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MIS Systems Thread, The UK Government and MIS Systems in Technical; I don't suppose this is a new idea. But seems how every school in the UK pretty much needs an ...
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    The UK Government and MIS Systems

    I don't suppose this is a new idea. But seems how every school in the UK pretty much needs an MIS system, and that they are an expensive piece of software (licensing, support and training). It appears to me to that the UK government should develop an Open Source and Free MIS system for use in schools. Obviously third parties can provide support for this system and turn a profit.

    I am of course vary aware of the fact that this would not be a very cheep option for the government. But I think the cost would be offset in the long-run, by not having to budget for software licences from large companies such as Capita. By releasing open source it encourages third-parties companies and end-users in school to contribute, significantly lowering the cost of development later on in the systems life.

    The reason I post this is because I would like to see what other thought of this idea. Have I missed something plainly obvious, or is it indeed a good idea.

    Thanks

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    Michael's Avatar
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    Well ultimately the Government get the money back through taxes, so it probably doesn't cost that much. MIS systems are actually very complex and would take years to develop, so I can't see why anyone would create and do this for free.

    However in your defence I do think something has to be done, as they're becoming increasingly more expensive the more demands from Government (such as enabling parent access) does require further development. MIS systems are essentially a 'hub' of information and I think more and more systems will integrate directly.

    A relatively recent growing trend is software which talks with the MIS system and allows admin staff to text or automate voice messages to many parents.

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    Doing this would lead to a lot of lawsuits being brought to the court about unfair competition...

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    The Govt invested a heap of money in a tax-payer funded media corporation to produce digital content designed round the curriculum that the Govt had put together ... and companies complained about unfair competition.

    If the Govt invested a heap of money in a tax-payer funded software company to produce an MIS to fit the needs of the various Govt agendas that come out then companies will complain of unfair competition.

    Even if such a company was an existing PLC and then bought out or privatised by the Govt you would still get others complaining. The fact that to do tis would also remove a chunk of funding from a company (with many, many diverse arms to it) who has a number of Govt contracts that could be affected if the company was to go under ...

    Seriously ... the Govt will not invest in this way. They will invest in people promoting open source, or getting a groundswell of movement to open source, bout outright investment at the expense of commercial bodies? That would be the day when hell has not only frozen over (Webman buying Apple kit?) but the ice is purchased by all the car manufacturers and shipped around the world to sort out the melting icecaps, as an apology for all the years of refusal to accept that they have contributed to global warming!

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    It would never get finished, and would never be "open source", perhaps have a word with the same people who developed the system for the NHS.

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    Thanks for the replies it's good to hear your thoughts on this. I hadn't really considered the venders of the proprietary systems have an objection to this, but thinking about it now it's seems obvious. Then again I don't think the government should let companies call the shot's on what schools should be using, that's not their place. On the flip side of that argument maybe developing software is not the place of the government.

    However it get clearer as time goes on just how much we are becoming locked into proprietary system in schools, due to over investment. The government should help support the development of open-source projects, as I believe these have the most positive impact on society and more specifically students in our schools.

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    The MIS market is worth tens of millions of pounds every year for what is very little investment by capita who currently run the monopoly. If a fraction of this money was invested by LA's into an opensource project it would be one of the best funded projects around. Whilst I agree that govt is unlikely to invest in software development itself - it doesn't mean that it shouldn't happen.
    If govt want to run a bank, a train company or whatever then they will nationalise is. I don't see it would be any different if they decided to nationalise software development, or that it would cause a problem (for anyone other than serco/capita)
    We know they waste billions on IT projects which are almost always outsourced, and it is clear that a well managed OSS project could easily save tens of millions on MIS alone, and probably for other govt department as well.
    Just because it is unlikely, doesn't mean that the law cannot be changed to make it possible if it is for the benefit of the country/world.

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    mpe
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    Quote Originally Posted by CyberNerd View Post
    If govt want to run a bank, a train company or whatever then they will nationalise is. I don't see it would be any different if they decided to nationalise software development, or that it would cause a problem (for anyone other than serco/capita)
    I don't think that the government wanted to nationalise Northern Rock or the East
    Coast Mainline. Just that they couldn't think of a viable alternative.
    We know they waste billions on IT projects which are almost always outsourced, and it is clear that a well managed OSS project could easily save tens of millions on MIS alone, and probably for other govt department as well.
    AFAIK this kind of outsourcing is the policy of both New Labour and the Tories. So
    you'd first need to change that policy and get people into the civil service who
    knew how to manage an IT project.
    Just because it is unlikely, doesn't mean that the law cannot be changed to make it possible if it is for the benefit of the country/world.
    If our MPs could put half the effort they put into finding ways to put our money into
    their bank accounts into running the country we'd probably have the best run country
    on the planet.

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    powdarrmonkey's Avatar
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    It's a brave government indeed to reduce the turnover of major MIS producers in these economic times... it's a hidden way of keeping cash moving in software houses at the moment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by powdarrmonkey View Post
    It's a brave government indeed to reduce the turnover of major MIS producers in these economic times... it's a hidden way of keeping cash moving in software houses at the moment.
    Capitas turnover is £2,441.4 million and they made £226 million profit last year. They are almost entirely funded by govt spending. If govt want to reduce public sector spending then this would be a very good place to start.

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    russdev's Avatar
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    Interesting side note to this is that south africa have done a nation wide MIS (not opensource) and it will be interesting to see how this developes.

    But another problem all mis systems in this country have had years of development even RM Intergris which is new kid on block has been around for at least 3+ years in one format or another.

    Russ

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    Thinking of the mass of data which is there on peoples laptops (thinking of a primary school who runs their SIMS database on a laptop, which I know the burser takes home every night ), an open source MIS would make that data a lot easier to read by any tom, dick or harry. If there's a SIMS backup sat somewhere it shouldn't be, at least at the moment it's more difficult to get at all the information - open source MIS would mean that anyone could read it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by f21970 View Post
    Thinking of the mass of data which is there on peoples laptops (thinking of a primary school who runs their SIMS database on a laptop, which I know the burser takes home every night ), an open source MIS would make that data a lot easier to read by any tom, dick or harry. If there's a SIMS backup sat somewhere it shouldn't be, at least at the moment it's more difficult to get at all the information - open source MIS would mean that anyone could read it.
    I'm sorry but that statement is completely misleading. Any database that is taken off site should be encrypted according to the Becta data handling regulations. An unencrypted commercial database is no more difficult to read than an unencrypted opensource database.

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    Cybernerd - I'm not talking about Bectas guidelines or any other theoretical security which exists, or should exist. I'm talking about reality. Certainly, in my school, downloads from SIMS taken off site are encrypted, but this does not happen in all schools.

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    Quote Originally Posted by f21970 View Post
    Cybernerd - I'm not talking about Bectas guidelines or any other theoretical security which exists, or should exist. I'm talking about reality. Certainly, in my school, downloads from SIMS taken off site are encrypted, but this does not happen in all schools.
    Just because the sourcecode for a commercial database is unavailable, doesn't mean the data is more safe.
    If capita published all of their source and the structure of their databases it wouldn't make the slightest difference to whether the data was more/less safe. Opensource is not a security risk.



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