Open sourcing best practices

Open sourcing best practices

The core theme of the CBPN is ‘Open Sourcing Best Practices’, meaning the documentation of case studies from across the world, in a reusable form so that other adopters can repeat that same success, achieved through:

  • Digital Service Patterns – Describes the digital business model of the new service.
  • Github Learning Courses An e-learning course group built around the Github repository for sharing the source code.

Digital Service Patterns

Digital Service Patterns describe the use case and business model for new digital services, with a fundamental purpose of reflecting the ideal that reuse is the best design, a way of achieving the goal of sharing and reusing technology.

This effect is powerfully captured through this video explainer: “Solving common problems once”. Ie. Governments are all wrestling with the same problems, reinventing the wheel each time – Why not instead do so once and then replicate the solution?

Local Government is always an illuminating example – An organization repeated tens and hundreds of times across a country, each running the same repeated business model, but acting individually to decide upon and deploy their own ICT systems.

As do the federal levels of government and also cities, so there are multiple levels of duplication too. Adopting approaches like common Design Patterns starts the move towards identifying and consolidating duplications.

GDS describes describes the start of this evolution here, and they are catalogued as part of the Gov.UK Design System, made accessible as part of an ethos described in this blog: “we need to think about them in the context of service patterns, data and reusable code.”

On the CBPN site we utilize e-learning course topics as a form of defining design patterns, such as documenting the ‘Tell Us Once’ data management policy.

Tell Us Once – Design Pattern

Open Source Software – Distributing best practices

These service patterns offer repeatable blueprints for best practices, a way of solving common problems once, and then replicating these solutions, through releasing it as open source software and sharing through the use of Github.

Governments are increasingly seeing the wisdom of open source, such as the USA and UK, and Bulgaria has even gone as far as to encode the requirement into law.

While there is of course a perspective of massive IT cost savings the much larger benefit comes from the ability to replicate whole programs. Many components and software systems are developed as a process and result of a well designed service delivery program, coming from the experience of the team, the use case research and other surrounding intellectual value.

For example GLA-Ops is a system developed to administer more than £4.82bn of government funds to support building 116,000 affordable homes in London by 2022, under the watch of London’s first Chief Digital Officer Theo Blackwell.

The Jadu library will enable the sharing and reusing of work and help councils become hubs for economic and social exchange. Rather than having to build online services themselves, the councils can capitalise on what is already available and use service specialists.

Similarly Hackney have been open documenting their work such as developing the Business Index, a solution to the problem where the fragmented set of services makes it harder and more expensive for businesses to comply with legislation.

Github Learning Courses

What each highlights is how the completeness of the distribution, as a repeatable best practice not just software, is this surrounding business case documentation.

It’s clear there is massive potential for this type of innovation to represent a common problem solved once and for it to be shared nationally to the great benefit of all councils and businesses.

The challenge is that software alone doesn’t transfer the knowledge – From the simple How To Install it guide, through the much larger conversation about organizational change, how the software required and/or enabled new ways of working.

GLC – Github Learning Course

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