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Bologna engages with Open Source
Sensitive to Open Source development, the city of Bologna takes part in further Open
Source actions among which two EU projects: USE-ME.GOV Project (I) and the ACTOS
Project (II). In addition to this projects, Bologna hopes to launch another project based on
Open Source Software technology and cal ed “TARTESSOS” (III).
In these projects, Bologna mainly focused on the development of Open Source technologies.
I. The USE-ME.GOV Project
The USE-ME.GOV Project (USability-driven open platform for Mobile GOVernment) aims at creating an open
service platform for mobile users that wil be shared by networked authorities and institutions (e.g. on a
regional scale) in terms of technical infrastructure, information (content) as wel as a framework for
commercial exploitation. The USE-ME.GOV initiative is a European research and development project
designed to support and encourage the access to new e-government services and any time and anywhere
through the use of mobile communications, Internet and Open source technologies.
acts as the project coordinator and contributes with research on the distributed sharing of content,
namely with regard to the use of open standards for the sharing of geographical information in open service
In terms of platform design and implementation of core services, EDISOFT is in charge of content provision and aggregation.
The Content Provision Service (CPS) for example is responsible for retrieving content from GIS, Textual,
Video, Sound and Image external data sources. These types of content can be bound to the external end-
services, al owing public authorities to integrate their own information combined with content provided by
other (public or private) external entities. In order to ensure openness and interoperability of the USE-
ME.GOV platform, access to external data sources is implemented through a translation layer that can be
adapted to particularities of the data sources (type of content, open standards).
As mentioned above, geographical information is one typical area for the use of open standards for
distributed sharing of content. In this respect, EDISOFT ensures that the platform is compliant with W3C
openGIS standards, namely the Web Mapping Service (WMS) and Web Feature Service (WFS).
EDISOFT is also the provider of the City Information Broadcast Service that aims to deliver information to
mobile users according to the specific context in terms of interest and preferences, which also includes time,
type of occurrence as wel as the geographical scope.
The project objectives centre on a usability-driven approach for service conception, platform sharing and
service application design as wel as business models that al ow for sustained service provision in order to
overcome the major constraints for the exploitation of public mobile services.
The project team wil base their work on a few selected types of services that have universal applicability for
different countries and regions and that are intended to have a clear, positive impact on the quality of public
services. The main goal of this project has therefore been translated into the fol owing objectives:
Open Service Platform for Mobile Government
The USE-ME.GOV project supports authorities entering the mobile market by providing an open source
• to share common modules with other departments or authorities (for example subscription, alerting components),
• to secure development and operation by open source transparency,• to attract further mobile operator independent of respective interfaces, and to estimate efforts, outcome and benefits in advance.
The open service platform must satisfy the most important and critical usability requirements in terms of
user-friendly application interface design and interactivity with regard to information search, retrieval and
presentation, user-friendly and easy service design, configuration and deployment for the public authority.
Open Service Platform with high-levels requirements
From a rather technical point of view, the platform should further comply with high-level requirements that
impact positively on the overal cost of deployment:
• sharing of information (content),• independence from commercial off-the-shelf software,• interoperability,• scalability.
Attractive Business Models for Mobile Government:
The USE-ME.GOV project wil elaborate business models for collaborating partners including public
authorities as well as telecommunication and portal providers. A business model is seen as “the way a
network of companies intends to create and capture value from the employment of technological
The project has already identified a list (non exhaustive) of actors:
• platform operators• mobile operators• authorities (as a whole)• departments and sub-responsibilities• technical consultants for platform• portal operators
This list is likely to be extended during the inventory state of the project.
The business models to be elaborated in the course of the project, and in particular under a work package
dedicated to the recommendations for service planning wil serve as a recommendation for all partners to
evaluate who and how partners in the respective service chain act together. This wil also give further
• how services can be provided sustainable in a long term perspective,
• which organisational changes/support are required,• how service components can be shared among different scenarios.
Recommendations for Service Planning and Implementation:
The USE-ME.GOV project wants to deliver a service planning methodology that can be used by different
actors in the planning process, such as the manager for the IST strategic planning working for a regional or
local governmental authority, the operational manager who is elaborating new service scenarios for his
authority, the technical manager who has to understand the impact of technology choices and requirements
for service integration and implementation as wel as equivalent roles with regard to the mobile operator and
other external (to the authority) provider of content, services and technology.
The project wil consider various geographical scenarios throughout Europe and look at fundamental
differences in terms of public administration and organisation, existing or planned regional initiatives, crucial
social issues, and to a certain extent the impact of legal issues/constraints.
