2009. november 30., hétfő

Netherlands to publish open source tools to help start EU business

The Dutch Government is about to publish as open source OS Toolbox PSC, a set of software tools that EU member states can use to offer or improve their points of single contact for entrepreneurs that want to start business or offer their services anywhere in the EU. The software will be made available on the OSOR Forge, the open source software repository and development platform of the European Commission.

An entrepreneur in for instance Greece who wants to open a restaurant in Dutch capital Amsterdam, will be able to use the service, which is built around a web site, to find out the zoning rules, by-laws and other regulations. The entrepreneur can also see which licences are required and can apply for these on-line.

The system is a practical result of the European Union's Services Directive. "One of the key challenges of the implementation of this directive is the technical implementation of the Points of Single Contact", the two lead developers write in their introduction on the OS Toolbox web site.

The Dutch administration is decentralised, which means for instance that each municipality has its own by-laws, explains Indra Henneman, involved in the development of OS Toolbox PSC. "Our service can't possibly keep all of these up to date, but we are able to automatically link to the correct permits and regulations offered by municipalities and other administrative bodies. Enter a postal code or a name of a city or region and the web service will take you to the right information and web forms."

The collection of tools is built on top of the Hippo open source content management system, and uses several Java applications developed by the Dutch government for its own Point of Single Contact. It also includes detailed installation instructions, documentation and standard libraries and meta data lists that can be used by other countries. "It comes complete with explanations on how to replace the logos, how to change the lay-out templates and tweak other settings. The only thing not included is the hardware."

Greece, the Flanders region in Belgium, Romania and candidate EU member Croatia are already interested, says Henneman. "We recently did a workshop with colleagues in Lithuania, which led to improvement in the documentation and has helped make the software easier to adapt to other languages, software internationalisation and localisation."

The source code is being checked one more time for errors before it is made available on the OSOR Forge. The application is published under the European Union Public Licence (EUPL). 

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