Transit strike shows power of Drupal, cloud computing
In October, Bay Area Rapid Transit, which provides public transportation to the city of San Francisco, found itself in a public labor dispute, which culminated in a four-day strike that halted transportation services.
With nearly 400,000 daily riders — San Franciscans who relied on the system for transportation — the department’s website found itself with 10 times its normal traffic as users looked for information on when trains would run again.
The increase in Web traffic normally would have shut the site down, but just weeks before, the transit system — affectionately known as BART — moved its Web operations to Drupal, hosted inside Acquia’s cloud.
“Drupal allowed them the space to innovate and find better ways to communicate with their users,” Todd Akers, vice president of public sector for Acquia, told StateScoop. “In addition, hosting on Acquia Cloud allowed them to reduce costs by 70 percent and gave them the elasticity needed to handle times of higher demand.”
Akers pointed to a similar situation Acquia worked on with the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority in October 2012. When Hurricane Sandy caused outages throughout the northeast, the department’s Web operations were able to keep running – keeping citizens informed – during times of crisis when communication is needed most.
Akers has advocated the Drupal platform for public sector agencies ranging from large federal, cabinet-level departments to state and local governments as well, saying its enterprise platform has already helped organizations of all sizes transform their Web operations.
One example he pointed to was the Georgia Technology Authority, which launched the Georgia.gov site on Drupal and hosts on Acquia’s cloud platform. Rolled out in 2012, the transition is saving the state more than 90 percent on hosting costs yearly and provides the government the ability to meet open government mandates.
“The platform collects a lot of information that governments can then turn over to citizens and users, so they can put it to good use,” Akers said.
That point, he said, is especially useful to local governments that do not have the same resources as their larger federal and state counterparts, but are looking to push open government initiatives to better serve citizens.
“What we’re seeing is that Drupal is providing an open source platform that can allow organizations to do it far faster and to harness innovation,” Akers said. “That dovetails into budget and cost, which is something every government can appreciate.”