Open source is the trend. The publication of works under licenses that permit largely free and, above all, free-of-charge use of the work is steadily increasing. With the Open Source field of action, we dedicated ourselves to the many facets of this topic and illuminated how open source applications break down barriers, strengthen democracy and promote commitment.
Open source is the prototype of the open resources debate. Once originating in the do-it-yourself, hacker, and free software movements, the concept of open source software has since inspired other movements, such as open content, open access, and open source hardware. The focus is always on a strong sense of community, the democratization of resources and innovation, and the question of inclusive access.
Open source software
Software whose code is made available under a free license ("open source") can, in principle, be analyzed, copied and further developed by anyone. Often, an individual or a small team starts developing a product and makes it available to others on the basis of an open source license. It is not uncommon for larger communities to build up around such projects, which jointly maintain and further develop the project. Successful open source projects are often maintained and expanded by a large number of developers from all over the world. Probably the best-known example of this is Wikipedia.
These communities are often characterized by a high degree of solidarity, motivation and volunteerism. Such communities are becoming increasingly important in solving global challenges. Cities and communities around the world face challenges - climate change, population growth, transportation transformation, social inequalities - that demand collaborative responses. Instead of reinventing the wheel every time, forces should be combined and knowledge shared. An open source ecosystem can make an important contribution at this point and bring swarm intelligence to life.
Why Open Source
The provision of open source software offers many advantages to the administration itself, but also to companies and urban society: The urban IT landscape becomes more transparent and secure, existing projects can be improved and further developed instead of starting from scratch every time. It also makes cross-city collaboration much easier, because successful projects can be easily replicated and new, low-threshold collaborations become possible.
In addition to collaboration and transparency, the use of open source software brings other benefits. It enables a high level of security because bugs and vulnerabilities can be more easily detected and eliminated. In addition, such software can be more easily maintained and further developed. The source code remains fundamentally open for reviews, tests and further developments by a diverse community. In this way, open source software can promote participation and become a building block of a democratic technology policy.
Open source and voluntary commitment
Open source software also holds great potential for volunteer engagement, as there is often a lack of financial resources at this point, but not of motivation and a sense of community. The Corona pandemic, in which many volunteer activities also had to be moved ad hoc into the digital realm, clearly demonstrated the need for an open, participatory and reliable IT infrastructure that is independent of commercial providers and in line with the idea of volunteer engagement.
Open source field of action
With our partner, the CityLAB of the Technology Foundation Berlin, we dedicated ourselves in our field of action to the potentials of Open Source and directed our attention to the conditions that are necessary for these potentials to unfold in practice. Open source requires political will, transparent structures and commitment.
Within the framework of this field of action, various events on diverse topics took place: