Fast Facts

Start Date:


Agile Digital Engineering

Case Study Details

Beacon is an e-health service provided by the Centre for Mental Health Research (CMHR) at the Australian National University (ANU). This Web platform is the definitive dissemination portal for online resources in the field of e-mental health treatment. It was officially launched by Senator Kate Lundy at Parliament House Canberra in October 2009.
The Beacon Web portal was conceived by Professor Helen Christensen as a new service within the ANU’s existing e-hub (self-help programs for mental health & wellbeing). The goal of the portal is to offer a site for mental health professionals and consumers alike to interact with high quality information on expert-reviewed mental health resources. Agile Digital Engineering was engaged by the CMHR to develop the technology platform to power this service. Design partners CRE8IVE undertook the branding and design elements of the project.

Success Factors:
Agile Digital was to design and deliver a system that would be integrated into the ANU’s existing e-hub offering. As such it would leverage a LAMP technology stack suitable for deployment in the CHMR’s production infrastructure. The service was specified to operate on a 24/7 basis providing secured access to both administrators and the general public.
Solution Architecture:

Beacon was built using the CakePHP rapid web development framework (which is similar to Ruby on Rails) using PostgreSQL for the database solution. The Apache2 web server was deployed to host the web site along with the mod_rewrite plug-in to enable SEO friendly URLs. The jQuery and Prototype JavaScript frameworks were leveraged to power an interactive user experience. In particular, these supported various Ajax style operations (such as the jQuery Star Rating plugin which was integrated to capture the user captured ratings of e-mental health web sites). The entire platform operates on the Linux operating system.

Beacon has been in operation since October of 2009. By March 2010, 183 online resources have been evaluated and profiled, with 122 focusing on physical health or wellbeing, 40 targeting anxiety, and 23 targeting depression. This high-quality and publicly accessible resource now stands as a definitive online portal for locating and assessing e-mental health treatments.