Since one year now, the city of Arles is gradually migrating its IT system towards Open Source technology. The Open Source migration of the Municipality is seen as a service initiative structuring the DSIT (Direction of Computing System and telecommunication), which is due to be re-organised.
Since the IT department of the city decided to modernise the Municipality computing system in 2004, it has been encouraged by numerous arguments in favour of Open Source technology. Firstly, the Municipality wants to be independent of its software suppliers and be able to determine its own future technology choices. Secondly, Arles wants to participate in shared development strategies with other local authorities, notably through the organisation Adullact (Association for Open Source users in local authorities). Indeed, as a member of Adullact, the city is actively involved in its working-groups and wants to share the Open Source discussion with others users.
About thirty applications have been developed using proprietary technology in order to complete or configure software from proprietary vendors, to answer specific needs of Arles, or as part of larger development and customisation projects. These developments cannot be shared today because they are not web based, or because of their dependence on a specific operating system or specific database.
Migration, starting with OpenOffice
All PCs in the Arles municipality still run on Microsoft Windows. Nevertheless, in the past year, the IT system has migrated from proprietary to open source in three areas:
from MS Office towards OpenOffice (30% of this migration took place in 2005),
from Oracle and Access towards POSTGRESQL and MYSQL for the databases
for the application server, Linux (debian) and Apache have been adopted by the IT department.
Concerning Linux and POSTGRESQL, five training days in 2004 and eight training days in 2005 have been organised for the IT staff for a total cost of Euro 10400. Ten days were required in order to train all the Municipality staff in OpenOffice (6000 EUR). For the IT department training costs are compensated by the cost savings on licence fees for Open Source Software, and perhaps more importantly, because the IT department has now gained a sufficient knowledge for managing itself independently and feels confident of managing its own requirements.
Sharing experiences… and software
The major benefits of the IT modernisation of the city are the possibility to share and improve its Open Source experiences in the Adullact framework and to make investments more durable thanks to its participation in working-groups of other public sector organisations. Arles would ideally like to be independent from specific operating systems (whether MS Windows or GNU/Linux) and from specific database applications. The municipality would also like to move towards open office automation: through the use of PDF files and XML.
In terms of problems with this approach, the IT department notes that the staff has to be well trained and with a good skill in UML analyses, PHP development, MYSQL and POSTGRESQL databases, as well as the Linux system. However, the IT department feels its training provided (as described above) was adequate for its current needs.
Within an Adullact working group, the city has developed an Open Source Software called “open elec”, to manage electoral lists of the population. The local authorities participating in the working group will now implement “open elec” in their own administrations. M.Raynaud, the DSIT Director in Arles wishes now to build around “open elec” a collaborative project of development within the Adullact framework and using the Adullact tools, such as GFORGE (the open source software development platform). The software, “open elec” should be integrated in the “Virtual Town Hall” effort of the Association.
Since the 1st of March 2005, a new Open Source project is being developed by the Municipality of Arles. Called “tax collector management”, the projects aims at facilitating the collecting of 5000 tax forms needed to be collected by the financial service of the Municipality.
Paper Versions of this Case Study
Arles progresses towards Open Source (PDF)
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