Aarhus, Denmark’s second largest city, is requiring the use of open IT standards for all of its future IT projects. This way, the city aims to rid itself of IT vendor lock-in. Aarhus is currently ”fenced in by contracts, proprietary software and proprietary standards”, says Camilla Tække, leading the change management project for the city. “This is a change in culture, not just as a technical one.”
The long-term IT strategy was decided in 2014, says Tække, talking at the OpenSourceSummit in Paris last week Thursday. “Whenever we tender new IT solutions, we’ll insist on the use of open standards.”
An Aarhus city council decision from 2011 requires the town to consider using open source whenever new IT solutions are acquired.
Since September, Tække, project manager at the city’s Innovation, Technology and Creativity department, is overseeing Aarhus’ Open Source Action Plan. A main task is explaining the value of open source to the city’s 30,000 staff members. The city is also working on a guide on how to acquire open source software, and is organising workshops and meetings. In September the city hosted the LibreOffice conference. “We’re disseminating knowledge and building a community of supporters in the city”, Tække said.
The centre of innovation
The project is closely related to the Aarhus’ Open Data project and its digital library services project, Tække said. The 2014 action plan increases the focus on open source, she added. “Aarhus wants to own its own data, get rid of unnecessary IT vendor lock-in, and we want to be able to share our software solutions with others, to jointly improve them.”
Aarhus reckons it will save money by switching to open source, but also knows this will take time. “We need to make open source visible to the city’s staff members”, Tække said. ”Everyone likes progress but nobody likes change”