SkyDox Launches European Court of Human Rights HUDOC Portal Based on Microsoft FAST

  • SkyDox’s user interface works with Microsoft FAST Search Server 2010 for SharePoint and OpenText Hummingbird to build a new public-facing search portal for ECHR
  • New portal helps to enable user-friendly search and access of 90,000-plus case law documents that affect 800 million inhabitants in 47 member states

25 July 2012

SkyDox, a leading provider of cloud-enabled file sharing, synchronization, storage, and collaboration tools, announced today that the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has launched a new portal for its public-facing HUDOC portal that is based on the SkyDox search user interface (UI). The HUDOC portal, which hosts rulings made by ECHR, fulfils the Court’s legal obligation to make all judgments publicly available. The redesigned portal enhances the accessibility of these documents by combining the latest search and Web 2.0 technologies for a more efficient and intuitive user-experience.

The ECHR website attracts 4.6 million visitors each year and, following a high-profile ruling, typically receives more than 5,000 simultaneous visitors looking to access the newly-published documents. By combining Microsoft FAST Search Server 2010 for SharePoint with a SkyDox search user interface, the new HUDOC database enables simpler and more scalable searching, fostering improved public access - from any browser or device - to the 90,000-plus documents stored on the database.

The new UI also includes granular, real-time functionality designed to make searches faster and more relevant for users, including the ability to refine searches by name, member state, or specific legal terms via the Court’s case law thesaurus. Users will also be able to go directly to the portion of the document with these key words, rather than wading through, often hundreds, of pages in one ruling. In addition, SkyDox is providing RSS feeds to alert users when new related documents are available. 

John Hunter, Head of IT at the ECHR, said, “The original back-end architecture was over 10 years old, so we needed a way to cost-effectively make the content more accessible to our end users. Before this new portal, no more than 50 users could access the site at once, and visitors faced a poor user experience in terms of speed and the complexity of the interface. Basically, it lacked functionality of next-generation Web applications, which provide significant improvements in terms of being able to publish, search, and manage documents easily.”

SkyDox leveraged expertise and best practices garnered from the development of its Web 2.0 cloud-enabled file sharing and collaboration platform to build ECHR an intuitive search interface that works with SharePoint and FAST to provide a Web-based document sharing and dissemination portal.

Hunter commented, “SkyDox was key to the success of the project. While FAST provided much of the functionality that we needed, we were still looking to incorporate a specific user interface. Not only does SkyDox’s interface exceed our requirements for ease-of-use, it works with FAST, making SkyDox an ideal partner for us.”

The new site also features FAST’s automatic metadata creation and tagging functions to help enable faster searches. In addition, FAST’s ability to recognize different languages was essential because the ECHR has two official languages, English and French.

“We’re pleased to see FAST integrated into such an important application,” said Jared Spataro, senior director of SharePoint marketing at Microsoft Corp. “FAST’s powerful indexing and query capabilities make it ideal for sites designed to help people sort through mountains of data to find the documents they need.”

Ali Moinuddin, SkyDox CMO, concluded, “Some analysts predict that searching for information consumes almost a quarter of the average information worker’s time. The intelligent search in our SkyDox platform significantly reduces that number. We’ve taken our insight into searching to harness the ECHR’s legacy repository and made it easy for users to find any document in seconds, just by knowing a few key words. We’re incredibly proud to have developed a user interface that is intuitive and practical for the Court’s diverse and varied audiences. It’s an accomplishment to have taken our expertise in making search more efficient and relevant and applied it to a humanitarian project like this one.”

About the European Court of Human Rights

The European Court of Human Rights is an international court set up in 1959. It rules on individual or State applications alleging violations of the civil and political rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights. Since 1998 it has sat as a full-time court and individuals can apply to it directly. The Court is based in Strasbourg in the Human Rights Building. From here, the Court monitors respect for the human rights of 800 million Europeans in the 47 Council of Europe member States that have ratified the Convention.

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