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RE: [edlug] Donateing CD's to Edinburgh Council

Dundee City Council use Linux, although not on the desktop yet.


Peter George
Training Manager
Net Resources Ltd, 26 Palmerston Place, Edinburgh, EH12 5AL
T: +44 131 477 7127  F: +44 131 477 7126 

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-edlug@xxx.xxx.xxx [mailto:owner-edlug@xxx.xxx.xxx] On Behalf Of David Marsh's listreading hat
Sent: 25 January 2004 12:00
To: edlug@xxx.xxx.xxx
Subject: Re: [edlug] Donateing CD's to Edinburgh Council

On Wed, 21 Jan 2004 01:49:48 -0800
"Bob Kerr" <robertnkerr@xxx.xxx.xxx> wrote:

> As part of an Open Source Awareness program, I am going to donate a 
> copy of the LendingCD and a copy of TheOpenCD to every Edinburgh City 
> Councillor. There are 58 Councillors in all and I am going to write a 
> letter concerning the lending CD in libraries project.

Another excellent idea, Bob! :-)

> I am also willing to include a letter from Edlug. The only problem 
> that I see is how does Edlug as a group write a letter. The letter 
> must have a fixed and easily accomplishable goal for the council and 
> if possible should be signed by the members.

> An accomplishable goal would be something like sending the marketing 
> pdf about Openoffice to council employees or even just the 
> Personel/human resources department.

Wouldn't this be better going to the IT section of the Council? I wouldn't have thought that the Personnel section would have any say on the software in use?

I don't know whether Councils get to choose their own IT solutions or whether perhaps they thrash out some kind of Scotland-wide arrangement through the likes of CoSLA or under some centralised requirement of the ScotExec? That may be a sticking point.

Be warned, though, Councils are _very_ bureaucratic, and the wheels of change move very very slowly. (I once worked within (not for, I hasten to add) a Council and although I _needed_ full internet access for my job, I wasn't "allowed" to gain internet access through their network connection as I wasn't 'important'/senior enough (ooh, the petty rules of hierarchical bureaucracy), so after a couple of weeks of stagnation it was eventually agreed that I should just plug in a modem and use dialup instead <sigh>)

I suspect that the most useful approach towards gaining favour for OSS within the Council would be to highlight pre-existing major switchers, (eg City of Muenchen, Peruvian Govt) and in particular any government agencies that have changed in the UK, and, especially, Scotland (if there are any). There's a (US) site governmentforge(.net?) which may be of interest.

The key persons to get involved would be the Councillor with responsibility for IT (there will be some Council Committee that has IT within its remit) and any Councillors who actually have any understanding of IT issues(!) (and who are pro-OSS, rather than slavish M$ weenies) and are able to act as levers for change. Without support of that kind, it is likely to be very difficult to make progress, unfortunately.

Useful leverage could be gained through supportive MSPs (eg, the Greens: Lothians MSP Mark Ballard is also particularly enthusiastic about OSS) although Councils are notorious about not having their senior brethren and sistren in the Parliament tell them what's good for them :-(

Excuse me if I'm stating the obvious, but key points to make are of massively reduced licensing costs (ie, better value for the council tax payer and allowing funds to diverting to more pressing needs (eg, fixing potholes in Edinburgh's dreadful roads), the quality of software (increased reliability) and the interoperability and openness of the document formats- and especially how the use of open document formats allows govt agencies to disseminate information to the widest possible audience in a way that W0rd doesn't (ie, social inclusion).

A key objective to suggest to the Council to aim for would be to propose that all(non-HTML) documents on their website be available for download in the appropriate open/OpenOffice format: W0rd-only is unacceptable. ..and also that they make their website(s) standards-compliant and browser-neutral (their planning portal barfs on non-IE browsers for example), as failure to do so effectively denies citizens access to information that they are legally entitled to.

Incidentally, did you (or anyone) ever send out 'formal' press releases about the library distribution: I'm sure it's the kind of thing that The Herald/sundayherald/Scotsman/SoS/BBCi would be interested in running with if they haven't mentioned it already..? The fact that you managed to get OSS available in most libraries in Scotland is pretty newsworthy!



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