The London Borough of Camden covers an area of 22 square kilometres, stretching from Hampstead Heath, one of the largest open spaces in the capital, through Camden Town and King's Cross to central London. Parts of central London falling under Camden's jurisdiction, such as Holborn and Covent Garden, are amongst the capital's most developed areas.
The borough is home to almost 250,000 residents and 25,000 businesses, and supports a daily flow of commuters and visitors that increases its population threefold. Camden Council deliver over 500 different services, ranging from housing and building control to children's services and social care. Scrutiny committees carefully measure performance throughout the year, identifying areas that are not successfully meeting standards.
Historically, Camden Council provided a small number of disjointed online services. A lack of cohesion and usability resulted in slow and expensive processes that frustrated end users, in many cases requiring multiple contacts at the Council for a single transaction. This situation was mirrored by a set of siloed ICT systems, reflecting the Council's disparate service offerings.
Camden's services needed a complete overhaul to create a user-friendly online offering that would be highly efficient and provide much better value. The online service experience needed to be personalised for citizens and local businesses, as well as simplified with a single sign-on for a streamlined services experience. The Council's business objective was to move 85% of their transactions online by 2015, helping to drive down costs, increase their business agility and improve customer services.
The Council prioritised service delivery and end user experience, and local residents and businesses expected a range of features: a single point of contact, viewable status and history of transactions, customised content and automated messaging and transaction confirmation. The Council quickly realised that the best way to meet every requirement and ensure the necessary flexibility for future innovation was to build an open source solution from the ‘bottom up', built around user needs. Initial in-house testing demonstrated Liferay Portal's ability to execute. The Council commissioned a formal evaluation with Gartner, who recognise Liferay as a leader in their Magic Quadrant for Horizontal Portals. Their expert analysis proved to be a deciding factor into executive buy-in.
Liferay now powers the user interaction end of Camden's solutions: a business portal and a citizen-facing portal. These portals offer single points of contact where businesses and citizens can access information and transact securely and simply with the council. Businesses and citizens have unique needs and frequencies of interaction with the Council. However, Liferay's flexibility meant the majority of development work for one portal could be integrated into the other. Other key components included:
- High level of configurability
- A wealth of out-of-the-box features
- Standards compliance
- Enterprise grade support and UK-based account management
- Interoperability and integration capabilities(including Facebook, Google and Open ID login; legacy line of business application using Camden's integrated business services (SOA) and GIS addressing service; and financial information systems)
Liferay's agility allows for extensions of the portals to be taken in stages, significantly cutting time to market. From the first installation of Liferay, a citizen-facing portal was live in just twelve weeks. Within the following 15 months, Camden had achieved two further releases on the citizen-facing portal, and two on the business portal.
Business Value Added
Local and central government face an ongoing challenge: to revolutionise service delivery and drive out waste and inefficiency. By leveraging Liferay, Camden now offer a simple and personal online experience in place of costly, traditional channels of service delivery. Camden have saved "well over £1 million already by adopting a sensible, efficient online offer with Liferay," said John Jackson, Assistant Director of ICT. "In the next phase of development we're looking at a multimillion pound number in savings by fundamentally re-engineering the services that we provide. That re-engineering is not just about automation – it's about re-thinking the way those processes are delivered."
In addition to cost saving, Camden's commitment to open systems and open standards creates exciting opportunities for innovation and collaboration with other organisations. Future planned releases for Camden's portals include higher-level services for more sensitive layers of data, as well as use of Liferay's standard auditing portlet in conjunction with the Council's auditing and error-handling processes.
As government evolves to the next phase of web development, moving from delivering simple transactions to a unified online customer experience, there will be significant opportunity for innovation and savings offered by Open Standards-based software. Liferay and Camden are committed to continue working together to offer a local government solution on Liferay Marketplace, a one-stop site for sharing and downloading Liferay-compatible applications. Organisations interested in such a solution are welcome to contact Liferay.
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