Open Standards

Open Standards play a key role in ICT technologies. Standards enable industry to provide software and services that meet customer  requirements today and in the future. They ensure interoperability and allow technologies to be connected or integrated and work together.
Standards contribute to innovation by providing an agreed and trusted basis on top of which innovation can flourish. In a networked ecosystem there is the need for end-to-end solutions with pieces of software from different vendors working seamlessly together.

Open Standards help prevent lock-in and are key to foster a level playing field between all suppliers of ICT services, whether OSS or proprietary. OFE strongly believes that standards in the area of software interoperability should be available royalty-free allowing for easy implementation in all development models including open source.

OFE has been involved in the debates on the EU Regulation 1025/2012 supporting the introduction of a specific process for making global ICT standards available for use in Europe. OFE is also an active participant in the European Commission-led Multi-Stakeholder Platform for ICT Standardisation where it chairs the task force developing the Rolling Plan. OFE also contributed to the discussions around the development of the European Interoperability Framework version 1 and 2.

In the UK, OFE has contributed directly throughout the consultation leading to the adoption of the Open Standards Principles, globally recognised as one of the best and most comprehensive amongst such initiative in the world. OFE has fully endorsed these Principles including the definition of an Open Standard contained within them.

Amongst the network of OFA Fellows are some of the world’s leading experts on the subject and who participate directly in OFE discussions.

OFE operates a very active Task Force on Standardisation and regularly contributes to EC Consultations and programmes.

What are Open Standards?

Applying the principles to the area of standardization naturally leads to a definition of open standards as given by the UK government in their “Open Standards Principles” document. According to that document, Open Standards exhibit the following characteristics:

  • collaboration between all interested parties, not just individual suppliers
  • a transparent and published decision-making process that is reviewed by subject matter experts
  • a transparent and published feedback and ratification process to ensure quality

Open standards must also be:

  • well documented, publicly available and free to use to provide fair access
  • mature, unless they are in the context of creating innovative solutions
  • supported by the market to demonstrate the independence of platforms, applications and vendors
  • released for use with a royalty free licence which is irrevocable unless there is a breach of conditions
  • compatible with both open source and proprietary licensed solutions