Center for Information Technology Services

Google Search Appliance Improves Access to Information

The Center for Information Technology Services (CITS) has recently purchased a Google Search Appliance (GSA).  When fully implemented, it promises to provide faster, more relevant searches. It will also offer types of searches never before available. 

Almost every web page supported by the University has a search box on it so that the person visiting the page can search for additional information.  These search boxes have always used a free Google service offered to academic institutions.  Some campus users found the searches too broad, requiring them to search multiple times or scrolling through many irrelevant items.

The first step, which CITS has already initiated, is to “crawl” through the University’s thousands of web pages in order to index them.  This indexing will allow quicker access to all of these sites.  Eventually CITS will expand this indexing to include intranets, portals, file shares, databases, and business applications.  The appliance integrates with single sign-on systems to ensure that users access only what they are entitled to see. This means that, when fully implemented, University users will be able to search data repositories associated with administrative systems without actually having to login to those systems.  

Some of the early uses will be to promote certain sites on a designated space in the search results page.  This can be used to spotlight sites for upcoming events like the Summit for Childhood Obesity Prevention.  The appliance will naturally capture the most common searches and results selected by users on campus.  

CITS will provide more information as the project continues over the next year.