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The Europe Roundup: A Minister of Economy In Praise of Free and Open Source Software

BY Antonella Napolitano | Wednesday, October 12 2011

  • Poland | Minister of Economy in praise of free and open source software
    Waldemar Pawlak, Poland’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy, recently praised Free and Open Source Software (FLOSS) defining it as the “greatest success of the 20th century” in a conference held on 27 September 2011. The lecture of the Deputy Prime Minister focused on the role of open source software in the innovation economy.
    But Pawlak wasn't just giving the nod to open source supporters during an electoral campaign, with national elections last Sunday. FLOSS is already being used by Polish institutions, too. The website of the Ministry of Economy itself (Ministerstwo Gospodarki, in Polish), for example, is built on Drupal and powered by a server running Linux and Ubuntu.

    As reported by the Open Source Observatory and Repository (OSOR):

    Mr Pawlak said that in the future the government should recommend and promote FLOSS principles and solutions, and present good examples of implementations. This would encourage major changes at lower levels of government, such as the municipalities, where the culture is currently still dominated by ignorance and fear about the safety and reliability of solutions based on FLOSS. It is also very important to support open source initiatives, he said, by providing special programmes and grants at the national and European levels. Activities which should be supported include platforms to promote innovation and collaboration (such as the Internet platform Spinacz), research and development centres, and academic entrepreneurship.

    Now that incumbent Prime Minister Tusk has won election it has to be expected more work in this direction (and Pawlak will likely have the opportunity to play a role in it).

  • Poland | A preview of the Open Government Data Camp
    And in the next few days Poland will be the place to be for people working on open government issues: the Open Government Data Camp will take place in Warsaw on 20-21st October. The programme has just been released.
    In 2010 the event gathered hundreds of public servants, developers, journalists and NGOs from around the world and this year's meeting lists 30 partners organizations.
    Open data has found its way into digital policy packages and transparency initiatives all over the world but there are still many challenges to overcome.
    On the Guardian Open Knowledge Foundation community manager Jonathan Gray gives a sneak preview of what will happen.

    Participants at this year's camp will swap notes on how to overcome some of these obstacles, as well as learning about how to set up and run an open data initiative (from the people behind data.gov and other national catalogues), how to get the legal and technical details right, how to engage with data users, how to run events, hackdays, competitions, and lots more. All this will find its way into the Open Data Manual. There will be hands on workshops on data journalism, focusing on EU spending and tools for journalists, and company identifiers around the world. There will be opportunities to meet the people behind the Civic CommonsmySociety, the Open Knowledge Foundation, the Open Rights Group, the Sunlight Foundation, the Web Foundation and many other NGOs who work on open data. And there will be informal workshops and meet and greet sessions with data.gov, data.gov.uk, theWorld Bank, and the European Commission. And - of course - there will be plenty of brainstorming, hacking and hatching of plans.

    [note: Personal Democracy Forum's founder Andrew Rasiej will be a speaker at the event]

  • How ICT helps developing countries

    The most intelligent and sophisticated ‘ICT for development’ projects don’t merely impose a pre-formed idea on the developing world, but adapt to its needs, advantages and capabilities.

    - Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, on the social importance of ICT in developing countries and interesting case studies. In many cases the most effective projects to bridge the digital divide in Africa involve the recycle of broken computers and the distribution of used ones.
    In some areas of Africa, though, the nature of domestic demand (cellphones are widely used) has meant the technology has “leapfrogged” ahead of that in the developed world – like in the case mobile payments in Kenya.
    Commissioner Kroes visited Kenya last month in occasion of the Internet Governance Forum, the first held in Sub-Saharan Africa.

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