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Linux, SiteScape Save the Green

Really Pursuing Standards

  • February 12, 2004
  • By Brian Proffitt

When you hear the phrase "saving the green," do you usually conjure images of saving the environment? Or, perhaps, saving money? Green is a color associated with these elements, so it there can be a pause when this phrase is heard, until one can figure out the context.

In the case of one government agency's use of Linux and some very flexible collaboration software from SiteScape, both instances of the phrase can certainly be true.

The Standards Council of Canada is a small government agency, relatively speaking, but their job is very important to the maintanance and setting of official standards both in Canada and internationally. The Council, which employs less than 100 people, nonetheless is comprised of a very large number of Canadian experts and academicians who volunteer their time to examine and debate critical standards on behalf of the nation of Canada.

Not only are these standards set for Canada, but the Council also has the reponsibility of representing Canada whenever a vote on an international standard is held. Thus, time is of the essence to deliver proposed standards materials to the sometimes far-flung members of the Council and gather their opinions and votes in time to deliver Canada's unified statement to international standards organizations.

Seven years ago, this was all done via paper documents and surface mail. The time involved in organizing ISO documents, sending the copies out, and then gathering feedback was enormous. In fact, at that time, perhaps 50 percent of ISO votes were missed by Canada because they were unable to get information gathered in time.

So, according to the Council's Manager of Information Systems Zbigniew Ignatowicz, he and his staff began looking for some sort of electronic solution to their problem. The Internet was a strong possibility as a commuications medium, and Ignatowicz was determined to make use of it.

Looking around, Ignatowicz chanced upon a new product called AltaVista Forum, a collaborative software application that had been developed by Digital in 1995. Though a relatively new application in a relatively new field, Ignatowicz began to implement AltaVista Forum in his agency's ISO workflow.

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