Breaking News: San Francisco Goes Open Source

Mayor Newsome posts the city’s new open source policy in guest blog post

In an unprecedented move the twice elected mayor of the city, Gavin Newsome put up a guest post on today announcing San Francisco now has the nation’s first open source software policy for city government.  Newsome’s support for open source was unequivocal. He stated, “Open source software is created by the people for the people and as such is ideal for government.” 

Earlier this week I wrote a blog post here stating that open source is becoming the Lingua Franca of the government sector. Well I am no open source prophet or anything, but it sure looks like I was right. As has been written before, Mayor Newsome said that using open source has already resulted in shorter implantation times and lower costs. He cited several city projects already using open source. From Newsome’s post it appears that San Francisco is also giving people access to technology they developed with open source as well.  He specifically cited the city's 311 system which is integrated with Twitter. Could it be possible that one day soon private companies could use the 311 technology for their own customer service centers? That would be uber-cool!

The new policy specifically requires city departments to consider open source software equally with commercial products when purchasing new software. My take on reading this is that it is similar to the NFL’s Rooney rule which mandates that for every head coaching position a team should at least consider a minority candidate. A mandate requiring the consideration of open source is of course not the same thing as mandating the use of open source. But the intent is clear. If the open source alternative is viable, the city will have a preference for it.

This is big news for the open source movement! In many areas of law and policy, as goes California, so goes the rest of the country.  Let’s see if other local municipalities follow suit and adopt the San Francisco open source policy. Until then let me leave you with the words to an old favorite song of mine, slightly edited for the occasion.

If you're going to San Francisco

Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair

If you're going to San Francisco

You're gonna see some gentle people open source there

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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