City of Karlsruhe

How local councils and mayors channel the information explosion

Published on 31-May-2011

Validated on 01 Mar 2013

"With ravis-Portal the local councils work more efficiently and we are able to create added value also for management." - Frank Leyerle, Department Manager Office Communication, Central Office, City of Karlsruhe

City of Karlsruhe


Deployment country:

Enterprise Content Management

IBM Business Partner:
PROFI Engineering Systems AG


The city of Karlsruhe is networking digital information to enable well founded decision making via a new internal portal

Business need:
The Karlsruhe local councils require rapid, comprehensive search and research options for their decision making process.

Karlsruhe introduced a consulting and administrative information system (ravis) based on the IBM Websphere Portal for central access to internal and external information sources. In addition the corporate search engine, IBM OmniFind was integrated for easy searching over all data sources. One uniform interface lets users reach different data sources for structured access (portal) as well as unstructured access (search). Access takes place via the web browser and single sign-on.

• More efficient cooperation of local councils, decision makers and city government employees (work smarter, not harder). • Well-founded basis for decision making due to faster location of relevant information. • Easy integration of additional information sources and development of additional user groups. • Web browser and Single Sign-on provide easier access, resulting in reduced administrative overhead. • Slim clients (mobile computers for local councils) for less installation and maintenance work. • Investment security through flexible expandability and scalability.

Case Study

Less bureaucracy, reduction of information islands, efficient and transparent transactions with individuals and companies: A great many demands are made on city government. Local councils, offices and departments need more intelligent information systems which gather digital information and provided it in a homogeneous system. Through networking structured and unstructured data and information can be made available from a multitude of sources for every department and office. Therefore, many local governments are confronted with the question of how to simplify access to information from different, historically evolved systems via a consolidated interface and make the jobs of the decision makers easier (work smarter, not harder). The new consulting and administrative system (ravis) of the city of Karlsruhe answers this very question.

From the first email to portal of knowledge
Ravis is part of a long tradition of electronic communication in Karlsruhe. In 1984 the university of Karlsruhe received the first email on the Internet in Germany. With a population of 280,000, Karlsruhe and 173 km2 Karlsruhe is the third largest city of Baden-Württemberg. The local council has enacted countless pilot projects for the near future with the “Karlsruhe Masterplan 2015”. The council is the representative of the citizenry and the most important institution of the community. It determines the basic principles for the administration and makes decisions about all affairs of the community. The council is made up of the president, who is the mayor, and 48 volunteer members.

Karlsruhe has had a consulting information system for years. “That was our first breakthrough in information management for the local council”, explains Frank Leyerle, Department Manager of Office Communication at the Central Office of the city of Karlsruhe. The city has been using IBM Lotus Notes for email communication for about 3,000 employees for ten years. Lotus Notes also forms the basis for the administration document management system and the consulting information system. The council members and administrative executives require extensive information about events and facts in Karlsruhe for well-founded decision making. Access to different internal and external data and information sources of the city had been very time-consuming up to this point, since it was necessary to search each system manually. There was no integrated overview. The tremendous data increase made searching for information even more difficult and complex.

Local councils have to be well informed about everything
“Local councils in particular are impacted by the escalating information explosion” says Frank Leyerle. “They work as volunteers in addition to their actual profession. For this reason they have to make the best possible use of their time. Also, council workers are in the public eye. As a result, expectations are increasingly higher.” Local councils desperately needed to be able to perform targeted electronic searches for fast, comprehensive and precise information retrieval. Only well-informed councils are able to make good decisions. A structured access to information in its respective filing context is relatively simple. However, this is only the case as long as you know what you are looking for, where to look for it and which time period. However, “smart” access to information can only happen when power search and analysis options combine “hidden” knowledge or remote information sources in one place. This turns data into knowledge, and local councils as well as executives can find all fact-oriented data in one place. For example, for the planned renovation of the football stadium the query “wild park stadium” will display all prior resolutions, meetings, minutes as well as the location in the city plan including geodata (for example soil composition) in one central location. Even editorials can be taken into consideration in the decision making process.

In addition a platform for visualization was supposed to emerge, a portal that bundles different information sources such as calendar, meeting documents, online rights information or news items as well as making them available in easy, structured manner. “In the planning phase it became clear that we would be able to meet our requirements with IBM WebSphere and IBM OmniFind: one portal in which a central search for unstructured data is integrated”, says Frank Leyerle. The IBM Premier Business Partner PROFI Engineering Systems AG was offering portal solutions based on WebSphere at this juncture. Together with IBM and PROFI a Proof of Concept was created. PROFI was awarded the contract due to convincing performance and its proven competence. The very well-founded preparatory work by employees of the central office was the basis for the PROFI work in development and implementation.
Intuitive operation, not intuitive decision making.

