“Ballard Chalmers consultants are easy to work with, flexible and extremely keen on listening to problems and developing fit for purpose solutions. At no point were they overselling.” Abdul Hakim, BBC Media Action
BBC Media Action provides access to information and platforms to enable some of the poorest people in the world to take part in community life and to hold those in power accountable.
Their programmes promote and protect high-quality journalism and strengthen public service broadcasting, particularly where media freedom and freedom of speech are under threat. They also use the power of the media to foster grass-roots economic and social repair in areas that have suffered a major breakdown of social systems such as armed conflict.
Operating in 24 countries from London headquarters, an effective and robust communication and collaboration system is essential for journalists and administrators to develop research and forward campaigns. Ballard Chalmers was asked to design and produce a SharePoint Server system that could form the backbone of the network and facilitate collaboration between the many people involved in their programmes.
The Ballard Chalmers solution covers the development of a single site collection, deployed on an existing externally facing SharePoint farm hosted and managed by BBC Worldwide. Since an upgrade to a new version of SharePoint by BBC Worldwide is envisaged, the BBC Media Action site had to be designed with a minimum of custom code to allow for an easy future transition.
BBC Media Action is structured in 3 main hubs, and the Africa hub with about 35 users and 50GB of storage was chosen to pilot the new SharePoint portal. Sufficient bandwidth was already being provided as part of an ongoing upgrade process. The SharePoint Portal is structured in a similar way with main sub-sites of the Home page for Hub, and sub-sites within the Hubs for each country.
The African Hub includes 9 Countries and provides collaboration features including:
- Discussion boards – To allow staff to have open discussions about issues affecting the country.
- Document libraries – To store documents relating to the work being carried out in the country.
- Templates – Access to standard document templates.
- Picture libraries – To allow staff to share photos and other pictures.
- Calendar – To allow staff to share important events.
- Task list – To facilitate actions being stored and assigned to individuals.
- Workflows for document approval – To facilitate a process for documents to be approved and comments captured against the document.
- Announcements – To allow for key announcements to be displayed on the country page.
After success with the African hub, the SharePoint Portal was rolled out to the remaining Asia and Middle East hubs.
Recent projects by BBC Media Action have enabled:
- Tunisians to ask questions of their politicians on live TV days before their first free elections.
- Health workers in the poorest parts of India to access life-saving training on their mobile phones.
- In the aftermath of civil war in Sierra Leone, BBC Media Action supported the only African journalists reporting from the Hague on the trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor, found guilty of aiding and abetting rebel forces. They are meantime working with local radio stations and non-governmental organisations to help recover cocoa production in the country.
- In Zambia, they helped enable balanced and fair coverage of the Presidential elections including the first-ever televised presidential and MP debates.
- In Nepal, within hours of the April 2015 7.8 magnitude earthquake striking the country, BBC Media Action was working with BBC World Service’s Nepali Service to broadcast life-saving information.
Ballard Chalmers is proud to be helping to facilitate their activities.
“Ballard Chalmers consultants are easy to work with, flexible and extremely keen on listening to problems and developing fit for purpose solutions. At no point were they overselling,” said Abdul Hakim, Head of Infrastructure Strategy & Architecture at BBC Media Action.