Hosted collections of open source IT applications will make it easier for public administrations to use this type of software, says Britt Inger Kolset, coordinator for SuksIt in Norway, a IT project by seven municipalities in the Kongsberg region. "Hosted open source applications are very cost-effective.
SuksIt last year helped found Friprogforeningen (free software association), an organisation that aims to develop, manage and develop free software for use in public administrations.
Friprogforeningen is considering to offer Norway's municipalities several open source applications in this way, including the Redmine project management suite, Limesurvey, for managing surveys online and print queue management tool Bifrost. Inger: "Hosting these applications is something commercial IT service providers should consider. It makes it a lot easier for small public administrations to switch to using open source tools."
Friprogforeningen is already hosting one of Norway's most successful open source projects, Frikomport. This open source online course management tool developed by the Kongsberg region, is now used by some seventy municipalities, universities and other organisations in the country, Britt Inger said last Thursday in a presentation at the Open Source World Conference in Granada, Spain.
The Frikomport code is made available as open source, using the GPL licence. But organisations prefer to use the online hosted version, Inger notices. "The hosted service carries a very low cost, 750 Euros per year."
The more municipalities join in the using and development of such tools, the lower the costs, she explained last week. "Sharing development costs is a very important motive for our community of municipalities. A programmer will cost us about 115 euro per hour. Sharing these between sixty municipalities it comes down to a mere 2 euro per hour. This would not be possible if we didn’t have a sustainable community."
The approach by the Kongsberg region to work together in the development of Frikomport was one of the examples in Thursday's workshop on how public administrations can work with open source communities. The workshop was organised by the European Commission's ISA program (Interoperability Solutions for European Public Administrations).