[nSLUG] Bermick Migration

Robert Ashley rb.ashley at gmail.com
Sat Mar 3 15:45:33 AST 2007


Thanks Jim, really appreciate your well-thought analysis. Persuasive,
to say the least.

The hurdle is research capacity. Workwise, I'm tapped out chasing the
tails of bad dogs to writing speeches for the Mayor. That said, I'm
not deterred in the least because the hurdle is surmountable, the best
avenue I can think of being the universities.

The project may lend itself (mutatis mutandis) to a graduate thesis or
a doctoral dissertation.  The Masters thesis might be better because
it is likely to lean more toward professional pragmatics than the
original research demanded by the PhD.

The beauty of your post, Jim, is that it is practically a ready-to-go
outline for the research work. That's phase one. Phase two might ship
this analytical research over to school of public administration with
the objective to plug it sensibly into the public policy realm. That
piece would take in the ethnographic implications of organizational
culture, political cycles, citizen engagement, and public policy
development.

In this big picture, Berwick devolves towards simplicity, reappearing
as a research subject in a case study.  That may be much more
realistic role for our town because the research puts us way beyond of
our depth. It's a sensible way to look at it because the town does not
operate in a vacuum. Rather it occupies a network, the 31
(incorporated) towns in NS. (New Minas is way bigger, but it's not a
town, but a "village", a creature beholden to the Municipality of
Kings County). Where I'm going with this is simply to say that should
Berwick succeed as in a "micro" case study, I'd have a "duty" to share
everything learned with all the other Towns. So the project would have
to retain considered attention to the possible benefits accruable to a
much wider partnership of like stakeholders.

Engaging stuff, Jim. Apologies for tearing you away from more productive work.

Bob










On 3/3/07, Jim Haliburton <jim at on-site.ns.ca> wrote:
> 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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