To offer modern government services, the city of Tirana (Albania) is turning to open source software. Soon, Tirana will complete the implementation of the LibreOffice suite of office productivity tools on all of the city’s 1,000 PC workstations. “We promote the open-source culture to support our mission to bring our people together, and to creatively modernise and innovate our city,” says Ermir Puka, the head of the city’s ICT department.
Albania’s capital and, with 800,000 citizens, the country’s largest municipality hopes its use of open source will encourage other public services. “We strongly believe that using open standards is the right choice for public services,” Mr Puka told the European Commission’s Open Source Observatory. “We would love to see our implementation of LibreOffice replicated by other public services.”
Tirana’s use of innovative technology creates opportunities, promotes creativity, and helps local businesses and citizens, Mr Puka says. To implement LibreOffice, the city is working closely with Open Labs, an organisation of open data, open source, and open hardware enthusiasts, Mr Puka said: “Part of our goal is to nurture a local ICT sector, and open source has a title role because it enables us to involve companies, NGOs and citizens in our projects.” By including these local organisations, Tirana contributes to the long-term sustainability of the software.
Tirana’s nearly-completed switch to LibreOffice was announced by The Document Foundation (TDF), the organisation that supports the development of LibreOffice. According to the TDF, the migration started with the HR Department, where most tasks are based on text documents and spreadsheets. This helped to identify many issues during and after the migration, to the benefit of subsequent implementations in other offices and departments.
With LibreOffice and its ISO standard Open Document Format, Tirana has taken another step towards transforming its digital services, Mr Puka said. “By using open standards and open source we can build and extend our digital services in the right way. They are accessible to our citizens, they are interoperable, and they keep our systems and data accessible even in the future.” The first step Tirana took two years earlier, when it began sharing its data sets on the city’s open data portal. “We believe that these initiatives bring us closer to our citizens and make our services more accessible,” Mr Puka said.