Built on the powerful Drupal Content Management System, Open Public is a Drupal distribution that offers features in a CMS that Government websites look for, and in some cases need in order to go live. Website Accessibility and 508 Compliance are required by all government websites and must meet strict ADA guidelines. Until Open Public was released there was a bit of work to do to conform your Drupal website to those standards. Open Public offers an Out of the box CMS built for Government and Public Policy groups that has all forms and content styles that meet ADA Guidelines. Open Public was created by Phase 2 Technology, which has had it's hands in government, public sector, publishing, and non-profit web development for over 10 years. They have used this experience to create an amazing open source product built on top of Drupal.
Open Public comes packed with ready to use Out-of-the-box features and built-in functionality. Along with the great accessibility features it provides, there is also a Media Room feature included. The Media Room is a feature that allows for the quick release of important information on the website. You can then invite media partners to access all of the information including press releases, videos, images, and other important and valuable content in one accessible centralized repository. Along with added features for your media partners, Open Public offers added features for your internal organization including a Directory Management system that allows you to publish profiles on your organizations leadership and staff. This system allows you to easily manage and update the contact information for anyone in your organization quickly and easily. There are also a handful of other pluggable features that Open Public offers that are included at no cost to you. Those include the ability to integrate a Twitter feed on the site, post blog entries, and features that you can turn on or off depending if you want to use them or not. These features all make it very easy to customize your Government website with ease.
Security is one of the founding principles behind the creation of Open Public. Strict Government security standards are at the forefront of the requirements to run a government website. Open Public has once again made it much easier to get past this hurdle, by including the functionality needed in the base installation. Proper password handling complies with Level 2 of the NIST'S Electronic Authentication Guidelines, HTTPS is pre-configured, and all forms come standard with CAPTCHA technology. This makes Open Public one of the most secure CMS platforms I have ever heard of out of the box. It will be great to see some of these things added to Drupal core over time, as it would allow all types of sites to know Drupal is a secure CMS platform.
Along with all these great features, Open Public also has incorporated the first app store for Drupal. There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the idea of a Drupal app store, but right now there doesn't seem to be any sort of payment system being built. The idea is that you can download and install a full featured and configured module or set of modules in one nice and neat package called an app. The idea is similar to the Features module that was created, which allows you to export various configurations and settings for multiple modules as a Feature. The concept of a Drupal App seems to be built on the same general principle of making it easier to add complex functionality easily to a Drupal website.
Open Public also features a customizable look and feel to the site, with easy to change modern themes included. Open Public also features a full featured intuitive dashboard, which offers easy to use stress-free rich-media management. That means that adding media-rich graphics and data visualizations to your content will be much easier than on a normal Drupal site. This all sites on top of what seems to be a very robust Drupal installation that allows for a very rich text and media driven website out of the box.
As with Drupal itself, Open Public offers a great community to back it. They are actively recruiting new community members on the , and those involved are shaping the way the Open Public is being further developed. Since the release of Open Public Beta, there have already been new features proposed by community members, that the development team for Open Public has accepted and are already working on. Those include enhancements to the Administration Interface and the inclusion of a Map Visualization feature.
You can read keep up to date with Open Public or give it a try yourself at http://openpublicapp.com.
Contact us if you would like talk more about developing a government related website with Open Public and Drupal CMS for your organization.