IT and legal staff of the Municipality of Budapest has been working on introducing a brand new approach to solve a problem shared by other Hungarian municipal governments.
In December 2020, just before the winter holidays, the Municipality of Budapest, Hungary, provided the residents of Budapest with COVID-19 rapid testing. In addition to that, the municipality has been providing employees of municipal companies, as well as district local governments of Budapest with COVID-19 antigen tests.
Recently, Krisztina Baranyi, the mayor of the capital’s District 9 local government, reached out to mayor Gergely Karácsony with a request to help with providing an app for scheduling COVID-test appointments. The request was followed by more requests from other local governments, so the mayor decided the software developed by staff to be released as free and open source software – under the MIT license.
This means that anyone can review and download the software code that has been used for arranging appointments. In the dire situation of local governments in Hungary, the cost of the development of this piece of software can be avoided by adopting this solution.
The use of open source software is a prime example of collaboration among municipal governments. The Municipality of Budapest, for example, has localised the participatory budgeting software of Paris in autumn 2020. The codebase for that software has been developed by the Paris municipal government since 2001, and the updates and new functions are constantly released to the open. This helped Budapest to fast-track the start of its first participatory budgeting cycle in 2020, by publishing a web app under https://otlet.budapest.hu.
Releasing the software code on GitHub, the Municipality of Budapest is adopting an international best practice that promotes transparency, accountability, and last but not least, the importance of being part of a community. The aim of the Budapest municipal government is to demonstrate that smart cities are those that give to the community what has been built for the community. Budapest is stronger if it shares its knowledge with other municipal governments, and its residents.
The local government of District 9 is the first to start a COVID-19 rapid testing campaign that is using the appointment-booking software published by the Budapest municipality. Residents of District 9 are going to be tested between 18th and 22nd of January 2021. Registration in Hungarian language is available at https://covidteszt.ferencvaros.hu.