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Advantages of open source for architecting internal communications: 4 case studies

Government agencies are using open source technologies to provide cost-effective, flexible internal communications architectures.
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The shift towards remote work has made it increasingly challenging for organizations to maintain efficient internal communications. Open source technologies have emerged as cost-effective and flexible solutions to these challenges. They offer a comprehensive suite of tools for internal communication, such as group chat, file sharing, and team collaboration, that are both accessible and secure.

[ Learn more about how to architect enterprise communications. ]

This article explores the impact of open source on the internal communication landscape in the government sector. It provides successful case studies demonstrating the advantages of open source technology in this field.

Open source chat

The Department of Homeland Security and Bridge 4 Public Safety needed a secure messaging platform for interagency communication. Rocket.Chat, an open source collaboration tool, provided a solution for their needs.

  • Real-time communication: Chat enables real-time communication, reducing response times and promoting faster decision-making.
  • Increased collaboration: Chat allows employees to collaborate in a more informal setting, fostering a sense of community and encouraging the exchange of information and knowledge.
  • Improved productivity: Chat can streamline communication and reduce the time spent on email exchanges or meetings, increasing productivity.
  • Better communication archives: Chat conversations can be archived, providing a permanent record of discussions and decisions, and making it easier for employees to access previous conversations.
  • Secure communications: Hosting on-premises ensures data compliance for highly regulated and protected communications.

Chat provides real-time, collaborative, and accessible communication, reducing response times, increasing productivity, and improving communication archiving.

[ Learn why open source and 5G are a perfect partnership. ]

Digital asset management

The U.S. Army Family and Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) services had a proprietary digital asset management (DAM) system and SharePoint installation that was difficult for marketers to use. Content editors managing websites spent a lot of time searching for images and videos. PortlandLabs created a new DAM based on open source ConcreteCMS for the U.S. Army Family and MWR, which improved internal communication in the following ways:

  • Centralized access: A centralized repository for all digital assets makes it easier for web managers to find information, reducing search time and improving productivity.
  • Improved collaboration: A DAM system enables real-time collaboration and sharing of assets, reducing email exchanges and meetings, and keeping projects on track.
  • Version control: The DAM provides version control, allowing web managers to track asset changes and revert to previous versions if necessary.
  • Improved brand consistency: Organizations can enforce brand guidelines to maintain a consistent brand image and improve brand recognition.

In summary, a DAM system provides centralized access to digital assets, enables real-time collaboration, provides version control, and enforces brand consistency. This system leads to a more streamlined and efficient internal communication process, ultimately improving organizational performance and productivity.

Accessibility auditing

U.S. federal agencies are required to comply with accessibility laws and make information and communication technology (ICT) accessible to individuals with disabilities. The Social Security Administration developed Accessible Name & Description Inspector (ANDI) as a tool for government agencies to meet this requirement. It provides an easy-to-use, accurate, and free solution for detecting and improving accessibility issues on web pages.

  • Improved user experience: By ensuring that web pages are accessible, ANDI helps organizations provide a better experience for all users, making it easier for them to understand, navigate, and interact with the web.
  • Easy to use: ANDI is straightforward to install and use, making it a practical tool for organizations to implement in their process.
  • Accessibility expertise: The Accessible Solutions Branch at SSA maintains ANDI and has expertise in accessibility, ensuring that the tool is up to date and effective in helping other government organizations.

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The U.S. Army Family and MWR within the Installation Management Command (IMCOM) runs thousands of businesses. They use SharePoint to organize their documents for some departments, but creating content within SharePoint can be challenging for a busy web manager working on an Army base.

For years, countless hours were wasted emailing information upon request to individuals who needed it. Finding the source of truth for these common but important questions was painful and time consuming, be it a question about training or the nutritional information for a recipe. The U.S. Army Family and MWR implemented a new extranet and improved internal communication in the following ways:

  • Centralized communication hub: An extranet provides a centralized platform for all internal communications, making it easier for web managers to access the information they need and reducing the risk of miscommunication.
  • Improved collaboration: An extranet allows employees to collaborate and share information in real time, reducing the need for face-to-face meetings or repeated email exchanges. Such easy sharing improves communication efficiency and helps to keep projects on track.
  • Increased visibility: An extranet provides an overview of all company-wide initiatives and projects, allowing employees to stay informed and updated on the latest developments. This visibility improves transparency and reduces the risk of misunderstandings.
  • Streamlined communication: An extranet provides a centralized platform for communication, reducing the need for disparate email threads or manual updates. This streamlines communication and helps to ensure that all stakeholders are informed and current on project progress.

An extranet can significantly improve internal communications by providing a centralized communication hub, enabling real-time collaboration, increasing visibility, improving resource allocation, and streamlining communication. These benefits can lead to more efficient and effective internal communication, ultimately raising organizational performance and productivity.

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Wrap up

Open source technologies are transforming internal communication practices for government organizations, particularly through open source chat, digital asset management, and digital communications tools.

The Department of Homeland Security and Bridge 4 Public Safety use Rocket.Chat for secure real-time communication and increased collaboration, productivity, and communication archiving. The U.S. Army MWR has adopted a new digital asset management system and extranet, improving centralized access, collaboration, and brand consistency. Many government organizations use ANDI, an accessibility auditing tool, to enhance internal communication practices and automatically detect accessibility issues.

Author’s photo

Jessica Dunbar

Jess is a data-driven professional with a passion for using insights to drive decision making. With experience in both government and web-based analytical roles, Jess is committed to using data to educate and inform. More about me

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