ODF Alliance

As documents and services are increasingly transformed from paper to electronic form, there is a growing problem that governments and their constituents may not be able to access, retrieve and use critical records, information and documents in the future. To enable the public sector to have greater control over and direct management of their own records, information and documents, the ODF Alliance seeks to promote and advance the use of OpenDocument Format (ODF).

The alliance works globally to educate policymakers, IT administrators and the public on the benefits and opportunities of the OpenDocument Format, to help ensure that government information, records and documents are accessible across platforms and applications, even as technologies change today and in the future.

ODF ALLIANCE MISSION

As documents and services are increasingly transformed from paper to electronic form, there is a growing problem that governments and their constituents may not be able to access, retrieve and use critical records, information and documents in the future. To enable the public sector to have greater control over and direct management of their own records, information and documents, the ODF Alliance seeks to promote and advance the use of OpenDocument Format (ODF) as the primary document format for governments.

The alliance works globally to educate policymakers, IT administrators and the public on the benefits and opportunities of the OpenDocument Format, to help ensure that government information, records and documents are fully and natively accessible across platforms and applications, even as technologies change.

Document Freedom Day Interview with Chris Moore, CIO, City of Edmonton

Several municipal governments in Canada have recently made great strides towards embracing open standards, and open document formats.  In honor of Document Freedom Day (DFD) 2010, the ODF Alliance interviewed Chris Moore, CIO of the City of Edmonton, and one of the leading-edge CIOs in the region.  Earlier this month, Edmonton released a Request for Proposals (RFP) seeking submissions to provide “solution design and implementation of the next generation of the office, messaging, collaboration and document storage platforms.” The initiative is intended to include the implementation of “open document formats to provide inter-operability between alternate applications.”

Following is an interview with Chris Moore:

ODFA:  The RFP describes the goal to use “open document formats to provide inter-operability between alternate applications,” a goal that is at the heart of DFD.  Isn’t this a step that ultimately needs to be-and will likely be-taken by all governments in the next 5 years?  Essentially, do you feel that Edmonton is relatively at the front of an inevitable curve here?

CM:  Yes, we believe that the reality of an Open Ecosystem has yet to emerge, we simply see the opportunity to lead, not just the administration but other public and private sector organizations in Edmonton and the Edmonton Region.  A closed world is not sustainable, openness leads to collaboration and collaboration leverages the collective knowledge of the whole, not the limited creativity of the few.

ODFA:  The ODF Alliance has talked for some time about governments being at this proverbial crossroads for document formats.  That is, within five years most governments need to make a change from the editable doc formats that we are using today (e.g. in the whole debate about open standards, documents, we all agree that .doc is not the future).  But do you see migration as a big challenge, albeit a necessary one?  Further, do you have a strategy for dealing with migration and advice for others taking this approach?

CM:  We realize that a transition from our current state to an open document format state is a huge, but game-changing, transformation.  Probably larger than the accumulation of all of our technology advancements in the past 10-15 years.  Our focus of the change is not on the technology but on the people.  We do have a plan that has our people at the centre, we believe our Human Resources department is a key partner in enabling us to make the move to open.  We are listening to the people and dealing with all of the fundamental personal needs that you encounter in such a transition.  The effort is significant, and the value of the outcome is just as significant.  No pain No Gain !

ODFA:  Edmonton is obviously in good company among leading Canadian cities embracing open standards and interoperability, along with efforts underway in Vancouver and Toronto.  Have you been working collaboratively with those cities to share insights, and do you think the Canadian Federal Government will follow the lead?  What are they doing in this area, and should they be following your lead?  Do you think it’s harder for a Federal Government to transition than municipal or local governments?

CM:  We have been both working with and learning from Vancouver and Toronto, nobody has a corner on the open data market.  If we all work together then we all benefit together.   There is still more work to do on data standards and data feed formats, we are in good company with bright creative people in Edmonton and other Canadian cities.  I have been in touch with some of the players in the Canadian Federal government and my mood at this point is hopeful.  I believe there are many within the Government of Canada who have a similar passion towards open, they just need both Political Sponsorship and Administrative leadership before any significant outcomes emerge.  I don’t believe open is any more difficult at the Federal government level then at the local level, look at New Zealand, United States of America, United Kingdom and Australia who all have defined strategies and actions towards open, if these countries can accomplish that then Canada can as well!

ODFA:  In outlining goals for your “next generation of the office, messaging, collaboration and document storage platforms,” your RFP identifies three requirements, among others, that are critical to implementation:

  1. open document formats to provide inter-operability between alternate applications,
  2. embracing a cross-platform browser-based solution, with data and services accessible inside and outside the City’s network, and
  3. web accessible document storage with delegated administration.

Could you expand on your goals in these areas and how you think it will improve Edmonton’s ability to govern efficiently, openly and interact with citizens?

CM:  Well for us it is all about removing any barriers, as barriers create a challenge in respect to collaboration.  We see removal of these barriers and moving to open as a means to generate greater collaboration within the city, and between the city and our partners as well as other orders of government.  Our Open Data initiative takes us further along that path, when information is made available by the government it enables the community internally or externally to try new things, create new applications solve old problems.  Essentially OPEN is the new economy, and in open everyone wins !

Stay tuned to ITseriesTech blog section for the latest updates regarding ODF alliance.