Government Technology

Manatee County, Fla., Preps New Internet Portal Built on Open Source

Manatee County, Fla.
Manatee County, Fla.

June 14, 2010 By

Manatee County, Fla.'s IT team didn't want to spend another year battling the arbitrary limits on the back end of the county's website.

For five years, a patchwork mix of legacy systems turned simple Web IT tasks into time-consuming chores. With only 10 IT staff members working on the project, the county's IT team had to create content and upload files to the content management system (CMS). But there were file size limitations so they had to hold files on a separate server. They couldn't see front-end changes without publishing them, and sometimes edits just disappeared completely.

"You had to have things inserted in a correct order or you could lose your work," said Matthew Arriaga, software designer for the county's Information Services Department. "It was a difficult system to learn."

Two years ago, the county began exploring open source alternatives that would upgrade the site without draining the county's limited budget. The department wanted a website that was more user friendly and offered better services to citizens, Arriaga said. And why not? In recent years, many local governments had improved online services. Shouldn't Manatee County residents be able to pay tickets online or apply for licenses? Shouldn't county employees be able to address the government with real-time concerns?

After sending out an RFP to solicit vendor solutions, Manatee County found Magnolia CMS and now plans to launch a new-and-improved Internet portal for all county departments this summer. The county paid $30,600 for the new system.

"We wanted something we could get up and running quickly and maintain without a lot of help," Arriaga said. "We can build on what we have as opposed to starting from scratch."

Because of the recession, the Information Services Department realized open standards and an open source solution could help reduce costs and prevent being locked into one vendor and one system, Arriaga said. Magnolia CMS, he added, frees the IT team up to handle IT tasks rather than content creation.

With Magnolia CMS, he said, information services can bring more local government functions directly to the Web:

  • Adding new services through Magnolia's standard templating kit will be as simple as creating a specific paragraph template, and then writing a Java service to connect with back-end systems.
  • Users will be able to update their integrated back-end applications through the same Magnolia CMS interface, employing the skills they use to update any other content.

The transition from the old system to the new one has been tricky, Arriaga said, but the long-term potential diminishes the learning curve: For example, the new system will allow the IT team to put more data on the website, such as interactive maps embedded directly into the Web page.


| More


Add Your Comment

You are solely responsible for the content of your comments. We reserve the right to remove comments that are considered profane, vulgar, obscene, factually inaccurate, off-topic, or considered a personal attack.

In Our Library

White Papers | Exclusives Reports | Webinar Archives | Best Practices and Case Studies
Fresh Ideas In Online Security for Public Safety Organizations
Lesley Carhart, Senior Information Security Specialist at Motorola Solutions, knows that online and computer security are more challenging than ever. Personal smartphones, removable devices like USB storage drives, and social media have a significant impact on security. In “Fresh Ideas in Online Security for Public Safely Organizations,” Lesley provides recommendations to improve your online security against threats from social networks, removable devices, weak passwords and digital photos.
Meeting Constituents Where They Are With Dynamic, Real-Time Mobile Engagement
Leveraging the proven and open Kofax Mobile Capture Platform, organizations can rapidly integrate powerful mobile engagement solutions across the spectrum of mobile image capture, mobile data capture and complete mobile process integration. Kofax differentiates itself by extending capture to mobility, supporting multiple points of constituent engagement. Kofax solutions dynamically orchestrate the user’s mobile experience from a single platform—reducing time to market, improving process perf
Public Safety 2019
Motorola conducted an industry survey on the latest trends in public safety communications. The results provide an outlook of what technology is in store for your agency in the next five years. Download the results to gain this valuable insight.
View All

Featured Papers