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Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL)

Advancing an inclusive digital society

April 10, 2018

DIAL’s Open Source Center on the Road

The DIAL Open Source Center (OSC) team has been busy scaling up its services since the beginning of the year. Our mission is to convene a vibrant and inclusive community for builders of free and open source software, promoting knowledge sharing, collaboration and co-investment in technology and human capacity to support positive social change in communities around the world. The program provides financial and technical assistance to open source software projects serving the international development and humanitarian response sectors, and so far we’ve extended services to six different software projects, with more to come.

In the coming weeks you’ll hear more about our partner projects and participation in excellent mentorship programs like Google Summer of Code and Outreachy, where talented newcomers will be matched up with mentors to work on the open source projects we support. We’ve also been able to provide direct financial assistance to many of these projects, which we’ll share at the end of this month.

Photo: Michael Downey

The OSC team has also been on the road sharing the Center’s vision and ideas, as well as listening to software project maintainers to better understand their needs.

In February we were in Brussels, Belgium at FOSDEM, the Free & Open Source Software Developers’ European Meeting. Arguably the largest open source event on the planet, this free-of-charge, volunteer-led event brings people together from around the world to take over the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB) campus for a single intense weekend of knowledge sharing. We were honored to feature the OSC in a talk in the main track, where we spent an hour discussing our vision for more mature and impactful open source projects. Audience members were really interested in sharing interesting open source projects that could be used by international development organizations, as well as making connections between groups already involved in the space but working independently. 

In March we participated in the 9th annual FOSSASIA Summit, a similar volunteer-run event that draws thousands of open source supporters. The event was an excellent chance to tap into the incredible network of innovation throughout South and Southeast Asia. This part of the world is also home to many organizations and individuals using open source for projects to help their communities improve their quality of life, such as Bahmni, a hospital information management system that we’ve supported over the past year. The event was an exciting opportunity to meet with potential partners and interested collaborators closest to those who will benefit from the tools being built and share our ideas to help turbocharge open source software projects. 

Michael Downey speaking at FOSDEM

Looking ahead, we’ll be attending the ICT4D Conference 8-10 May in Lusaka, Zambia. As a co-sponsor of this event, DIAL is excited to bring together all types of people who depend on technology for their international development work. The OSC team is planning an interactive workshop with these key stakeholders to learn more about their success stories, challenges and frustrations. Most importantly, we want to do all we can to improve the communication loop between the builders and the users of open source software. Creating more meaningful, easy-to-use and effective tools is a major key to being better stewards of the resources our world gathers to help everyone become active members of the digital world.

Finally, we’re hiring! The OSC is focused on long-term sustainability for the technology creators, consumers, and funders that we serve. As a result, we’re looking to add an expert to our team to think full-time about important topics like financial models, sustainability of our member projects and the program, and to help share best practices about running effective open source software projects that endure. If this sounds like something you’re passionate about, come join us!

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