The twelve Dutch provinces estimate that since 2009 they have saved 4.5 million euro by working together and by using open source software solutions for their Geographic Information Systems. The twelve are now looking to build communities around their open source tools.
The GIS applications that make it possible to cooperate, are developed as open source. In 2006 the provinces in this way shared Flamingo, software for managing and viewing geographic maps. And soon, they will publish a second tool, called CDS (Central Data and Service environment). This software imports the geographic information from the provinces, validates it and then makes the data available as a national data set. The solution is built on top of other open source applications, including Postgis and Deegree.
By sharing its applications, the provinces aim to inspire public administrations to join them, explains Koen Rutten, one of the GIS-system administrators. He works for GBO Provincies, an IT service organisation set up by the twelve provinces. "Re-using software immediately saves costs. Similarly, when others pitch in, we share the burden for the tool's further development and maintenance."
Earlier this year, the provinces created a foundation to support the Flamingo community. Next year, they'll pursue a similar approach to CDS, Rutten announced at the Inspire conference, which took place in the Italian city of Firenze in June. "It is very important to create a viable and sustainable community of developers and users around these tools", Rutten says. "I invite GIS-experts in other countries to join us."
In Firenze, the GIS expert presented the joint approach by the Dutch provinces: "They want to increase this sharing and re-use. And they are looking at which other software solutions they have, that would allow a similar increase in efficiency and maintenance." The provinces are busy combing all other tools that they developed in relation to the European spatial data rules (known as the Inspire Directive), as well as others, to check if there are efficiency gains to be made by re-use. Most of these are tools related to projects on environment and climate.