The challenge

Digitalization is on top of the agenda at the European Union. European institutions operate in an environment that is heavily content driven with a strong focus on transparency. In that context, the European Council was looking to standardize their search experiences with a proven performant and scalable search technology to deliver relevant information to their website and portal users.

Our solution

The Council sought help from Formica and our search expertise to provide a solution based upon Elasticsearch. The first step was the implementation of a site search on the official Council website, Consilium.

Websearch for the public register and press releases

As an European institution, transparency and accessibility are the key ingredients to gain the trust of your citizens. The Council website gives citizens and internal employees access to a multitude of different information sources. Our responsibility was to create a search solution to make the public register and press releases searchable. The public register contains all the official Council documents, from legislations, treaties, publications to meeting agendas. In the press release section, visitors can find all official communication from the Council. This does not only consist of written content, the repository also contains videos and infographics.

We’ve built an Elasticsearch architecture solution consisting of an index API that is integrated through a connector with their content management system Umbraco and a search API to execute the users’ search queries. The search is equipped with an autocomplete, spelling suggester and faceted search.

Advanced search functionalities in the Agora business portal

To support internal employees and improve decision-making, the Council wanted to extend the search solution to their internal business platform, Agora. Next to a fast and effective search experience, it was also important that all of this happens in a secure environment. We’ve set up a dedicated Elasticsearch cluster for Agora, based upon the existing website architecture.

For the business platform, there were some additional search capabilities added to improve user experience.

  • Facetted search: To boost relevancy, users can easily filter and sort their search results by selecting different filtering criteria.
  • Elasticsearch not only searches through content, but also searches through metadata.
  • Each search result contains a text snippet where the search term is visually highlighted, so users can judge relevancy at a glance.
  • Similar documents with the same identifier are merged in one search result like for example a document in multiple languages.
  • The list of search results only contains the documents with the correct access rights to ensure an effective search without compromising security

The choice for Elastic was based on its high degree of scalability and security. The solution we implemented is future-proof and can be easily expanded to multiple applications, as illustrated with the Agora extension.

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