To meet New Orleans' needs, Microsoft will port a system it originally developed for Oklahoma, the Offender Data Information System, which will link the city with dozens of law enforcement agencies, jails, and court systems. The system also provides online mug shots, warrants and other similar information. The current system in New Orleans is ancient, close to capacity and in danger of a "meltdown," according to city officials. A single system crash could forever destroy critical data, they say.The deal contrasts recent efforts made by the open source community to get free software into government, but it may well represent what's best for the city.
If Microsoft intends to market its software to others using New Orleans as a test case, the open source community may want to consider putting together a comprehensive software package for a test city of their own. Proving that open source software is a better alternative seems like a much better approach than simply legislating its use.