Next-generation media monitoring with open source search

Media monitoring is not a traditional search application: for a start, instead of searching a large number of documents with a single query, a media monitoring application must search every incoming news story with potentially thousands of queries, searching for words and terms relevant to client requirements. This can be difficult to scale, especially when accuracy must be maintained – a client won’t be happy if their media monitors miss relevant stories or send them news that isn’t relevant.

We’ve been working with Durrants Ltd. of London for a while now on replacing their existing (closed source) search engine with a system built on open source. This project, which you can read more about in a detailed case study (PDF), has reduced the hardware requirements significantly and led to huge accuracy improvements (in some cases where 95% of the results passed through to human operators were irrelevant ‘false positives’, the new system is now 95% correct).

The new system is built on Xapian and Python and supports all the features of the previous engine, to ease migration – it even copes with errors introduced during automated scanning of printed news. The new system scales easily and cost effectively.

As far as we know this is one of the first large-scale media monitoring systems built on open source, and a great example of search as a platform, which we’ve discussed before.

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