Software developers working for the governments of Canada and the Netherlands are working to join their government’ collaboration portals, GCconnex/GCcollab and Pleio respectively. Both platforms are available as open source, and developers have started working on software projects that should benefit both portals.
The developers working on GCconnex and Pleio aim to make their platforms more accessible, easier to use, and improve access to information. Wherever possible, the two will aim to share technology, and jointly research and test solutions.
Under the brand name of GCTools, Canada's internal platform, GCconnex, is open only to staff from Candada’s federal public service. In fall 2016, however, Canada launched an external collaboration platform called GCcollab to build partnerships across other sectors of society. GCcollab is open to all federal, provincial and territorial public servants, municipal employees, students and academics at the country’s colleges and universities, and to anyone else by invitation. GCconnex has over 130,000 users, GCcollab has over 12,000 users and the GCTools together see more than 1.7 million page views per month.
The Pleio collaboration platform is open to all, but its main focus is to make it easier for the country’s public-sector workers to exchange knowledge and discuss ideas. Pleio is used, for example, by the Ministry of Education to get in touch with the country’s teachers, by the city of Haarlem for citizen participation, and by the Tax and Customs Administration to exchange information with tax advisers.
The two teams met for the first time in 2014, at an online workshop on Elgg, an open source social networking solution that is used by both platforms. Last month, representatives of the teams met up again, working for five days at the GCTools office in Ottawa (Canada).
The teams expect that working together will lead to big changes. “We’re both enabling public services and citizens to work together across organisational borders,” says Marcel Ziemerink, one of the founders of Pleio. “And by making our solutions available for reuse by others, we’re saving taxpayers’ money.”