Plinket Collaborative

The Plinket Collaborative community generates and supports web authoring environment that libraries in partnership with states/regional organizations use to create new web sites for their patrons. It also creates shared content and other generic information that can be provided through the web sites that are valuable to library patrons.

The Collaborative provides identifies requirements unique to library needs in a highly collaborative manner through a formal and inclusive governance model. The actual technical development of the templates and tools based upon the Plone and Zope platforms is done by a third party contractor, so the code generated is done by a directed effort rather than an open source style development effort. Plone and Zope are both traditional open source projects.

Formal governance; a central fiscal agent to manage expenses; sharing of documentation and practices; encouraging outreach and promotion by its members are key factors in the projects stability and growth.

The complete Plinket case study can be found on the CENATIC oberservatory web site and is provided courtesy of the author, Deb Bryant.

NASA World Wind

Originally created as an educational program in 2004, in 2006 the Department of Energy (DOE), impressed by World Wind.NET, asked NASA to make World Wind into a platform-neutral technology. Two significant decisions were made: re-factor World Wind using cross-platform Java and re-architect World Wind from an application to an API centric SDK that could be more easily used by other applications.

The re-factored and re-designed version of World Wind has greatly improved the versatility of this technology and the degree of acceptance in the software application development community, as witnessed by the significant government and commercial use of this technology. Since World Wind provides the infrastructure for information exchange, efforts to provide value can concentrate on solutions. In this way NASA stimulates entrepreneurial enterprise, provides the government with control over the information exchange medium, and enhances the ability for the world to communicate and share information.

Moving the community portal off government servers also served to improve the projects ability to grow the project as well as leave agency technical resources to focus on core development. A strategy of supporting a fully open community allows actors from outside of government to participate in the project, furthering the adoption of the software and broadening its use in a range of applications

The complete World Wind case study can be found at the CENATIC web site and is provided courtesy of the author, Deb Bryant.


CommunesPlone, now in its fifth year of operation, has strong adoption within the Belgium local governments and also includes several French local governments. The software, well-supported by an open source- educated IT work force and an supportive open source community and subject matter experts, started small and grew through a dedicated IT ecosystem which included individuals with expertise in open source collaborative models. Early investments in education and coaching enabled the public sector IT departments to engage directly in the development of the software and the community itself.

You can read the complete PloneGov case study at the CENATIC web site and is provided courtesy of the author, Deb Bryant.

Plone, the basis for the applications within the project, included foreign language support earlier than its equivalent solutions, making internationalization of the project a natural progression.

Distinguishing characteristics of this project include:

  • A cohesive local public sector effort supported through open source coaching at project inception.
  • Has developed strong and direct relationship with the open source community.
  • A broader collaborative initiative designed (and based on the Plone platform) to support activities not core to government IT operations such as writing case studies, creating conferences and workshops, developing community partners.

CommunesPlone is exemplary in the degree of collaboration within the public sector and amongst the open source community.

There are many lessons to learn from the project including best practices closely modeled after open source development, and also from the manner in which resources are dedicated to outreach, education, and promotion.

Project aspects to watch with interest: Funding of centralized or coordinated efforts, and scalability as more agencies outside of the current community adopt the software and require deployment support.


Sahana came into existence through the collaborative effort of IT professionals in Sri Lanka and around the world to provide relief to victims of the December 26, 2004 Tsunami in Indonesia. In October 2009, the governance and management of this community based, open source disaster management software program, through sponsorship from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), IBM and the National Science Foundation (NSF), was given to the Sahana Software Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Sahana has been successfully deployed in 14 disaster relief efforts as well as 14 pre-deployment preparedness and mitigation strategies around the world.

Sahana is primarily supported through the donation of funds, infrastructure and resources from organizations in industry (e.g., Google, IBM, Sri Lanka Telecom IDC), government (e.g., NSF, SIDA) and the non-profit sector (e.g., World Food Programme, Lanka Software Foundation). By establishing onsite teams that train IT professionals in the disaster area, Sahana has successful integrated industry workers, government agents, volunteers and resources. This effort not only alleviates suffering for victims, but streamlines interagency communication and improves the robustness of Sahana’s software.

Drawing heavily from the Apache Foundation’s community model of a meritocracy, the developer and user community is directed by the Sahana Software Foundation’s Board and Project Management Committees. This governance directs Sahana’s three primary internal projects: Sahana-Agasti (PHP-based, resource management), Sahana-Eden (Emergency Management Environment) and Sahana-Mobile (code base for mobile platforms)

In general, governments around the world have benefited or may benefit from the Sahana software with no financial investment. As the project has matured, it has gained the confidence and interest of government agencies for permanent deployment within their Emergency Management Operations. Most recently in the US, government has begun contributing to the development effort.