• business planning, apart from providing business models (see second objective) for the particular pilot services and end-user partners (authorities), a methodology for business planning of
• implementation planning, further providing a detailed description of technical and service integration requirements,
• standardisations and regulations, further providing a description of international and national regulatory framework and constraints and standardisation issue to be taken into account.
The central point the USE-ME.GOV project is to carry out an Open Service Platform allowing networked
authorities and institutions to share their technical infrastructure, information as wel as a framework for
commercial exploitation. It will be designed in order to meet the criteria for openness, interoperability,
scalability and security. The USE-ME.GOV service platform wil be built on Web Service technology. Open
Standards wil be applied to service interface descriptions, local service protocols, privacy policies, security
models and to data formats such as for geographical and location information.
II. The ACTOS Project
The ACTOS Project (Active Citizenship Through Open Source), still in the “proposal” phase, regards the
experimentation of an “open source lab” involving local developer communities to design software for the
For Bologna, horizontal networking is a way for the civic authorities to foster, through the potential of ICT,
active citizenship for cultural, economic and social goals, acting as brokers and promoters and not as
The project aims to develop a coherent Open Source platform of services, methodologies and tools based on
a user driven innovation process. The development process wil fol ow the so cal ed bazaar style of the OS
model, and users will be treated as co-developers. Through this OS civic platform, news forms of networking
between citizens’ groups based on knowledge sharing and common interests wil be possible. For Bologna,
horizontal networking is a way for the civic authorities to foster, through the potential of ICT, active
citizenship for cultural, economic and social goals, acting as brokers and promoters and not as external
In parallel, the project will investigate the economic and social conditions that make the OS economy
sustainable in the medium-long term, with a clear focus on the role of the local governments.
The project wil set up and test the financial, administrative and political viability of an OS Observatory in
each of the cities involved, and will carry out a comprehensive policy framework to exploit at different levels
the added value created by the OS model.
Final y, recommendations for the progressive migration towards OS solutions in the Informative
Infrastructures of the City partners wil be formulated.
Open source platform of services, methodologies and tools
ACTOS centres on the users’ perspective, the second generation of ICT projects after the civic networks
projects. ACTOS would al ow cities to enhance an active citizenship based on ICT because citizens are seen
as actors at all levels in the decision making processes in e-government issues.
ACTOS’ methodology which focuses not on individuals but on network of individuals inspires from the Open
Source Software community. The OS of free software communities consist of programmers and users, who
contribute to the development of software products by using the internet to communicate and cooperate.
Their objective is to produce software that can be distributed freely through Internet without the usual
copyright restrictions and, by means of releasing it with source code, to al ow everyone to read and modify it.
The OS communities depend on horizontal, col aborative and open links in an organised network of people.
This knowledge production process, based on co-operation and solidarity as opposed to centralisation, and
promoting the participation of users, can be chosen as a model of structuring an active citizenship. It will help
to renovate and reshape goals and services realised by local civic networks: civic networks have to pass
from the age of common production, e-democracy processes, partnership between communities and cities
and have to realize an environment where values, goals and contents could be shared.
ACTOS fol ows the OS communities approach: the system of services and tools wil be developed with the
OS methodology involving the OS local communities under the leadership of the local Universities, and
appropriate training wil be redesigned and delivered to the young OS developers taking part in the
development process. The vital core of this process wil be the development of the OS labs in the partners’
cities. The design methodology wil be cooperative. The same methodologies promoted for cooperation
among citizens will be used for the design with less accessible tools and more technical tools.
Consolidate OS communities and encourage active citizenship:
The development of this platform is seen as a chance for the consolidation of the local OS communities in a
long lasting and vital economic activity. To help this objective, the project wil develop a business framework
for sustainable OS activity in each of the city involved and wil develop the basic requirements for such a
model to be developed al over Europe; further observatories to monitor this development wil be set up. The
public authorities wil utilise the development of the platform and the creation of the observatories as a
chance to speed up a process of migration to OS systems of the public authorities ICT systems.
The OS platform of services and tools wil also encourage active citizenship through networking between
citizens’ groups based on knowledge sharing and common interests. The platform is designed to promote
the active participation of citizens in the life and choices of their city, and to encourage the creation of
communities of people across different cities. Integrated set of accessible web-based services, wil facilitate
the set up of various types of interest group (politics, music, arts, science…). The platform shal become an
indispensable tool for activity management within each group, and it wil be a useful communication channel
for cooperation between the groups, towards the city itself, and between cities. It wil al ow informed
interaction between the citizens, and shared knowledge creation. Citizens will be given the means to take
part in the development process through the mechanisms that are typical of the OS world. Particular groups,
general public, authorities wil be active within the platform.
