ASTAware searches for the right answers

Transport Canada’s Civil Aviation department is replacing an American favourite with a home-grown product.

The department is currently in the process of switching from it’s Microsoft Internet Information Server search engine to the Toronto-based ASTAware Technologies Inc.’s Search Key PRO. Robert Sincennes, chief of regulatory affairs, civil aviation, said the cascading technology offered by ASTAware was especially appealing.

“It’s the reliability of the results and the cascading functionality, which we can now explore,” Sincennes said, adding cascading will provide the civil aviation department with a secure, feature rich and cost effective means of publishing content.

Transport Canada has used ASTAware’s CD-integrated search engine for more than two years, according to Jeffrey Puritt, president of ASTAware Technologies.

“We first became involved with Transport Canada when they were searching for an electronic publishing solution for Canadian aviation regulations,” Puritt said. The regulations are produced quarterly by Transport Canada’s air division.

Puritt added the regulations used to be two giant paper volumes that safety inspectors carried with them.

“On their own, they decided to publish a version to CD. It occurred to them that having a search engine integrated within those publications would enable all end users to access the content of the regulations more easily,” Puritt said.

Sincennes noted this led to complications when people searching for certain facts on the CD were getting one set of answers, but when using the Microsoft IIS search engine, corporate departmental search were getting a different set.

“So if you were to search for a particular search requirement, the CD would return the exact results and the search engine on the Internet wouldn’t, and when you’re dealing in the a safety area, you can’t have that,” Sincennes said.

He added that the company contacted its corporate people and showed them there was a deficiency in the corporate search engine.

David Titus, production manager, regulatory documents for civil aviation, agreed the main reason for using ASTAware’s server search product is to have the same search results on-line and on CD.

Titus noted another reason for switching is that end users of the civil aviation search systems are more comfortable with the CD’s lay out, and find that this search engine is easier to follow. He added that they will be able to add a cascading search function that will enable users to search other Transport Canada databases at the same time.

“We still haven’t developed a strategy with respect to what we’re going to be putting up first on the Web,” Titus said. “Of course, initially, it will just be an index of the Web site, of the Canadian Aviation Regulations and Standards.”

He liked the feature that would allow Transport Canada to put updated material on the Web site and enable users to download the information to their CDs.

“Now the inspectors would be able to copy the updated material with the new index onto their laptops and they would have everything up-to-date. They wouldn’t have to copy the entire document set plus the updates, they could just take their CD-ROM,” Titus explained.

Puritt noted the SearchKey PRO can be integrated within whatever existing platform or operating system ASTAware’s clients are running on, so there are next to no system upgrades required.

“It’s relatively non-intrusive. We take up practically no space on a client’s hard drive. We use less than 2MB,” he said, adding the search engine is also Java-based.

The implementation of SearchKey PRO in the civil aviation department will be a test for the rest of the corporation, according to Sincennes.

“We have a one-year licence at this point to install it to our particular system, and we at the same time become a test bed for the corporate entity. We know the corporate search engine we have can’t be fixed, they have to replace it with something else,” Sincennes said.

The system is customizable for each clients’ needs. Puritt said the civil aviation department’s system had to have special security features added. The Transport Canada system should be implemented in that department sometime this month.