Rural communities pool together for open source e-gov

This summer, Steamboat Springs will be the first of several Colorado communities to launch a e-government site, called OpenGov.net, based on open source technologies.

This summer, Steamboat Springs will be the first of several Colorado communities to launch a e-government site based on open source technologies. The beta site is here. Originally scheduled for next week, the launch has been pushed back until mid-June due to the limitations of a "small city government with limited staff," Kent Morrison told ZDNet Government. News of the initiative, originally reported by ZDNet UK, has prompted several other Colorado communities to approach Morrison about replicating the effort.

 

Steamboat's e-gov site will run on a platform chistened OpenGov.net, consisting of the open source content management system Typo3 on top of the LAMP stack.

In an interview with ZDNet UK in February, Morrison discussed the project:

Northwest Colorado is a sparsely populated area with many small towns. As our local government organizations are so small we recognized the only way we could do Web delivery of government services was by pooling our resources. We found an open source content management system called Typo3, which is an enterprise CMS that rivals commercial products costing $60,000. A local firm in Colorado with experience on the LAMP platform customised it for Typo3.

We currently have beta sites developed for two towns and a county — to show local government officials and city or county staff how it works. These sites will go live to the public over the next six months or so — Steamboat Springs' site will go live on 1 May, Craig and Moffat County's site will go live this summer. Over time these sites will offer the same services that you get into your town hall or county court house, for example, you will be able to pay your parking ticket, register your dog, or sign up for a recreational activity.

We're publishing the project online so it's freely available — anyone who wants to get involved right now only has to download ...the components from our Web site. We haven't yet developed a site on Sourceforge, but will be doing this in the summer.

We would love to have other organisations using the product. For example, if a small rural community in Australia implemented the system and added an animal registration module, they could contribute that module back to the project and everyone else could use it. That's the beauty of using public money to develop open source software. We're very grateful that our elected officials realise that's true and gave us some money to develop it.

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