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Why Open Source Is Driving Digital Transformation in Government

“Change.” That’s the word that best describes today’s digital world. Since 1991, internet users have grown from a handful of researchers to nearly 3 billion globally. Along the way, how we access and use digital information has changed as well. Government organizations, like the rest of society, are under increasing pressure to adapt to this rapid pace of change.

Today’s sophisticated consumers demand dynamic, interactive experiences that help them work with–and participate in–government. To craft the digital experiences their constituents demand, governments have to adopt newer technologies. Constituents have a high benchmark for what digital experiences should be like—courtesy of their interactions with the brands and websites they love. Governments, therefore, don’t have the luxury of ignoring the digital trend.

This is where open source comes into play. Open source software is woven deeply into the fabric of the Internet. It certainly powers much of its infrastructure: Linux and related open source operating systems power more than 65 percent of all servers in the world.

Widespread adoption has helped open source technologies become more scalable, adaptable, and affordable. These also happen to be the core traits of the technologies necessary for the digital transformation in governments. As was the case with Australia’s govCMS platform, governments don't need one website or ten, but hundreds, and likely even more in the future. A technology platform that doesn't have the features necessary to facilitate such scalability won’t help any government affect its digital transformation.

Most importantly, governments must think not in terms of five years or even ten, but decades down the line. Within just two decades of consumer Internet, we’ve seen widespread changes in the way constituents access technologies and interact with the government. They’ve evolved from using bulky desktop computers to carrying powerful computers in their pockets.
Going forward, technology will grow at an ever-increasing pace. In this scenario, highly adaptable, scalable open source software can help governments keep pace with the digital transformation.

This is the first post in a series on Open Source Government. Stay tuned for upcoming posts, where we’ll discuss how open source digital platforms enable greater citizen engagement, which open source platform is used by more .gov sites and why, and what innovative agencies are doing with open source in the market today.

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