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Centralising WA’s public consultation feature using APIs

Salsa built a public consultation solution to capture and manage consultations along with a consultation listing feature on wa.gov.au, with API capability for new consultations from external sources.

The purpose

To help WA’s Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC) deliver on its mission for citizen engagement and digital-first, API-first solutions.

The players

The WA DPC works across a range of areas, including infrastructure, policy and reform, digital government and state security.

The challenge

The WA Governmentwanted to create a new public consultation feature for wa.gov.au that would use APIs to consolidate and centralise different WA agency public consultations. The timeframe was very tight, with a relatively small budget. WA DPC wanted a base solution delivered within six weeks that was also set up for the future, so they could build on it.

The solution

The project consisted of two main elements:

  1. Configuring a consultation administrative tool for different agencies to lodge consultations

  2. Configuring APIs to post data to data store to accept new consultations and retrieve consultation metadata

  3. Creating a listing page for all consultations, with the ability to search and filter results

Consultation admin tool

We started by building out the schema for the consultations, so every consultation had standard fields. These fields include agency name, content editor details, consultation title, consultation description, the topic, publish date and a URL that takes users to full consultation details.

The consultation data is stored in a Laravel data store managed using Voyager. Data can be stored by directly entering data or by an exposed API. Using a common API endpoint, consultations from various sources can be sent to the Voyager data store. For example, some agencies use third-party providers for their consultations, and by using APIs they can continue using that system but push the consultation automatically to the WA consultation hub via APIs.

Salsa also added the capability to push new and updated consultations to WA.gov.au’s Elasticsearch search results. And finally, we created some user-friendly dashboard widgets in Voyager to improve the administrator user experience to help manage consultations.

The listing page

In terms of the end user experience, we needed to render information from Elasticsearch for display on a centralised listing page. This was done using Searchkit, which included React components that communicate directly with Elasticsearch.

The WA Government consultations landing page will list all the current consultations, and they can be filtered or searched.

“Salsa has done an excellent job in helping us deliver this project within a very short timeframe. They were very responsive to requests and were quick in providing suggestions and solutions to issues.”

Joanne Ng, Principal Policy Officer, Digital Transformation and Technology, Department of Premier and Cabinet

The benefits

The main benefits are:

  • A consolidated list of consultations so WA citizens can engage with government in one place

  • The ability to search and filter consultations, e.g. citizens can filter by location

  • Consolidation and centralisation — delivering whole-of-government benefits to WA, such as improved service and reduced costs

  • An improved agency/customer journey for the consultation process

  • Open API capability to post and get consultation metadata

  • A centralised place to store and manage consultation data in a standardised way

  • Revision history and user audit for managing consultations

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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