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  • Using Open Source Tools To Fight COVID-19

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    As we all adjust to living with the new realities that COVID-19 has brought, we are reminded how fragile our world can be. However, many open source tools and technologies have been developed that are being used to fight this crisis around the world. Two of these tools are:

    • SORMAS (the Surveillance Outbreak Response Management and Analysis System) was designed to track and manage the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. It has been adapted for use by organizations to track and manage COVID-19 cases
    • DHIS2 is a health tracking system that is used around the world. The DHIS2 team has released a new package to accelerate case detection, situation reporting, active surveillance and response for COVID-19

    The Open Source Center at the Digital Impact Alliance (OSC at DIAL) was created to strengthen the open source ecosystem and provide support to digital platforms like SORMAS and DHIS2 that have been developed to address the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

    For years, global health experts have been saying that another pandemic with the speed and severity to rival those of the 1918 influenza epidemic was a matter not of if but of when. Factors like climate change only increase the risks of new outbreaks around the world as vector-borne diseases move to new areas. Sadly, when a health crisis like this arises, it is usually the most impoverished communities that are impacted most, because resources are scarce and fewer systems exist to support the most vulnerable.

    Technology has an important role to play in supporting better health in low-and-middle-income countries (LMICs). As we see with SORMAS and DHIS2, organizations have responded to these new risks by developing technologies that give people tools and data to fight outbreaks like COVID-19. OSC has also provided direct support to other platforms like Medic Mobile, Ushahidi, and Open Street Map that have been deployed to support COVID-19 response. Beyond health, we have also seen how technology platforms can positively impact lives through remote learning, mobile payments, and messaging applications.

    The OSC is working to make open source tools more accessible, deployable, and interoperable. To that end, DIAL has created their Online Digital Global Goods catalog (currently a beta product). This tool tracks over 200 products that support health, development, and better lives. Sadly, many of these products are not well known and not used as effectively as they might be.

    Having the ability to quickly discover and evaluate available digital public goods will make a significant difference when handling the response to a communicable disease pandemic. The difference between being in the containment or mitigation phase of an outbreak relies on the ability to find an existing tool like a disease surveillance system or knowledge management system, all in one place. For example, OpenMRS, one of the products in the online catalog, was customized into two separate Ebola EMR servers during the height of the Ebola crisis. Using the same approach, OpenMRS could have the potential to be used in managing the COVID-19 cases.

    In addition to providing a list of products, DIAL is working to provide relevant data about these products to help potential users evaluate them. DIAL is working with ClearlyDefined to collect fact-based data about the digital technologies in our catalog.

    ClearlyDefined was designed to provide license data for open source projects in a clear, consistent way that gives open source consumers and producers confidence. It gets open source components’ license, source location, and copyright information in an automated, transparent way, and then produces data as a service to its users. In cases where the license information is missing or ambiguous, members of the community are able to discuss and submit changes that will improve the data. All changes to the ClearlyDefined data are upstreamed back to the original projects in order to have future versions of the components be more “clearly defined”. Over time, the project hopes to help all of the open source ecosystem become more clear in its license data.

    DIAL is leveraging the work done by ClearlyDefined to show information about the licenses that digital technologies have been developed under. DIAL and ClearlyDefined are also working to expand the data that we can provide through the ClearlyDefined platform - including security and vulnerability information.

    It’s DIAL’s goal to provide comprehensive information about the quality and sustainability of products that will allow users to understand and evaluate these digital tools so that they can deploy them effectively to improve the lives of people around the world.

    If you’re interested in learning more, visit the DIAL Online Catalog or ClearlyDefined.

    Image credit: "COVID19.png" by Open Source Initiative, 2020 (CC BY 2.0), is a derivative (cropped, scaled, and color adjusted) of "Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (49584358682).jpg" by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), (CC BY 2.0), via Wikimedia Commons.

  • Your Course to Open Source

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    We're adding to our fully-online Open Source Technology Management courses to provide those pursuing a career around open source software even more options. In addition to our fully accredited, credit-barring courses offered through Brandeis University, we've developed six new "micro-courses." Taking just four weeks and guided by high-profile leaders in the open source community, you'll have the opportunity to explore the latest trends and techniques driving open source projects and companies. Case studies highlight real-world scenarios and solutions impacting the creation and delivery of open source software across industries. Group projects provide virtual teams direct experience in the highly collaborative, iterative, and innovative world of open source communities of practice.

