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ju·gaad /ˌjo͞oˈɡäd/noun  Hindi
a flexible approach to problem-solving that uses limited resources in an innovative way.

Welcome to JI!

JI is the SaaS arm of the Shared Services Hub (SSH). SSH is a non-profit whose mandate is to create open source infrastructure for municipalities to control rapidly rising software costs and promote collaboration and open source.

JI was setup to provide municipalities cloud based services based on open source platform shared through SSH. We current provision Asset Management, Geographic Information System (GIS) and Business Intelligence SaaS.

Credibility & Necessity

We are in the process of setting up a SSH which will be constituted in 2022 as a non-profit with a representative board whose mandate is to share open source software and other open licensed resources freely. This creates an independent and enduring body that develops and guides open source adoption in the public sector and helps fulfil our goals of access, freedom and democratization of technology. Open source has many advantages suitable for public sector development including:

  1. Freedom from vendor lock-in: Open source prevents vendor lock-in in their specific technologies. Vendor lock-in exposes us to price increases and lack of flexibility in addressing emergent needs.
  2. Freedom to be responsive & flexible: The open code allows the flexibility to easily and freely modify code and to add features.
  3. Software transparency & reliability: Open source code means just that—you get full visibility into the code base, as well as all discussions about how the community develops features and addresses bugs. Because there are more eyes on it, the reliability of open source code tends to be superior as well. 
  4. Access & Inclusion: Due to its lower cost and access to shared expertise through a cloud based platform, small rural municipalities & first nations can now access sophisticated platforms and provide a level of service previously only accessible to larger and wealthier municipalities.
  5. Frugality: Ability to save taxpayers tens of thousands per municipality by leveraging open source & using the cloud to develop shared services.
  6. Reporting transparency: By using open source BI frameworks which are not limited in distribution by the cost of licenses, we provide the ability to transparently share data and reports with the public & enhance understanding for council.
  7. Strengthening Municipal Commons: Encouraged public ownership of extremely valuable data & information.

Value Proposition – Pay for SaaS as well as expertise, using what you currently spend on software licences.

Redirect resources from software licensing to provision of services. The annual cost of software ranges from $20k to $30K even for the smallest municipalities. This can effectively pay for SaaS while also paying for shared expertise in Asset Management, GIS and BI. And importantly, its offsets the need to hire in-house staff costing in excess of $85K per year to asset management, GIS and BI functions.

The annual savings in software licences alone can easily add up to $30k which typically include:

  1. GIS Software EULA ~$10k to $20k
  2. Asset Management Software Licence ~$10k+
  3. Web mapping software licence ~$10k

Furthermore, upfront savings in setup & consulting typically range between $50K to $60K.

Our service will empower you to

  1. Easily meet grant funding requirements for asset management.
  2. Effortlessly gather capital asset stats for reports & surveys including the new LGDE requirements, Stat Canada surveys etc.
  3. Manage assets proactively
  4. Visualize and map assets and parcels on GIS for internal use and for the public.
  5. Analyze and report on BI with full ability to customize
  6. Capture data in the field
  7. Share unlimited maps with unlimited usage with the public at no additional cost
  8. Manage multimedia, docs & spreadsheets tied to assets
  9. Create interactive BI reports for council & the public
  10. And much more…

Solutions

We’ve successfully eliminated the financial and technical barrier for small municipalities to implement a sophisticated asset management solution through a shared service model. Our model is open source driven, so there is no restrictions on the number of copies or users that can utilize the system.

The reporting uses PowerBI from Microsoft whose desktop download is free while pro edition is reasonably priced. Alternative open source BI solutions are also in development using R, Superset and Metabase all we move towards offering a full open-source stack.

Software Stack

GIS software
Asset Management Software
Web mapping software
App Server Admin & updates
Database Server Admin & updates
BI software
Analytics software

Setup & Training

We have worked hard to make the system intuitive and minimise training requirements for both inside and outside staff. For in-person training , municipalities are asked to reimburse incremental cost of travel and time.

SaaS Plus Shared Expertise

This includes:

  1. BI expertise for financial statements & asset reports for council & for public
  2. GIS expertise and support
  3. Quarterly/monthly or more frequent parcel downloads and integration
  4. Annual tax & utility uploads and integration with mapping
  5. Year end financial uploads
  6. Database administration, updates and backup
  7. Data uploads & maintenance
  8. Support for BI, GIS, Data Collect App & Asset Management
  9. Training & public works field application support
Business Intelligence for Financials & Asset Management Shared Service
Financial& AM App or web reports for councilIncl.
Public BI Financial reportsIncl.
Live Asset Management PlansIncl.
Cloud hosted, multi-year financial cubeIncl.
Amortization report & working paper exportIncl.
New LGDE Report & Stat Can reportsIncl.
Setup & TrainingIncl.
AM, GIS, Web Mapping Shared Service
Financial uploadsIncl.
Public GIS MapsIncl.
Field data collect appIncl.
QGIS SupportIncl.
Tourism & Trails Interactive MapIncl.
Setup & TrainingIncl.
Cadaster & Utility Integration Shared ServiceIncl.
Parcel Map BC IntegrationIncl.
Quarterly PMBC downloads & ETLIncl.
Tax & Utility data integrationIncl.
Planning draw toolIncl.
Supplementary Apps/Services
Cemetery Mgmt App
More frequent monthly or weekly cadaster updates
Museum Mgmt App

This approach fits in with our philosophy of frugality & inclusive access, saving municipalities cost of software licences. The cloud allows small municipalities to share the cost AM, GIS & BI expertise across multiple municipalities reducing it to a fraction of the cost of hiring staff in-house.

