to work for you

As the leading platform for search-based solutions, Elastic stands ready to help government organizations get started with or continue customer experience (CX) enhancement driven by what’s near and dear to our heart – search. 

Contact us at federal@elastic.co or sled@elastic.co to discuss your CX use case, or visit us at elastic.co/industries/public-sector to start your free cloud trial today.

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