TownSource is a family of Web sites providing information about real-world neighborhoods and town that combines the features of forums. wikis, online databases and newsgroups.

Developed and sponsored by SyNeural, TownSource uses SyNeural’s Semantic Repository technology to capture the meaning in statements about a communityrather than merely the words. This technology enables TownSource to retrieve useful information and filter out irrelevant items far better than conventional Web sites or search engines. (Read more about Semantic Repositories here.) 

How is TownSource different from a conventional website?

To appreciate the uniqueness of TownSource, imagine what a conventional Web site or search engine would do with the query, "Who fixes coffee makers in my town?" The search engine "knows" that you're searching for Web pages that contain the words "fixes" and "coffee makers," but it has no idea of what your query means. It's liable to return search results that use the words from your question in wildly inappropriate ways. At the same time, it may ignore pages that are right on topic if they don't contain the words you used. For example, it's likely to ignore a review of local repair shops that "repair kitchen appliances" rather than "fix coffee makers."

SyNeural's Semantic Repository technology yields superior results by analyzing both information and queries in terms of their meaning. Rather than search for pages that contain the same words as your query, it analyzes the meaning of the query and searches for information that responds to it. In other words, it acts like a person who can apply specialized knowledge and common sense to your problem, not a machine that only applies mechanical rules.

Back to the query about people who fix coffee makers. A search engine that uses Syneural’s Semantic Repository technology could take facts like these into account:

  • You used "fixes" as a verb, so you're probably looking for people (or businesses) who perform the act of "fixing."
  • The object of the sentence in your query is "coffee makers," so you're looking for someone who fixes coffee makers.
  • "Repair" means the same thing as "fix," so information about people who repair coffee makers will probably answer your query.
  • Coffee makers are kitchen appliances, so information about people who fix/repair kitchen appliances will probably answer your query.
  • The Semantic Repository contains a description of a company named Allied Home Services which is located in your town and repairs kitchen appliances.

Given these facts, the search engine could respond to your query with information about Allied Home Services, even if the information about that company in the Semantic Repository doesn't mention "fixing" or "coffee makers.".

Here are some other examples of questions that is uniquely qualified to answer:

  • Does my block have a neighborhood watch group?
  • How much is my town’s mayor paid?
  • Which members of my high school class still live here?
  • Who are the experts on our local history?

Contributing information is just as easy as retrieving it!

Users can contribute information to as well as retrieve it. Anyone can add information to their community’s TownSource repository just by entering it with the site's easy-to-use text editor. SyNeural's Semantic Repository software processes the information and adds it to the community's repository in searchable form.

Coming soon to a community near you… and then to your community

TownSource will soon start providing service for three small cities in California: Davis, Santa Cruz, and Berkeley. Within a year it plans to add at least 175 additional communities across America. As it grows, its rate of adding new communities will also grow. Ultimately it intends to cover most communities in the United States.

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