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LINUX Labs: Sofia and Munich – Report

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Activities/Status of LINUX Lab Bulgaria
A budget for the pilot activities of the LINUX Lab Bulgaria was created by Dr. Stefanova-Pavlova and presented for approval to the Ministry of State Administration of Bulgaria and the Mayor of Sofia. The Automation of Municipal Services Based on Open-Source Software Solutions pilot project was presented to the Hans-Seidel Stiftung (Hans-Seidel Foundation). Negotiations are currently undergoing. A confirmation for approval from the Bulgarian institutions is awaited in the near future.
Overall, 20 companies, which have shown interest in the LINUX Lab Bulgaria, have been contacted and are kept updated about the proceedings of the project. About ten of them are also interested to participate directly in the LINUX Lab Bulgaria Association. Dr. Stefanova-Pavlova has further contacted Novel Bulgaria and the Technical University of Sofia, in relation to the start and operations of the future LINUX Lab in Sofia.
Plans for March
Dr. Stefanova-Pavlova will carry on with the administrative procedures to found the Association, as well as with the financial negotiations with the Hans-Seidel Foundation.
Furthermore, monthly meetings in Sofia will be started. These meetings will present the opportunity to interested parties to proactively participate in the LINUX Lab Bulgaria by sharing ideas, cooperating, and discussing the future Association’s targets. 
LINUX Labor Munich
Annual Meeting 2005 – Minutes

1. In December 2005, LINUX Lab Munich held its annual meeting. Seven out of eleven Association Members were present. The Board Chairman, Mr Karlheinz Blau, reported on the accomplished activities in 2005 and the future plans for 2006. The Treasurer, Mr Stefan Haas, gave a report on the current financial situation. It was decided by the members to spend the Association’s proceeds from member fees and donations in 2006 on the operation of a laboratory that is open for students, working groups, and Association’s Members. Also, interesting open-source projects will be the main focus of financing in 2006. The LINUX Lab Members authorized the management board to decide on which project to receive funding.
2. The Bavarian Municipality of Eching will become a member of the LINUX Lab. The municipality decided to transfer to Open Source. The company of Karlheinz Blau will help and support with the migration. The company has experience and knowledge on the works of the LINUX Labor and on the characteristics of Open Source systems.
3. The Capulus working group is attempting to create an open-source product for the administration of cemeteries. It was discussed whether some students could be funded to work on the project. Furthermore, chicken-egg problem has been identified: The existing software products which are all non-open-source are rather expensive and of bad quality. This is why, a brand new, open-source solution has to be developed before the cemetery administration is approached.
4. A discussion on the eGovernment and eGovernment Framework working groups was carried out. Member Jens Wilke made a suggestion to present their projects in Bulgaria, which would initiate a discussion about further cooperation and re-usage / re-application opportunities.
5. Member Jens Wilke reported on the activities in Bulgaria and the content of the pilot projects undergoing there.
February Update
In mid-February the eGovernment Framework working group met in Munich to report on its activities and sparkle idea-sharing and discussion. The Municipality of Eching in the face of Mr Robert Jung, the Land Surveying Office – Munich, PPS-Systems, Geo IT, Team Blau, and Stefan Haas attended the gathering.
Two in-progress projects were presented:
1. Moses
Moses is a tool for allocating and documenting work assignments in handicraft and maintenance companies. The workman is equipped with a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) or a cellular phone, which he or she uses to access data regarding a current assignment. He or she can receive additional assignments through the device or document his or her work using the built-in camera. The solution is not planned to be browser-based, but to use an intelligent client that synchronizes with a central database. At the moment, two student trainees are doing basic research on the topic and will prepare a prototype.
Elevator maintenance was given as a typical user case. Unfortunately, similar software solutions have been already developed. They are, however, in use only at larger elevator-maintenance companies. Telenorma, for example, already had a solution like this about ten years ago. Thus, smaller companies can be targeted with a generalized approach, which can be customized for specific and individual needs. At the same time, open-source solutions can remain cheaper than the existing ones, so the companies without the resources of Telenorma and Otis can afford them.
2. Locating Portal
Geo IT is developing a portal for determining the location and state of GPS and GSM transmitters. A number of possible applications were discussed. Integrating Moses with geographic information in public administration was the one of most interest. For example, the combination can be used for documenting tree population, planning of green spaces, snow removal, and prevention of car-, yacht-, and/or private plane robberies (the latter called – Geo Fencing)
The question, however, arose how all of this is related to the eGovernment Framework. The first noted problem, made by one of the Geo IT managers, was the lack of concrete, marketable products. Further, Robert Jung of the Eching Municipality commented that public administrations are already equipped with functioning software solutions, which makes it unlikely for them to change to different products. Finally, the general opinion settled around the notion that specialized solutions should be suggested for certain applications rather than aimed at conquering the markets of established competitors.
Further discussion revealed that the outlined problems were focused on Bavaria and the German state administration. Emerging markets and developing countries, however, lack developed IT structures of their public administrations. Further, the existing solutions, like the ones made by SAP, are not a financially viable option for their high prices. Locally, development of such products and solutions is also lacking or in its startup phase. Thus, in addition to the fact that the software currently in use is technologically obsolete, cooperation with other countries for transfer of know-how in the sphere of domain specifications and process knowledge is advisable. A viable alternative solution should be developed through this cooperation within the next ten years.

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