CommunesPlone, now in its fifth year of operation, has strong adoption within the Belgium local governments and also includes several French local governments. The software, well-supported by an open source- educated IT work force and an supportive open source community and subject matter experts, started small and grew through a dedicated IT ecosystem which included individuals with expertise in open source collaborative models. Early investments in education and coaching enabled the public sector IT departments to engage directly in the development of the software and the community itself.

You can read the complete PloneGov case study at the CENATIC web site and is provided courtesy of the author, Deb Bryant.

Plone, the basis for the applications within the project, included foreign language support earlier than its equivalent solutions, making internationalization of the project a natural progression.

Distinguishing characteristics of this project include:

  • A cohesive local public sector effort supported through open source coaching at project inception.
  • Has developed strong and direct relationship with the open source community.
  • A broader collaborative initiative designed (and based on the Plone platform) to support activities not core to government IT operations such as writing case studies, creating conferences and workshops, developing community partners.

CommunesPlone is exemplary in the degree of collaboration within the public sector and amongst the open source community.

There are many lessons to learn from the project including best practices closely modeled after open source development, and also from the manner in which resources are dedicated to outreach, education, and promotion.

Project aspects to watch with interest: Funding of centralized or coordinated efforts, and scalability as more agencies outside of the current community adopt the software and require deployment support.