What the future holds for an open source city

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The future for Raleigh, NC as an open global city is very promising. There is a strong, participatory culture that is both leading and adding value to the open source, open government, and open data movements happening across the globe. The elected officials and city staff in Raleigh, particularly the IT staff, are committed to open source and understand the value of open data. This makes the economic future of Raleigh ripe for new businesses and entrepreneurs with ideas that spark innovation.

But what else does the future hold for Raleigh as an open city?

It's hard to predict the future, but I had an enlightening conversation with Gail Roper, CIO for the City of Raleigh. Roper is an advocate for closing the digital divide and has a renewed focus on community in her role as a CIO. Her insights and thoughts on the future are critical to understanding Raleigh's future as an open source city.

Read more in this interview.


What makes Open Raleigh such an important initiative?

Information and data have become important to decision making and predictive analysis. The focus on government openness and community enablement is enhanced by making data consumable by both citizens and city government. Open Raleigh promotes systems that can drive down operating costs and improve opportunities to share across jurisdictions. Open Raleigh puts emphasis on access to the Internet and standards that make data available to the public. It has the potential to drive economic development, entrepreneurship, and education.

What was the most difficult part of getting the open source resolution passed in Raleigh?

The most challenging aspect is community awareness and the education and clarification of objectives. Defining the concepts around open source, open data, and open government in a way that reflects the inherent benefits caused us to rethink our messaging. Recruiting and hiring individuals with the skills to support the development of knowledge sharing data models is also challenging.

What's been the biggest surprise since launching Open Raleigh?

I am surprised and pleased by the culture of the open data, open source, and even the open network community. It brings together the science of technology and the desire to share in ways that improve the quality of knowledge in the community. I believe it is life changing because it removes barriers to information. We want Raleigh to be the most open digital city in the United States. That means that we need to focus on all aspects of providing our citizens with systems that support their participation in the digital economy. I was also surprised and elated to receive the support of City of Raleigh leadership, our Mayor and City Council, and the business community.

Where is Raleigh on the open government roadmap and what can citizens look forward to in 2013?

We have an open data program manager to drive strategic efforts and have been focused on recruiting a team of open source professionals that have a passion for their work and the value they can bring to the city. The culture of open source platforms is becoming embedded in our decision making process. We are establishing open data priorities routinely as we continuously improve our open data portal. We are developing team concepts around the information architecture that will continue to support the development of a collaboration portal, data warehousing, and the integration with legacy systems as the industry evolves.

What does the future hold for Raleigh as an open source city?

We are promoting Raleigh as a completely open global city. We want to find innovative ways to promote economic growth through technology infrastructure advancement, promoting youth-based technology initiatives, open knowledge thinking, and open source innovation. We want to edge out on our adoption of open source innovation and be known as an early adopters in the open source space with the help of our private sector partners.

Raleigh is ready for this kind of innovation and we are eager to roll out our roadmap in a strategically innovative fashion. 2013 will reveal additional innovative solutions in the area of open source and open data initiatives that are citizen-facing. We know that to be a global open source city, we have to drive innovation and change the culture in our organization as well.


Adapted from The foundation for an open source city, © 2013 Jason Hibbets, published under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license, available at www.theopensourcecity.com

Jason Hibbets is a Community Director at Red Hat with the Digital Communities team. He works with the Enable Architect, Enable Sysadmin, Enterprisers Project, and Opensource.com community publications.

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