par Gabriel Plassat • Innovation

Open Source City

Jason Hibbets presents the foundation for an open source city, based on its experience of Red Hat Community leader and what he did in the city of Raleigh. He extracts the principles of being on open source city in action, creates a kind of label with @citycamp and start to connect Citizen community, open source and innovation. Its experience is very interesting for FabMob in the field of mobility.

Jason’s mission is to « create a better citizen experience » and he succeeded by applying a open-source methodology to its city. The idea is to create an ecosystem that promotes transparency, participation and collaboration in government that goes beyond economic development and innovation. The heart of this process is the community.

Jason identify 5 characteristics of an open source city :

  1. Fostering a culture of citizen participation
  2. Having an effective open government policy
  3. Having an effective open data initiative
  4. Promoting open source user groups and conferences
  5. Being a hub for innovation and open source businesses

Probably one of the most difficult components of an open source city is to foster a culture of citizen participation. Citizens need to be willing to participate and contribute their time and knowledge, Open source is “just” a strategy used to move forward. The city of Raleigh launches the concept of CityCamp ! A “CityCamp” is an international unconference series that brings together local government officials, municipal employees, experts, programmers, designers, citizens, and journalists to share perspectives and insights about their city. An unconference is a participant-driven event where organizers plan the time, place, and other logistics, while the participants determine the agenda. Typically, attendees show up prepared not only to learn, but to share their knowledge. Now CityCamp is an international unconference series and online community dedicated to innovation for municipal governments and community organizations. CityCamp isn’t just about meeting and talking, though these are important. CityCamp is also serious about taking action.

Involvement of the community was successful because there’s a coherence between the objectives, the tools and the culture. CityCamp is based on documentation using LocalWiki. LocalWiki is an open source content management platform that makes editing a webpage as easy as using Google Drive. Anyone can edit and contribute content to a LocalWiki. Over the course of a few months, this new community built content on popular topics such as parks, transportation, and neighborhoods. The wiki was by invitation only until there was enough content to create a good experience for future users. Then the group started an awareness campaign called Edit your city.

Of course, the city of Raleigh engaged itself in open source. On February 7, 2012, the Raleigh City Council unanimously passed an Open Source Government Resolution, promoting the use of open source software and open data. The resolution includes language that puts open source software on the same playing field as proprietary software in the procurement process. It also establishes an open data catalog to house data available from the city. All that contributes to formalize the existing open source culture.

Then Cities that can combine their open data policy with their economic development strategy can give a real boost to startups and other businesses. Being a hub for open source companies and a catalyst for open source startups can have a positive impact on the city’s bottom line. More importantly, this feeds back in to culture and participation.

FabMob is convinced that open source becomes a new skill to master for all public and private organizations. For the cities, the open source makes it possible to guarantee a good transparency, to involve the citizens, to better report, to reduce public spending and to concentrate on these main missions: to solve real problems and to improve the daily life.

FabMob has just started several projects that involve territories : one on mobility hubs (join the project by signing our manifesto) and a new one specifically on open source city experimentation (if you are interested, just email us). Jason Hibbets and Raleigh experiences will be really useful !