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Posts Tagged ‘Public Resource Directory’

Pre-Populating Searches on your Public Resource Directory

Note: This blog describes a process that helps you or your web developers create guided searches of your iCarol Public Resource Directory. While this is still relevant to users of that version of the Public Resource Directory, as of July 3, 2017 a new version of the Public Resource Directory includes a built-in Guided Search builder. Learn more…

Passing parameters from your website to your Public Resource Directory (PRD) is a great and easy way to help guide your users to helpful resources. This feature is included in the Public Resource Directory add-on at no additional cost.

Guided searches can save time, help your users find what they need, and if you use the 211 Taxonomy, can help improve your statistics by encouraging exact Taxonomy searches. Webmasters can pre-load the Public Resource Directory public search page by sending search parameters in the URL hyperlink.

A current example of a client who does this is http://montana211.org/. They put a custom search box on their main page, which was developed by their webmaster. When a search is conducted by a PRD user, they generate a URL for the resulting page. Not only can search terms be passed to the Public Resource Directory (PRD), but other search filters such as location can be passed to the initial search.

Another client who uses pre-populated searches is http://www.211oc.org/211oc-guided-database-search.html. The guided search enables the public users to choose a general category, and then presents them with a list of more specific categories. Once a more specific category is chosen, the public resource directory is pre-populated and the user is presented with a list of appropriate search results.

Basic PRD URL vs. Populated URL

Example of Basic PRD URL:
http://www.icarol.info/Search.aspx?org=2229

pre populate search public resource directory

This link will open the PRD in a new tab/window, with empty search criteria. A user will then have to enter a search term, choose geographic filters to refine their search, and initiate the search by clicking search (or choosing from the drop down list).

Example of a populated PRD search URL:
http://www.icarol.info/Search.aspx?org=2229&country=United%20States&stateprovince=NY&city=Rochester&county=Monroe&Search=food&
sort=Alphabetical&pst=Coverage&NameOnly=True

guided search pre populated public resource directory

This link will open the PRD in a new tab/window, but will include populated specific search criteria. iCarol will also complete the query before the page loads for the user, removing the extra step of clicking “search”. The user can change any of the filters or search terms to further refine sequential searches.

How to read the Populated URL

The parameters are passed within a defined section of the URL, and by programming the hyperlinks from your website to the pre-populated URL, you can pass these criteria to the PRD. Search parameter starts with the field name, includes an equals sign (=), then includes the parameter value to pass. Each parameter is separated by an ampersand (&). Example: &Search=food&sort=Alphabetical& You can get the populated URL by completing a search in your PRD system, and copying the URL from the address bar. For a more dynamic approach, your webmaster can use text boxes or drop down boxes to help guide a user’s input.

Understanding Available Parameters

Org – Org is your Organization number, the unique number used by iCarol to represent your system

http://www.icarol.info/Search.aspx?org=2229&country=United%20States&stateprovince=NY&city=Rochester&county=Monroe&Search=food&
amp;sort=Alphabetical&pst=Coverage&NameOnly=True

Country – Geographic Filtering for Country

http://www.icarol.info/Search.aspx?org=2229&country=United%20States&stateprovince=NY&city=Rochester&county=Monroe&Search=food&
amp;sort=Alphabetical&pst=Coverage&NameOnly=True

StateProvince – Geographic Filtering for State or Province

http://www.icarol.info/Search.aspx?org=2229&country=United%20States&stateprovince=NY&city=Rochester&county=Monroe&Search=food&
amp;sort=Alphabetical&pst=Coverage&NameOnly=True

County – Geographic Filtering for County

http://www.icarol.info/Search.aspx?org=2229&country=United%20States&stateprovince=NY&city=Rochester&county=Monroe&Search=food&
amp;sort=Alphabetical&pst=Coverage&NameOnly=True

City – Geographic Filtering for City

http://www.icarol.info/Search.aspx?org=2229&country=United%20States&stateprovince=NY&city=Rochester&county=Monroe&Search=food&
amp;sort=Alphabetical&pst=Coverage&NameOnly=True

