The Government of British Columbia, Canada, needed to innovate its public services to develop digital offerings faster and make them easier to use. It established the BC Developers’ Exchange to take advantage of the innovation of private sector technology companies and entrepreneurs and support collaboration using open source tools. As a result, the province can now provide agile, collaborative development following a DevOps approach, create and update services faster for citizens, and balance innovation with security requirements.

Challenge: Evolve digital services to meet modern demands

The Government of British Columbia wanted to improve its technology offerings—and its user experience. However, its existing data center infrastructure was too slow and fragmented to keep up with development work, resulting in a 4-6 month time frame just to launch a project. “We got a lot of complaints about how long it took and how difficult it was,” said Ian Bailey, assistant deputy minister, Technology Services, Office of the Chief Information Officer for the Government of British Columbia. “So we went looking for ways to renovate our technology.”

Solution: Build a foundation for open source collaboration
The province established the BC Developers’ Exchange, a forum for open source collaboration between the public and private sector—and citizens. The exchange offers co-design sessions, meet-ups, and other outreach events to connect the British Columbia tech community to match tech talent with public sector needs. Also, citizens can now access project information in real time and provide feedback. “Keeping everything secret in back rooms is just not as efficient or creative as open source,” said Bailey. “Open source provides the ideal collaboration of as many people as possible.”

Results: Streamline innovation for speed and efficiency
With agile DevOps methods and a stable foundation of open source solutions, the province and the BC Developers’ Exchange can create and launch services faster, reducing deployment times from months to hours. The new solution also provides enterprise-grade security, protecting sensitive data while giving developers the information they need. “We really think it’s the right way for governments to work,” said Todd Wilson, DevOps product director of BC Developers’ Exchange. “Creating in the open, taking advantage of open source technologies, is the best way to engage your citizens and employees and work with the technology sector. It’s about getting better software and working with people in a more natural way.”

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