[nSLUG] Bermick Migration

Jim Haliburton jim at on-site.ns.ca
Sat Mar 3 14:06:03 AST 2007


Hello:

Further to my comments regarding Berwick, I think the objective is most 
commendable.  Acceptance of the status quo is sometimes less than 
advantageous.

In Europe I believe the EU Commission has a dept dedicated to sharing 
open source, government based and developed apps, among other 
governments.  I recall reading where a region developed a Social Services 
type application covering benefits elegibility, payments etc.  The 
application was written to meet the requirements of the EU Human Rights 
laws and the objectives of the regional and state government.  The 
application was written to allow alternate  languages to be used on the 
screens.  This was then offered to other governments and was accepted and 
modified to meet minor changes in other jurisdictions.

That project was part of the instigation for the EU Commission to start 
creating a repository and office for applications sharing in the EU.

A start to this Berwick project would be to seek out those existing 
applications that governments across North America and the rest of the 
world have developed.  Then a directory or catalogue of those apps and 
their current state of development and availability, would provide a 
useful resource.  From this basic research one would possibly find a 
foundation app that could be used to build a Universal-Small-Municipality 
code base.

Most municipal governments have a water dept of some sort.  They often 
don't meter and bill the citizens for water because the cost of the 
software/hardware is too great.  Berwick appears to run its' own electric 
utility and has the database and other needs of a small utility in 
addition to the billing and receivables.  This is not unique.  There are 
100's of small utilities like this in the US less so in Canada.  An open 
source but 'support for a fee' app might have a market and be 
economically viable for both the utilities and the software 
vendor/creator.  

As a person inside this type entity, and with a grasp of some of the 
computing needs, you are in a good place to define and refine the 
requirements of the task.  There may be an open source app that could be 
enhanced and used and exchanged with other small utilities.  My first 
thought, though, is to make an application fit exactly your needs with no 
compromises.  Make it flexible so other features can be added even if 
they are not needed by Berwick.  But make it the "no holds barred" exact 
fit for the needs of Berwick.  Put in every bell and whistle blue sky 
idea that may even appear to be obscure and not frequently used.  Assign 
the needs a  value.  Must have, nice to have, maybe sometime.  Allow for 
the sometime to be added in, and put the rest in.  Make the must have 
work first.  Develop a universal data migration tool.  Even if it can 
only import comma or tab delimited fields, or fixed length fields and 
records.  This allows you to bring in your own data from a live working 
system and test it on the beta system.

Now having defined a system, the hard part comes.  Decide wether it is 
web based, server based, or desktop based.  I am inclined to make it web 
based so anyone with a W3C compliant browser can use the app.  Put the 
computer power in the host and let the user have the simplest of 
browsers.  

Require absolutely no client side install.  ActiveX is a classic case of 
security risk.  You have to install code on the WS and it must be a 
certain performance class workstation and OS to work.  WRONG. 

This is my perception of how it could / maybe should work.  There are as 
many choices in this regard as there are choosers.  

Once you have a working, showable app, and almost ready to go online, 
then you bring in other utilities for a show and tell day in Berwick.  if 
it is web based other utilities could even view it on-line.  In fact the 
whole app could be hosted for a fee per seat.  Give away the software and 
specs and installation guide.  Go into great detail on how to set it up, 
how to configure the hardware, how to connect a network and on and on.  
Make it so a community thinks they can do it until they read the 600 page 
setup manual!!! Then they will subscribe to the Berwick hosted app at so 
much a month per user.  The software is free, the hosting and user fee is 
not!  Voila an economic model.

As you can read I can go on and on but I will mercifully stop.

Regards  

Jim H
James A. Haliburton
On-Site Computer Services of Halifax
Suite 100, 25 Walton Drive
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Canada     B3N 1X6
Office/ Cell           : (902)499-5250
Home/After Hours : (902)477-8342
e-mail      : jim at on-site.ns.ca

Please avoid sending me Microsoft Office attachments.


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