PostalCode – Geographic Filtering for Zip/Postal Code

http://www.icarol.info/Search.aspx?org=2229&country=United%20States&stateprovince=NY&city=Rochester&postalcode=14603&county=Monroe
&Search=food&sort=Alphabetical&pst=Coverage&NameOnly=True

pst – [Coverage | Physical | All ] – Filter resources based on coverage area (“Resources serving”), physical location (“Resources within”), or omit this parameter to use your systems default.

http://www.icarol.info/Search.aspx?org=2229&country=United%20States&stateprovince=NY&city=Rochester&postalcode=14603&county=Monroe
&Search=food&sort=Alphabetical&pst=Coverage&NameOnly=True

Search – [Food] – Is the actual search term you want to find using the filters above. This can include the name of a specific resource, a general concept or phrase, or be specific such as a customized category or taxonomy term.

http://www.icarol.info/Search.aspx?org=2229&country=United%20States&stateprovince=NY&city=Rochester&postalcode=14603&county=Monroe
&Search=food&sort=Alphabetical&pst=Coverage&NameOnly=True

Sort – [Alphabetical | Proximity] – Is the sort order that the results will display in.

http://www.icarol.info/Search.aspx?org=2229&country=United%20States&stateprovince=NY&city=Rochester&postalcode=14603&county=Monroe
&Search=food&sort=Alphabetical&pst=Coverage&NameOnly=True

NameOnly – [True | False] – Set your search type to “Search Names” or “Search All Fields”, or omit this parameter to use your system default.

http://www.icarol.info/Search.aspx?org=2229&country=United%20States&stateprovince=NY&city=Rochester&postalcode=14603&county=Monroe
&Search=food&sort=Alphabetical&pst=Coverage&NameOnly=True

If your organization wishes to use this feature, or if you have any additional questions on how to use it, please submit a case to the iCarol Support Team via the Online Case Submission Tool, found in your Help menu.

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Introducing iCarol Folksonomy

When people in the public are searching your public website for a resource that can help them, it can sometimes lead to frustration that they are getting no results. When you look closer at how they are searching, it becomes clear that they aren’t familiar with the way that resources are named or categorized. In other words, they are expressing a need, like “I am hungry” but the resources in your database are represented as services, like “Food pantries”.

In fact in commonly used categorization schemes, such as the AIRS Taxonomy or a custom categorization scheme built directly by your helpline, you won’t find the word “hungry” in any of the categories, terms or definitions. Multiply this by all the possible needs people have, and you can quickly see how a great deal of the population won’t get connected to valuable services. Other example searches are “I need a ride to work”, “My family needs a place to stay” and “I lost my job yesterday”.

So how can these help seekers, who are expressing a need, be connected with the services that can assist them? Clearly, we need to build a bridge between the two approaches. The solution we’re employing in iCarol’s Public Resource Directory is called the Folksonomy (an intentional mashup of the word Folk, as in “colloquial”, and Taxonomy).

In a nutshell, it helps find results if the search did not match an Agency or Program name, a taxonomy term or the officially defined synonyms for taxonomy terms (called “use references”). It does this by picking up colloquial words or phrases in a search and corresponds them to taxonomy terms, and then performs the search for resources assigned to those taxonomy terms.

A perfect example would be if someone typed “I am really hungry” into the search box. The Folksonomy fills the gap that normally would be mediated by a helpline’s phone worker on a call by connecting the expressed need to one or more taxonomy terms, like Food Pantries and Ongoing Emergency Food Assistance.

We have been testing this approach with clients and it is yielding exceedingly good results. Those clients also have an administrative interface to find recent searches yielding no results, and then to make Folksonomy entries so that future such searches will instead yield the right results.

Here is a scenario where the word “ride” is a Folksonomy entry corresponding to several taxonomy terms. If you had performed this search before we implemented the Folksonomy you would have gotten zero results. Instead you now get a number of transportation-related resources:

Folksonomy

By building that bridge between the layman’s terms used by your web visitors and the detailed categorization of the 211 Taxonomy, iCarol’s Folksonomy will greatly improve the ability for your Public Resource Directory searchers to find what they are looking for and ultimately get the services they need.

We’ll have more information to share about implementing iCarol’s Folksonomy in the coming weeks. Want to learn more about managing your Resources with iCarol? Join us for our Resource Management Webinar on May 20th at 2pm EST.

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