When calling for openness in government - and especially in the context of ICT - open source advocates often urge the public sharing of source code. This helps to give insight into how, for example, personal data is stored and used. Publishing source code with an open source licence, another highly recommended step, provides access to all on an equal basis.
In the past few months, this call has been heard. Across the EU, governments trying to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic are sharing their contact tracing apps as open source. This is the outcome of a recent debate over the openness and governance of this technology in smartphone apps. It seems Decentralised Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing protocol is being more used when compared to Pan-European Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing protocol. The decentralised approach and openness serve a prelude to open source.
To see even more examples of the increasing recognition of openness, visit the Commission's Digital Response to COVID-19 page on Joinup, the platform which also hosts the OSOR Open Source Observatory. Digital Response to COVID-19 shows a growing number of solutions being shared as open source.
OSOR further confirms this trend towards openness. Read, for example, our report on schools in Romania that are working with Code for Romania, an NGO promoting open data, openness and the use of civic technology. Or check out these two updates: IO App, Italy's one-stop-shop for eGovernment services, and SILL, a well-curated list of recommended open source applications in France, both of which indicate the maturity of open source in Italy and France.
By aggregating these examples, OSOR encourages other public services to take a cue from their peers, open up, and increase their use of free and open source software. At the same time, aiming to help sustaining these open source initiatives, OSOR organised a webinar on the sustainability of open source communities in the public sector last week. Thanks again to all the participants who shared their thoughts on OSOR's draft Sustainability Guidelines for open source communities! Insightful takeaways stemmed from the discussions, e.g., the importance of giving back to the community behind the open source software, the role of private sector contributions, and the governance of open source communities in the public sector.