Super ministry rolls out local search technology

Locally developed Syl search engine is deployed to all divisions of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

It was first rolled out at the former MSI and has since spread to other departments of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. Locally-developed Syl search engine technology is now being used for the external web sites of the former departments of Labour, Building and Housing, and the Ministry of Economic Development.

Science and Innovation had been using Syl Semantics’ technology across several of its content sources, including the client relationship management database, information management system, global expert database, Windows file share and external website.

Chief information officer Steve Pyne says Syl provides additional benefits over and above traditional enterprise search solutions and is highly suited to an environment in which much of the data uses highly technical, scientific language.

“Syl’s semantic search capability means we are now better able to access the information we require, and searching with it produces faster and more accurate results,” he says.

The Syl search engine is an information access tool enabling enterprises to find information based on the context of words in any file or database, automatically understanding synonyms, acronyms and relationships. It evaluates a search request in much the same way as the human brain would.

Syl Semantics chief executive, Sean Wilson, says the project went live earlier this year but Syl hadn’t been able to announce the contract until now.

“Winning this business was an important milestone for the company in that it provides a reference site with a core government agency,” he says.

The use of a customised dictionary of commonly used scientific acronyms, synonyms and specialist terms integrated into Syl Search allows Science and Innovation staff to search quickly without have to guess how to configure their search in everyday language.

Syl Semantics is a privately owned Wellington software company established in 2008. Its enterprise search produce, Syl Search, is based on proprietary semantic technology, for which the company holds New Zealand patents.

New Zealand Police was another early adopter of Syl Search.

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Sure, there are other products, there always is, but it's a developing market so there will always be openings for new players. Overall, I expect they have a compelling value proposition and therefore were initially selected by MSI. I don't recall a RFP for that though? Anyone remember? Maybe it was under the $ threshold.
Given MSI is now MBIE they can no doubt extend the product's use without going to RFP and of course MBIE are the rule maker in this regard.
The whole govt purchasing process is somewhat of a charade but does provide some income for procurement contractors.



I assume this decision went through the stringent RFP market engagement requirements from DIA....?



Should we make our own Toyota's now? Why develop a NZ product that already exists - who will buy this outside NZ Govt? Surely taxpayer money should go to new businesses with a real point of difference and chance of export.

Brian Steele


Congratulations Sean and the team at Syl, on securing and now being able to announce your success. Selling into Government should be celebrated, and reflects well on both parties. We look forward to more announcements as you build the Company.



Government actually backed a New Zealand company. About bloody time.



Either Syl are misleading people or the press release has been mistranslated in getting to the page. Syl is NOT used by the whole of MBIE.

Syl is used by the Science and Innovation parts of MBIE, which is entirely appropriate as Syl was part funded by the old MSI.

It would have been ridiculous to give a research grant to a company and then buy software from their competitors.

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