The University of Southern California is consistently ranked as one of the top ten graduate schools of social work in the United States. They came to Trellon as part of a full redesign of their web presence, seeking a content management system that would handle a full-featured faculty database and integrate with various university systems as part of a world-class website.
In addition to needing a beautiful site that really showcases the work of the institution, one key goal for the project was to expand the profiles of the faculty and staff working for USC. This meant the solution needed to interoperate with various systems across campus and be capable of acting as with a true SOA. One major challenge lied in bring together various systems to support this website. Much of the data that needed to be shown lived in Baxter, a mainframe solution being employed by the University.
Another key goal for the project was putting together a system capable of being used by all people in all departments throughout the university. USC has 12 different types of faculty, ranging from student assistants to administrators to full tenured professors, each of whom have various levels of involvement. We needed to create a system that included the most important details about each, and was capable of storing additional information specific to the site.
Trellon provided design, information architecture, data integration, and development services as part of this engagement. Most of our work was centered on bringing together information from multiple systems and standing it up within Drupal. As part of this project, we accomplished the following.
Faculty Directory: The faculty directory for the site was designed to be eminently accessible and provide information categorized in multiple ways, including research interest, rank and location. The system is designed to showcase the works of faculty members and detail their academic accomplishments through the site.
Global Interactive Map: Trellon put maps in place detailing the work of faculty. This approach was kept simple, with an emphasis on detailing the latest news, research and other information about professors involved with the school.
Data Synchronization: Trellon devised methods for pulling information out of Baxter that involved regular synchronization to keep information updated. This synchronization scheme involves importing over 125 fields of data that are all pulled together from 12 non-relational tables and fuzzy logic for tying together records in the most appropriate fashion. Our synchronization system was designed to respect edits performed within Drupal and only synchronize fields that have not been modified by users.
Integration with campus-wide systems: Trellon devised a system for importing news feeds, newsletters, events and other information from various systems across campus. Using custom parsers built to work with the feeds module, we put solutions in place that could be managed and monitored at the application level to ensure information is always staying up to date. Information is automatically classified and categorized when it is imported according to centralized taxonomies that operate as part of the site.