Energy Technologies Institute
The Energy Technologies Institute was founded in 2007 to accelerate the development and eventual deployment of low carbon technologies in the UK and, as they wind down their operation, their focus has shifted to sharing what they’ve learnt with future generations.
Having already worked with ETI to build them a more stable and future-friendly website that will last way past their eventual closing date, we were asked to get involved in their Knowledge Zone project.
The ETI had a desire and a responsibility to ensure that the majority of the findings they have accumulated over the years are made available to the general public, so that it may be the basis of improved energy efficiency now and in the future.
The Knowledge Zone project was to do just that, using digital technologies.
The ETI’s work is consumed by a diverse audience including government, engineers and academics, but one thing they all have in common is that their time is very precious. Therefore it was crucial that the new functionality was intuitive, easy to use and worked just as well on a government PC as well as an engineer’s 4G connected tablet.
Originally, the ETI saw the Knowledge Zone as a stand-alone product, but a month or so into the project it became clear that integrating the functionality into the existing website would make the most sense to users, present all technology knowledge in one place and reduce the ongoing costs of both systems.
With the ETI closing in 2019, one of the key objectives of the project was that the finished product should continue to function with little or no maintenance years into the future. To meet this we built-in redundancy of the component services that make up the Knowledge Zone, meaning the product will still function should one of the services cease to be available.
Deep indexing of deliverables
Due to the huge amount of content within the deliverables produced by the ETI, simply adding metadata to each file wouldn’t be enough to return reliable results for every query.
Instead, we used ElasticSearch to index all the content of each PDF, Excel file and Word Document at the point it was uploaded by the ETI.
While the deliverables we uploaded were very dry, the ETI has regularly produced content which is easier to digest and more appealing to wider audiences. On the programme and project pages that hosted the deliverable search functionality, we also included video explainers and interviews, downloadable infographics and links to related insight reports.
Using a cloud-based search service meant that results to search queries are returned and rendered within 2 milliseconds. So fast, in fact, that we had to build in some waiting time so users realise that something has updated.
Hosting sensitive deliverables
Some of the content that the ETI has produced over the years includes sensitive data, but they still wanted to make this available to their partner organisations should they want to download it.
We built a system which still returned sensitive deliverables in search results, but users would need to enter their email address to request download. When access was then granted by a moderator, the user received a one-time download link to the file.
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