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Case study: City of LA

City of Los Angeles Chooses Acquia to Power Digital Transformation

Case study: City of LA

Citizens, Businesses, Visitors, and Employees Benefit from New Acquia Platform

With an aging 12-year-old web content management system, the City of Los Angeles, California needed to transform its digital presence to keep pace with the rapidly shifting expectations of its “customers:” citizens, businesses, visitors, and employees.

The Challenge

By 2014, the City of Los Angeles had long been feeling the strain of its outdated web content management system (CMS). Providing limited functionality and requiring antiquated web browsers for its content managers, the old CMS was definitely holding them back. The city’s Information Technology Agency (ITA) gathered representatives from several user departments and evaluated the CMS options. The focus was on an enterprise platform that was user friendly, robust, cost effective, reliable, and adaptable to the ever changing web landscape.

In addition, this project provided a prime opportunity to re-evaluate the digital strategy and infrastructure. As described by Ted Ross, Assistant General Manager of the city’s ITA, “The web, and the digital engagement of our constituents, is constantly changing. We needed a platform that could handle our workload but also be highly usable, agile, and continue to innovate. This was an excellent opportunity to implement an innovative open source solution, like Drupal.”

Ross is responsible for 182 IT specialists, a $32 million annual budget, and oversees the city’s government’s enterprise IT applications, web services, and 24x7 data center.

“Web services is a prime candidate for cloud hosting,” he said. “We are seeing better uptime during spikes in demand, have reallocated
data center staff to other critical on-premise applications, and have greatly improved our disaster recovery. During a natural disaster, such as an earthquake, the city website becomes an important twoway communication channel for the local community and their relatives across the country. As emphasized by our Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Council, resilience to disasters is a top priority.”

The Solution

With its sights set on innovation, cloud hosting, and open source, the city chose the Drupal CMS and the Acquia Platform. “The concept of moving to an open source, cloud-based web CMS solution was compelling for our organization,” said Ted Ross.

With the decision to move forward with Acquia in place, the team focused on what a new LA digital experience would look like. As a large government, it needed a cost-effective solution that was also adaptable to the changing requirements of its growing customers. “Remember, LA is vast: almost 4 million residents across 469 square miles. The concept of actual, physical town halls disappeared a long time ago. An effective digital presence is essential for the delivery of services to our citizens, businesses, and visitors,” said Ross.

The must-have attributes for LA were the delivery of web experiences that are mobile responsive, driven by smart data, and capable of delivering highly personalized experiences driven by that data. Yet the reality was that the ITA department staffing had seen its headcount fall 40 percent over the last six years, while proprietary software license costs continued to increase. Total cost of ownership was an omnipresent concern.

The potential to improve the efficiency of the city’s workforce was also appealing. Hundreds of field workers in LA operate without a cubicle. So do elected officials, their aides, and their staff. Even the city’s IT employees are decentralized, deploying 1,200 people in more than 40 IT departments.

To address this situation, LA tapped a key component of the Acquia Platform: Acquia Cloud Site Factory, a product that allows sharing of standard
templates from a central back end. Features developed for the “core” could quickly be leveraged by all departments.

“We need to templatize the offering so a small group of people could power and support a large number of websites from the back end, while affording complete freedom and agility for practitioners on the front end,” Ross said.

In addition to the recently launched LACity.org, over a hundred other city sites, currently hosted on a variety of platforms, will be able to take advantage of Acquia Cloud Site Factory’s ability to spin off and control websites, saving the city money, improving efficiency, while maintaining flexibility across city departments.

The Results

In August, 2014, LA committed to Drupal and the Acquia Platform. Immediately after, the city set out to consolidate approximately a dozen sites—including the main site, LACity.org—with 40 sites targeted in the near future, and 120 sites under consideration.

As the team gets underway with their massive project, they’re encouraged by the mission of making these sites gateways to public services, highly available, and resilient, providing a dynamic, compelling user experience.

“Citizens’ expectations of government are only increasing,” said Ross. “They expect mobile access with a user experience that is best in class, and reflective of good government.”

Citizens’ expectations of government sites are only increasing. They expect mobile access and a user experience that is best in class and reflective of good government
Ted Ross, Assistant General Manager of ITA,
City of Los Angeles

Company Information

City of LA
Second largest city in US, with nearly 4 million citizens spread over 469 square miles
IT staff: 1200 people in 40+ departments
Initial launch: more than a dozen separate websites, targeting more than 40 near term
  • 19% increase in pageviews year over year to 787,953 in March 2015 after new platform launch
  • Increased site availability from an average of 95% to 100% availability since new platform launch