Drupal for Civic Engagement: the City of Chattanooga Story

Yulia Popova , Senior Manager, Content Reading estimate: 3 minutes

In the 2024 Drupal for Civic Engagement webinar, Pantheon’s Chief Strategy Officer Josh Koenig and CI&T’s Global Head of Engineering Luis Ribeiro highlighted the challenges faced by the public sector and how Drupal's composable nature provides a solution. Ribeiro presented how Drupal and Pantheon played a pivotal role in addressing the challenges faced by the City of Chattanooga, Tennessee. 

The City of Chattanooga serves a population of more than 180,000 residents. Faced with a legacy web system, it needed to modernize and enhance its user experience with a service-oriented design on a trusted platform. The ultimate goal was to better meet the needs of residents and align with the city's brand identity. The City chose the digital agency CI&T for the mission. The agency outlined six key areas to address the City of Chattanooga's needs:

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  • Optimizing User Experience: A modern design system is essential to improve user interactions and enhance the overall user experience (with a focus on mobile-first) that would accommodate diverse residential priorities.
  • Improving SEO: The city seeks to create a more search engine-friendly website.
  • Scalability: The solution must scale effectively to support the evolving project and future requirements.
  • Accessibility: The city aims to make its services more accessible for all audiences and user types
  • Sustainability: The city wants to build a solution that wouldn't require frequent revisions and could evolve seamlessly.
  • Data and Analytics: Understanding and leveraging data are crucial for faster adaptation, content creation and new feature releases. 

 

Drupal and Pantheon: A Composable, Cost-Effective Solution

Drupal and Pantheon emerged as the ideal combination for addressing these challenges from multiple angles. The composable nature of Drupal and Pantheon allowed for flexibility in building a solution that not only addressed the immediate needs but also considered the coexistence with current and future projects. 

“Drupal and Pantheon fit like a glove for this challenge. Pantheon’s one of the best and most secure and scalable solutions to support this kind of challenge,” shared Ribeiro.

In the public sector, managing budgets effectively is critical. Drupal's open-source platform, coupled with Pantheon's efficient implementation, proved to generate significant value for the City of Chattanooga, according to Ribeiro. The flexibility of Drupal allowed for strong functionalities out of the gate while enabling cost-effective design and implementation.

Drupal's open source ecosystem, supported by a vast community, ensures that the solution created for the City of Chattanooga would be a sustainable, long-term investment. The community's continuous contributions and updates provided added layers of security and adaptability.

Drupal is one of the best on the market for editorial content. You can have whatever you need and customize on top of it to suit your challenges." 

-Global Head of Engineering Luis Ribeiro

Implementation Details

Ribeiro delved into the technical aspects of the solution, including responsive design implementation, a mobile-first approach, strong editorial features and the integration of artificial intelligence to enhance translation processes and SEO. (Jump to the 30th minute of the webinar to listen to the details.)

The implementation included a comprehensive city calendar, improved alert systems, timely updates, streamlined payment options and enhanced project views. These features were aimed at not only modernizing the app but also elevating the overall user experience.

Key Takeaways

User Experience First: Before diving into technology, understanding the purpose and user journey is crucial. This approach ensures that technology solutions are aligned with the users' needs.

Efficiency with Low Costs: “For public sector and government projects, finding efficient solutions with low costs, including licensing and framework costs, is essential. Drupal and Pantheon proved effective in providing value for the City,” said Ribeiro.

Longevity and Continuous Improvement: Creating solutions that have a longer lifespan, gather structured data and allow for continuous improvement is vital. Drupal's open-source platform and Pantheon's tools facilitate ongoing enhancements and adaptability.

In conclusion, the City of Chattanooga's journey with Drupal and Pantheon showcases the power of a composable, open-source solution in revolutionizing civic engagement. The success of this implementation lies in its user-centric approach, cost-effectiveness and ability to create a sustainable and adaptable digital platform.

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