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Creating a single digital presence for our citizens

Salsa Digital partnered with the Department of Premier and Cabinet to realise the vision of an open platform to unify digital services across the Victorian Government. It was a true partnership with co-mingled teams, a shared vision and a shared commitment to open government.

Salsa Digital 9 July 2018

The tender

When we heard about the Department of Premier and Cabinet’s (DPC’s) tender for a single digital platform, we were pretty excited...to say the least.

We loved the idea of creating one unified platform for all Victorian government agencies, plus it aligned perfectly with all the things we’re passionate about — open government, open source, open data, open platform and open CMS (in this case Drupal).

Needless to say, we were thrilled when we won the tender and couldn’t wait to roll up our sleeves and get started on a truly fantastic vision for Victorian Government websites and Victorian citizens.

Discovery

The first stage of the project was a thorough discovery process to review options for the solution. In terms of the platform, instead of building a customised platform for DPC, Salsa recommended Lagoon, an open source, Docker build-and-deploy system for OpenShift and Kubernetes. Using an open source platform also meant we could deliver a fully open source solution, which tied in well with our shared vision for an open platform.

The build

The build started on the three SDP products: Bay (an open-source platform based on Lagoon), Tide (a Drupal CMS distribution) and Ripple coupled with Nuxt (the frontend presentation layer). Of course, this was a huge project so if you’d like to find out more information about the technology, please see our other resources (Bay case study, Tide case study, Ripple case study, or for a complete rundown you might like to see our detailed whitepaper, Dissecting the Single Digital Presence platform). This blog is really focusing more on the partnership experience than the technical details.

Our approach

We definitely approached the SDP project as a joint project, a partnership with DPC. We were aligned on the vision and knew how to implement it. We ran the process using an agile methodology and a co-blended team (Salsa and DPC). DPC also liked this approach because it allowed them to leverage Salsa’s existing expertise while also starting to upskill and bring some of that knowledge in-house.

The launch

We launched the alpha website alpha.vic.gov.au running on the newly developed SDP on 27 June 2018.

From a tech point of view we see four main reasons why the SDP is a great digital innovation:

  1. It’s a decoupled open source distribution based on Drupal 8.

  2. It uses an open source platform, making the entire stack open source.

  3. It includes a centralised content repository, so content can be created and maintained in one place but distributed to multiple sites/channels.

  4. It features the Atomic Pattern Library, a library of reusable components for government agencies to use and repurpose as they see fit.

Importantly these technical elements deliver a range of benefits for citizens and government, including:

  • A single source of truth for VicGov information

  • Consolidation of information into one platform with content designed around joined-up user journeys

  • A consistent user experience across all VicGov websites

  • Responsive website templates that respond to different devices (desktop computers, tablets, smartphones)

  • Accessibility benefits, with all VicGov website templates complying with WCAG 2.0 accessibility standards (Level AA)

  • Reduced time-to-market for new websites via standard templates and processes

  • Consolidation of hosting to leverage cost savings

See the SDP value proposition for more information on the value proposition and the benefits SDP delivers to citizens and the Victorian Government.

The Salsa team worked hard, and we were excited to be part of such a pivotal digital innovation project in Victoria, part of a solution that will deliver a better citizen experience for Victorians.

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