iCities (XI). Round Table: Free Software in the Administration

iCities is a Conference about Blogs, e-Government and Digital Participation.
Here come my notes for session XI.

Round Table:
Chairs: Jacinto Lajas

Jose María Olmo

Free Software penetration in the Administration still low. This also means (cause or consequence?) that bidding processes don’t usually include free software in their requirements, either as a condition or as a possibility.

Consequences of this situation:

  • Lack of cooperation and collaboration between administrations
  • Interoperability made more difficult
  • There is a lack of communities of free software for the Administration in which developers and users can meet and exchange impressions and design common strategies

Francisco Huertas

Free Software as a strategy to develop the Information Society.

Free Software avoids:

  • A unique provider
  • Insecurity
  • Imposed adaptability
  • Provider monopolies
  • R+D outshored
  • Lack of local support
  • Functional submission
  • License costs
  • Lack of standards that threat the persistence of public information
  • Impossibility to publicly share common goods

The cost per computer (12,000 PCs) of the operating system and main desktop applications is 1.8 euros.Updating these computers to the last version of MS Windows + Office would have cost 6 million euros. Besides the aggregates, a important aspect that matters at the margin: while with free software adding one more computer means reducing software costs per unit (while being constant at the aggregate level), with proprietary software one more computer means more costs, at both the total and per unit levels.

Lourdes Muñoz Santamaría

Three keys: focus on the use, not the tool; the importance of broadband access; keep Net neutrality.

In political terms, it is unacceptable that public investment is not public. Hence, investment in software solutions and content has to be made in free software so that they can be put at anybody’s reach.

In the same train of though, intellectual property rights need to have recovered their original purpose: public benefit, the protection of the author so that society gets more and better culture and innovation.

Two steps in the free software debate:

  • Non-discrimination because of the technological solution: neutrality, access warranties… for both the user and the provider
  • Opt-in for free software because of argued and objective reasons

A cause does not win just for being fair. If free software is good, its benefits have to be made broadly known, so that the citizenry is eager to get those benefits.


iCities 2008, Blogs, e-Government and Digital Participation (2008)

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2008) “iCities (XI). Round Table: Free Software in the Administration” In ICTlogy, #56, May 2008. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
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