Open-Source and Public Sector Environmental Information Services

Open-Source and Public Sector Environmental Information Services

A. Masouras
Copyright: © 2007 |Pages: 9
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-789-8.ch196
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Free open/source software (FOSS) is a new software development paradigm that emerged in the last decade and relies directly on the volunteer efforts of geographically dispersed developers of varying professional affiliations and proficiencies, that are coordinated in ad-hoc schemes, based on recognition of the work carried out by relevant “core groups” of volunteers, and follow pragmatic directions, emerging from community feedback. In direct contrast with previously established business practices (Raymond, 2000), this software development paradigm is fuelled by full disclosure of the source code, volunteer effort, and a number of “freedoms” granted to the software user regarding his ability to interact with the software and propagate its use. By promoting code reuse and the adaptation of freely available best practices, FOSS development practices minimize redundancy and concentrate “investment” on innovation (Von Hippel & Von Krogh, 2003). The support FOSS projects receive, from the user-developer community, serves to provide guidance, reduce maintenance costs, and enhance software sustainability, while the service-oriented model of FOSS allows for a broad range of contractors to provide support, and helps in minimizing the total cost of ownership. It is these characteristics FOSS, as we will demonstrate in this article, that render it flexible, economical and reusable, and thus appropriate for use in building publicly funded information and communication technology (ICT) projects (Infonomics, 2002), especially those aiming at the dissemination of information to citizens, such as online environmental portals.

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