The platform wil be agreed among the partner cities that wil be based on open standards, including web
services, open document format, application programming interfaces, and a common management
infrastructure. The architecture wil enable new services to be plugged in as required and wil provide
mechanisms for agreement to be reached on the implementation of such services into the future. The use of
open standards wil facilitate the integration of business services in the platform as they become available,
for such areas as urban planning, transport, regulatory information…
Web-services based APIs wil be capable of integration into developments tools such as Netbans and
Eclipse, and API libraries wil be made available where appropriate to assist developers.
The economic and social conditions
The ACTOS project intends to carry out a research along three lines of actions:
• research on social aspects: new forms of horizontal, multilateral and polycentric aggregation between citizens, stakeholders and Public Authorities, by means of a platform of services and tools
developed in OS, using the methods of the OS communities,
• technical research (platform of services and tools development) contributing to local eGovernment standards and infrastructure;
• research on the potential of OS knowledge in terms of social and economic development: the project intends to investigate a business model encompassing the main actors of the value chain of
knowledge, which could be sustainable in the long term (with a special focus on employment
Open Source Observatory
ACTOS wants to set up an Open Source laboratory/observatory in each of the cities involved composed of
representatives of the civic network, the University and the OS community.
This Observatory it shal coordinate the development of the platform in each city, operating as an interface
between the design/development/integration activities and the local actors.
For non experienced software developers, apprenticeship wil be organised in addition to vocational training
modules for the young professionals developing OS software. These trainings wil be divided in two main
phases: the first oriented to technical skills/needs, the second oriented to OS business creation.
Recommendations wil address the need from a local/regional perspective, but designing global strategies
that address not only local setting but the global aspect of the OS economy. A data mining exercise will be
conducted to identify existing OS migration. Based on the results, a working document wil be developed to
elaborate a common trans-European approach on the OS policies conducted at the local level, based on the
exchange of good practices as wel as on the sharing of work progress and emerging results in the partner
III. The TARTESSOS project
The participation of Bologna in “OS-focused” EU Projects is not an isolated action. The new City
Administration, coherently with its Mandate Program, is now experimenting new methodologies to actively
involve citizens in the decision-making processes, and expects that the results of such projects wil strongly
help the diffusion of a “knowledge sharing” philosophy among citizens through the spread of OS solutions.
TARTESSOS is one of the future projects of the municipality.
Recycling is today the most frequent response for electric and electronic equipments management. Today,
comparing with the huge quantity of materials and energy used in the electric and electronic equipments
production, only few products are coming from recycling. This implies a big waste of value for this king of
equipments. Among electronic and electric equipments, professional computers are the best able for the
recycling process, since there are produces in a whole slew and since their lifetime is short comparing their
The TARTESSOS project aims at developing a professional computing recycling methodology for three
Occidental Mediterranean countries (Italy, Spain and Portugal) confronted to computing access difficulties.
The project wil help these countries to overtake the computing gap between themselves and further
• an Open Source Software creation, easy to instal and to use. This computing tool wil be adapted to potential users and wil be able of making use of PC resources in end of life;
• scheduling the different stages salvage end life computers;• realise digital alphabetisation programmes in regions where computers and computing knowledge are missing.
Based on Open Source software technology, TARTESSOS wants to develop a common methodology for
computer recycling. On the long view, the project wil encourage employment creation and equality of
chances notably in rural areas suffering for economical and social difficulties. Furthermore TARTESSOS
participates to a sustainable goods consummation respectful of environment considerations.
The development of an Open Source Software wil enable a large participation of users and the support of
For Leda Guidi who is responsible of the Iperbole civic network and the communication services for citizens
of the Municipality a key element of Open Source development is its agency in pursuing the goal of open
standards adoption. Virtual machines and networks based on open standards can play a fundamental role in
breaking the lock-in between operating systems, applications and data that prevents many users from
changing their environments or working across environments. This is a particularly important issue in relation
to local government/governance and municipal information systems for communities.
With the active participation of the USE-ME.Gov Partners among theme, the Municipality of Bologna
(Lorenzo Bertorello and Daniele Tarozzi).
- Michael Nagler, MERIT & Maeva Zebrowski, EUROCITIES
• Use-Me project - • Commune of Bologna -
European Communities 2005Reproduction is authorised provided the source is acknowledged.
The views expressed are not an official position of the European Commission.
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