Johns Hopkins University: An Open Cities Platform Partnership

One of the three pillars articulated in the Johns Hopkins University's (JHU) strategic framework, Ten by Twenty,  vision is Commitment to Community. This pillar includes a commitment to enhance the University's ties to the city of Baltimore. In support of this commitment, a JHU Computer Science course, Software for Resilient Communities, paired student groups with community partners to develop software to solve real-world problems for these partners, with the intent of having these solutions continue after the end of the course. One group worked with the St Francis Community Center to develop a portal which would assist community members and staff in organizing activities to serve the community.

They selected the open source Lutece platform, which has been developed by the City of Paris to provide a range of digital services for its citizens as part of its open cities program. Functionality for scheduling rooms and events was provided by an existing Lutece plugin. Additional functionality for allowing community members to volunteer for any of a list of activities was added by the student team. Students worked with community center staff to develop an attractive skin and develop content for the platform. The core Lutece team in Paris assisted in the student plugin development.

In order to achieve the goal of sustaining the project after the end of the course, the Digital Research and Curation Center (DRCC) in the Sheridan Libraries at JHU has adopted the project under the auspices of its open source programs office. Software engineers and system administrators have worked to enhance features and structure the software so that it can be more easily managed in a production environment. The core Lutece team in Paris continues to be helpful in the ongoing development work. A demonstration instance has been set up for the benefit of the St Francis staff for their evaluation. The DRCC will continue to work with St Francis to ensure that their requirements are fully addressed, and plans to deploy a production instance open to the community when this work is complete.