Hamilton’s portal gives new meaning to collaboration

“Many cooks spoil the broth,” traditional wisdom has it.

But when it comes to Hamilton, Ont.’s new Web site – traditional wisdom is wide off the mark.

For many different groups – from the private, public and non-profit sectors – joined forces to create this feature-rich portal. And together they have fashioned something that everybody is excited about. The new site – dubbed myhamilton.ca – was launched Tuesday.

“We know we gained more by collaborating back and forth,” said Ken Roberts, project co-director, myhamilton.ca. He said the various (community) agencies that participated in the site’s creation had been working together for many years on other technology initiatives. The new portal, he said, is a logical extension of what the partners have been doing over more than 10 years.

For example, he noted that Hamilton was the first municipality to use a shared fibre infrastructure between libraries, universities, school boards and the city.

The creation of the portal is a high point in this “digital unification” initiative.

The city got together more than 16 community partners – from university representatives to local business owners – to steer the initiative. Their mission: to fashion a portal that provides visitors a single, convenient entry-point for 24/7 access to Hamilton information and services.

“I love the ability to do consolidated searching, “Roberts said. “We have worked very hard with all the community agencies to ensure their databases conform to common standards. It all makes our job that much easier.”

The site relies on Microsoft technology to display Web content, and on Community Municipal Portal (CMP), an offering from Toronto-based Navantis Inc.

Hamilton’s new community portal is another example of how local governments can unite communities through technology, and operating more efficiently in the process, according to Navantis president Jason Martin.

Roberts acknowledges that there “a lot of room to improve it”, but promises that the portal will be enhanced over the next few months to provide the community with newer and better services.