5 ways to use social media for better emergency response

As some of you know, I'm very interested in how government and large organizations are using information systems, collaboration tools, and social media. This past weekend, I had a chance to read some of the trade magazines stacked under my desk and collecting dust. I came across a great article published in Government Computer News that discussed how emergency management is using social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter.

The artice, written by Rutrell Yasin, lists five ways to use social media for better emergency response which include:

  1. Reach a wider audience
  2. Send and receive emergency alerts
  3. Monitor the conversation
  4. Integrate data sources for situational awareness
  5. Collaborate with responders

The story gives a good snapshot to how social media is currently being used and hope to be used by various emergency management organizations. If you're interested in the article, the article is available online (and unfortunately the online format isn't as good as it is in print).

Liferay releases Liferay Enterprise Support Application

Yesterday, I received a press release from one of Liferay's marketing people. Instead of just publishing the press release, I thought I'd also include the part of the email that also introduces the product. This is a  good way for you to get an insider's look to how marketing relationships between a site such as CMS Report and the CMS companies are established. Kyle's introduction to the product actually peaked my interest into Liferay more than the press release and may help you consider Liferay as part of your enterprise solution.

Hi Bryan,

Liferay (makers of the Java open source portal that was recently voted a leader in Gartner's magic quadrant), has developed its own support issue tracker that is included in the Liferay Portal 6 Enterprise Editions. Liferay used to use JIRA, but needed to make some tweaks to simplify the support process - so they built this using their own Liferay Portal 6 Enterprise Edition.

Liferay is used by hundreds of thousands of developers; as Gartner reported in the report above, a "surprising amount" of enterprises ask Gartner about Liferay's portal.

Press release is below.



Liferay Releases LESA to Enterprise Customers

Los Angeles, CA - November 30, 2010: Liferay, Inc., provider of the market’s fastest growing enterprise portal product, recently announced the availability of the Liferay Enterprise Support Application (LESA), a new multifaceted support issue tracker, designed to simplify and streamline the enterprise support experience for its customers. The web application, available through the Liferay Customer Portal, provides Liferay Enterprise Edition customers a clean and simple interface to improve interactions with the Liferay support team.

LESA features a simplified user interface that greatly improves the support experience for both developers and non-technical administrators. Customers will benefit from having one application that aggregates, organizes, and monitors disparate data and services in the support process. Customers can now search tickets by username, issue severity, due date, and other attributes. This will simplify how customers track open tickets and allows them an efficient escalation process. LESA’s ability to issue multiple assignees also improves productivity by permitting more people to work on a ticket at a given time.

“Customers who have tested LESA have been very pleased with the capabilities and have reported quicker and more accurate resolutions,” said Craig Kaneko, Liferay’s Director of Support and Subscription Services. “Customers report that usability and accessibility are much higher with LESA than what is available from other support systems, including those of the world’s largest software providers.”

Built entirely on Liferay Portal 6EE, LESA, is now available to all Enterprise Edition customers. For more information, please visit www.liferay.com. A free 30-day trial of Liferay Portal Enterprise Edition is available upon request by contacting sales@liferay.com.

Quoting IT: Content-Centric Budgeting

"Until we learn that, in an increasingly content-centric world, we cannot continue to base automation efforts exclusively on a technology-centric model, agencies will continue to invest millions of dollars in programs and have little to show for it."

-Barry Schaeffer, Federal IT program failures: It's the content, stupid, Federal Computer Week, September 23, 2010.

Employee Benefits, Grievances, and Termination: EDM and Workflow Help Manage HR

Life can be intense. Every day, employee dramas enter the workplace unsolicited. Some of the greatest workplace concerns we face as HR professionals, employees, and caring colleagues are making sure:

  • Health needs are met and costs are covered as anticipated.
  • Everyone is treated fairly by managers and co-workers, able to work without discrimination or harassment.
  • No one makes (or must endure) threats in the workplace, idle or real.

Intentional wrongdoing, inadvertent employee mishandling, shoddy record keeping, or a manager or worker with a hidden agenda can devastate company finances, reputation, and employee morale. Noncompliance penalties, unemployment insurance, time-consuming training programs, lower productivity, and other HR costs can pull strongly on the bottom line as a result. So what can you do to:

… help staff members comply with corporate policies?

… improve confidence, trust, and satisfaction with your HR department and company?

… discourage workers from wrongdoing and prevent acts of poor judgment?

… protect your organization and its workers from engaging in and getting away with---or experiencing---harassment, unjust treatment, false accusations of such activity, or other harm?

… guard your organization against false accusations?

The answer lies in timely, complete, accurate documentation…along with the ability to organize, associate, and handle information appropriately, consistently, and quickly when you need it. The challenge: gathering it from diverse places including your HR software, document repositories, payroll systems, email, voice messages, and more, and maximizing its use everywhere it has value.

Open Source versus the Enterprise Solution

Let me start by clarifying a few things:

1) I work for a CMS vendor, for an enterprise CMS.

2) I am also a big fan of open source.

Yet, I am attempting to write this article with all bias aside; with all generalizations thrown out the window. Without feeling like I am trying to justify this article, I think it is also worth mentioning that the CMS vendor that I work for produces a product that I would avidly use even if I didn’t work for them.

