Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Roadmap for Open ICT Ecosystems

The Berkman Center last month launched the Roadmap for Open ICT Ecosystems report.

I am excited about this Roadmap because, in my line of work, I see governments deciding on technology decisions in a haphazard manner, with no overriding strategy or priorities, and often reactive, under peer pressure, or driven by vendors . This results in systems that might work for the particular agency or institution in the short term, but that discourages sharing of information or collaboration across agencies, because the technical (and human) systems don't know how to talk to each other. 

The Roadmap is a very user-friendly guide for policymakers and technologists to understanding, creating, and sustaining open information and communication technologies systems, and addresses key issues such as interoperability and the implementation of open standards, that would allow for an integrated planning and implementation of ICT systems in the country (or other systems) that is most effective, efficient and scalable. 

Here is my summary of the Roadmap:

Who created this report?
  • senior government officials from 13 developed and undeveloped countries
  • five global organizations
  • two leading technology companies
  • Harvard academics
What is Openness?
It refers to collaboration, connectivity, access and transparency, and this movement is promoted by the blazing growth of the internet.  It includes using open technologies but goes beyond that to include the policies, strategies, processes, information, and stakeholders that together support an open technology environment for a country, government or an enterprise. 

Why is it important for governments? 
It promotes efficiency, innovation and growth. From the report: "Economic growth depends increasingly on information and communications technologies (ICT); countries, enterprises and individuals need to harness this power through collaboration, innovation and development. This report demonstrates, by its process and its outcome, the enormous potential of open collaboration and information sharing."

Values: An open ICT ecosystem should be:
  • Interoperable – allowing, through open standards, the exchange, reuse, interchangeability and interpretation of data across diverse architectures.
  • User-Centric – prioritizing services fulfilling user requirements over perceived hardware or software constraints.
  • Collaborative – permitting governments, industry, and other stakeholders to create, grow and reform communities of interested parties that can leverage strengths, solve common problems, innovate and build upon existing efforts.
  • Sustainable – maintaining balance and resiliency while addressing organizational, technical, financial and legal issues in a manner that allows an ecosystem to thrive and evolve.
  • Flexible – adapting seamlessly and quickly to new information, technologies, protocols and relationships while
How to do it? 
It is not created per se, but rather a process of evolutions. Steps include:
  • Scoping- Assessment to define vision and goals
  • Create Policies- for open standards as well as related areas
  • Managing the implementation
(refer to the Roadmap for detail including practical tools for each step).

(updated 11/15/05) 
The webcast of the Roadmap's launch and discussion at the World Bank on 9/9 is via this Archived video

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