Bentley Systems offers subscription software

Bentley Systems, which makes geographic information systems software, announced a new software subscription model that company executives said is easier to administer and more affordable. The new licensing provides access to a greater variety of mapping and engineering programs than traditional licensing models do.

Under the new program, municipal officials would pay a fixed annual fee – ranging from 10 cents to $1 per person – based on population. For example, a North American city with 25,000 people would be charged $1 per person for a $25,000 annual subscription fee. A larger city of 4.5 million people would pay 10 cents per person for a $450,000 yearly fee. Fees would vary in each region of the country.

A single subscription would give municipalities access to unlimited software programs immediately and free them from slow procurement cycles, said Richard Zambuni, global marketing director of Bentley’s geospatial division, in a telephone briefing April 13.

Zambuni said the Municipal License Subscription program could lower administrative costs for local governments because they would receive a single invoice once a year to pay for the GIS software. “Customers don’t have to worry about various user-seat or concurrent pricing,” he said.

The company launched the new program this week, and about 15 municipalities worldwide already use the subscription software, including the cities of Edmonton, Canada, and Helsinki, Finland. Another new customer, Kotka, Finland, has saved $60,000, and city officials said they think they can save more, Zambuni said.

Company representatives are in discussions with about 20 other North American municipalities, focusing particularly on local governments that still use paper maps.

Styli Camateros, vice president of Bentley’s geospatial division, said the new licensing model covers a variety of GIS and engineering software. For an additional fee, users can get a training component, too.

For example, if a small municipality pays $25,000 a year for a software subscription, it would pay 30 percent of that fee – or $7,500 – to get the Enterprise Training Subscription. The company offers on-site, hands-on training; online training programs; and a combination of the two in which an instructor provides remote training.

Offering software on a subscription basis makes sense for local governments that have diverse information in their GIS systems, Camateros said. With diverse responsibilities for highways and roads, waste water management, and other critical infrastructure, municipalities manage many projects and need a variety of expertise and GIS software, he said.

Camateros said many municipalities are using 3-D models as that technology becomes cheaper to use. Cities are also interested in open standards and systems interoperability, he added.

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