The OFE Open Source Policy Series 2021

05 February 2021

Author: Astor Nummelin Carlberg

The OFE Open Source Policy Series 2021 offers deep-dives into the most policy-relevant topics in the area of open source, open technologies and the most pressing digital policy challenges facing Europe.

Following the EU Open Source Policy Summit 2021, where high-level policy makers such as European Commissioner Thierry Breton set the scene for what is at stake, the Policy Series will be articulated as six virtual events during the spring and early summer. A large array of stakeholders, who work at the intersection of politics and technology, will address the role of ‘open’ in crucial areas such as a European Chip Industry, the green transition, smart cities, institutional capacity building, digital sovereignty, 5G and the EU’s competitiveness.

Together with our Series Partner, the Eclipse Foundation, we look forward to enhancing the political debate at this critical juncture, as discussions of Openness move into a deeper understanding of the strategic role Open Source will play in Europe’s digital future.

With 68% of the world’s population estimated to be living in urban environments by 2050 – and a simultaneous projected rise in global population to nearly 10B people – the need to rethink our approach to civic infrastructure is ever more pressing. 

How can we architect smart cities, with open source thinking, standards, data and technology, to best serve the needs of all of their residents? How can we engineer smart systems to respect citizen privacy while still delivering services effectively? What’s the most ecologically friendly way to deal with the ever increasing volume of data that smart cities and the smart objects that connect to them will generate?

 At this event, we explored innovations of today in the smart city arena, some thoughts for creating the best of all possible futures, and the role of public private partnerships in delivering privacy respecting value to residents of these cities of the future, based on open source, open standards, and open data.


This establishment of Open Source Program Offices (OSPOs) to achieve open source goals is gaining momentum in the public sector, in academia and beyond. We see these developments on a city, regional, national and supranational level. This matters because the OSPO construct was a key enabler in unlocking vast amounts of value for the ICT industry. Now the question is how OSPOs in government, academia and NGOs can help deliver value for citizens the world over at scale.

In industry, OSPOs are well established and typically provide legal and support services for an organisation’s open source efforts. Generally speaking, OSPOs are built to achieve and accelerate policy goals which rely on open source and open tools. This includes systemic policy goals including privacy, security, trust, diversity, participation, and access to technology.

At this event, the panelists outlined the state of thinking around institutionalising open source work in the academic and public sectors (and beyond) and discussed how different OSPO configurations can help institutions to: 

  • respond to demands for greater transparency and trust in technology and public institutions
  • accelerate digital transformation
  • participate, lead, and apply locally the enormous rivers of global innovation generated by OSS
  • support the upskilling of EU’s developer community to participate in and lead in global OSS efforts
  • enhance the EU’s strategic autonomy in the digital field