The aim of the Brandenburg Business Guide (BBG) is to become the leading tool for economic development in the federal state of Brandenburg. The project was initiated by the Brandenburg Ministry for Economic and European Affairs and is managed by the Brandenburg Economic Development Board (ZAB).

The portal features an interactive map, providing a comprehensive overview of the state. offers a quick guide to investment locations, funding opportunities, suppliers, and research partners for all the state’s regions.

Visitors to the platform have access to around 85,000 geodata points and more than 1,000 editorial documents. These are intelligently linked to original map data from the Brandenburg State Survey and Geospatial Basic Information agency (LGB). The interactive map allows users to drill down into the data through a variety of map modes and a powerful filter system. The map is enriched with editorial content, for example statistics, photos, and videos, as well as contact data for branch or regional relevant consultants. All content can be added to a ‘digital briefcase’ and later printed out.

]init[ was accountable for the platform’s technical realization. This included functional, visual and technical design, system implementation, testing, roll-out, editorial trainings, and application hosting.

The project’s biggest challenge was the seamless integration of existing data into one platform, including the ability to automatically update data at any time. All of the BBG data is stored within the Drupal CMS. The map application is based on the OpenLayers map framework, with search provided by Apache Solr. ]init[, in partnership with WebXells, ensures that data is always kept up-to-date through fully automated import processes.

Why Drupal was chosen: 

The client chose Drupal 7 based on his specific requirements for an open source CMS: The system had to be flexible and modular. Editorial maintenance had to be intuitive and easy to understand. Drupal was chosen because it is easy to customize and enhance, particularly in light of the various interfaces required. Drupal’s flexibility meant that a variety of implementation options could be designed and discussed during the conceptual phase.

Describe the project (goals, requirements and outcome): 

The project’s primary goal is to raise the marketing of the capital region to a new level. The platform aims to take advantage of new media to provide a unique user experience. Demonstrating sustainability to investors through rich information was also highly important.

A key requirement was the integration of external data originating from a variety of sources. This represents a major part of the site’s information. ]init[ had to ensure this data was imported into Drupal by an automated daily routine without data loss.

Search performance was another difficult requirement, due to the nature of the map application and its associated functions. The system is sometimes required to deliver tens of thousands of items very quickly in response to a search request. ]init[ had to ensure search requests were generated and processed immediately by the Solr search engine.

This was achieved by minimizing all processes and by delivering content artifacts as pre-rendered HTML fragments. Routines were implemented that save specific pre-rendered HTML for defined parts of each content item. ]init[ employed extensive caching using memcache and alternative PHP cache (APC) functionalities to improve performance. This resulted in response times of less than half a second for search routines, even when large amounts of data need to be processed.

Why these modules/theme/distribution were chosen: 

]init[ had to import around 85,000 content items from an external interface, and implement a daily routine which adds and updates items.

The map application is a key feature of the site. It integrates several search routines to display points of interest on a map of Brandenburg.

Most of the content items had to be geocoded to make them available to the search routines and display them on the map. An external service was used to resolve addresses into coordinates.

Entity reference
There are numerous relationships between imported and editorially created nodes. Display conditions and editorial process conditions had to be implemented according to these relationships.

Apache Solr Search
Content items are displayed to users depending on their interaction with the map, search filters, and search terms. This required a very quick and flexible search implementation. Solr is able to handle numerous requests quickly and reliably.

Memcache API
Performance was a huge issue. It was necessary to speed up processing as much as possible, as map interactions should result in immediate search results. Caching was a very important issue while ensuring the system remained as flexible as possible.

Organizations involved: 
Project team: 

Organizations involved

  • Ministry of Economics and European Affairs of the federal state of Brandenburg
  • ZukunftsAgentur Brandenburg, ZAB (The Economic Development Board of the state of Brandenburg)
  • ]init[ AG für digitale Kommunikation
  • WebXells

Team members

  • Jan Giesau, ]init[
  • Susanne van Rickelen, ]init[
  • Daniela B. Estévez, ZAB
  • Rik Spirka
  • Roman Radtke
  • Andreas Pinto-Köhler
  • Stefan Rolfs
  • Christian Adamskii
  • Engin Yilmaz
  • Avneet Bindra