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Norway’s public sector turning increasingly to open source

Public administrations in Norway are increasingly turning to open source, says Martin Bekkelund, business developer at Friprog, the country’s open source competence centre. This year, all 19 county administrations are using some form of open source, compared to 76 per cent in 2005.

Uses vary from server operating systems and content management systems to OpenOffice. A recent example is the procurement of an open source telephone system based on Asterisk in the county of Akershus. In addition, now 75 per cent of the 430 municipalities in Norway are using this type of software, including, for example, OpenOffice in secondary schools and complete server software stacks.

Five years ago, a little less than 60 per cent of local authorities were using open source. In Norway there are roughly a thousand public offices, which includes government offices, municipalities and counties; now more than 60 per cent use open source, compared to 34 per cent in 2005.

Bekkelund says public administrations should work together to reuse data, knowledge and software. Failing to collaborate on this will result in increasing IT costs and mounting bureaucracy. “This in turn leads to decreasing quality and a loss of knowledge.”

“On the other hand, forcing public administrations to switch to open source is not the way to go, public sector need to see the benefits of sharing and collaboration for themselves.” This explains why Friprog is working on incentives to make open source more attractive. The centre has created a site called Delingsbazaren where public administrations and IT service providers can collaborate.

A similar website, Kunnskapsbazaren, focuses on sharing documentation, research, case studies and data. Friprog also organises conferences, such as the forthcoming GoOpen conference taking place in Oslo in March 2011. “Free and open source has become a natural part of the market.”

Hat tip: OSOR


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