Taxonomy and Governance Support
Updating an organization’s ontology and business rules for autoclassification
Business Issue

On a previous assignment for the New York Power Authority (NYPA), Iknow assisted with the development of an enterprise taxonomy and improvements in the enterprise search capability. The assignment incorporated Smartlogic Semaphore tools for ontology management and auto-classification, SharePoint 2013 search tools, and Semaphore web parts.

This project was intended to continue that work, primarily in the area of taxonomy management. Specifically, Iknow was retained by NYPA to assist with the reviews of the initial enterprise taxonomy, the installation of a governance model for future taxonomy management, and the first round of semi-annual updates to the ontology and rules in Semaphore.


Iknow’s project approach involved four major phases of work.

  1. Initial Taxonomy Review. Iknow reviewed user feedback on the current enterprise taxonomy as well as new requirements developed by the KM team since the close of the earlier project. These requirements were focused on the need for a more detailed technical vocabulary for describing specific expertise and lessons learned, especially in the generating plant environment. Iknow performed a draft manual classification of the new content, and then implemented the draft taxonomy updates and additions ready for review by NYPA subject matter experts (SMEs).
  2. Trial auto-classification of new content. As a way of testing the new ontology and rules, Iknow ran a trial auto-classification of the best practice/lessons learned content and expertise records. This was used to refine the ontology (especially alternative labels and other evidence values) and the rules as necessary.
  3. Initiation of the new ontology governance process. Iknow assisted NYPA with the preparation and execution of the new governance model, especially the review sessions with SMEs from each NYPA department. These sessions were used to discuss and get approval for recommended taxonomy changes as well as to review autoclassification results to identify any areas of systematic over-tagging or under-tagging and develop strategies to correct them.
  4. Bulk re-classification of enterprise content based on the updated taxonomy and rules set. As in the previous project, Iknow assisted with the planning and initiation of the bulk re-classification jobs, as well as conducting a final review of results.

Iknow worked with the NYPA KM team to complete the four tasks listed above. From the initial taxonomy of about 1,100 terms, over 1,000 updates were made, including hierarchy and grouping changes, synonym and acronym changes, and the addition of 380 new terms for more specific concepts that were shown to be useful for searching. The changes were made during the course of multiple SME and KM team reviews, search simulations, and classification tests. The governance procedures developed in the previous project were utilized, including compilation of candidate term lists, group reviews, updates in the development environment, and testing.

The latest taxonomy enrichment will result in further improvements in the precision and recall of NYPA’s enterprise search tools, as well as enhanced browsing and content discovery for users.

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