Free software as a force for good in local government


Zoocha Ltd CEO Will Huggins explains why open source software is emerging as a catalyst for digital transformation in local government

When examining software solutions, it’s not uncommon to hear the phrase “open source software won” suggesting that the proprietary software giants have “lost,” but anyone who has worked on transformation projects digital public sector will know that the reality is not quite so simplistic.

Rise above legacy technologies

Like all large organizations, local councils live with technological choices made in the past that have created a complex maze of fragmented systems and siled services. At the same time, the citizens they serve have become more tech savvy and expect the digital services they use to be connected, intuitive and reliable. Trying to reconcile these two conflicting realities is intimidating.

COVID-19 has increased the focus on this conflict as many “offline” channels for accessing counseling services have been limited or even completely inaccessible to many users. Add to this the acute financial pressure on local communities and the scale of the challenge is enormous.

Be open and use open source

In 2017, the Government Digital Service (GDS) released the “Technology Code of Practice” as a blueprint to help government organizations design, build and purchase better technology. Point 3 of the 12-point code of practice is to “be open and use open source”, an important recognition that open source technology can be used to:

  • Solve common problems
  • Reduced implementation and operating costs
  • Free up budgets and resources to focus on building user-centric solutions
  • The power of the community

open source software, digital transformation

The benefits of open source software are well known and understood – large communities of developers create, refine, and improve code to create robust platforms that can be downloaded and used, without commercial license fees. It’s a tantalizing proposition that promises a practical solution to the problems of digital transformation. So why is it so difficult? The answer is found in the word community. A community of developers can create great software, but it needs a community of end users to turn that software into turnkey solutions for a purpose.

That’s why, 20 years after the creation of Drupal, the LocalGov Drupal project is starting to transform the way local councils publish on the web. With a little central funding and a lot of effort from the ever-growing community of local councils, the transformative power of open source software is being realized.

Market support

In addition to representatives from the local council, the community has welcomed contributions from Drupal service providers like Zoocha who combine free resources with their paid services to help accelerate the progress of the project. This creates a growing ecosystem of vendors that local councils can turn to to help them take advantage of LocalGov Drupal, even if they lack the in-house capacity to implement it.

About Zoocha

Zoocha is a specialist digital agency, using open source software like Drupal to build enterprise-wide websites and applications for large organizations in the public and private sectors. As a leading provider of Drupal solutions, Zoocha helps local government organizations leverage the power of Drupal to transform their digital customer experiences.

Attention: This is a commercial profile

© 2019. This work is under license CC BY 4.0 license.

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