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Open source all the cities


By GovFresh · December 3, 2013

Finally finished reading Jason Hibbets’ “The Foundation for an Open Source City,” a must-read for anyone interested in building a strong civic community, whether you’re an elected official, public servant or citizen.

“Open Source City” offers both an excellent overview of what it means to be “open source” (Hint: It’s not just about code. Spoiler: It’s about passion.) and gives strong examples of how to implement this based on his personal experiences leading CityCamp Raleigh and other civic initiatives in Raleigh, North Carolina. Frankly, after reading what Jason’s done there, I’m surprised the city hasn’t given him a key or let him be the grand marshal in the 4th of July parade.

The book is built around Jason’s five characteristics of an open source city:

  • Fostering a culture of citizen participation
  • Having an effective open government policy
  • Having an effective open data initiative
  • Promoting open source user groups and conferences
  • Being a hub for innovation and open source businesses

My favorite excerpt:

"The open source way teaches us to be collaborative, transparent and participatory. But it doesn't teach us to be passionate. That is what we ourselves bring to our communities of practice. The passion you bring is what makes the community great. And it's that passion that allows us to change the world the open source way."

The only aspect of “Open Source Cities” that left me wanting more was deeper insight into how Raleigh is leveraging open source software. It’s not apparent to what extent it is or even at all. I recognize that might be too granular for a book like this, but I would love to hear examples, because I think there’s yet to be a city that has emerged as truly open in that regards.

Whether you’re an elected official, public servant or engaged citizen, buy this book and take the first step in open sourcing the city where you live.