The city of Nancy in France is using free and open source wherever possible, both for services relating directly to citizens and for its internal operations, including about 90% of the city’s 900 PC workstations.
Nancy uses free and open source to deliver modern, online eGovernment services to its population of about 104,000. The entire citizen relationship chain is managed by free software, says Romain Pierronnet, city councillor and an advocate of the use of free software in public services.
The prime tool here is Publik Entrouvert, which is used for 110 online forms through which citizens interact with the city online, and for 20 internal electronic forms. The system handles close to 6000 requests per month. Dealing with these requests involves, in total, 220 city staff members.
The software is developed by Entrouvert, a free software cooperative.
Nancy is also a good reference client for Maarch Courrier, an open source digital document workflow management system developed by the eponymous Paris-based company. “In the past 11 months we used Maarch to scan and electronically manage 14,000 incoming letters and documents, and recorded the more than 10,000 letters Nancy has sent,” Mr Pierronnet told the European Commission’s Open Source Observatory. Maarch is used by some 520 city staff members.
To get citizens involved, the city uses Decidem, the eParticipation software developed as open source by the Spanish city of Barcelona. This was used, for example, to organise a vote of some 3000 citizens to decide on school hours and vacation planning, and to organise a vote on an environmental transformation involving 5000 participants and 200 different plans.
At the end of this year, Nancy will have completed its switch LibreOffice, an open source suite of office productivity tools. LibreOffice is used on 810 (90%) of the 900 PC workstations in Nancy, and the city’s default file standard is the Open Document Format.
The remaining 10% of PCs do not use LibreOffice because they require specific incompatible business applications and links to other public services, explains Mr Pierronnet.
Two weeks ago, the city gained the status of Territoire Numérique Libre niveau 5 (“digital free territory level 5” – the highest) during a ceremony at the Congrès des Maires de France. That makes it the country’s best example of public services that encourage the use of free, open and collaborative digital technology. The city continually raises awareness on the importance of open source for public services, and provides training for specific applications.