There's a great post over at Mashable by San Francisco mayor, Gavin Newsom, on the city's new open source policy. In it he discusses the democratic, fiscal, and technical advantages of open source. He writes:
One of the greatest technology changes of our times is the rise of open source software...Open source software is created by the people for the people and as such is ideal for government. To that goal, I am extremely proud to announce today the nation’s first open source software policy for city government.
San Francisco’s new policy requires city departments to consider open source software equally with commercial products when purchasing new software. The opportunities with open source are tremendous: lower costs, greater agility, better reliability, improved security, and increased innovation.
Under the leadership of our City CIO, Chris Vein, and the Department of Technology, we have witnessed the benefits of open source with shorter implementation times and lower costs. We have seen this with my web site, DataSF.org, RecoverySF.org and our 311 integration with Twitter.
This week I've been introducing our students to open source, and a lot of our discussions have focused on how open source isn't a fringe movement anymore--individuals use it, big companies use it, and governments use it. As government budgets continue to shrink, and fiscal responsibility becomes front page news again, open source is being discussed by an ever increasing number of people. Developers in San Francisco have long understood the value of open source on a technical level, but it's another thing when the mayor's office gets in the game, too.