Open source technologies offer governments transparency, community building tools, and tech options that can be deployed with a government’s often limited resources. In 2010, Gail Roper, City of Raleigh CIO and community relations manager told the after lunch crowd at the All Things Open Conference on Wednesday.

Recalling that Forbes named Raleigh the nation’s most wire city in 2010, Roper said, “We want it to be the most connected city.” Raleigh, which embraces the “Open source city” brand, had a number of advantages in taking that route. Those included “A major open source partner in our midst. You know who that is.” She was referring, of course, to Red Hat, one of the most successful open source companies in the world.

Prior to Roper’s talk, the Research Triangle Park’s Mason Aidstock, filling in for an ill Bob Geolas, CEO of the RTP Foundation, noted that the Park was founded on the basis of public private partnerships and the region “Believes in open innovation.”

“We believe technology can enhance economic development, and the quality of life in the community,” Roper said. “It’s a catalyst to interact with the public. We want open access, anywhere, anytime, on any device.”

While the city first began exploring the use of open source back in 2012, it required some internal culture adjustments, Roper said. “We had some who thought it was a little wonky. They thought of it as developed in a basement somewhere and that we were going to get hacked.”

Actually, according to Olivier Thierry, from open source email firm Zimba, governments are safer using OS because its transparent. “It has no skeleton keys or hidden components.” Raleigh is not the only government or agency that has turned to OS tech.

Thierry showed a set of newspaper headlines on such adoptions as the United Kingdom switching from Microsoft Office to Open Office, Oracle’s open source suite; the International Space Station running Linux, and many more.

“Just the U.S. government alone uses a tremendous amount of open source tech, including 400 repositories,” Thierry said. Repositories for open source code mean developers don’t have to start things from scratch but can use already tested software components to do various chores.

“Open source is all about reuseability,” he added. “You re-use and build on things already available. If you start from scratch, you’ll spend a good bit of money.”

You can also add extensions to OS software to customize it to specific needs. HIs firm’s email program, for instance, can be made to comply with privacy and security protocols such as HIPPA.”

The open source community is one reason OS software can be more secure and reliable than commercial products, he said. “It’s a force multiplier effect. Seventy-thousand people look at the code. Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.”

These days, he said, eight of ten users choose open source base on its quality. That’s one reason the U.S. government has said OS should receive at least as much consideration in software acquisitions as commercial products.