University of Ottawa

The University of Ottawa offers students a truly unique educational and cultural experience at the world's largest bilingual university. With over 450 available fields of study, the University of Ottawa is ranked as one of Canada's top 10 research institutions, producing breakthroughs in health, science, social science, and the humanities.

Challenge

The University of Ottawa is a large university that had communication challenges between and within their various faculties and departments. Faced with a proliferation of independently designed or commissioned calendars, the CCS wanted to streamline and unify faculty calendars and integrate them with the current student messaging portal. CCS researched a wide range of solutions and vendors, and realized they needed a custom-built solution.

Solution

We were hired to build a Drupal-based messaging portal for the University that would also connect to the UOttawa Student Information System and synchronize the user accounts and faculty structure. We used Drupal’s Organic Groups module to recreate the faculty, department, course, course section, and associated professors hierarchy. It was a technically challenging project, as we had to use a custom Drupal module to connect PHPDB2 libraries to a IBM DB2 database.

The sheer scope of the project demanded an innovative approach. With seamless interdepartmental visibility as a goal, and multilingual search as a significant complication, we needed something that was fast and capable of handling high volumes of data. We settled on SOLR to help enable the required indexing and search functionality. We were able to overcome challenges in handling date range searches, multilingual facets, and integration of Facet API & Search API modules.

Results

We unified the calendar system in every faculty and department to allow the University full calendar and event management, including sharing, access control, and bilingual content. All users now have searchable access to all calendars and events across the campus, with transparency into event and venue details regardless of which faculty they belong to.