IMIO (Intercommunale Mutualisation Informatique Organisationnelle) is a public organisation (public inter-commune structure) that promotes and coordinates the sharing of solutions and services for local authorities of the Walloon Region of Belgium.
The "IA.Solution" is composed of open source modules that Imio produce to meet the needs of local authorities.
The solution can be implemented directly on infrastructures members or made available in SaaS " Software as a Service "on IMIO infrastructure. They comprise communal portals, "PloneMeeting" which manages deliberations, “Urban” which manages permits, "Teleservices", an online one stop shop, a project management module and a mailing management module.
The expected benefits of pooling are decreased overall costs, human and material resources, sharing knowledge and greater synergy between the actors.
All the applications developed are based on a common technology, Plone. This tool, open source and available in 40 languages, is internationally recognised for its stability and ease of use. Plone is a content management system (CMS) which allows people with limited technical knowledge to provide with web-based content; a tool interfaced, itself, over the web, enabling users, for instance, to update the content of a website or intranet. Zope, the application server within which Plone runs, is also open source and includes basic modules such as access management and security, as well as a workflow system and a web server. Open source and open standards are underlying conditions explaining Imio success and attractiveness.
It encourage the pooling at local authority level, supporting sharing of resources and of practices (methodology, technical developments, needs analysis, training, support), and supporting initiatives to improve their performance and management.
The modules are built using the « component oriented » architecture. The idea is to keep most functionnalities in the common trunk shared between all the users. Specific functionnalities and workflows are added in separate components. Those components (we call them profiles) can be used by similar organisations.
Most of the sofware is under the GPL2 licence.
Open standards and accessibility are inherited from the plone/zope underlying layers : LDAP, SQL, SOAP, Web Services (WSDL) and WebDAV,. If required, any presentation-tier technologies (Java, .NET, Ruby etc) can be used to deliver content from the solution.
The main actor is Imio. It implement a common IT strategy at the local government level and enable the collaboration between public bodies.
Imio produce open source software to meet the needs of local authorities. The open source model allows IMIO to avoid vendor lock-in. Part of the development can also be provided in-house, which ensures greater autonomy of action
Local authorities are buying Imio services and some of them are part of the governance (board of directors, management committee).
The total number of users is estimated at 25000.
The solution is composed of modules that can be used separately.
The source code of all open source applications is on github (https://github.com/IMIO)
Organisations using at least one module are shown in the following online map: http://www.imio.be/plan
Some underlying modules of the solution are reused from the Plone community :
EEA Faceted Navigation (https://pypi.python.org/pypi/eea.facetednavigation#copyright-and-license)
or are pushed in the Plone community :
Contact management tool : https://github.com/collective/collective.contact.core
Within IMIO, an administration can increase its knowledge of software, which is already first guarantee of sustainability of their solution. Second, it shares this knowledge with its partners. For example, knowledge related to the software "PloneMeeting" (the meeting management module) is distributed over the Walloon Region, the French Community, IMIO the IT Center of the Brussels Region. Finally, the administration can rely on a growing number of Plone service providers.
Working with IMIO is similar to working in an open source community: within an international framework, where a common interest is pursued.
At mid of 2016, 246 local authorities, including 191 towns, 4 police zones, 3 provinces, were buying IMIO services.
The turnover is about 2 M €, and subsidies from the Walloon Region are about 0,8 M €.
The results are higher than forecast in the business plan. The goal is to be sustainable in a few years.
The price is applied to each “product” and is linked to the number of inhabitants of the municipality. It includes training (workshops), corrective maintenance and scalable migration to new versions of Plone, web and telephone support (forum, mail, chat, ...), management of your solution on the IMIO servers (backups, security, performance, capacity).