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Free and Open Source Software, Open Data, and Open Standards in the Caribbean

Published date 2013-08-08
Author Lora Woodall - Michele Marius
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Generally, there was a strong awareness and understanding of the term FOSS, although this varied from country to country. While most countries and institutions did not have official policies on FOSS, some level of FOSS use was evident in each country, although levels of use varied from institution to institution. At the time of writing, almost all governments have significant licence agreements with proprietary software companies, but some are beginning to consider other solutions in response to economic pressures.

Open Data was less familiar to most organizations than FOSS, but still widely recognized. A few policies clearly referenced OD, and several countries have begun to publish data online, even though some of this data is not in a format which would align with OD standards. Several regional initiatives have the potential to promote OD, including the Caribbean Open Data Conference, the Caribbean Knowledge and Learning Network’s C@ribNET, and a collaborative project between the World Bank and the Caribbean Open Data Institute. In contrast, [Open Standards] was the least familiar of the three concepts and there was very little evidence of use of OS in the countries studied.

Challenges identified in adoption and use of FOSS, OD, and OS can be grouped into the following five categories: limited awareness; lack of buy-in; insufficient policy frameworks; limited technical support; and inadequate change management processes. In order to tackle these challenges, the chart below provides a list of recommendations, each of which are described in detail in this report.