How do we do this when any alternatives cost many tens of thousands of dollars more? We use open source extensively, leverage the cloud and offer a tightly integrated solution. The tight integration keeps things simple and the cloud hosting eliminates worries about software updates & administration. Our data frameworks reflect our philosophy to keep things simple and practical. Your outside crew will appreciate the simplicity of our field app which won’t get in the way of doing their job while providing them easy access to notes, documents and images. We emphasise decisions base on factual information and not on dubious and costly optimizations.

We operate extremely frugally in line with our philosophy in order to keep costs low, allow provision of free software for municipalities and contribute to community groups. We do not have marketing budget nor any marketing associates and rely on the word-of-mouth based on the quality of work. If you’re a municipality interested in further information or would like demo email me.

Portfolio & Resources

MAPS

ANALYTICS

BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE (BI)

QGIS

Ability to utilize powerful features of Qgis with a seamlessly integrated dataset

WEB APPLICATION

Full featured web application to view and update inventory on the cell phone, web or other devices.

CORE DOCUMENTS

Asset management policy, strategy and plan.

Initial Spreadsheet

I have often observed vendors overwhelm municipal employees with information, data and graphs in order to sell their software. Although software has its place in helping you organize your assets, I would strongly advise against immediately purchasing software. Focus initially on your governance, draft your policy and strategy. Organize your data in the attached excel spreadsheet. Once you outgrow excel, you are ready to look at software. The standards based, free software based service provided by JI is more than adequate for most municipalities wishing to implement a sophisticated and complete asset management system (look at the solutions page for details).

The attached spreadsheet will help you get started. It has two tabs organizing the asset registry, the first lists the assets and the second the components tied to those assets. The components tab is where the financial data from PSAB is listed. Along with the policy and planning documents, it will get you going and allow you to check off a number of requirements.

About

We’re working for the following goals:

  • Inclusion: Create a sophisticated platform specifically for small municipalities & first nations providing level of service as good or better than the larger, wealthier municipalities.
  • Frugality: Save taxpayers tens of thousands per municipality by leveraging open source software & using the cloud to develop shared services.
  • Transparency: Use cutting-edge tools and BI frameworks to transparently share data with the public & enhance understanding for council.
  • Strengthen Municipal Commons: Encouraged public ownership of valuable data & information.

Unique Perspective

Working as a CFO in Ashcroft for over 5 years I have become intimately familiar with challenges unique to small municipalities. Averse to spending tens of thousands on software and then on consulting with an end result that was neither simple or practical, I applied insights and innovative ideas from science and academia that could allow small municipalities to level the playing field compared to their larger counterparts. The end result is a shared -service model predicated on the cloud using open source to eliminate license costs which can then be applied to the provision of services.

Fostering Innovation

JI was created to foster innovation for small municipalities. Small municipalities face greater financial & HR constraints and are unable to afford additional technical staff. They need solutions that are  specifically tailored for them to be simple, effective & most importantly, frugal.

JI has developed an innovative platform to hide complexity and handle data warehousing, ETL, semantics and analytics while providing frugal, effective solutions optimized for small municipalities. We enable the use of free and open source software to drastically cut costs and provide a common platform to share expertise and resources.

Solutions vs Software

Our focus has been to develop solutions and as opposed to just software. Solutions that are practical, realistic and flexible enough to incorporate conditions unique to each municipality.

Data Ownership

If data is the new oil, feedback data is gold dust (paraphrased).

Prof. Ajay Agrawal, founder of the Creative Destruction Lab and co-founder of the AI/robotics company Kindred

The advent of AI and IoT has increased the volume and importance of data. Most municipalities are not structuring their contracts appropriately to retain ownership of their data. This leaves them dependent and reliant on service providers. JI was formed to address this gap and we explicitly assign ownership of data to the municipality thereby retaining public ownership of this increasingly valuable asset.

Knowledge Sharing

I am an enthusiastic supporter of our community of learning and often conduct workshops & seminars and believe in sharing knowledge openly and helping colleagues succeed. My focus is on encouraging adoption of open source to improve collaboration and cut IT costs drastically.

Future Possibilities

This work is opening up possibilities in development of shared infrastructure allowing handling of big data. Apart from the innumerable advantages of having shared infrastructure across municipalities, the ability to handle big data allows application of sensor networks, advanced analytics and AI predicated on a shared platform. I see huge potential in low-cost IoT sensor networks alongside burgeoning AI field. I believe were are at an inflection point with AI much like prior revolutions in semiconductors and internet and I am committed to helping municipalities realize the benefits.

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Cheers! Yogi

Blog

Rewriting code in Node & React

I am in the process of learning Node and React in order to rewrite the app with an intent of refactoring into a simpler app which is faster and allows better image handling. This will then be released as open source under the Apache 2 licence under SSH non-profit which were constituting next year.