Europe Commons, an online platform for the sharing, exchange and reuse of software solutions for Europe's municipalities and other local government organisations was revamped earlier this month, during which it also received a new name - Civic Exchange. The platform collects and promotes applications and digital services that help improve public services in Europe. The platform's consortium is doubling its efforts to find new solutions, announcing evidence-based case studies to showcase those with the most impact.
Civic Exchange is part of the Code for Europe project, which is co-financed until the end of this year by the European Commission's Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme. The project is run by five European organisations Nesta, a UK charity focussing on innovation, the Esade Business School in Barcelona, Spain, the Fraunhofer Fokus research centre in Berlin, Germany, the city of Helsinki's Forum Virium, and the Waag society, an art and technology institute in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Started in the summer of 2012, Code for Europe helps cities and towns to develop digital solutions to civic problems. Its Civic Exchange platform is intended to facilitate the reuse of apps and services.
Explaining the new name, Nesta writes: "After much discussion and debate, we simply decided we needed a name that better described the purpose of the platform. There are more similarities than differences in the challenges faced by cities. Yet we still see lots of reinventing of (technological) wheels, rather than scaling and improving on great ideas. Therefore, we wanted to focus on the sharing and exchange of digital software with a proven track record – hence the new title, Civic Exchange."
The platform currently lists 49 apps, including Mi Muovo, a web application that aggregates information on transport and road travel for the city of Bologna, Fix My Transport, an application to report problems with public transport and Alaveteli, software to help make and manage freedom of information requests. The list also contains links to open data store CKAN and two content management systems, Drupal and Wordpress.
The majority of applications collected on Civic Exchange are available under an open source licence. However, the project also collects links to proprietary solutions. "We're fully committed to open source," explains Isobel Roberts on behalf of Nesta. "We also realised that many civic apps creating impact are proprietary, and we want to be able to show them too. Where there is license info missing, we're in the process of following up. Not everyone has included it when they have submitted entries, so we're hoping to update the entries."