2 minute read


Continuing on the topic of Municipal adoption and collaboration on Open Source Software (OSS). Listened to the story of the city of Echirolles in France yesterday at the OSOR webinar on Policy and Strategy Aspects of OSS in Public Administrations. An inspiring story.

The city, with a population of 37 000, has taken a strategic approach to promoting and using OSS in the city initiated in 2014. They recognized that digital is not politically neutral and that there are aspects that need to be covered during mandates, with digital giants taking advantages. Many OSS deployments have failed in the past, so the city had to devise a strategy for managing and deploying OSS effectively.

To achieve this, the city created a workgroup to discuss different topics and values to work on and conducted a study of digital technologies and services in the city. They then issued a report to the city council and created a the new role of digital strategy and culture manager, taken on by Nicolas Vivant. Vivant’s role was to write the master plan based on the input from the workgroup, talk to general management and politicians, and then work with IT on an action plan. This resulted in a new organizational chart, where the IT department became part of the digital strategy department.

One important aspect the city emphasized was raising awareness that OSS is not the objective but a means to enable the goal of providing the best service possible. They asserted that it was essential to demonstrate that OSS is a good choice that provides value, rather than forcing it on everyone. To do this, the city found volunteers and early adopter who were interested and wanted to explore OSS solutions.

The city also emphasized the importance of taking the time to do things right and not setting targets or dates. This gave them the flexibility to slow down or change if issues arose. They also worked with other neighboring cities and built tools to enable joint communication, exchange documents, and collaboration.

Finally, the city of Echirolles started talking on a national level and asking cities in other regions to do the same so that they could expand the collaboration and initiation of common initiatives. They emphasized that things were being built both at the top (EU-level) and bottom (city-level), and collaboration was crucial for success.

For a more in-depth description, they have an (English translation)[https://grenoble.ninja/free-software-in-echirolles-france] of a series of articles describing their journey.