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