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Alerts module for consolidation and automation

Salsa built an API-driven Drupal alerts module for the WA Government so it could consolidate alert messages and automate banner notifications for its suite of websites.  

The purpose

To help WA Government better engage with citizens, by communicating important information through banner alerts on WA Government websites.

The players

The WA Department of Premier and Cabinet works across a range of areas, including infrastructure, policy and reform, digital government and state security. In response to COVID-19, DPC had set up the DPC Pandemic Control Unit.

The challenge

The WA Government wanted the ability to quickly add important messages about COVID-19 to its suite of websites through a banner feature. As innovators in digital government, DPC wanted the system to be API-driven and they wanted the solution to help automate broader website notifications. However, given the urgent situation they needed the alert system up and running ASAP.

DPC split the project into two phases:

  • Phase 1 was to create the banner in native Drupal

  • Phase 2 was to automate the process with API

The solution

Salsa started work on phase 1, aiming to deliver the solution within 14 days. We created a banner that used native Drupal functionality to allow admins to manage and post alerts. The alerts are colour-coded to reflect critical, high, medium and low importance. Alerts can also be set to either be session-based (using cookies) with the ability for the user to dismiss them, or setup as permanent banner messages that can’t be dismissed by the user. The alerts also include a link area, so users can click through to more detailed information. Phase 1 was delivered in 12 days.

In phase 2, we built the API solution. The backend uses standard fields so the API can read the alert information. This standardisation also ensures the alerts are always displayed consistently and correctly on the websites. Multiple departments across WA can login and create alerts. The banner messages are then automatically pushed to the relevant WA sites using API. Alert information from different departments is consolidated and displayed on a standard visual banner that’s visible across all sites.

The system was originally (and urgently) created for COVID-19 messages, but the system has been set up for broader notifications too, such as system messages, bushfire alerts, etc.

The WA banner alerts project was delivered within the timeframe and under budget.

The benefits

The API-driven alerts provides many benefits and quick-wins to the WA Government, including:

  • The ability to convey important information quickly and easily to site users during major events (e.g. COVID-19 and bushfires)

  • Colour-coding to make the criticality of the message visually obvious

  • Concise information on the alert, with the ability for users to click through to more detailed information

  • The ability for admins to easily curate alert messages on the site

  • A simplified and automated process for different departments to get important messages displayed on WA’s suite of websites

Why Salsa Digital?

Salsa was recommended by one of the Drupal developers within WA DPC, who’d previously worked with Salsa CTO Stuart Rowlands. WA DPC was looking for a reliable partner who could commit to the short timeframe. WA DPC recognised and reference-checked the work we’ve done (and continue to do) with other major government programs and jurisdictions. Salsa put together a considered proposal outlining the scope, timelines, assumptions, risks, mitigations and costs. We were awarded the job and started straight away.

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