Cambridge Open Systems (COS) provide the VOICE service and have extensive experience in developing tools for online community involvement.
A limited number of community groups within any LA area can apply and have a free website on this service. However, LAs can also sign-up to the managed service and receive an enhanced package which enables greater community involvement for a single annual fee.
VOICE runs on an open source software platform called dotCommunity, which is developed and maintained by COS. 15 local authorities and government organisations are already using dotCommunity, with more than 3,200 individual community sites up and running. Joining VOICE means that you benefit from the sharing of ideas, experience, and new developments.
When you sign up, we can create a website template for your portal designed to fit alongside your brand (or integrate a design that you provide). Any local community group within the LA can then request a free website. An easy to use content management system (CMS) ensures that management of individual websites does not require significant technical expertise.
Being part of the wider VOICE community offers a range of additional benefits to both LAs and communities:
Contact us to find out more about this great way of engaging with your local communities.
The single annual fee covers all hosting fees, admin level support, SLA and ongoing development work. As our community user base grows, the greater the funds available for new developments and scope for sharing ideas.
The package includes:
As part of the standard annual package, we will train your nominated community engagement officer (or equivalent), who will provide first level support and training for your local community groups using the service. Typically LAs have told us this equates to a half time post, although this will naturally vary among LAs. Full documentation and FAQs are available on our website to help you.
Through the dotCommunity forums you can talk to other LAs about how they manage the getting started process, the requests for free websites, and how they promote the service to communities.
If you would like to be involved with VOICE without providing support to your users, then contact us to discuss enhanced end user support options.