The majority (75%) of municipalities in the Walloon region of Belgium are now using open source software and services. In the region 261 cities, towns, villages and other public administrations are using 8 open source-based solutions that are centrally managed and maintained by Intercommunale de Mutualisation Informatique et Organisationnelle (IMIO), an IT service provider set up in 2011 by the Walloon government.
IMIO services include web-portals, eGovernment services for citizens and companies, project management, urban planning, and organising and managing of town hall meetings.
“Currently over 20,000 public administration staff and many times more citizens are using our services”, said Joël Lambillotte, Director at IMIO. Lambillote was one of the presenters at the Sharing & Reuse Conference 2017 in Lisbon, Portugal on 29 March. “The annual budget for development and maintenance of these services is EUR 1.5 million, or EUR 55 per user. That is very low-cost.”
In Lisbon, IMIO was one of the winners of the Sharing and Reuse Awards.
The number of municipalities and other public administrations using IMIO’s services has grown rapidly, from 10 in 2011 to 261 in 2016. Among its members IMIO now counts 201 municipalities, 3 provinces, 42 social welfare organisations (CPAS), 4 police districts and 4 fire departments.
Of the 10 core applications, 8 are built using many open source components, including Python, Plone CMS/Zope, LibreOffice, Docker and Postgresql. These solutions are delivered as software-as-a-service (cloud services). “Shared services let us improve management, while lowering costs”, Lambillotte said, “and public administrations do not need to host these solutions.”
An important argument for the use of IMIO’s services is autonomy. “The towns themselves are in charge of the technology roadmap and they can push and finance new contributions.”
Because they are used to managing widespread deployments, working with the open allows IMIO to support a growing number of clients, Lambillotte said. It also enables the service provider to manage legacy applications, he added, “as the community is constantly innovating and updating the framework.”