With its ability to continually evolve and innovate to meet and even exceed online expectations, open source software is eclipsing all other web content development options for governments.
According to a recent survey by Accenture Digital, 70 percent of citizens are interested in accessing government services online. Citizens are increasingly expecting a consumer-like experience from their interactions with government. They want to be able to access government services in real-time, across all devices.
Open-source software, and Drupal more specifically, is quickly becoming the international government standard because it is particularly conducive to meeting those expectations now and well into the future. It is especially suited to open data, accessibility, citizen engagement and increased accountability.
According to Drupal founder and Acquia chief technology officer Dries Buytaert, Drupal provides a platform for agencies to transform their delivery of services because it works well with so many different platforms and offers compelling integrations.
“More and more, the public sector is adopting Drupal to gain the freedom and flexibility to innovate how they’re delivering citizen services,” Buytaert said. “Open source plays a big role in civic engagement and government participation around the world.”
Recognizing the benefits of Drupal, as well as the significant cost savings it offers, the Australian government recently announced its intention to switch. The announcement followed news that the U.K. government had also moved to open-source software.
“The Government Content Management System (GovCMS) is envisaged as an important service offering for Australian Commonwealth Government agencies,” the Australian CTO, John Sheridan, wrote in a blog entry.
“GovCMS is intended to support more effective web channel delivery functions within government, and enable agencies to redirect effort from non-core transactional activities, towards higher-value activities that are more aligned with core agency missions,” a draft statement of requirements issued states.
Besides offering more flexibility, greater creativity and interactivity as well as increased functionality, open source software is far more cost effective. Estimates suggest millions can be saved from using the open-source software, primarily because small- to medium-sized companies can develop, implement and host sites for fractions of the cost. Investing in these enterprises also leads to further economic benefits, including job creation, innovation and local training.
In the current fiscal environment, taxpayers are demanding better return on investment, making government a strong market for Drupal. The White House is yet another example, though in that case security was also identified as a major consideration.
Macon Phillips, former White House director of Digital Strategy, noted at a 2013 web conference that the administration needed increased customization, something that open-source software is particularly suited to. Pointing to the online engagement platform, We the People, which is powered by Drupal, Philips noted the website has been very helpful in reaching the public. Since it was launched in September 2011, Philips said at the time that over eight million people had used the site to create 13 million signatures.
The Canada Winter Games moved to Drupal to power its website after it was recommended by several sources. “Drupal really allowed for a seamless transition,” said Alyson Gourley-Cramer, Games’ manager of communications and community relations.
“It also integrates third-party functionality,” she added, explaining that the website needed to integrate sporting-results functionality, an online store and a database from a third party while maintaining the same look and feel.
Ultimately, Gourley-Cramer said the website served the 2015 Games very well, reaching the audiences it needed when it needed to. It offered a compelling, interactive tool to learn about and inspired a sense of excitement around a very important national event.
Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) switched to Drupal about a year ago. The software it had previously been using was no longer available. “Almost a year later, we have the same staff levels but the styling costs have gone down and we have three times more content than at previous times, without any license software fees,” noted Timothy Moore, the organization’s web services manager.
The BART website has several requirements, including real-time data applications, mapping and scheduling applications. “Drupal is a natural fit,” Moore concluded. “We are feeling much more comfortable with Drupal.”
With so many governments seeking open-source solutions, Drupal appears to be at the forefront in meeting many of their needs.