Open source software from an intermunicipal collaboration

Pipes for drinking water, sewer pipes, electrical cables, and fiber optics:  our cities are made up of a multitude of elements that they must maintain, renew, and develop. To improve how their network of drinking water is managed, Pully and several towns and municipalities in Francophone Switzerland have pooled their resources to develop a visualization and exploitation tool.

Invisible and intangible, underground networks are used daily by Pully residents. Valued at close to 300 million CHF, they transport drinking water, electricity, and wastewater; these infrastructures require rigorous maintenance and regular replacement. As the computer software designed to manage these networks is starting to show signs of fatigue, Pully took an interest in the practices of surrounding cities. It is with the Intermunicipal Management Service (hereinafter SIGE) of Montreux, Vevey and Pays-d’Enhaut for the treatment of wastewater and the distribution of drinking water that the City found an appropriate solution: software created by and for public authorities based on an open source approach.

A collaboration was quickly established between Pully, the SIGE, Lausanne, and Morges to develop a standardized tool that meets everyone’s needs. The added value of open source? The mastery of the computer code, the freedom to provide new features, and, in the case of Pully, Lausanne, and Morges, the sharing of development costs and the pooling of intellectual resources. At the end of 2016, the new standardized module was officially put into production at the Municipal level.

The tool for managing the drinking water network (tentatively called QWAT) is the result of strong cooperation between cities, each benefitting from the experience, resources and skills of the others. Today, collaboration continues between the four partners to develop a wastewater management module (with the tentative name QCEP), which should be implemented in the fall of 2018. Pully is piloting the project management component, to ensure the software’s sustainability and to ensure it runs smoothly 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.



Open source – Definition

An Open source software is a program whose source code is provided under a license that allows everyone to access, modify, and redistribute it freely. Open source is aimed at collaborative development: several developers, wherever they are in the world, contribute to the software, optimize it, feed it, and participate in its development. Please be aware, only the license is actually “free”, because to adapt the software to its needs, it is then necessary to hire computer developers who can implement the desired tools into the program.