TECHNOLOGY

These parents built a school app. Then the city called the police


While the controversy was unfolding, Öppna Skolplattformen continued to grow in popularity – including swelling the number of people involved in its development. Co-founders Landgren and Öbrink say up to 40 people have worked on developing the app. This group of volunteers found and squashed bugs, developed a search feature, and translated the app into different languages. They also raised potential security issues with the official app, even when the city worked against them. The team includes designers, lawyers, and developers. “As private citizens, we are highly digitized,” says Landgren.

As Sweden’s startup scene is booming — Spotify, Klarna, and King are all founded there — public sector technology has struggled to keep up. The latest OECD report on government digitization, from 2019Sweden ranks in the bottom 33 countries reviewed. “When we use these formal tools, it’s stuck in the ’90s,” says Landgren. “To bridge this gap we and many other people who have joined us believe that open source is probably the best way for us to start collaborating.” He argues that citizen development can be more effective than often failed government IT projects that take years to complete and are out of date by the time they are completed.

says Matthias Robinson, secretary of the Swedish branch of the piracy party, who has been chronicling his problems with school platform. “There is, in general, the potential for the school platform to be good. But you have to involve the students, especially the teachers, in the development from the start. There was none of that in the school platform.”

Öppna Skolplattformen had to wait months to be cleared. “We don’t believe anything criminal has been committed,” said Osa Skoldberg, the lead of the police preliminary investigation. today’s news On August 16, a spokesperson for data regulator Integritetsskyddsmyndigheten said it had not opened an investigation into the city’s complaint.

The police report, shared with WIRED by Landgren, refers to a Certezza security review, which was commissioned by the city and completed on February 17, 2021. The review concluded that the open source app did not send any sensitive information to third parties and did not pose a threat to users. The police report went further in purging the developers of Öppna Skolplattformen. “All information used by Öppna Skolplattformen is public information voluntarily distributed by the City of Stockholm,” she said.

Landgren was a traveler At his brother’s wedding in France at the beginning of September when he received a phone call. The city was changing its position on Öppna Skolplattformen – and any other apps seeking to do similar things – and decided to allow others to access the data within their systems. To do this, the city has concluded a deal with an outside provider who will be able to establish licenses between Öppna Skolplattformen and the city.

“With this solution, the City of Stockholm can ensure that personal data is handled in a correct and secure manner, while parents can participate in the digital tools of the market in their daily lives,” Isabelle Smedberg Palmqvist, a city councilor in Stockholm, said in statment Released September 9. The move was a confirmation of Öppna Skolplattformen’s efforts – the team estimates hundreds of man-hours have been put into practice. But the call also came as a shock to Landgren. Just days ago, he claims, Öppna Skolplattformen was once again attacked by attempts to block its access to official APIs. After the announcement, efforts were halted.



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