Like Finnish companies, public administrations in Finland are increasingly turning to open source, says Matti Saastamoinen of the Finnish Centre for Open Source Solutions (COSS). "Their uptake is a little slower, but I expect them to speed it up in the next few years."
An annual survey on the use of software by Finnish companies shows that now 75 percent of Finnish companies are using open source, up from 13 percent in 2000. Researchers base this on the response from 660 companies. "Open source systems and applications have become mainstream", the researchers said during a presentation last month at the OpenMind conference in the city of Tampere.
The survey has been conducted since 1997 by the University of Helsinki and the University of Turku.
According to Saastamoinen, this trend is influencing the IT strategy of Finnish public administrations. "For instance, the cities of Oulu, Tampere and Lahti are moving to open systems, to increase interoperability, reduce procurement costs, save money on maintenance and increase IT competition."
Next, he says, public administrations are changing their call for tenders. "More and more these IT tenders are written so as to include providers of open source solutions." COSS earlier this year published a guide on open source procurement. "This guide is helping public administrations to understand, evaluate and use open source."
A third example is the ministry of Finance, says Saastamoinen. "The ministry is making available its so-called 'OpenOffice Portable-package', a collection of OpenOffice templates and documentation that can be used by all the state organizations and communities.
Saastamoinen says Finland has not yet developed a national open source policy, but the government has been recommending the use of open standards and open interfaces for the past five years. It would help, he says, if ministries and communities decide to only accept IT solutions based on open standards, make interoperability a priority and increase cooperation when procuring IT. "To help bring this about, we are working on a software repository for public administrations, where their IT department can share their applications."