Thursday, November 8, 2012

Visual Fusion Feature Spotlight: MultiSearch

With the launch of Visual Fusion 5.7 last week we have exciting new functionality to delve into, and today I want to highlight MultiSearch. 

MultiSearch is a universal find tool that searches across all data sources to focus on a keyword or search term relevant to a user at a particular moment.  It has very broad application and this capability has several exciting sub-features worthy of more explanation.  Let’s walk through some of those and see MultiSearch in action.

I’ve opened up a Visual Fusion application that has lots of different data sources both internal and external to our organization.  It doesn't really matter where they come from, some of the most popular are Microsoft SharePoint or SQL Server, ESRI ArcGIS or ArcSDE, USGS, NOAA, global incidents, natural disasters, etc.  I’ve selected a few diverse sources below, but I want to select one more, a hazmat feed.  Unfortunately, I’m not really sure where to find it.  The MultiSearch tool in the upper right hand corner of the screen can help me with that.

As I start to type “hazmat” into MultiSearch, my feed control switches from the feeds mode to the MultiSearch mode, and several options are presented to me:  I can “Fly to” the thing I am typing, I can add a custom feed of search results from popular web resources (Bing, Google, Wikipedia, Flickr, etc.) based on what I typed, I can turn on an existing feed based on what I typed, and I can look at the feed items within all the feeds I’ve turned on based on what I’ve typed (would need to scroll down a bit more to see those).

Remember, I was looking for a hazmat feed, so I select that option.  You can also start to see some of the feed items found that have an “h” in their title, content, etc.  Of the 164 total items in view, 147 fit the current search.

Since I selected the hazmat feed option, I’m taken to that feed in my Feed Control, and I’ll go ahead and turn that on.

With all the feeds on that I want, I now start my search in earnest.  I type “sandy” into MultiSearch and all the feed items across all my open feeds that have that keyword are found and presented to me in typical Visual Fusion list format.  In the upper right I can also see that out of 264 total items across all my open feeds, 6 of them contain my search term.  Please note that on the map and timeline only the six items with my keyword are still bright.  All the other ones have been dimmed so that I can more easily see the ones I care about .  Let’s do some more exploring.

The first feed item is curious to me.  This feed item is from the Terrorism and Suspicious Activity feed, but what does a Russian sub have to do with Sandy?  I click on the item to get more details.

The Details Panel opens up and I’m giving a synopsis of the event and a link to the full treatment.  I notice that Sandy forced this sub to harbor in the US.  Interesting.

I’m curious if any other “Russia” related items are in my feeds, so I add that term in MultiSearch.  When you have multiple keywords with spaces between them in MultiSearch, it will display only the feed items that have all of the listed keywords.  This “AND” capability is very powerful, and just one of several Boolean search features in MultiSearch.

Going back to my original search, I’d like to point out all the different feeds represented in the feed items that were found:  a Terrorism feed, the hazmat feed I selected earlier, and a news feed from Reuters.  A very diverse lot.  I check out the texas hazmat item, and decide it’s not relevant to my list.  Can MultiSearch help me get rid of it?

Yes!  By using a minus sign (the “NOT” operator) in front of a keyword I want to exclude, such as “texas”, all items with that keyword are excluded from the search results.

I have just a couple of final nuances to highlight in this sandy example.  We talked about using “AND” and “NOT” to empower my searching, but I can also use “OR”.  As seen below, by using a comma between my keywords, I can find all the items that have “sandy” or “new york” in them.  Of course I can still exclude “texas” if I want.  Also notice that since my second keyword had a space in it, I was able to use quotation marks to treat it as one keyword.  Another very powerful feature.

Another big capability in MultiSearch is being able to trim by date.  In this case, I typed in October and trimmed all the items down to only those that happened in October.  Notice that the November items have dimmed in the timeline.

I can also find items based on any numerical or categorical attribute.  An easy example to demonstrate this involves county polygons in the United States, as seen below.  The image shows them shaded by population density, but I can reach down into other attributes to find just the counties that meet more exacting criteria.

For example, I live in Michigan, so let’s trim down to those.  And, I’m over 40 years old, so let’s see the counties where the average age is greater than 40.  It’s interesting to see that only counties in the upper half of the state fit this criteria.  But what about stringing together other criteria as well?

To do that, I just add another one at the end to produce my trusty “AND” boolean.  Not many counties fit this combination.

 But a quick comma addition gives me my “OR” operator and I find that lots of counties have an average age over 40 or an average household income over $40,000.  Including my home county, Calhoun County.

In fact, let’s finish up where we began.  Remember how I said you could type in a term and then fly to that place.  Well, let’s do it to wrap things up.  I type in the county name, I select the Fly To option, and away we go…

…to the lost Eden of Calhoun County, Michigan!

Thanks for taking this journey with me. 

We are very excited to see what our customers will do with MultiSearch and proudly add it to the crowded stable of capabilities in Visual Fusion, and our risk awareness and response software solution, Visual CommandCenter.

Please let us know if you’d like to see MultiSearch--or anything else we do--up close and in person.


  1. Fantastic evolution of the Adhoc/Flyto Search. These new features will prove very useful!

  2. The various highlighted points and ideas given and have been mentioned in detail are quite considerable and up to the level of that blog, I will visit that platform again in future.