Every vendor, whether they are enterprise or open source do research on their competition. Although the internal information that these vendors have are usually pretty good, there is not a lot of thorough comparisons readily available on the net. When I look on the web, all I see are generalizations. I want to get rid of this, drop biased opinions and give you the hard, honest truth. Sure, I can only talk from my experience, and I have not used every CMS under the sun, but I have had the pleasure (and sometimes pain) of using a diverse range; enough, I would say to be able to stoke the fires. To back this up if someone asked me:

  • What is the best photo editing software? I would give an honest answer of Photoshop. But Paint.net is free and so is Gimp, I hear you say. Although expensive, it is the best tool for the job.
  • What is the best Media Player? I would say VLC! But Microsoft had dedicated teams to build Windows Media Player, I hear you say! Doesn’t matter, VLC is free and the best tool for the job.
  • What is the best Developer Environment? I would say Visual Studio? But I don’t use .net, I hear you say! Great, because you should choose the best tool for YOUR job…..the whole point I am trying to get across with this article.
  • What is the best FTP Client? I would say FileZilla!
  • What is the best browser? There is no ONE tool for the job.

I think it is important to first define what the two systems are in order to be able to thoroughly compare the two options.

  • Open source describes practices in production and development that promote access to the end product's source materials. The public is allows to copy, modify and redistribute the source code without paying royalties or fees. Some consider open source a philosophy, others consider it a pragmatic methodology.
  • Proprietary software is computer software licensed under exclusive legal right of its owner. The purchaser, or licensee, is given the right to use the software under certain conditions, but restricted from other uses, such as modification, further distribution, or reverse engineering.

From a high level perspective you could argue that both have advantages and disadvantages. It is only when you analyze the functionality of the two systems when the decision on what way to go is made that much easier.


Escher CMS 0.9.0 Released

We're pleased to announce general availability of Escher CMS 0.9.0. Escher CMS is a new content management system built especially for web designers and developers creating client websites.

Escher CMS focuses on building beautiful, powerful and flexible sites. If you have used Textpattern or Radiant, you will immediately feel at home with Escher CMS, as it draws inspiration from those as well as other popular CMS products, while also adding its own unique features and capabilities into the mix.

Escher CMS is a free open source self-hosted solution, featuring an intuitive web-based administration area where web designers/developers build the site and clients can manage it once deployed.

A sampling of Escher CMS's powerful feature set:

WordPress wins Hall of Fame CMS Award

Birmingham, UK. 19 November 2010 - Packt Publishing is pleased to announce that WordPress has won the Hall of Fame Award in the 2010 Open Source Awards. Hall of Fame CMS is a category introduced to the Award last year, which features a competition between the previous winners of the Open Source CMS Award; Drupal, Joomla! and WordPress.

With this award, WordPress has gone from winning the Open Source CMS Award last year to winning the Hall of Fame CMS category, reserved for the biggest projects in the Content Management Framework industry.

WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg told Packt, “On behalf of the entire WordPress community I'm honored to accept this award, it's a great recognition of all the hard work and effort we've invested into WordPress. We envision a day when every man, woman, and child will be able to have an effortless beautiful website powered by Free software."

CMS Made Simple Wins the 2010 Open Source CMS Award

CMS Made Simple is the winner in Packt Publishing's Open Source CMS Award category of the 2010 Open Source Awards. CMS Made Simple has won this Award for the first time in the past five years, having been a presence in the Award since 2007. Packt also announced  SilverStripe as first runner up with MODx in the second runners up position.

I had the privilege of sitting as a judge in this year's Open Source CMS Award category. My vote was a little different from the official award ranking where I would have placed mojoPortal, another 2010 award finalist, in a runnerup position.  I may have been the only judge that may have ranked mojoPortal in the top three positions. As I've done similarly in past years, in the near future I'll post how I judged the finalists in this category. However, it is now CMS Made Simple's well deserved moment and I won't take the spotlight away from them with my personal ramblings.

Attached below is the official press release I received from Packt Publishing announcing CMS Made Simple as the winner of the Open Source CMS Award. Congratulations to all those involved int he development and support of this great open source CMS.

DotNetNuke 5.6 Introduces New Site Search and Enhanced Analytics Support

DotNetNuke Corp., the company behind a popular Web Content Management Platforms for Microsoft .NET, has announced the release of DotNetNuke 5.6. Version 5.6 of the DotNetNuke Professional Edition and Enterprise Edition includes the new DotNetNuke Site Search feature, which enables more effective web site content search, and Enhanced Analytics Support, which provides greater performance and control over the monitoring of web site traffic. It also includes significant enhancements to the Content Approval Workflows feature, which extends the ability of organizations to control changes to their web site content. In addition, a new perpetual license option is now available for the DotNetNuke Web CMS in addition to the existing annual subscription license.

SilverStripe CMS becomes the first Microsoft Certified open source web app

Yesterday, I received an email from SilverStripe Co-Founder, Sigurd Magnusson. For all the years I have been corresponding with Sigurd, I don't think I've ever seen him as excited as he was this time in breaking the news. SilverStripe, a web development company delivering open source content management systems (CMS) has achieved Certification for Windows Server 2008 R2 for version 2.4.0 of their flagship product, SilverStripe CMS. This is a world first, as the software is the only truly open source web application to achieve certification on the Windows platform.

What is a little different about this story is that it is not only SilverStripe's press relations people making a big deal about this story. Microsoft is making a big deal about the accomplishments of SilverStripe. Andrew Gordan, Microsoft's New Zealand’s Platform Strategy Manager writes:

A large amount of the innovation in the software world is happening on the web and in the cloud, and in addition to that, we are seeing increased awareness and acceptance of open source software on the Microsoft Windows platforms.

Microsoft's Certified for Windows programs are well known for indicating software and hardware products that have been thoroughly tested to work well on Microsoft Windows and as of today, SilverStripe CMS is the first Open Source web application to complete the comprehensive testing necessary to achieve "Certified for Windows Server 2008 R2" status.

In his own blog post, Sigurd mentions that the certification for SilverStripe has been a long but rewarding road. A large proportion of the SilverStirpe's  community and clients use Microsoft servers, databases, and other technology. Over the past three years there an effort has been made for the SilverStripe CMS to work with Microsoft's operating system, web servers, and SQL Server database product.


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