Local Digital Fund winning bid: Code-sharing with other local councils

We’re excited to have been a part of a successful bid to the Local Digital Fund run by Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). Working with Croydon, Bracknell Forest and Oxford City councils, the discovery project aims to improve code-sharing between councils.

We’ve been sharing our Drupal website code with Croydon Digital Service for a couple of months already. Earlier this year, Croydon Council wanted to design a new ‘alpha’ website. Their delivery manager, Will, knew we potentially had the perfect starting point. He was the product manager for the Brighton & Hove City Council new website, before moving to Croydon Council, so he knew how the site worked. We kicked off a project to see if our site could be re-used for Croydon and quickly found that it could. After all, users in Croydon need very similar things from their website as in Brighton & Hove.

  • We didn’t know what licensing model we should use for the code.
  • If we opened up the code, would we have a big support overhead?
  • What are the logistics of managing code across the two councils?
  • We thought we wanted similar features, but how close are they in practice?
  • How would we manage a shared roadmap across two councils?
  • How would we make sure the collaboration was ‘fair’? After all, we had spent a lot of time and resources on building our site – how would we benefit from this?

That’s where the Local Digital Fund project comes in. Although in this case we are sharing Drupal code, we want to learn about code sharing in general. Each of the four councils in the project has its own perspective. We are all keen to work together and we want to find out what it means to do this ‘well’. We hope that this will result in a ‘playbook’ for other councils to use in the future. Plus, of course, four excellent council websites.

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