The Sahana project has called to the open source industry to help develop at cooperative business model, one which supports the viable commercialization of a product with a service industry to support and sustain the project while maintaining its humanitarian principles.

You can read the complete Sahana case study at the CENATIC oberservatory web site and is provided courtesy of the author, Deb Bryant.

Law Enforcement Automated Data Repository (LEADR)

Building on the success of a small open source project, two US states shared investments in developing a new information sharing system under an open source license for law enforcement agencies. In 1999 a grant from the National Institute of Justice funded additional development for the project. Today three states have the LEADR system running in their state data centers for law enforcement for the collection and analysis of information in the interest of public safety and they make the software and data sharing service available to any local agency at no cost.

Many organizations were involved in the creation of the project. In addition to the law enforcement user community, a third party facilitator, a commercial partner, a federal program partner, and a state legislator (senator) were involved in making funding available to expand the project beyond its smaller beginnings.

The success of the project attracted the attention of the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in late 2008. DHS had funded many IT projects and wanted to consider how open source might play a role in their strategy to make effective investments of Research and Development (R&D) funds.

The main barrier to expansion of the project appeared to be the lack of a dedicated resource to do outreach. While the law enforcement agencies were busy fulfilling their public safety mission, activities such as marketing and community development activities such as writing papers, developing presentations and speaking at conferences fall outside their resource capabilities as well as their core program. With the tremendous benefit of such a project to achieving their operational objectives, the need to modify the model to maintain the software and associated community remains a priority for the states now vested in the project.

Recent additional interest in the project, a shift in the role and relationship between partners, and a general increase in acceptance of open source within US government agencies indicate a stronger long term outlook for the LEADR community.

You can read the complete LEADR case study at the CENATIC oberservatory web site and is provided courtesy of the author, Deb Bryant.

National Consortium for Offender Management System (NCOMS)

NCOMS was a pioneering effort that required public administration managers to take risks with new technology. In the agency operating environment where many other public programs will take precedent in the budget process, NCOMS members have learned to leverage the power of collaboration to modernize their systems. Today, more prisons are managed with NCOMS software than any other single proprietary vendor.

Although at least one member state has chosen to keep software development in house, the participation of two commercial vendors in the ecosystem has been critical in broadening the community by making a set of services for the project available to state agencies who would not be able/would not elect to resource the work internally.

You can read the complete NCOMS case study at the CENATIC oberservatory web site and is provided courtesy of the author, Deb Bryant.


The TriSano project was the first government project created under the umbrella of the Collaborative Software Initiative (CSI), a private venture-funded company based in the United States. The first edition of TriSano was released in the spring of 2009. Today TriSano is in production in the State of Utah and twenty-nine of its counties, and has been downloaded for potential adoption in Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America and by the World Health Organization.

The financial model includes supporting two versions of the TriSano product; one version that is free and open source (TriSano Community Edition), and a second which is commercially supported (TriSano Enterprise Edition). The latter includes additional documentation and training, support for installation, and support for customization. Revenue and associated code enhancements from from the Enterprise edition are used to feed back to continuously improve upon the Community edition.

The project was conceptualized through the need by a public agency to solve a critical information-sharing problem and a business interest in demonstrating the efficacy of this public-private partnership model. The governance model was designed to support a balance of interests public, private and non-profit. Now in its third year of development, the early direct investment of funds by the private firm and the contributions of public health information technology domain expertise thus far appear to have created a viable, sustainable application and growing community.

The complete TriSano case study is available at the CENATIC oberservatory web site and is provided courtesy of the author, Deb Bryant.



BRL-CAD was developed by the US Army Research and Development Command, and released to the public in 2004. You can learn more about BRL-CAD, and their experience with releasing open source code in the presentation below.


Opticks is a image and video analysis tool that grew out of the USAF COMET program. It was created for the USAF by Ball Aerospace and subsequently released under the LGPLv2 license in 2007. You can learn more about how this project successfully started their community in this slide show:

Richard Burlington-Maguire spoke at the Military Open Source Working Group’s third annual conference on DHS’, which was created in Drupal. In his talk, “Drupal inside the Walled Garden,” he discusses the challenges of getting a very mature open source project containing public information approved by the Department.

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