Drupal to be adopted for new city website

Editor’s note: I received this e-mail just now about the public consultation the City of Hamilton has done regarding the city website and am re-producing it here. I’m assuming it’s OK to share it publicly since it’s about a public consultation process and the content is relevant to the local development community…

 

Hello, I’m writing to you as a participant in the City of Hamilton’s public consultation activity that took place on April 29th, facilitated by IBM.  The public consultation was part of a Web Technology Assessment that the City undertook, prior to making significant investments in new web technology. At that meeting there was a commitment that when this phase of the City’s work was completed, that we would share information with you.

I would like to provide you with an update on the results of this assessment, so that you are aware of how your feedback has contributed to the project.  City Staff presented the public consultation feedback to the Web Redevelopment Sub-Committee of Council in May.  IBM submitted a final report with recommendations to the City at the end of June.  City Staff have reviewed those recommendations and made final decisions related to the adoption of web technology for the City’s new website – specifically the web technology (CMS) platform, hosting model and development framework.

The City heard clearly from the participants in the consultation that there is a strong desire to see the City adopt an open source software solution for the City’s new web platform.  Further, there was a strong desire to see the City adopt an open collaboration model, with codebases developed by the City made available back out into the community under an open source license – provided that there are assurances that the City’s network security and citizens’ privacy are fully protected.

We are pleased to share with you that the City has made a decision to adopt the open source platform Drupal 7 for the City’s future website.  Drupal 7 is being used extensively by governments of all levels throughout North America, including the Government of Canada, the Province of Ontario and many municipalities.

In addition, IBM has recommended that the City participate in the Web Experience Toolkit (WET) collaboration, facilitated by the Treasury Board of Canada.  This collaboration is fully open, and includes a Github resource, with open codebases that are validated as usable and accessible, which are important criteria for the City of Hamilton.  The City will be assessing the feasibility of leveraging and contributing to this open source collaboration framework, which is also open to members of the local development community who wish to participate.

Further recommendations were made by IBM to the City and after deliberation, the City has accepted a number of those recommendations.  See the attached Executive Summary detailing the recommendations provided by IBM. Also attached is an Information Update that was provided to members of Council, detailing the process followed during the assessment and decisions made.  The one area you will note in our information update where staff differed with IBM is the hosting model.  Although staff agree with IBM’s rationale for recommending an in-house hosting model, staff have recommended that the production website initially be hosted externally in order to provide a stable platform during the redevelopment, while staff in IT acquire the necessary familiarity and skill with supporting the new environment.

The City is excited by the opportunity to use open source software for its web platform.  In addition, Staff are eager to participate in open collaborations with the local development community as well as with others from around the globe.  We hope that these decisions will also please members of the development community who have asked the City to adopt an open strategy for the website redevelopment.

As the Web Technology Assessment is now complete and Staff have confirmed the general feasibility of the recommended model, the City will be commencing the procurement process this summer and early fall to implement the new platform, hosting and development.  If you wish to be notified of future bid opportunities related to the City’s website, please register through the City’s procurement service, Biddingo.  By registering, you will be notified of all bid opportunities within your chosen categories.  In order to register, visit www.hamilton.ca/Procurement/VendorRegistrationForm and follow the instructions.  Registration is free.  Please contact Angela Mastandrea at Angela.Mastandrea@hamilton.ca if you have questions regarding our procurement process.  Please note that we expect initial bid opportunities will commence before the end of August, 2013.

If you have any questions or comments related to the City’s web redevelopment project, or the information above, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Thanks,

Jay Adams

Service Delivery Experience Advisor
City of Hamilton
905-546-2424 ext. 2221

 

  • http://www.canuckseo.com/ Jim Rudnick

    This decision makes me squirm – but only from a POV that would admit quite honestly, that Drupal is not a technology that I know anything about, have ever used or in fact know it as being used by any web dev I know here in the city. That said, the only thing I can offer is that from the rumours about same on the web, it appears to be a CMS that is mature and robust, if hard to learn and design for….but again I don’t know as I’m not a Drupal guy….

    IF anyone here at SoftwareHam does use same, I’d love to have your counsel here….is this a smart choice by the City?

    Plus what has me a bit worried is that if Drupal is not being used much by our own #hamOnt city web developers…wont this choice to use same mean that we’ve just handed the job over to a web dev firm from somewhere else? Umm…that’s not a good idea in my book, eh!

    • jbfink

      Hi Jim,

      I think this is a very smart move by the city. Behind WordPress, Drupal is probably the most widely used content management system in the world, and although it definitely has its warts (the upgrade procedure is problematic) it’s still something which is understood by a large chunk of the programming and design community, and it’s a definite huge plus that support and upkeep issues will not be tied to a single vendor.

      As to the local development community, I don’t know enough about them to state authoritatively that they do or do not have strong Drupal chops. I’d be extremely surprised however if we ended up not having a whole huge pile of local talent for Drupal or PHP upon which to draw.

      I’m a librarian at Mac; we use Drupal extensively both internally and externally. In addition, Hamilton Public uses it too.

    • Tyler McIntyre

      Fear not, this is a solid choice by the City of Hamilton, although as a Drupal developer I may be a little biased. Drupal does have a pretty steep learning curve but is very powerful, I have seen some amazing things built with Drupal. I think there is plenty of talent in the city already, I know of other developers and a few web shops in the city that also use Drupal for their projects. If this means more people in the city could start using Drupal that is OK by me.

    • Tyler McIntyre

      I know of quite a few city websites that have already gone this route. Ottawa was the first to come to mind, I believe they moved to Drupal about a year ago but I have heard of others as well. Drupal is also used fairly extensively by Universities, banks, insurance companies and also by the non profit community.

  • Guest

    Hi Jim,

    I think this is a very smart move by the city. Behind WordPress, Drupal is probably the most widely used content management system in the world, and although it definitely has its warts (the upgrade procedure is problematic) it’s still something which is understood by a large chunk of the programming and design community, and it’s a definite huge plus that support and upkeep issues will not be tied to a single vendor.

    As to the local development community, I don’t know enough about them to state authoritatively that they do or do not have strong Drupal chops. I’d be extremely surprised however if we ended up not having a whole huge pile of local talent for Drupal or PHP upon which to draw.

    I’m a librarian at Mac; we use Drupal extensively both internally and externally. In addition, Hamilton Public uses it too.

    • http://www.canuckseo.com/ Jim Rudnick

      that’s good to know, thanks for the update! is there a real live web dev or firm here in #HamOnt that might also chime in here…

      • brundlefly

        Hey Jim,

        We use Drupal for about 70% of our projects at Peapod Studios. As far as open source options there isn’t really a better option for a city to start building something new upon. I agree with Tyler the learning curve for the users may be high, but I imagine compared to whatever they are currently using, it will be light years easier for the city to keep things updated and current.

        • http://www.canuckseo.com/ Jim Rudnick

          thanks for that info…I’m a MS guy (ASP & .NET) developer…so this opensource stuff is alien to me…but good to know!!! Just hope that the firm that gets the build is Local tho, eh!

          • brundlefly

            I honestly doubt they will be considering anyone local based on their track record. I think IBM out of Markham got the tech assessment.