Open source software

Bristol Council opts for open source electronic document management

Kathleen Hall

Bristol City Council has opted for an open source electronic document and records management (EDRM) system as part of moves to slash its operational budget by £70m.

The council signed a deal with Alfresco for document and digital asset management, which will work alongside its other open source product, Drupal for the front end of its website.

Staff and councillors will be able to use Android or Apple devices or standard laptop computers to access the documents remotely.

Gavin Beckett, chief enterprise architect for the council, said the move was aligned to the council’s open source strategy.

Bristol opted for Alfresco’s enterprise product, which involves paying tens of thousands in support fees, as opposed to annual licence costs of £250,000 for a proprietary version or £500 per licence, which inhibits the scope for further roll-out, he said.

The shortlist included a mixture of open source and proprietary suppliers, including SharePoint, he said.

The system will also enable the council to move to smaller premises as documents become digitised and therefore less physical storage space is required.

The council considered purchasing an open source email service last year, following initial disputes with Microsoft. It eventually decided to sign a three-year licence with Microsoft because it felt the company offered a more mature platform, said Beckett.

However, Beckett expects more open source products to become available as areas such as the government’s G-Cloud mature.

“We are actively investigating G-Cloud, and revising our multi-sourcing strategy,” he said.  

Last year, there was controversy surrounding the council’s open source strategy, following allegations that advice sought from Computacenter by the council recommended Bristol stick with proprietary suppliers.  

Beckett said the council was continuing to work with Computacenter and open source providers.

 


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