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EC boosts open source

Sets up consortium for software pooling

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The European Commission has taken steps to promote the use of open source systems and software in the public sector.

It has selected a consortium led by Unisys Belgium to create and manage the Open Source Observatory and Repository (OSOR), the company announced.

Other members of the consortium are the Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology, consultancy GOPA Cartermill, and the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos of Madrid.

They will provide an internet service and portal enabling European administrations to centrally store and share the software code of their open source applications and exchange open source knowledge. It is aimed at helping them improve the return on their IT investments and make their applications more interoperable.

OSOR will be a common repository where, in addition to the source and object code, information will be available regarding the use of applications, different software versions, open source licences and contract material. On the OSOR web portal, member states' administrations will also be able to share know-how about their different open source applications.

The European Commission hopes it will encourage European administrations to use each other's software and develop common projects. This could be in areas such as public e-procurement, interoperability between government applications and mutual recognition of the various e-ID card formats.

Sharing and reusing applications would provide significant savings in investment costs.

"Public administrations' interest in open source is not so much about open source replacing proprietary products," said Karel De Vriendt, head of the EU's European eGovernment Services Unit.

"More and more it is about developing custom applications based on open source software, on collaboration during development, and on using open source licences to share the results of such developments. The new OSOR should become the preferred cooperation tool to speed up software pooling among member states."

Unisys and its partners will consult with stakeholders to determine the format of OSOR this year, and is planning to make the service operational in late 2007. It will also look for interesting open source applications to add to OSOR and support collaboration between different European open source projects.

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

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