open government

Transparent civic improvement with crowdfunding platform Neighbor.ly

Citizen participation

There are two processes in the public sphere that we all depend on but that few of us really understand. And what's worse is that both are in trouble. » Read more

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Dutch municipality group adopts and fosters open source

open source software for local government

The TYPO3 CMS project has a long history as open source project, with its foundation going back as far as 1997 when it was initially developed by Danish Kasper Skårhøj. Currently, the TYPO3 project has a solid foundation in Europe. Large cooperations like Deutsche Bank, Airbus, Air France, as well as, universities and non-governmental organizations like Food and Agriculture Organization, Greenpeace, and Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons run on the TYPO3 CMS. » Read more

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The state of open source at the VA (Veterans Affairs)

open source in government

The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is the second largest agency of the US federal government. It employs more than 280,000 people, and with an annual budget close to $150 billion it provides health care services to close to 8.7 million patients, and benefits to close to 23 million veterans.

The VA also operates the nation's largest integrated health care system, with more than 1,700 hospitals, clinics, community living centers, domiciliaries, readjustment counseling centers, and other facilities. And, the agency has been one of the most progressive ones in the federal goverment on adopting open source at multiple levels. » Read more

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UK government continues strong focus on open standards

open document format standards

A great deal of excitement has been generated by UK Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude's forceful announcement in late January that the UK government intends to mandate the adoption of compulsory document format standards in public administrations.

In the on-going struggle of policy makers seeking to break away from procurement practices that have led to proprietary lock-in, limited interoperability, and excessive costs, the UK government has signaled that they fully intend to level the playing field not by mandating a preference for free or re-used software as in Italy and France, but by mandating choice through the requirement of open standard document formats (not just .odf, but other open document standards too) in procurement. » Read more

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Italy is latest to promote open source software in public procurements

open source software in government

In December, the Italian government issued final rules implementing a change to procurement law that now requires all public administrations in the country to first consider re-used or free software before committing to proprietary licenses. Importantly, the new rules include an enforcement mechanism, which can, at least in theory, annul decisions that do not follow these procedures. » Read more

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Year-in-Review: Government hot topics on Opensource.com

Top 10 open government articles in 2013

We have policies. Now what?

In recent years, news of open source or open standards policies dominated our news feeds. Each new policy was hailed as a victory by advocates of open source. While there has been no shortage of successful news stories around open source implementations this year, we’ve marked a growing, uncomfortable trend. Governments, even those who’ve established excellent open technology policies, are still struggling to put those policies into practice.

The current government policy landscape, for me, is best summed up in this article by Paul Brownell: » Read more

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Solving local problems through citizen participation

contest for citizen participation and local open government

Bloomberg Philanthropies recently launched the Mayors Challenge, a contest for funding in the European Union where large cities submit new, innovative ideas for solving local problems.

The EU contest is modeled on a similar competition for cities in the United States, where more than 300 cities submitted ideas covering issues ranging from sustainable development to education to citizen development. The grand prize of that contest went to a program in Providence, R.I. that works to improve the vocabulary of children in low-income households. » Read more

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Open data should be for justice

open data in government

 

These are my reflections on CityCamp Minnesota 2013, which occurred at St. Thomas in Minneapolis on November 9, 2013.

 What was it, and what worked well?

CityCamp MN 2013, hosted by Open Twin Cities and E-Democracy.org, was an event for civic hackers, open data nerds and advocates, and social justice-minded individuals in the region. Saturday was an open space technology-style unconference event. It was brilliantly planned. While I’ve never been to an unconference before, I was impressed by the way it generally fostered a sense of community, conversation, and connection. This stands in opposition to most conferences I attend (and that is a pretty decent number), which primarily serve to foster a few connections in the hallways between tedious and oftentimes irrelevant-to-me presentations. » Read more

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How civic hackers can build apps that last

open government apps

This is a condensed version of the blog post: Hey Civic Hackers! How about leaving the ninja skills at home and building really useful applications? It includes more analogies and cars. Comments welcome.


Most hackers are deeply involved in the tech scene. They keep up to date with the latest technologies and will use tech that is in the early phases of adoption. They have no problem using cloud services, NoSQL data stores, languages with smaller communities, and target more recent browsers or phones. They don't mind doing custom configurations on server software, they probably already know some of the maintainers of the project and can get special help, and they know other hackers who they can reach out to. They generally come from a startup world or at least from software companies where budgets and skill sets are generally high for employees.

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Why I love OwnCloud: answer to Dropbox lock-in

open source in the cloud

I recently covered the release of Dropbox platform and my thoughts on the impending cloud storage lock-in. I was also fortunate enough to run across what the guys over at NimbusBase are doing over the weekend. They seem to be the answer to the open API for mobile and web applications, providing a cross-cloud storage layer and a GPL reference implementation while they do it. I also penned a few thoughts on their model.

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