An idea whose time has come
On 11 June, the European Commission’s 2nd Share & Reuse conference in Bucharest will be entirely dedicated to the use of open source in public administrations across Europe. This is significant, and it shows just how far open source has come in the 15 or so years since OFE was founded. Open source, it seems, is an idea whose time has come.
Less than two years ago, the Tallinn Declaration set the tone by recognising the potential contribution of open source to modern and transparent government. Now in a month’s time, high-level governmental representatives from several EU Member States will be presenting national open source policies and strategies that deliver on the commitment made in Tallinn. The European Commission’s own open source strategy is a fascinating example. Through a bottom-up technology-led push, the EC has progressed from being a user of open source to actively contributing to its stability, reliability, and security through the EU FOSSA and EU FOSSA2 projects. The ongoing work on the renewal of its Open Source Software Strategy will be presented at the conference and it will be interesting to see whether the Commission will continue to break new ground.
While there isn’t one way of doing things, there is undisputed value in learning from best practice. In this regard it is worth highlighting some interesting figures from France, which show that the increased use of open source in government has had a positive effect on productivity and competitiveness at the national level. It is this potential of open source to contribute positively to the wider society and social values through better skills and more IT-related jobs that has me especially looking forward to the final session dedicated to coding with citizens. Governments around Europe are embracing open source. As these policies start to have concrete impact for the everyday lives of Europeans this is when it gets really interesting. I hope you will join me in Bucharest on 11 June. For anyone with an interest in open source, this should be a must.