Open source solutions are becoming increasingly popular due to their many benefits. Organizations use them to leverage open source code’s transparency and flexibility. Now, government-related organizations across the world are also adopting open source software.
One of the most prominent European Union governing bodies, the European Commission (EC), has been supporting the use of open source for a while. With their new Open Source Strategy 2020-2023, EC is doubling down on the power of open source in driving digital transformation across EU countries’ governmental bodies.
What is European Commission’s Open Source Strategy?
European Commission’s larger Digital Strategy aims to outline steps for its digital transformation, looking to influence the change across all EU governing bodies. Open Source Strategy has been its supporting part since 2014.
The new Open Source Strategy for 2020 - 2023 “sets out a vision” to leverage the distinct benefits of open source technologies to drive better services for European citizens at a lower cost.
The strategy outlines the following goals:
- Driving Europe’s digital autonomy and independence
- Sharing and reusing information, knowledge, and software
- Contributing to the knowledge society
- Increasing the quality of public service.
The European Commission’s Open Source Strategy is a great example of how well-suited open source solutions are for governments and governmental bodies. In such organizations, the principles and advantages of open source can reach their full potential to ultimately serve citizens.
The European Commission’s stance and support of open source solutions serve as a great example to other governmental organizations across Europe and the world. The values of open source match with the principles of the EU itself, and the use of open source solutions in the public sector will lead to better services for EU citizens.
While country members’ governments have yet to implement such overarching strategies, we see initiatives from Sweden and Finland following this pattern.
What are the benefits of open source solutions for government-related organizations?
Open source solutions are characterized by the transparency of their source code, meaning that it’s free to inspect and use for your own purposes (with some limitations, usually in the monetization of the software).
The advantages of open source software stem from the visibility and ability to reuse its code.
Here are the ways that governmental bodies benefit from open source solutions.
Due to their transparent nature, open source solutions cater to data privacy concerns - there is no hidden misuse of data or data management by third parties.
The governing EU regulation on data privacy, GDPR, outlines the constrictions in the use of citizens’ data. Open source solutions can be modified to respect GDPR and ensure the adequate use of individual data.
Without data security, there is no data privacy. We’ve seen established software vendors such as Microsoft Office banned from French Ministries and German schools over privacy concerns, which only goes to show how important data privacy and security is for government-related organizations.
Every open source project is accepting of suggestions to increase its security and other enhancements to the code.
With the open source community and openness to new ideas, open source software is more secure than its proprietary counterparts.
In Europe, governments can deploy open source software on-premise or in EU-hosted clouds. This makes the data even more secure and the chances of breaches minimal.
As explained before, open source software is free to modify by its users. Therefore, governmental bodies are free to make changes to the open source code and adjust the software to their own needs.
EU governing bodies and other public sector organizations use numerous software to serve citizens in different areas. Open source software helps them to cater to citizens’ requirements and provide world-class public services.
Governments and their agencies always want to increase trust with their citizens. Transparency is key in building trust, and one of the core open source principles is the transparency of the code.
European Commission recognizes this unique power of the open source. The strategy wants to leverage “the share and reuse of software, knowledge, and expertise to deliver services that benefit society.”
Open source software is in most instances cheaper than its closed-source counterparts, and sometimes it’s even free. Moreover, the flexibility you can achieve with open source solutions is something that would come with a heavy price tag and could be even impossible to achieve with proprietary software.
Since government agencies are often limited in funds, this characteristic of open source software plays to their advantage.
The Swedish case: Open Source Software for public sector
From the Swedish example, we can see that the need for digital transformation in governments across Europe is not only on European Commission’s agenda.
The Swedish government has issued a report on suitable open source collaboration platforms for the public sector. The aim is to enable collaboration between different governmental agencies without compromising data security.
In the words of the report authors,
A public-sector organization should not have to spend time and resources on protecting information from a supplier. Instead, it should select an alternative supplier that does not present a risk in terms of the unauthorized dissemination and processing of information.
In their report, the Swedish government lists solutions in different collaboration categories: chat rooms, video conferencing, kanban boards, whiteboards, and storage. The government-related agencies are encouraged to pick and use software from the list. Due to their open source nature, solutions will be integrated to provide ease of use and will be able to interoperate - meaning that agencies will be able to interact with each other regardless of the software they use.
Secure communication for the governmental agencies with Rocket.Chat
Rocket.Chat is an open source software that can be deployed on-premise or in the cloud. This communication and collaboration platform is serving privacy-conscious private and public organizations that want full data sovereignty to secure personal and business information.
Apart from the approval for use from the Swedish government report, Rocket.Chat is serving the Government of British Columbia in Canada, several German universities, and Bridge 4 Public Safety - an organization funded by the US Department of Homeland Security. These security-oriented public sector organizations are now able to utilize the full power of digital team collaboration and deliver higher-quality services at a higher pace to the general public.
We at Rocket.Chat are dedicated to the open source principles and therefore wholeheartedly support the European Commission’s Open Source Strategy. Learn more about Rocket.Chat’s solution for government-related organizations and get in touch with our sales team to see how we can support your organization.