InformED: The adoption of Free/Open Source Software for web-based GIS in local government
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In 2009, the University of Edinburgh was approached by Edinburgh City Council to participate in a project to create a property information service for public consumption based on the council’s Corporate Address Gazetteer which would take the form of an online interactive map. This service fell within the framework of the ‘One Scotland: One Geography’ policy initiative. It also fell within the proposed objectives of a new updated One Scotland: One Geography policy yet to be published. To further conform to this initiative, it was decided to adopt a Free/Open Source solution to serve the requirements as set out by the customer, a user group and also mimicked the functionality demonstrated on similar local council web sites. A survey was then undertaken to understand the reasons why FOSS had not been adopted by many councils to serve their web mapping needs. The survey concluded that a lack of technical knowledge, as well as issues regarding the availability of support when adopting FOSS and the tie in of councils to an IT out-sourcing agreement were issues. To address the issue of technical knowledge, a service meeting user requirements, InformED, was created (available at www.informedinburgh.co.uk) utilising FOSS solutions which required only basic programming skills to implement. The solution was then evaluated to positive reception. The second part of this paper chronicles the steps necessary to re-create such a service.