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As reported by its Vice-Mayor Petr Chramosta during an Open Source Software Usage by European Public Administration (OSEPA) workshop on 26 March 2012, the Czech municipality of Grygov uses open source almost in all its activities.
Open source covers most of the applications used by the administration, offers public Internet access across the entire village and it is the basis for an SMS gateway linking the regional fire department with the volunteers in the village. The software even keeps parents up to date on changes in school schedules.
“Using open source has helped lower IT costs”, says Vice-Mayor Petr Chramosta. Moreover, it allows Grygov to offer reliable and innovative eGovernment services, such as the SMS gateway. According to the Vice-Mayor a typical use case for this gateway is a scheduled interruption of the water supply. "At very low cost and with little effort we inform all villagers in advance by SMS and by email", he says.
Grygov has about 1 400 inhabitants. The local administration uses 10 desktop PCs and less than a handful of servers. The local network connects some 160 households. Combined with the village-wide Intranet, the SMS gateway offers a handy system for public service announcements. "We use it to inform citizens of upcoming events and meetings and our citizens can also respond by SMS" adds Petr Chramostra.
The Grygov municipality funded the development of several functions in order to create the SMS gateway. "I'm surprised that there are not more public administrations using what we make available as open source, for free. Licence costs for the proprietary competitor's product are considerable, and yet our SMS gateway offers more.Using open source software means we save public money", the Vice-Mayor explains. Cost savings were an initial reason to move to open source, a move that began in 2006 when the newly appointed Chramosta found that the public administration used many unlicensed applications. "To begin with, we immediately switched to using OpenOffice and later LibreOffice", he said.
Open source enables Grygov to use any number of installations, regardless of operating system or whether civil workers are using it at the office or at home. "We have no problems exchanging documents and that includes some complicated documents with tables that we exchange with Ministries and the regional administration" he continues.
Chramosta is also very impressed with the stability of the open source services. "Many of our IT services operate for years without much intervention" he says. An example is the Radius server, built using Debian Linux that offers Internet access, in ten-minute intervals, to all visitors. "If you want a permanent connection, just register at the municipal office" adds Chramosta and he goes on to say:"Grygov's use of free and open source should be an example to all small municipalities. If not for its principles, then for its truly impressive quality."