Open source for Dortmund

The City of Dortmund continues its transition to open source software

Published on: 26/02/2020

Five years after the creation of its Open Source Working Group, the City of Dortmund published several reports on the “Investigation of the potential of Free Software and Open Standards”. The reports share the city of Dortmund’s open source policy goals as well as its ambition to create an alliance of municipalities in favour of open source software.

Dortmund city

Setting goals for its internal open source policy

In December 2019, the Open Source Working Group of the city of Dortmund published a report on the “Investigation of the potential of Free Software and Open Standards”. The report details the necessary requirements to enable the use of open source solutions by the city of Dortmund and announces the following actions:

  • The creation of a catalogue of all the open source software currently used by German municipalities;
  • The publication of an analysis of other German municipalities’ best practices and processes;
  • A review of the licensing model of Dortmund’s free software that was developed in-house;
  • The creation of a catalogue of all the open source software used specifically by Dortmund’s administrations; and
  • The provision of trainings for the city’s public servants.
Dortmund open source working group
Source: Dortmund agency / Torsten Tullius

International ambitions

In January 2020, following the publication of its internal strategy, the city of Dortmund’s Open Source Working Group published a progress report outlining the next steps planned by the city of Dortmund to foster the development and use of open source software at the municipal level and beyond:

  • The organisation of various events for open source software professionals as well as the general public;
  • The city of Dortmund’s Chief Information Officer will acquire new responsibilities, especially in relation to networking activities;
  • The joint organisation of a “Municipal open government conference” by the city of Dortmund, do-FOSS, and the Open Municipal NRW Institute (OK.NRW).

The Municipal open government conference, to be organised early 2022, will promote the use of open source software by municipalities. At this occasion, the city of Dortmund plans to launch an alliance of municipalities in favour of open source software. In a press release, Christian Uhr, Head of Human Resources and Organization of the city of Dortmund, expressed his enthusiasm for the initiative: “The project is a good example of how citizens and the administration can work together constructively and in a spirit of trust. The newly gained knowledge will help us to prevent dependencies and to remain digitally capable in the future. " The final report of the open source working group will be presented to the city of Dortmund by mid- 2022.

An Open Source Working Group

One key specificity of the city of Dortmund’s open source policy is the important role of civil society actors. Several associations advocated for the development of an open source strategy by the Dortmund administration. The mobilisation of the FOSS-AG, a student network of open source enthusiasts, and DO-FOSS, a local citizen initiative which aims to promote open source, contributed greatly to the strategy.

In order to further promote and develop the use of open source software across its public administration, the city of Dortmund has created an Open Source Working Group, which aims to assess the opportunities and challenges for the development of open source software. The working group is organised in three successive phases: (i) formalising terms and defining requirements of open source software as well as the drafting of an inventory of the existing Dortmund IT infrastructures; (ii) analysing the potential of free software as well as success factors for the implementation of open source software in the public administration, and (iii) developing the next steps for the city of Dortmund

History of Open source in Dortmund.

The city of Dortmund has had a long-term interest in the development and use of open source software. In 2016, the City of Dortmund was levelling the playing field between proprietary and open source software, paving the way to an ambitious open source strategy. In 2017, the city increased its use of the open source operating system Linux. A press release in April 2018 announced the intention to include open source software in the city’s master plan on digital administration, stating that “within the next two years, the city of Dortmund will examine the potential of ‘Free Software and Open Standards’ for the administration”. In April 2018, Dortmund adopted a Decision on Free Software and Open Standards, which details the municipality’s digitalisation plan and its will to explore the potential of open source solutions. Since mid-2018, a Chief Information / Innovation Office (CIO) was established as a staff position in the Dortmund administration. The CIO monitors the digital master plan and coordinates the digitalisation efforts of the public administration.