Commonwealth launches cross-government social network

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Commonwealth launches cross-government social network

Platform aggregates data from 200 different web sites.

The Commonwealth Secretariat plans to tie together 90 member agencies and organisations with a new social network to be launched on Friday.

The platform, Commonwealth Connects, will be unveiled at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth after a six-month development effort.

Australia was consulted through the Australian High Commission in London and the Commonwealth Legal Information Institute.

Commonwealth Connects comprises a public information portal and password-protected social networking functions for official networks, forums and advisory bodies of the Commonwealth.

Project executive Richard Simpson said it would facilitate the planning and preparation of high-level meetings, policy consultations and the preparation of joint submissions to international bodies.

It would also allow countries to share expertise and best practices to promote capacity building for less developed countries, he said.

“The goal of Commonwealth Connects is to harness the power of twenty-first century web technologies to strengthen the Commonwealth community,” he said.

“It will help promote a change in the way the Commonwealth conducts its business … making it easier to act collectively to influence the global agenda in areas like climate change.”

The platform was built on Canadian vendor Open Text’s Vignette software, under an agreement announced in May.

It is an extension the 2005 Commonwealth Connects Programme, which sought to foster social and economic development through information technology.

Initially, the public-facing section of the site will aggregate data sourced from some 200 Commonwealth agency websites.

Simpson said a major challenge for Commonwealth Connects was enabling search engine, calendar and opportunity listing features on a cross-site basis.

Meanwhile, password-protected social networking information would be secured “according to the level of confidentiality required by the participants”, he said.

“All communities will require a user name and password to log in … Participants at the outset will determine who has access to what,” he said.

“Higher levels of security for the network and documentation – [for example,] SSL – can be added in.”

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