Launch of Drupal Public Sector Exchange – A Call for Participation

DPSE logo 1 2013 300x159 Drupal Public Sector Exchange   Open Councils event

Why DPSX? OS and Drupal save a lot of MONEY for Councils

There are 468 councils in the UK, who all have websites. Yet only two have started to use Open Source software – namely Drupal. Most of them still use outdated proprietary software platforms and pay not only millions of £££’s in licensing fees they also are locked into inefficient content management systems, which make it very costly to adapt to organizational changes. This coincides with enormous cost pressures on councils, who have to slash budgets drastically. Doh – doesn’t that strike you as gigantic waste of time and money?

Increase Drupal Adoption via P2P learning

This describes a in a nutshell why we launched the Drupal Public Sector Exchange (DPSX) with a focus on Open Councils at the Young Foundation to serve as a platform for peer learning to help create a community of Drupal users focussed on councils. So last week a 15 of us met for the first iteration of DPSX. We had a great mix of public minded Drupal developers as well as representatives from Lambeth Council, Government Digital Services and Steve Purkiss who has helped Bighton Council to move to Drupal.

Here the speakers:

Richard Pope – Government Digital Service
Steve Purkiss –
Robert Miller – Lambeth Council
Michael Lenahan – Lambeth Council
Paul Mackay  – NESTA

The first talk was given by Richard Pope from Government Digital Services, who had just published guidelines for the public sector, which specifically favor Open Source Solutions, because of their cost saving potential. It was great to hear that after more than a decade of advocacy central government finally gets it ;-)

Opportunity and Challenge: a public sector Drupal community

Then we heard from Steve Purkiss and Rob Miller and Michael Lenahan from Lambeth Council and they both had a very similar message, which summarized both the opportunity and the challenge: Drupal is a great solution for councils, its modular, flexible and has no licensing costs. It allows for the creation of customized modules – for lets say bin collection – which can then be shared with other councils who need similar solutions. This where really the strength of Drupal lies: a community that shares!

NO More 468 different Waste collection Systems

The beauty of OS software lies in its inherent ‘shareability’. A council that creates module for bin collection can share it with any other council – no more wasteful replication of work done by one council by another. It really strikes you as a strange thing that a solution that is very similar across the public sector – like a scheduling system for waste collection – has to be designed from the ground up 468 times over.

The Challenge – there is no Drupal Council Community

The messages from Brighton and Lambeth however were similar: there is at present no forum, no platform, no mechanism for councils and associated developers to share there experiences, challenges and solutions.

A Potential Solution

So here the plan: we will be holding more DPSX events. The next one will be on 24th of April (more details to follow) with the aim to invite more public minded Drupal developers, representatives from councils who are interested in learning more and hopefully to start building a mechanism which can document Drupal solutions across councils. It hasn’t been done, so let’s get on with it. Get in touch and come and join to build better councils for the future……

Thanks to Marc from Creative Coop, Pete from Code Positive and Kubair from Ikonami for co-organizing. And thanks to Richard, Steve, Rob Miller and Michael Lenahan for presenting. Also have a look at what Kubair writes.