Ravis allows authentication via Single Sign-on (SSO). This means that users only need to sign on once with their passwords. This gives them access to the Personal Information Manager (PIM) with email, calendar etc., to the consultation information system, to the internal telephone book and to the OmniFind search and analysis function. Additional information and applications are integrated via portlets and can also be accessed via single sign-on. You can also access the Geographic Information System (GIS) via SSO. The linking of the PIM and the GIS was developed by means of the IBM WebSphere Portlet Factory. In ravis the portal search was replaced by the IBM OmniFind (now called IBM Content Analytics) search application and PROFI adapted the appearance and the extensions to the city of Karlsruhe’s specifications by means of the IBM Rational Application Developer. The interface is intuitive and straightforward in design. “In the implementation we always kept in mind the cost-benefit ratio and acceptance by the users”, emphasizes Frank Leyerle. The only new hardware required was two IBM x3650 servers. All the local councils are equipped with notebooks or netbooks which have the applications installed on them already. A replication mechanism provides for synchronization with the central databases. Today all you need to do is make a selection via the browser and clients are slim and low-maintenance. In the future the local councils will be able to access the portal from their desktops as well as from their notebooks.

Geodata, one of the most important information sources
The connection to the Geographic Information System is a central ravis component. Geodata is a key item for the decision making process, in particular for the local council. About 80 percent of council decisions contain references to space. In the past the councils got information about space in hard copy. Obtaining additional documentation in advance involved considerable expense; location, environment, aerial photographs of a new zoning map for example. You had to drive to the location or request the appropriate information at the city hall. Today the local councils get their information at the press of a button, even from home. “The resonance is extremely positive” underscores Frank Leyerle. “As a result of the integration in ravis our Geographic Information System has attracted tremendous interest.”

The entire city government benefits
Since February 2010 the local councils have been working with the new IBM solution, consisting of the IBM Portal and search/analysis with OmniFind. Acceptance is consistently high, in particular with regard to easy access and the convenient search function as well as the integration of the Geographic Information System. User wish lists include smaller optimizations such as calendar consolidations or more convenient selection modalities without being forced to compromise on data security. This is a sensitive topic, since the local councils are involved in political decision making, but are not members of the city government.

“With ravis Portal the local councils work more efficiently and we are able to create added value also for management”, emphasizes Frank Leyerle. The investment in the IBM solution is paying off, especially if additional user groups are developed in the future. In Version 2.0 the mayors and their offices should also be able to benefit. The comprehensive incorporation of the document management system IBM Lotus Quickr is being planned for team and project-oriented tasks. The integration of selected specialist applications and of selected SAP R/3 applications are among potential expansions. In particular the financial data area is an important management tool for the decision makers of every council. “We collaborate quite well with the experts from PROFI. They understand the needs of the different groups exactly and put this into practice” says Frank Leyerle. “Our portal still has a great deal of potential for some highly interesting fields of application which could become relevant in the coming years, be it innovative citizen services or workflow solutions. This permits us to better control the future development of our city.”

More Information
For more information about IBM WebSphere Portal and IBM Content Analytics please get in touch with your IBM contact or IBM business partner, or you can pay us a visit at:

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

OmniFind Enterprise Edition, Rational Application Developer, Lotus Quickr, IBM Web Experience Factory, IBM Notes

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2011 IBM CorporationSoftware Group Route 100 Somers, NY 10589U.S.A. Produced in the United States of America May 2011All Rights Reserved The IBM home page can be found at IBM, the IBM Logo,, WebSphere Portal Enterprise, OmniFind, Rational Application Developer, WebSphere Portlet Factory, Lotus Quickr and Lotus Notes/Domino are trademarks of IBM Corporation in the United States, other countries or both. If these and other IBM trademarked terms are marked on their first occurrence in this information with a trademark symbol (® or ™), these symbols indicate U.S. registered or common law trademarks owned by IBM at the time this information was published. Such trademarks may also be registered or common law trademarks in other countries. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at “Copyright and trademark information” at Other company, product or service names may be trademarks or service marks of others. You can obtain contract terms and conditions and prices at IBM branch offices and/or at IBM Business Partners. The product information sheets reflect the current state. The subject matter and extent of services shall be determined exclusively in accordance with the respective contracts. This success story illustrates how a specific IBM client makes use of technologies/services of IBM and/or an IBM Business Partner. The results and advantages described here were influenced by numerous factors. IBM assumes no warranty that a comparable result can be achieved in other client situations. All information contained here was provided by clients and/or IBM Business Partners. IBM assumes no liability for the accuracy of this information.