The City of Edinburgh Council will launch a long-awaited new web site this month (15 September) which will allow it to increase the level of online transactions and reduce running costs. The new web site is being developed on the Jadu content management system (CMS), and will also provide a platform for around 200 other websites that the council provides support for.
The Council said that while there is a one-off cost of £210,000 for creating the new website, there will be significantly lower annual costs for software licensing, support and hosting compared to previous systems.
The running costs of the Jadu-based web site and CMS will be around £86,300 for hosting and £38,500 for software licensing and support.
Time for a make-over
Around 61% of all local government incoming enquiries are now via the web, compared to 19% by phone and 2% face to face, according to a report for 2008/2009 by SOCITM the association for public sector IT professionals.
Edinburgh City Council's primary site logged 2million unique visitors and nearly 24million page impressions over the last 12 months, yet the web site has long been due an overhaul. The Council decided on 11 February 2008 to look for a replacement website and the business case for the new website was approved in August 2009.
"This is going to be real progress for the Council and improve markedly the experience that people have of using our website. Having seen how the site is progressing I'm confident that users will see a modern design that really works and helps them to do quickly and efficiently what they came for," said Council Finance Convenor Cllr Phil Wheeler welcomed the development.
Initial savings are expected to be around £190,000 per year with the potential for a further £100,000 annually as the council's other websites set-up for specific projects, campaigns, statutory boards and facilities, like schools, are added "over the next few years".
"The fact that we are saving money at the same time as improving what we do is exactly what we are trying to achieve in dealing with the challenges of the current budget situation," said Wheeler.
The new Council site will use Google search. Users will be able to create accounts on the site through which they will able to carry out frequent transactions.
Andrew Unsworth, the Council's head of e-Government, said: "This will be a major step forward for the Council and those that use our website. While the fact that the system pays for itself through the savings is important, we also see the website as crucial in improving our customer services and we intend to achieve additional savings by encouraging contact from our customers via the web instead of mail, telephone or face to face."
City of Edinburgh Council site cost and savings
- £210,000: One-off cost of site re-design
- £86,300 Annual hosting costs. (70% of previous levels, saving £37,000).
- £38,500: Software licensing and support (20% of previous levels, saving £154,000)
Online Transactions Savings
The projected savings do not take account of reduced costs resulting from increased demand for online transactions.
Edinburgh residents' usage of the web is above the UK and Scottish averages and studies have shown that costs per exchange range from £10 to £30 for face-to-face, £1 to £3 for telephone and 1p to 50p for web.
Edinburgh Internet Use
Broadband take-up in Edinburgh increased to 62% between 2006 and 2008, ahead of the UK average of 57% and substantially ahead of the Scottish average of 53%.
71% of Edinburgh adults use the internet at home compared with 66% in all Scotland and 65% across the UK. (Ofcom - The Communications Market 2008: Nations and Regions (Scotland)). More recent figures have indicated that this trend is continuing.