Committee Passes “Open Source City” Resolution

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A Raleigh City Council committee gave its stamp of approval to a resolution that could make public city data easier to access and change the way the city buys software.

The Technology and Communications Committee, a new group of city councilors created late last year, approved the Open Source Government resolution Tuesday night. It will go to the full council next week.

The resolution has two parts. First, it proposes to create a new page on the City of Raleigh website to share city data, such as computer processable budget information, map data, or public art data.

Councilor Bonner Gaylord, who chairs the Technology Committee, said the purpose of the new site for city data is that it would “give citizens the opportunity to take that information to use as they see fit.”

“It’s their data; they bought it and paid for it,” Gaylord said.

The second part of the resolution headed to council will make it easier for open source software companies to bid on city projects. After the meeting, Gaylord said he hopes that the resolution will give the city’s IT staff the ability to use open source as an additional metric in weighing bids on city software contracts.

Open source software means that the actual source code used to create the software is open and free for anyone to use and tweak.

For example, the Linux operating system is the open source answer to running Windows or the Mac operating system. Red Hat, which recently made a splash by promising to move from Centennial Campus at N.C. State University to downtown, makes open source Linux operating systems for business and personal use.

Councilor Mary Ann Baldwin, who sits on the committee, said this resolution “will be the driver of everything we do from a technology standpoint.”

Gail Roper, the city’s IT director, presented a rough timeline to committee members, listed below. Roper said she hopes to tackle setting a more formal timeline when the City Council meets for its Feb. 13 technology retreat, during which they discuss these types of issues.

Timeline presented to the committee

1. Open Data Next Steps: Staff Response

  • Continue to gain executive sponsorship
  • Define resource requirements
  • Establish governance model

2. Open Data Preparation

  • Establishment of the catalog
  • Policy creation for open data (how we determine what data can/will be published, prioritization, formats, internal process, business ownership, etc.)
  • Catalog product selection
  • Project implementation
  • Engagement with Raleigh’s open data community

3. Open source

  • Create the internal procurement policy for evaluation and selection criteria for open
  • source software
  • Create inventory of potential open source software and protocols
  • Create framework for Raleigh to participate as producer of open source software
  • Licensing model, code repositories, etc.

4. Community Participation – Taking it to the streets

  • Citizen-led communities
  • Connection between youth-development programs and open government community
  • Connection entrepreneurial community and open government community
  • Importance of broadband access for any of this to be useful

One thought on “Committee Passes “Open Source City” Resolution

  1. So many great examples now of Open Government solutions – from Open Access, Open Data, Open Source Software, Open Standards, Open Communities, etc… for local, state and federal governments. Check out the non-profit COSI Open Government portal at Lots of ways to save money, increase citizen involvement, improve service with ‘open’ solutions.