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World Economic Forum CTO says open source technology can change the world

Brian Behlendorf talks up open source software
Thu Feb 14 2013, 14:30

OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE can play a key role in helping organisations and governments solve major challenges and change the world, according to the CTO of the World Economic Forum, Brian Behlendorf.

Behlendorf, who also serves on the board at the Mozilla Foundation, said that the collaborative nature of open source technology means it is ideal for tackling vital issues, especially when compared to propriety systems.

"Many crises are not about software problems but are information problems and the collection, distribution and analysis of that data, so good software can make a difference," he said, speaking at the WSO2 conference in London attended by The INQUIRER.

"Organisations that are at the frontline of tackling these problems have been underserved by software vendors in the past and not been savvy about using software, instead just seeing it as a necessary evil."

Behlendorf went on to give some examples of how open source software was helping in many areas such as improving third world literacy and tackling health and human rights issues through projects such as Literacy Bridge, OpenMRS and Martus.

He went on to say that awareness of the benefits open source offers over proprietary software usually used by organisations and government is slowly growing, and the community should move to try to boost this uptake.

"Because open source is based on common platforms you can switch vendors without changing the underlying technology. Governments and NGOs think things have to be done by particular vendors and if they want to change they have to change the entire stack," he said.

"We have to get them out of that thinking and understand about common platforms and code reuse and redevelopment. This is all rather new to them, but it is starting to take hold."

The UK government has reaffirmed commitments to make more use of open source technologies in order to improve ICT use in the public sector and deliver cost savings. µ


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