    And of course, just like our traditional courses, OSI members receive a 15% discount off the cost of our new micro-courses.

    The goal of these courses, and why the OSI is so interested in supporting them, is to prepare the next generation of project founders, entrepreneurs, and business leaders to understand, leverage, and succeed as authentic open source users, developers, contributors, and maintainers.

    Our micro-courses cover everything those working with open source software and communities need to know with four options that give students just the right credential to realize their educational and career goals.


    • Cultivate an Open Source Community (begins on June 1, 2020)
    • Integrate the Open Source Community (launches July 6, 2020)
    • Open Source Business Practices
    • Establish an Open Source Program Office
    • Open Source Workflow and Infrastructure
    • Production of Distributed Open Source Software

    Credential options

    • Option 1: Take a single 4-week micro-course. Zero in on specific skills and knowledge to round out your professional profile. Our two upcoming courses are, Cultivate an Open Source Community (beginning on June 1, 2020) and Integrate the Open Source Community (launching July 6, 2020).
    • Option 2: Complete two micro-courses in a given topic area, and earn a digital badge in one of these three areas:
      • The Business of Open Source,
      • Open Source Community Development, or
      • Open Source Development Fundamentals.
    • Option 3: Complete all six micro-courses, and receive a certificate in Open Source Technology Management. Show your employer you're serious about open source, and now they can be too.
    • Option 4: Complete a capstone assignment at the conclusion of two micro-courses, and earn 3 graduate-level credits. Add open source software to your graduate experience.

    Sign up to receive more information about the program. If you have specific questions, please email Kathryn Wight at kwight@brandeis.edu.

    Image credit: "OpenCourse.png" by Open Source Initiative, 2020, CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication, is a derivative (cropped, scaled, and color adjusted) of "learn-3653430_960_720.jpg" by geralt (Pixabay License), via Pixabay.

  • 2020 OSI Election Results

    Congratulations to Megan Byrd-Sanicki and Josh Simmons who were both elected to the OSI board's two individual member seats, and to Italo Vignoli, nominated by Associazione LibreItalia, who was elected to the one open affiliate member seat. The newly elected Directors will take their seats on the Board, April 1, 2020.*

    The OSI thanks all of those who participated in the 2020 board elections by casting a ballot. We also want to extend our sincerest gratitude to all of those who stood for election. Each year the field of candidates who run for the OSI Board of Directors includes a who's who of open source software leadership. The 2020 nominees were again, remarkable: experts from a variety of fields and technologies with diverse skills and experience gained from working across the open source community. The OSI is honored to include each of the candidates in our 2020 election.

    We would also like to recognize and thank Molly de Blanc and Simon Phipps who are leaving the OSI board. Both Molly and Simon are former OSI board presidents who have led significant efforts to advance not only the mission of the OSI, but the organization as well. We hope the entire open source software community will join us in thanking them for their service and their leadership. The OSI and the open source software movement are better off because of their contributions and commitment, and we thank them.

    The complete election results are below.

    Individual Member Seat Election Count

    1. Josh Simmons: 224
    2. Megan Byrd-Sanicki: 198
    3. Ashley Wolf: 137
    4. McCoy Smith: 92
    5. Coraline Ada Ehmke: 82
    6. Chris Short: 67
    7. Mario Behling: 60
    8. Mekki MacAulay: 56
    9. George Kraft: 39
    10. Tobie Langel: 36
    11. John Tredennick: 36
    12. Travin Keith: 13
    13. Michael Cruz: 7
    14. Rohit Goswami:7
    15. Bob McWhirter : 7


    Affiliate Member Seat Election Count

    1. Italo Vignoli (Associazione LibreItalia): 18
    2. Chris Aniszczyk (Linux Foundation): 17
    3. Justin Colannino (Software Freedom Conservancy): 17
    4. Bjoern Michaelsen (The Document Foundation): 10
    5. Fabio Balli (Breathing Games): 8
    6. Marco Marinello (FUSS): 5

    *Note: This article originally stated new board directors would be seated on March 20th, the actual date for seating the newly elected board directors is April 1. 2020.

