Government use of open ICT standards are fundamental for smaller ICT companies and for innovation in society, concludes Professor Björn Lundell of the University of Skövde (Sweden), following a three-year research project. “Open standards promote a healthy, competitive market.”
Open technical specifications are elementary to any government’s Digital Agenda, says Lundell. In these policies, countries sets objectives for developing their digital market and define goals related to ICT, focusing on interoperability, standards and innovation.
“Open standards can be used by any stakeholder group, for implementation in either proprietary or open source software”, says Lundell. The past three years he and his colleagues have been researching the costs, benefits and effects of open standards and open source software. The research project, entitled Open source software Reference Implementations for Open Standards (ORIOS), is carried out by the University of Skövde and three IT companies specialised in open source.
“We wanted to find the core features of an open standard”, says ORIOS’ lead-researcher. A second aim was to determine if open standards can be leveraged by small ICT companies. In one of the studies they published so far, the researchers looked at the implementation of the RDFa metadata model, an open standard, in Drupal, an open source content management system.
Their analysis shows that the standard improves because of its implementation in the open source solution. Yet the benefit is mutual for the standard also eases implementations of the software. The ORIOS researchers conclude that ICT firms working on Drupal can influence an emerging standard. “The process is open to anyone, and that goes way beyond the usual constricted processes used by standardisation organisations”, Lundell summarises.
The ORIOS project will present its results to the Swedish parliament, in a workshop on 18 March in Stockholm. The workshop is hosted by two Members of Parliament, Monica Green of the Socialdemokraterna and Ulrika Carlsson of the Centerpartiet.