Open Belgium recap

Four weeks ago Johan spoke at Open Belgium about how Open Data is only the beginning. Similar to government-held data and content being openly accessible as Open Data there are calls for government-produced and taxpayer-funded software to be released as open source software.

Our presentation aimed to build awareness around the philosophy of open source governance, or developing in the open. We focused on the “Open” principles of transparency, participation and collaboration and how to apply them to government services to foster citizen participation.

No idea what Open Belgium is all about? Sit back and watch the recap video.

Or watch on vimeo.com.

Why?

Being open about code, and the processes which lead to coding decisions are vital parts of building trust in government. By working together the potential of reuse increases rather than re-writing. GOV.UK found the quality of code and commit messages is higher when developers are working ‘in the open’.

How?

Create a set of criteria to develop and run digital services, like:

  • Publish all code on GitHub.com
  • Create issues for tasks that need to be completed
  • Use coding standards to reduce the cost of maintenance and improve code readability
  • Use a branching model (like Gitflow)
  • Have a virtual development environment (like Vagrant or Docker)

Need more inspiration on open source governance and developing in the open? The 18F Open Source Style Guide and the Digital Service Standard of GOV.UK are great resources.

Belgium is lagging behind

During his talk Johan showed examples of government services around the world that are developed in the open like govCMS, a Drupal as a service solution for Australian Government agencies and Boston.gov, the official site of the City of Boston.

Unfortunately Belgium is lagging behind. Open source is not mentioned in the federal coalition agreement and Belgium has not yet endorsed the Open Government Declaration. While others already have a commitment to making source code open by default.

Johan also mentioned Kanooh as Belgian example. Despite being built on open source software (Drupal) Kanooh is not developed in the open.

Let’s join hands to help shape the digital future of government.

PS: Two weeks ago we announced Open Police 3.0, a free and open source web publishing platform for police forces.