Aiding cooperation

Canton of Bern removes barriers to sharing its software as open source

04/04/2019

The Swiss canton of Bern has begun sharing software developed by and for the canton as open source. Earlier this year the canton adapted its ICT regulations to allow code sharing, and last week Bern officially published its first project: the source code for ÖREB-Kataster Smart-Auszug, for making excerpts from land and real-estate records.

The image shows a map of Switzerland, marking the canton of Bern
OerebViewer, the first application shared on the canton’s GitHub page.

Rules and regulations were one of the barriers to sharing the source code of software solutions, the canton explains in a press release. The existing rules allowed sharing, but this permission was made crystal clear in the ICT regulations approved in January this year.

This encouraged the IT department to offer tools that make it easy for the canton’s public services to share their code. The IT department created a page for the canton on GitHub, a popular platform for sharing source code.

From the Bern canton’s ‘Open Source Platform’:

“Since 2018, the cantonal ICT Regulation explicitly allows the canton of Bern to offer its software as open source solutions, making it accessible to anyone for free. It is basically up to each directorate to decide whether they want to share their applications. Companies and administrations of other cantons are also welcome to use and adapt the templates and processes. All content is under an open license (BSD-3) and is based in part on open source sources.”

By sharing source code, Bern wants to encourage other cantons and others to reuse and help to improve its software solutions, the canton said in its statement. Making software available as open source also helps public services to avoid IT vendor lock-in: any IT service provider can offer support on the software.

The first open source code shared as open source is a viewer for the canton’s ÖREB Kataster, a land registry records management system. The ÖREB (Öffentlich-Rechtlichen EigentumsBeschränkungen, or restrictions on public ownership) shows constraints on land use (including construction), for example to protect groundwater, prevent pollution or because of other regulations.

More information:

Press announcement by the Canton of Bern (in German)
Canton of Bern ‘Open Source Platform’ on GitHub (in German)
Luzerner Zeitung (in German)
Netzwoche news item (in German)
Bieler Tagblatt news item (in German)

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