Open Source

Component of a democratic technology policy

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 © Pixabay

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: 

  • May 19, 2021, 4-5 p.m., Discussion on open source in public administration, available as a german podcast
  • June 08, 2021, 4-5 p.m., Discussion on funding and perpetuation of open source projects, available as a german podcast
  • July 06, 2021, 4-5 p.m., Discussion on Open Source in Practice - How Shared Software is Created, available as a german podcast
  • September 10, 2021, 5:30-8 p.m., Open workshop: Open Source Hardware, go to the magazine article here
  • October 20, 2021, 6-8 p.m., workshop Purposeful Coding, go to the magazine article here

Podcast of the event series: Open Source - Building Block of a Democratic Technology Policy?

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 series of events on open source, we dedicate ourselves to the many facets of this topic and shed light on how open source applications break down barriers, strengthen democracy and promote commitment.

Click here to listen to the german podcast

Berlin Open Source - For an open city

This page provides an overview of open source projects developed, commissioned, or funded by public administrations in the state of Berlin. With this offering, we want to improve the transparency of the public IT landscape and invite the digital community in Berlin and beyond to work collaboratively on developing good software for our city. Would you like to propose a project for the overview? You can find all the information you need here.

More Information



As a non-profit foundation, the Technologie Stiftung Berlin imparts knowledge about digital opportunities and challenges, develops digital tools and educational offerings, and shapes technological change in Berlin in joint projects with urban society, administration and companies. The associated CityLAB Berlin acts as a public experimental laboratory in which participation and innovation are thought together. A constantly growing network of administration, civil society, science and start-ups work together on new ideas for a livable Berlin. The CityLAB combines elements of a digital workshop, co-working space and event space.  

Digitization is seen as an opportunity to rethink processes, break down barriers and create new forms of social participation. Openness is a core aspect of the work for the digital common good in Berlin, which is why the Technologie Stiftung supports the open source idea and always provides software and educational materials under open license.


Nadine Riede 
Head of Content & Events

Tel.: 030 95 99 96 410  


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