Sec. 605, Selection and use of information and communication technologies - Pittsburgh Open Government Amendment

Open government = better government!

Sec. 605

605.   Selection and use of information and communication technologies


Effective modern technologies for public access can be used while making sure people with old equipment can still have access.

a.       For the purposes of public access and involvement, the City shall use state of the art technologies where those technologies are in substantial public use and yield significant quality and usability at a reasonable cost; the City may also utilize those that have yet to attain substantial public use where they offer the City and public users significant advantages.   In any case, the City shall continue to offer public access and involvement via older technologies as long as they remain in significant use and doing so is prudent and feasible.


Obtaining public information and monitoring government activities shouldn't require paying for software.  The City is encouraged to use open-source, public domain software.

b.       The City's software and digital file formats shall enable free and open public access.

       1.       Software and digital file formats used by the City for public information and activity involving members of the public, including but not limited to, remote, interactive access to public meetings, hearings, proceedings, etc. shall be compliant with standards set by generally recognized standards agencies.

       2.       There must be functionally compatible software readily available to the public at no charge, either as open-source, public domain or as freely distributed copyrighted software which can be used by the end user without fee.   Compatible software, though not necessarily as the same program, shall be available cross-platform for various computer architectures and operating systems in significant use, and there must be some version available of adequate functionality that is operable on older equipment which remains in significant use.

       3.       Digital file formats used by the City shall have complete, open, freely available specifications which disclose all functionalities of the format and shall be free of any restrictions upon the creation and utilization of files or that would prevent or impede the free and open development or adaptation of alternative software capable of creating or fully utilizing such formats.

       4.       In no instance shall the requirement for online public access to public records be deemed fulfilled where access is provided through the use of digital file formats which are only accessible and usable with proprietary software that is of restricted availability and/or for which a fee is required.


Free software, as in being able to make changes to it and use it without fees, shall be given due consideration for use by the City.

c.       As may be prudent and feasible, considerations involving the initial purchase, replacement, or major upgrade of software used by the City shall give priority to standards compliant, open source products which can adequately meet the identified needs and have licenses that assure unrestricted use, modification, distribution, and the creation of derivative works unencumbered by patents or other limitations.


PEG (public access, educational, & government channels) is an essential ingredient for open government and broad public participation and is a standard component of cable franchise agreements in communities across the country.

d.       In the letting of any franchise to use public property or public rights-of-way for communications or distribution of information, either of which include the provision of broadcast or narrowcast audiovisual channels, individual programs on demand, or their equivalent as such future technologies may provide, the City shall require that a minimum of one channel each for government activities, for public access programming, and for noncommercial, educational programming shall be made available at no charge to the City for the use of and administration by the City or its designated agent as part of the franchise agreement; that access to them shall be provided to members of the public as part of all product or service levels, tiers, or packages offered by the franchisee; and for those provided individual programs on-demand, that the programming on the City channels shall also be offered on-demand at no additional fee.   Where a channel is to be assigned to the City of Pittsburgh School District for its use and purposes, the City will further reserve an additional channel for educational programming that is appropriate for use among the general public and not limited to K-12 grade levels.