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Government procurement is a landscape that never stops changing. With rapid evolution in technology it’s common for agencies to put out bids and RFPs for complex services such as cyber security, a concept that wasn’t even on the radar of government buyers just a few years ago…until now.

Fortunately, Onvia’s tag-based search technology, powered by a sophisticated knowledge model – the Onvia ontology - sifts through words and phrases commonly found in government project documents, and serves as a perfect tool to help businesses wishing to pursue cyber security business with the government. 

How Onvia’s Search Technology Works in the Context of Cyber Security Services

Onvia’s tag-based search technology allows for the greatest possible flexibility when a user is creating a search. This technology allows a user to easily search through millions of procurement records for all projects containing the concept, and all its known variants.

The system is built as a hierarchy, where very specific tags are aligned under more general, but still relevant, broader tags. For example, the specific tag “Network security services” can be found under the broader “Cyber security services” tag:

Advanced Search Screen - Cyber Security Tags - Onvia

Onvia’s search makes probabilistic calculations about a particular word or phrase to capture the essence of a government contract and serve up more relevant opportunities for your business. Over time, the technology is able to refine and improve upon the accuracy of those calculations.

Our Ontology team adds tags and makes refinements to the ontology at least once a month. They add new terms and new exclusions on a rolling basis to keep the system as current and accurate as possible, a process that ensures that as governments buy new products and services Onvia users can easily search for those opportunities. As more terms are added to the system, the search system will continue to improve at providing the most relevant results for each search.

Searching for Cyber Security Projects in Onvia

Here’s one example of how a project can be found through Onvia’s tag-based search system.

The project is titled “Websense Data Security”, and text from the body of the project reads as follows: “The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) invites bids from authorized resellers to provide Websense data security.”

Websense Data Security - Onvia

Even though the specific term “cyber security” was not mentioned at any point in the project description, the scope of work, which is often hidden deep within project documents, clearly indicates that this project is relevant to anyone looking for cyber security opportunities. Thus, Onvia’s search technology applied the “Cyber security services” tag to the project.

Primary Tags - Onvia

Each tag in Onvia’s system has a number of “equivalence terms” - phrases that are very likely to be a match to that particular tag. Using the above example, “data security” is considered equivalent to the “cyber security services” tag, since the two terms mean very close to the same thing. If a project contains the term “data security,” the system determines that it’s likely to be a cyber security-related project, and will be given that tag.

Why Onvia’s Tag-Based Search is Superior

Our tag-based search is more adaptable and helps to serve up more relevant projects than search tools that use general keywords, or those that group projects by a specific set of static categories. Static category-based search technologies cannot be updated as freely as dynamic tag-based searches, making it difficult for users to find the project data that is most relevant for their business. Additionally, dynamic tags are more granular, enabling Onvia users to quickly identify find even the most specific and complex projects.

Onvia’s tag-based search also eliminates noise and less useful terms by using preclusions – trigger phrases that indicate a term does NOT match a particular tag.

For example, one term common in cyber security projects is “vulnerability assessment”, where the scope of the project includes assessing how vulnerable a network or security system is. But governments also issue opportunities with unrelated similar phrases such as “seismic vulnerability assessments.” That phrase actually refers to how at-risk a building structure is during an earthquake and indicates a completely different kind of project relevant to a different kind of vendor. A keyword or static category-based search would capture this data creating noise for cyber security vendors, while in a dynamic tag-based search like Onvia’s this would be precluded and not receive the cyber security tag.

If a new term becomes common in the cyber security field, and it becomes frequently used in bids, RFPs and other government purchasing data, the ontology will be updated to include that term.

With the power of advanced tag-based search technology, and by utilizing a powerful ontology system built to accommodate new trends and terms used in government procurement data, Onvia’s users are positioned to know about and pursue opportunities before the competition.

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