RealTime IT News

Chicago Portal Gets FAST

The city of Chicago will use Fast Search & Transfer's (FAST) technology to help residents find information through its government portal.

The software is currently in use on the Department of Procurement Services page but will be expanded to all 46 city deparment sections, including the mayor's office, library and department of health.

The full rollout is expected to take about two years, FAST spokesman Peter Gorman said. The company declined to disclose the value of the deal.

"While scalable enough to handle the large amounts of data offered by each of these departments, FAST Data Search has also proven to be flexible enough to link the wide variety of data sources with data we have stored in Oracle databases," said Christopher C. O'Brien, the city's CIO.

FAST's technology is well-suited for the city's portal, because it "provides instant access to highly-relevant information from disparate locations in a variety of data formats," said FAST CEO John M. Lervik.

It features linguistic technologies, categorization, dynamic result clustering, and support for over 225 file formats and 54 languages.

The Chicago contract comes in one of the company's five target markets -- government agencies. FAST most notable deal in the space is the federal government's information portal, FirstGov.gov.

The other areas of focus are financial services, media and publishing, life sciences and pharmaceuticals and e-commerce.

FAST is based in Oslo, Norway, and has U.S. offices in Wellesley, Mass., and San Francisco. Earlier this month, the company dipped into its cash reserves to buy the AltaVista enterprise search business from Overture Services.

The value of the deal, the latest in a rapidly consolidating industry, was not disclosed. Overture obtained the enterprise search business as part of the acquisition of the business of AltaVista, in late April.

FAST's interest in the AltaVista unit was its 200 corporate customers, including Kraft Foods, Barnes & Noble, Monster.com and Fidelity Investments.