Open source solutions – primarily in software but increasingly also in hardware – cost roughly one tenth of proprietary offerings. The switch to open source software enables financial and public service scalability as well as quality sustainability at all levels of governance. Unfortunately this understanding is not widespread.
As we go forward in a world where software seems likely to impact on every public and private capability, there are seven questions to be considered by public administrators as well as private sector managers.
First, should governments focus only on open software and open data, or are there other opens that are relevant to the relationship between government, citizens, and organizations?
Second, given that no one today can process more than 1% of the “Big Data” they own or can access, are there other opens – for example Open Spectrum and Open Cloud – should governments be more specific about their requirements? For example, should a government demand that all data have date-time as well as geospatial (locational) attributes?
Third, while respecting the importance of governments as leaders toward the future, should governments recognize that most of the useful information is outside of government, in the hands of academics, civil society, commerce, media, and non-government organizations, among others? This suggests that government shifts to open source must be mirrored outside of government if all information useful to the public is to be equally accessible.
Fourth, and in light of the scattered nature of the information diaspora, should governments recognize that open tools for information-sharing and sense-making across all boundaries simply do not exist, and should be a priority if we are to go beyond simple document exchanges?
Fifth, if Open Data and Open Software are “level one” of open engineering, and the addition of Open Hardware, Open Cloud, Open Spectrum, and Open Standards are “level two” of open source engineering, is there a “level three” that goes far beyond the Information Technology (IT) world to encompass all industrial objects including construction and farm and manufacturing machinery?
Sixth, going beyond the IT domain, and given the documented reality that roughly 50% of all industrial-era domains are waste (from agriculture to energy to health to housing to security to water and beyond), should a “smart city” be defined only by adding IT to its old elements, or is there a need to totally redesign the city to be smart from the ground up so as to assure future generations that the cities we build today will not be full of waste tomorrow?
Seventh, should we acknowledge that advances in the use of open everything among the one billion rich do nothing at all for the five billion poor? Could it be that two million displaced persons today will become twenty million, two hundred million, tomorrow, unless we bring Open Source Everything Engineering (OSEE) to bear in order to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDG) quickly and inexpensively, stabilizing the South so as to bring to an end the flood of displaced persons seeking refuge in Europe?