Cloud Computing

Better Search Replaces Folders

by David F. Carr

February 2016

When the New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC) implemented its new content management system, one of its boldest steps was shedding the traditional folder structure for electronic files, and instead relying on search for employees to find what they need.


    New Zealand Department of Conservation

    Location: Wellington, New Zealand

    Agency function: Conservation, land management, and recreation

    2015/2016 budget: NZ$452,465,000

    Oracle products: Oracle WebCenter Content, Oracle WebCenter Portal

Mike Edginton

    CIO (12-month secondment), and Director of Partnerships, Historic and Visitor Management

    Length of tenure: Three years as director of Partnerships, Historic and Visitor Management, 25 years at DOC

    Education: Diploma of Parks and Recreation, Lincoln University

    Personal quote or mantra: “Design systems that motivate and drive the search for innovation in conservation management.”


The system implementer, TEAM Asparona, enabled that strategy by adding automated document tagging and classification to its cloud implementation of Oracle WebCenter, using a custom integration with Smartlogic’s Semaphore software.

New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC)

Launch the Slideshow

DOC mapped out a taxonomy of important terms to be used in the classification, amounting to some 95,000 terms and the relationships between them. Employees can add terms manually, but they generally shouldn’t need to, since the vocabulary is designed to match the terminology commonly used within the department, says Volker Schaberg, director of TEAM Informatics operations in Australia and New Zealand.

The document analytics that power the automated tagging could in the future also help with information governance, for example, by flagging sensitive information and classifying documents according to the government’s disposal and retention rules. Meanwhile, Oracle WebCenter Content provides a rich audit trail of who created, edited, and accessed documents, with the option to revert to an earlier version if necessary without having to ask a system administrator to make such a change.

The biggest change, however, was moving away from placing documents in a hierarchy of folders. Some employees did miss the folder structure at first, says DOC CIO Mike Edginton, and they had to do some things differently. But the most-positive reactions quickly came from the people who matter most—“scientists and people who use documents a lot,” Edginton says. With the ontology, “searches can be far more sophisticated and people are able to recover a lot more material.”

Action Items
  • Collaboration in the Cloud
  • Oracle Documents Cloud Service
  • Photography by Shutterstock