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U.S. Department of Energy

United States Department of Energy website projectFollowbright was hired and brought aboard a U.S. Department of Energy website project as a website consulting and website development subcontractor for a national engineering consulting firm. The website project was in support of the Northern Pass Transmission Line Project Environmental Impact Statement (Norther Pass EIS) and serves as a repository for all National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) reolated public documents and EIS project announcements to the public.

Followbright took complete control over the old Northern Pass EIS web site, which had been built in the Django content management system (which uses the Python programming language). The previous developer was no longer serving the needs of the project, the website was running into difficulties, and the site was causing problems and headaches for those involved.

We were tasked to migrate, rebuild, and improve the functionality of the site.

When we migrated the site, our goals were to:

  • Simplify and improve content management, so the consultants could not only make updates more easily, but would have more flexibility to add new functionality in the future.
  • Migrate all existing content, including thousands of comments submitted by site visitors.
  • Roll out a host of new features for data-driven Google Maps, new content pages, and new commenting functionality

The first step in the process was to migrate the current site.

We migrated the existing front-end code and all site content into the ExpressionEngine content management system, which allowed for simpler editing of existing content by the client, and opened the door for us to make larger changes in the next phases of the project.

We also set up custom database queries to allow ExpressionEngine to seamlessly read data from the original site's database. This allowed us to display data from the old database on the new EE site, without needing to reorganize all that data, since it was intrinsically linked to how SE Group managed data in its internal systems.

Once we completed the initial site migration, we embarked on two larger development projects.

First, we built out a series of custom Google Maps, powered by extensive data provided by the project's consultants. You can check out the resulting maps here and here. These maps each contain a number of layers, including custom markers and polygons, based on data collected by the U.S. Department of Energy's consultants. The consultants are now able to upload new data files via the content management system to instantly update these maps, making them very easy and cost-effective to maintain over the long-term.

We also developed an entirely new system for processing comment submissions, which gave the project's consultants an easy-to-use back-end for manually adding comments, and allowed those to be seamlessly integrated into the comments submitted by visitors via the front-end of the site. As part of this process, we created a custom export system that produced a CSV that fit perfectly into the parameters for the consultants' internal data structure, making it very easy for them to click a button, get an export, and roll that into their internal database.

Finally, we set the website up on a high-end Rackspace Cloud Sites hosting account. This provided a level of reliability and top-notch support that fit the needs of this mission-critical site, which needed to be able to handle large traffic surges with 100% uptime.

Continuing support

As of the end of 2016, we continue to provide as-needed, on-call, monthly retainer support for this U.S. Department of Energy project.