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Country Fire Authority (CFA)

Country Fire Authority (CFA) is Victoria’s volunteer fire service, operating across the state to reduce the occurrence and impacts of fire and other emergencies.

The Challenge

The publishing model for the previous intranet was entirely centralised, with all content being hand-edited as HTML. CFA wanted a new solution the digital team could easily manage and update to deliver information more efficiently and to improve internal communications.

CFA had an existing CMS for their news website and public website. However, they required a new easier-to-use Digital Experience Platform (DXP) that offered more flexibility and control, so team members could be quickly trained to manage their own content and would not have to rely on external developers to make changes or enhancements.

CFA sought to implement a new DXP for their public website, News & Media website and members intranet. This would make it easier for their non-technical internal teams to deliver a valuable digital experience to users while providing critical information and resources for staff, volunteers, and the community.

Elcom is an intuitive and powerful Digital Experience Platform that allows users with basic to intermediate web management skills to create and manage content and users in a flexible way across multiple sites. CFA, spokesperson
Country Fire Authority (CFA)

The Solution

CFA looked for a largely ‘out-of-the-box’ solution that could quickly and easily be deployed. The Elcom proposal provided CFA with the confidence that their solution would give their teams the most freedom and flexibility to manage their websites internally. For example, the ability to simplify the publishing process using structured authoring for use by the broader CFA membership and the ability to access and manage virtually all aspects of the site within their own team post-launch.

CFA were also looking to establish a strong ongoing relationship with the chosen vendor to ensure that future business needs are met in a timely and sustainable way. Elcom had the proven experience and history working with government organisations to do this.

Elcom’s project and delivery teams worked closely with CFA to ensure the project ran smoothly. The team provided an efficient and professional service, as well as innovative solutions to help CFA achieve their vision.

Digital Experience Platform (DXP)

The DXP streamlines the management of the sites and empowers CFA to continually improve each site internally. Security permissions are in place to restrict and allow access to different publishers. To support site administrators, the Elcom DXP provides a variety of system-generated reports including authoring activity, list of pages due for review and content inventory.

There is robust support for metadata, which improves site search and the underlying management of the site. Fields such as location, category and content type are used to drive the display of information on the site. When the review date is reached, an automatic notification via email is sent to the content author. When the expiry date and time is set and then reached, the page is automatically unpublished. The DXP also provides versioning capabilities to help manage changes to the site, which includes a full audit trail of changes in the platform.

There is a focus on ease of use for authors and administrators. A ‘draft’ version of pages can be accessed by staff throughout the organisation and publishers can email a link to a draft page, to allow for comments or feedback. Forms are created with a simple drag and drop interface, with the option of delivering more advanced and dynamic forms including hiding or displaying fields based on answers to previous questions, support for managing approvals for forms, the ability to support a digital signature, and support for attaching files to form submissions.

SAML has been deployed at CFA as the standard basis for user authentication across a range of systems. The Elcom Digital Experience Platform uses SAML to manage core user identities and authentication. Group membership within SAML is the primary basis for the rights and permissions in the new sites.

News & Media Website

This website enables CFA’s members to submit news articles and photos for other CFA members and the public. Members submit their content using a form which autogenerates an article based on the form submission fields. It goes through a workflow and is approved by CFA’s communications team before being published.

Public Website

The website delivers a large amount of potentially life-saving information in a user-friendly way that can be tailored based on where you are in Victoria. It provides all bushfire safety information and warnings in the one location that is used by most Victorians when fire danger forecasts are high. There are various data sources integrated across website, including a ‘Local information’ page that provides localised fire safety information to Victorians. The data is dynamic and changes regularly, managed through a RESTful API from the data source.

Website content is driven by seasonal weather changes, as the weather goes from winter (lower vegetation fire risk) to summer (higher vegetation fire risk). The platform allows CFA to manage two different sets of page templates and designs, relating to winter and summer mode, without requiring technical knowledge.

Members Intranet

The intranet provides a user-friendly ‘front door’ of the information, tools and applications for members to carry out their various roles. It is an important communications tool to keep members informed of news and events happening across the organisation. Like the website, the intranet integrates data from various corporate sources to provide incident information and documents. For example, the homepage features an Incident List which displays details of incidences including district number, location, date and number of vehicles attending. Only the top 5 incidents are listed, though the user can open the ‘All Incidents’ list. This content is dynamic and is integrated with comes from an internal CFA system.

Personalised experiences for users are managed through detailed access restrictions that are used to determine which sections of the intranet are shown to each audience. Internally, CFA has implemented Elastic Search as an enterprise search engine, encompassing the intranet. In order to display the correct search results on the intranet for a given individual, the platform has integrated with Elastic, to enable ‘security trimming’.

The ability for members to add links to their favourite pages to the home page is an important enhancement to their intranet as no home page design or navigation could ever cater for all the various roles and activities that CFA volunteers and staff need to access.

The Member News section will also provide the ability for members to share their stories across the organisation in a way that was not possible before.

The Benefits

Using Elcom, CFA is able to maintain its position as a trusted and reliable source of information, helping to deliver dynamic digital experiences to their members and the general community. CFA has been able to establish a strong relationship with Elcom and have the intention of continuing to work with them to implement any additional features or customisation in the future.

CFA now has the capability to make continual improvements to the sites using their own internal resources in a quick and efficient way. This allows them to be more responsive to the needs of their organisation. The Communications & Stakeholder Relations Digital Team are self-sufficient in terms of the site management and maintenance. CFA has various groups of publishers who create and maintain their own content. They have found the platform intuitive and have been able to carry out their tasks after minimal training.

The News & Media website is used by CFA’s members to submit news articles and photos that educate, inform, and entertain CFA members and the public. It is a very modern and high-quality news site that delivers regular news updates to the general community and CFA members, with minimal maintenance required.

The public website provides all bushfire safety warnings and information in the one location that is used by most Victorians when fire danger forecasts are high, attracting over 2.5 million users last year. It delivers a large amount of potentially life-saving information in a user-friendly way that can be tailored based on where you are.

Over 50,000 volunteers and around 1,300 staff access the intranet. The intranet provides a user-friendly ‘front door’ of the information, tools and applications to carry out their various roles. It is the source of truth for organisation’s policies and standard operating procedures and integrates data from various corporate sources. It is also an important communications tool to keep members informed of important news and events happening across the organisation.

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