  • Job Opening: Principal Software Engineer for ClearlyDefined

    We are excited to announce the growing OSI Incubator Project, ClearlyDefined is now seeking a Principal Software Engineer.

    Would you like to work with companies developing open source software and the broader open source community? Are you interested in open source compliance? Does a job working as, part technical architect, part community manager, and part evangelist sound interesting and rewarding?

    ClearlyDefined (GitHub) is an open source, OSI project aimed at boosting the success of FOSS projects by being, well, "clearly defined." Lack of clarity around licenses and security vulnerabilities reduces engagement — that means fewer users, fewer contributors, and a smaller community.

    OSI Sponsor Microsoft, and its Open Source Programs Office, is looking for someone experienced in open source software, comfortable working with modern software tools (e.g., Node and Azure), and excited to contribute as part of a dynamic environment; someone who understands how to employ scrum and agile techniques to stay focused and productive in the face of change; someone who thrives on cross-team collaboration and enjoys openness and diversity; someone with great communication and presentation skills to convey their message. The Microsoft Open Source Programs Office is a small, multi-disciplinary team that works across the company to help Microsoft participate successfully with open source software and the organizations, like OSI, that support it. 

    If you are interested, the team at Microsoft's Open Source Programs Office would love to talk to you about how open source compliance is making it easier for projects to know their software is being used according to their wishes and easier for companies to know what they need to do to comply with them.

    You can learn more about the job at, https://careers.microsoft.com/us/en/job/800721/Principal-Software-Engineer





  • The Hard Work of Critical Conversations in Open Source

    Open source is bigger and more diverse than ever before. With that success comes challenges, some new and some old, but all of them on a larger scale than ever before.

    As we grow and convene more people and viewpoints, the conversations will get more difficult. In some ways, that’s good--vigorous discussions help us clarify our shared understanding and pushing the boundaries helps us find where those boundaries are. We evolve appropriately to meet the needs of a changing world.

    But the challenges of cross-cultural discourse amongst people with strong convictions are readily apparent. This has come into stark relief, over the last two years, across contentious elections and experiments in licensing. We need to provide a safe and productive environment for the communities we convene. The world of open source is large and diverse. We appreciate the continued efforts of the people who were here at the beginning and recognize that while many new people have joined the community, many more do not feel like they’d be welcome participants--and we are lesser for it.

    To fully realize the promise of open source, globally, at all levels of society, for people from all walks of life, we must do a better job of building a community that’s as vibrant and diverse as the world itself.

    Here is an overview of what we have done and the work we are setting out to do to that end:

    Moderation: In recognition that our mailing lists had built up a reputation for being dominated by those with the most time to write emails, and that sometimes conversations became unprofessional, we’ve stepped up moderation efforts over the last year.

    Code of Conduct: Our Code of Conduct, first adopted in 2007 and then significantly revised in 2015, will be updated in 2020 with the aid of professional consultants who will also help us establish clearer, more transparent enforcement procedures.

    New Forum Types: Mailing lists have served us for many years, but we believe they’re no longer the best fit for all of our forums. License Review and License Discuss may be better served with different types of communication mediums. We’re exploring different options for each forum and will make changes in consultation with the community.

    New Forums: Some have expressed a desire for additional communication channels, and we’ve certainly had more in the past. We may look at bringing back some old channels, creating some new ones, and doubling down on things we know are working. Our quarterly affiliate calls have become popular and we may look at replicating or expanding those.

    More Information: While we try to promote our work regularly and summarize it well in our Annual Report, many have expressed a desire for even more transparency. We’re exploring how we can offer more regular reports on all of our programs.

    We have seen incredible progress over the last few years thanks to the efforts of our staff and countless volunteers, as well as community members who’ve praised us when we’ve done well and called us out when we’ve fallen short. Our work is not done.

    The Open Source Initiative is a community-designed vehicle that is responsible for convening people around the public interest. We hope that we can find strength in diversity and continually ground ourselves in discourse that is both critical and respectful in service of open source.


    Thank you,
    Open Source Initiative, Board of Directors