The Ribble Valley has a population of 55,000 set in unspoilt, rural Lancashire and is a centre for tourism. Driving the council's eGovernment agenda, Peter Hothersall (Head of IT) and Marion Leeming (Head of eGovernment) at Ribble Valley Borough Council (RVBC), have been involved in the development and rollout of their new enterprise-wide, devolved content management system.
The new system, powered by CMS is set to fundamentally change the way the Council publishes public information.
Devolving content management
The Priority Outcomes and IEG4 (the main drivers behind the implementation of devolved content management systems) are centered around implementation of mechanisms to achieve a greater degree of joined-up electronic government. Coupled with FOI, CMS systems have become a fundamental, mission critical back office system for publishing that can only be effective if devolved throughout the council's service units.
RVBC already had a CMS which was implemented some time ago. This made the 'internal engagement' task of selling the new Jadu CMS to service units much easier. Jadu, as part of their implementation process, provide several internal engagement presentations as well as one-to-one training for webmasters and content editors. Ultimately, making the transition from legacy to modern CMS did not present a challenge. The challenge was in educating service units about the LGCL and LGSL.
We have successfully hosted our own website for some years now and the Linux option of the Jadu software has meant that we no longer have to depend entirely on Microsoft systems and the forced upgrades associated with them, to run our core services. Linux also provides us with a great deal of flexibility and choice, as well as security. As our knowledge of Linux grows, we are sure that the long term benefits will be significant.Peter Hothersall - RVBC
"One of the unique selling points of Jadu as CMS providers, is the level of expert support. They demonstrated a detailed knowledge of LAWS standards as well as eGif and WAI - furthermore, their support for content population seemed unique in the market. Jadu have developed their own local authority generic content, including LGCL content (based on improved and revised LAWS generic content), FAQs, forms, links and even personalisation targeting rules. This is coupled with a 'toolkit', based on the PID list (or LGSL) which is used for auditing content."
Jadu have employed a full-time former local authority content manager working on each implementation, using the ESD toolkit to customise the PID and help content management and training.
Overall, implementation time of the CMS has been reduced to little over five weeks - and with content creation devolved through each service unit, the result is a feature-rich informative and interactive web site that RVBC believes citizens will really use.
Making the most of Linux and Open Source
RVBC have recognised that Open Source Software (OSS) can play a significant role in reducing the total cost of ownership down to a minimum. Indeed, their choice of Linux for operating system as well as a number of other OSS applications has brought the revenue costs of the site down to near zero - with the only additional cost of technical software support from Jadu.