The City of Dortmund wants to examine the potential of free software and open standards for the city council until the end of 2019, German IT news website heise reports.

Munich’s decision last year to abandon open source is not the final word in open source matters in German local authorities. Dortmund’s city council has decided to investigate the potential of free and open source software “systematically” in the field of municipal ICT.

Dortmund panorama

Dortmund panorama. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

A free software working group has been established and will work together with the council’s personnel board and Do-FOSS citizens’ action group in developing a free software strategy which should be produced by the end of 2019. Dortmund is thus an open source pioneer in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW). The NRW E-government Law stipulates that open and standardised file formats shall be used by public authorities for sending files to citizens and companies.

Less dependence, more flexibility

Amongst other things, efforts will be made to reduce reliance on suppliers and become more flexible in software use. The aspect of transparency and “Green IT” are also pre-requisites for the strategy. The German Federal Environment Office has determined that free software could save resources due to lower hardware requirements and longer life cycles. Moreover, a more flexible choice of suppliers could also improve local authorities’ negotiating position with proprietary software vendors.

Do-FOSS, which has been calling for years for a switch in public sector procurement towards free software and open standards, is hailing the decision as a “milestone“. In addition, a draft for the introduction of “Open Data Dortmund” is to be submitted to the local authority by next summer. DO-FOSS is now hoping that a comprehensive approach will now be developed within the council for the free and open source IT.

Back in January Mayor Ullrich Sierau and the personnel board signed the Digital Dortmund 2018-2030 Charter (PDF, German), in which the use of open standards was agreed for the council’s ICT.