Calgary plans interactive portal strategy

The City of Calgary wants to ensure the next stampede is to its Web site.

Calgary has signed a deal with a consortium led by EDS Canada Inc. to design and build a portal to deliver services over the Internet. The 18-month contract

is worth approximately $5 million and work is expected to begin this month. Other vendors involved include Microsoft Canada Co., Quadrus Development Inc., Plumtree Software and Quaddro Digital Solutions.

Judith Umbach, leader of the Web business office for The City of Calgary, says the goal is to develop the infrastructure and functionality its citizens want: interactive, comprehensive, good look and feel, easy to use. These could include submitting blueprints for buliding permits and not simply one-way payment transactions.

“”To do that we need to get the infrastructure, which is the hardware and the software to support those kinds of things, plus the staffing and the content and the services for all those things that allow for that to happen,”” Umbach says.

“”That kind of very sophisticated infrastructure is something we don’t have now.””

While the city finds itself on the cusp of realizing its goal, it didn’t arrive there overnight. Umbach says the process began two years ago. The first step, she says, was to get information from staff and devise a strategy. The next step was to determine the role of partners, finalize funding and costs and open the contract to bidding. Calgary entertained 31 proposals before deciding on the EDS-led group.

Umbach says one of the things she liked most about its proposal was the timetable. For example, the first quarter will be spent mapping out the process and live changes made to the Web site in the third quarter. She also said she was impressed by the Web and multimedia experience all the companies brought to the table.

EDS spokesperson Kevin Lightfoot says EDS has been doing public sector Web sites for some time and is confident its partners are up to the task.

“”We were able to bring together the partners that had expertise in this as well. We were able to bring to the table some of the best people for doing e-government,”” Lightfoot says.

Andy Boettcher, vice-president, Alberta for EDS Canada, says one of the biggest challenge for the project will be communicating.

“”Word has to get out that this is the new mode of doing business with the city,”” Boettcher says. “”We have to go over and above the call duty to make sure that processes and approvals are signed off because we cannot afford even one misstep with respect to the public.””

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