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South Tyrol to increase use of free software

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The government of the South Tyrol province in Italy will increasingly turn to ICT solutions based on free and open source, Governer Arno Kompatscher announced on Tuesday. The province will use this type of software "where possible", and expects the move to save about a million euro per year.

The main motive for turning to free and open source is to allow all citizens access to public administration information, without forcing them to use expensive proprietary software.

In June of last year, the province decided to use Libreoffice, an open source suite of office productivity tools, on its 7000 desktop PCs, replacing a ubiquitous proprietary alternative. This switch, which will take 3 years, is expected to help save 600,000 euro that otherwise would have been spent on proprietary software licences.

The provincial administration is forced to continue to use a few copies of the proprietary office suite, as some of the other applications are locked into this software, South Tyrol explained in a statement published on Tuesday.

Religious war

"Whether to use proprietary or free software has almost become a religious war, waged not only in public administrations, but also in the private sector", governor Kompatscher said in the statement.

The German city of Munich is a leading example for the province. As in Munich, South Tyrol expects to continue to use some proprietary applications. "It is not a matter of all or nothing, the ultimate goal is to citizen-friendly."

Last year, announcing the move to LibreOffice, South Tyrol stressed the importance of communicating clearly the goals of the new IT approach. Civil servants for example, need to understand the reasons for the switch. They should also have enough assistance during the transition, so they can continue to handle all documents. These proprietary exit costs will initially increase costs, Kurt Pöhl, IT director for South Tyrol, explained in a statement published in June. "The savings will become noticeable only after three or four years."

 

More information:

South Tyrol government March 2014 announcement (in German)
South Tyrol government June 2013 announcement of desktop upgrades (in German)

 

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