Collaboration Portals for usaid

usaid

Ecoordination.org & LED Projects


The HiTech Service experts successfully solved all the problems, showing high performance, great professional skills and ability to adapt to the changing environment. The project deadlines were met and high quality of product was demonstrated. All team members appeared to be responsive and willing to implement the best technical solution in spite of the difficulties and time limits.

William Tucker, USAID.

Project #1

USAID is implementing a wast program called Municipal Energy Reform Project (MERP). The goal of the Municipal Energy Reform Program is to reduce and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions in Ukraine resulting from the poor use of energy resources, which will lead to strengthened energy security and economic growth.

All the participants needed a tool to collaborate with each other, preferably using Google's set of email, chat, file storage etc. They called it "Advanced Donor Coordination" project and claimed that it's a key cross–cutting factor for all MERP activities.

To support advanced donor coordination, MERP conducted an analysis of different available options and prepared recommendations on establishment of an E–based platform for coordination with activities implemented by other donors and partners. The E–based platform should have had a number of important functionalities to improve donor coordination.

After a thorough consideration USAID published requirements and declared a tender.

We won the tender happy

Requirements

  1. Use Google Apps for Work, Google API and JavaScript.
  2. Multilanguage interface.
  3. Work with common browsers: IE, Chrome, Firefox and Safari.
  4. Differential access for users.
  5. Aggregation with other social networks and email client MS Outlook, including seamless consolidation with Calendar/Contacts/Notes. Importing/exporting of information.
  6. Online/offline modes for communications.
  7. Facilitating and coordinating schedules.
  8. Exchanging messages.
  9. Posting boards.
  10. Exchanging experts’ opinions and reports on legal and regulatory issues.
  11. Coordinating outreach activities.

Google Apps for Work

Google provides commercial service that contains independently customizable versions of Web applications including Gmail, Hangouts, Google Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets, etc.

Google Script is used to automate components and make an end–user application.

Here is where we put most of our effort. Despite this was Google and we were paying for their services, the framework, API and service in general lacked of releability and integrity. Roughly speaking, "Google Apps for Work" is an API for automating existing Google's applications written in Google App Script. Google App Script is a proprietary cloud–based scripting language, a subset of JavaScript.

Google provided very limited API and tended to change it without prior notification. This was a complete surprise and one of the biggest challenge for us; we had to built reliable system having potencially unreliable components.

We did it incorporating multiple interchangable modules having in mind that one of them would still be working in case of limited outage on Google side. This allowed us to build reliable and extremely functional collaboration portal.

In total

usaid

Project #2

Another project USAID is implementing is called Municipal Energy Reform Project (MERP). The goal is to enhance Ukraine’s energy security by increasing end–use energy efficiency combined with energy planning and increasing use of clean energy in large cities. This will result in reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and reductions of energy expenditures and imports.

One of the elements of the program is a web portal that represents all possible public information regarding this project. Wiki, more precise a MediaWiki was choosen as a platform for this. The WikiMedia core needed to be considerable extend providing extensive metadata management and an absolutely new external (mostly tabular) data management module. A couple of standard modules like forum, history etc were seriously rewritten.

Requirements

  1. Multilanguage interface.
  2. Work with common browsers: IE, Chrome, Firefox and Safari.
  3. Differential access for users.
  4. Office/tabular files viewer/manager.
  5. Extensive metadata management.

MediaWiki

MediaWiki is the most popular Wiki implementation, built on PHP and one of free database engines, mostly they are MySQL or Postgree SQL. It allows non–IT users to build hyperlinked reference web site using high–level simplified markup language (known as "wiki markup"). It was originally created by the Wikimedia Foundation and runs on multiple websites including Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Wikimedia Commons and many others.

MediaWiki provides multiple APIs that allow to extend its functionality as well as it provides skin subsystem to alter site appearance. In total all this allows to build a web portal that does not look like wiki but provide all its functionality in easy to use and friendly manner.

Contacts

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.