Connecting state and local government leaders

Newly Redesigned Boston.gov Just Went Open Source

Boston's full website code on GitHub.

Boston's full website code on GitHub.

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

Officials boast this is the first time a major U.S. city has made its full website code public.

Boston is open sourcing its municipal website, three months after redesigning Boston.gov.

Taking the source code public, a move overseen by the city’s Digital Team, will speed the rate at which the site evolves through the addition of new features developed by local software designers, academic institutions and organizations.

The repository is available via GitHub, where coding contributions can be proposed and accepted based on citizens’ needs.

"Since we launched, many people in Boston have reached out to us looking to help with Boston.gov, and many other cities have looked to us as a model," said Jascha Franklin-Hodge, the city's chief information officer, in the announcement. "By releasing the website as open source, we've taken a huge step to engage our local tech community, and the many other government technology innovators across the country."

Boston University was among the groups given advance access to the code, and Boston is hailing itself as the first major U.S. city to open source its full website.

Future web apps the Digital Team develops will be inherently open source while sensitive information will be protected, according to city staff. Increased developer scrutiny can lead to more secure systems in the long run.

Open sourcing Boston.gov’s code is also a way of sharing the city’s best practices and is consistent with the launch of Bean Town’s daily performance management system, CityScore, as well as its open data portal.

"We talk regularly with cities in the region and around the country who are looking to redesign or improve their websites," said Lauren Lockwood, Boston’s chief digital officer, in the statement. "Releasing Boston.gov in the public domain empowers others to reuse the code underlying our site without building it from scratch."

Dave Nyczepir is a News Editor at Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Washington D.C.

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