Open Source Observatory


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In the October issue
Open source: A public good for the benefit of all
Over the last couple of years, open source software has received an ever increasing amount of attention. This, combined with more research in the field, has in turn led to a growing understanding of the characteristics of open source software. Today, open source software is often listed together with infrastructure, clean air and public broadcasting. In other words, it is now considered a public good, a non-rivalrous commodity that is provided without profit to all members of society.

This has far-reaching implications and it’s not surprising that many governments have duly positioned open source at the core of public sector digitalisation efforts. A good from which you cannot be excluded from reduces dependency on alternatives and a good which cannot be exhausted can be taken advantage of without limitations. Furthermore, the use of open source can help governments achieve the shared ambition of making what belongs to the public, public.

That’s why, in its recently released “Study about the impact of open source software and hardware on technological independence, competitiveness and innovation in the EU economy”, the European Commission considers “the identification of open source as a public good” as one of the main takeaways. The same study quantified the globally available source code’s impact on the European economy. On the basis of this calculation, it estimates that a 10% increase in globally available source code would increase the EU’s GDP by around €100bn, illustrating the positive effects that a public good can have.

The United Nations have similarly realised the value and potential of open source software. They founded the Digital Public Goods Alliance, with the aim of using digital public goods such as open source software to help achieve their sustainable development goals (SDGs). In 2020, Lucy Harris, UNICEF Co-lead of the Secretariat for the Digital Public Goods Alliance, said: “Digital public goods (DPGs, Ed.) represent an unprecedented opportunity to fundamentally alter power balances in international development. They enable sharing, reuse and adaptation to suit local needs. [...] DPGs have the potential to build long-term ownership, agency and capacity at the country level."

At a recent event, the UN went even further and expressed a real ambition to bring about a broader cultural shift toward openness. To facilitate this process, both internally and externally, an Open Source Programme Office (OSPO) will be established within the United Nations, similar to the European Commission’s own OSPO.

This initiative, among others, aims to make more government services available to the public for the benefit of all.

The OSOR team

Latest News
Report: open source as a driver of EU's digital innovation

The study on the impact of Open Source Software and Hardware for the European Commission found that open source software and hardware are key for the region's digital transformation and can be a major boost to the EU’s GDP.

United Nations event on open source

The United Nations organised the event “From Open Software to Open Culture Opportunities and challenges of open source to support the United Nation mandate” on 23 September as a Side Event at General Assembly High Level Week. It convened high-level speakers who discussed the ways to leverage open source technologies for sustainable development and for the benefit of underserved communities.

Local government and local engagement in Albania’s Open Labs

The voluntary open source community Open Labs has played a role in the introduction of Nextcloud and Libre Office to the municipality of Tirana (the capital of Albania). The goal for this community is to reach local and regional governments in Albania as well as promote FLOSS internationally. Their work happens largely through offline events, however, COVID-19 forced them to find new ways and has stopped the direct influence for now.

CitizenLab is now open source for small organisations

The platform Citizenlab has open sourced their code base and made the ‘small package’ free. The platform is intended to stimulate transparency in the democratic process and encourage collective climate action.

ESAs BioPAL software is on GitHub

BioPAL – The BIOMASS Product Algorithm Laboratory, released in April 2021, is set for mission launch in 2023.

Red Flags on public software

Red Flags is a project by the civil and expert association This project consists of ongoing evaluation processes of many state-funded IT projects. 50 criteria are the baseline of all projects and results made public with the intent to influence governmental decisions on software development.

Framework for disaster management

The first 48 hours after a disaster are of utter importance for the management of the situation. An open source software solution will assist the messy and chaotic situation. This disaster management system has a first response application which can be used to coordinate and inform all actors, including all non-operational and governmental administrative layers.

Digital Sustainability Model in Milan

The municipality of Milan has, in collaboration with public staff and a tech company, developed an open source Digital Sustainability Model which measures the effect of the digitalisation process up against three parameters.

Open source, open data and public algorithms in France

The French public administration outlined the governmental programme for open source, open data and public algorithms.

Indian government continues to bet on open source

A new initiative of the Indian government aims to expand the government’s existing stack of open source solutions further to new practical implementations. Open source developers all over the country have been called to enter a challenge to develop ideas for innovative solutions, forgoing a typically rigid procurement process.

Upcoming Events
BLSI virtual apero - Regulating public sector interoperability in the EU – how to?

The European Commission committed to present a reinforced interoperability policy by Q2 2022. The new policy will be based on the learnings from the ongoing evaluations of the European Interoperability Framework and the ISA2 programme and on recommendations of the Expert Group on interoperability of European public services. A wide range of emerging or persisting needs of different stakeholders for future actions on public sector interoperability have already been collected and it is time to start discussing on the legal possibilities of translating the needs into concrete action.

permalink Main URL
date 28/10/2021
Online event: Open Source Experience

Between 9 and 10 November 2021, 656 Editions and Systematic Paris-Region are organising a hybrid convention on open source that will take place online and physically in Paris (France). For two days, 70 exhibitions and 150 sessions will be dedicated to open technological innovations and the economic dynamism of open source solutions. Over 9000 people are expected to attend to this event.

permalink Main URL
date 09/11/2021 - 10/11/2021
Solutions of the Month
Open Mobility Indicators

Collection of open source solutions to support the creation of sustainable mobility indicators through data collected from government sources, concerning the changes in infrastructure or public transport.


Application platform supporting the collaboration between government institutions through digital tools, easing the communication, planning and sharing of documents.

Open Terms Archive

A solution that helps users rights advocates, regulatory bodies and citizens to follow changes in the terms of services of different websites. Developed by the French government.

Latest Studies
Open Source Software Country Intelligence Report - United States of America

Discover how the government of the United States of America has encouraged the uptake of OSS through policies and initiatives geared towards its federal agencies.

Open Source Software Country Intelligence Report - South Korea

Learn more about South Korea's political framework for OSS, including the government's involvement in the activities of the Open Source Software Promotion Team.

The use of open source cloud in education: Cases of HPI Schul-Cloud and Sciebo in Germany

Open education, the use of open data, and open research are subjects that have been propelled into the spotlight by the COVID-19 crisis and the sudden rise of remote education. In schools, universities and research centres, the use of open source has gained momentum in recent years and even more so during the pandemic, fuelling innovation in education and offering flexibility to institutions that adopt it.

View all studies
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