Brazilian Government’s Portal Promises a Lot But Is Off to a Slow Start

Portal Brasil Services and information about federal actions and programs by the Brazilian government, which were previously spread out in several sites are now joined together in the new Portal Brasil. This is the new official website of Brazil.

Information about how to get an identity card, vaccination campaign calendars and guidance regarding retirement are examples of the content available.

At the address it was already possible to find information about the Federal government, but reformulation should bring together around 500 services.

Lula called the portal a “kind of national Google.” But on its first day of operation the site seemed overloaded: links were slow to open and many people were not able to reach the place.

According to a spokesperson of the Secretariat of Social Communication of the Presidency (Secom), the problem is due to the large volume of content that is being inserted.

The situation should normalize in the coming days, the government says, announcing that the ability to access the new portal was quintupled from 1000 to 5000 concurrent accesses per second.

Initially the portal will have 12 areas with specific content: citizenship, health, education, science and technology, Brazil, culture, economics, sports, geography, history, environment and tourism.

The content offered should be turned to workers, students, entrepreneurs and press and it is also forecasted to include senior citizens, children, civil servants and women.

There should also be a specific area for foreigners, in English and Spanish, focusing on students, investors and tourists.

The portal has resources to allow access by the visually and hearing impaired. It should also be possible, for example, to expand the font or change the contrast on the screen.

“The world has entered a new era of open, interactive, real-time communication and with the launch of brazil.gov.br, Brazil is ready to harness the opportunities presented by digital media to apply those qualities to official State communications,” said Secretariat for Social Communication Minister Franklin Martins.

“Portal Brasil underlines our institutional beliefs in social equality and transparency.  This website is one of the largest open-source undertakings ever attempted. We will use its flexible platform to quickly, efficiently and dynamically inform and communicate with local and foreign citizens of the world,” he added.

The new e-government portal was launched in a ceremony held today in Brasília headed by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and senior members of the Secretariat for Social Communication (SECOM) of the presidency of Brazil.

The launch of the remodeled site was overseen by SECOM with a total investment of US$ 4.1 million.

Portal Brasil aims to be a one-stop-shop for information on Brazil. The site’s content is designed to meet the needs of both Brazilian citizens and foreign audiences, including: analysts, investors, private sector companies, media, academics, NGOs, students, tourists, and other groups.

The site aims to not only inform, but also engage its users, says its creator, promising a collaborative platform that will be in constant evolution.  To that end, Portal Brasil already includes 850 articles, a database of 6,000 photos, 40+ infographics, over 2,000 video and audio files, flash applications, user-generated content and customizable features.

New Multimedia Magazine

One unique area of Portal Brasil that distinguishes it from other e-government sites is its monthly multimedia magazine.  This new outlet will provide informed insights into the heart of Brazil and its people, combining text, video, and infographic content to bring each story to life. 

User functions like voting and surveys and integration with social media platforms like YouTube and Twitter should further expand the reach and impact of the magazine.

Portal Brasil is built on an open-source CMS platform – Plone with Zope application server – that offers maximum functionality and security to the site. In order to fully realize Brazil’s vision, the information architecture and programming of Portal Brasil had to be extensively customized, leading to unique programming technologies not yet seen anywhere else in the world.

This functional framework means that users can interact and impact the site in a number of ways, including: sending messages, questions, suggestions, complaints and/or compliments to Portal Brazil, commenting on the news and other content, uploading pictures to the collaborative photo gallery, reporting technical and content errors, sharing content with friends, integrating with other social media platforms like YouTube and Twitter, syndicating via RSS and bookmarking pages using the ‘My Brazil’ application.

“Portal Brasil is a central part of the State’s efforts to provide information quickly and efficiently in the digital age, and the timing could not be more right for us. Domestically, we are responding to the tremendous growth of Internet usage and broadband penetration in Brazil over the past decade. Brazil currently has the largest online audience in Latin America, and the ninth largest in the world,” commented the Social Communication Minister Franklin Martins.

“Externally, we are aware of the increased global interest in Brazil – not only in terms of investment, but as also as a result of the upcoming 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics, which we will host – and so I hope our international friends and colleagues will take a moment to visit us at brazil.gov.br.  We look forward to increased connections with the world,” he added.

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