Important Note: The report from the High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation to the UN Secretary General that will be published on June 10 2019, will give more details and background to this proposed session.
Digital technology is changing economies and societies at warp speed and scale. For people connected to the internet, the vast array of digital goods and services available to them could greatly improve—and potentially even save—countless lives. Access to these digital public goods, and the ability to utilize them, should be available to everyone in the world regardless of location, race, gender, religion, or socioeconomic standing.
In this session, we aim to create a discussion about how the Wikipedia community and the open source community can contribute to the development of more sustainable Digital Public Goods(DPG) in different sectors. We will start by looking at some of the existing examples of projects that can be defined as DPGs.
Examples of these goods exist all around us in the areas of information, education, healthcare, finance, and more. Many also serve to further the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Wikipedia may be the most prominent digital public good in the information sector but there are many others we could point to, including Khan Academy and wikiHow. In the health space, Norway’s open-source health management service (DHIS2) is another great example of a digital public good. DHIS2 helps health professionals save lives by monitoring patient status, improving disease surveillance, and pinpointing outbreaks. DHIS2 is currently being used by 54 countries worldwide and is free to all. The relatively new field of mobile health uses mobile telephony to create easier, individualized access to relevant information, counseling services, health records, and more. And platforms like UNICEF’s RapidPro have allowed this access to spread across parts of the world where simple feature phones far outnumber smartphones. Refer to the Candidates for the initial list of candidates for Digital Public Goods that is being built, and contribute to grow the list!
- Create mechanisms for individual users, beneficiaries, and civil society to have a say on what projects are built, why they are needed, and how they are prioritized
- Employ decentralized governance to advance projects, funding, and decisions
- Act like a hub for like-minded people to come together and advance the development of these projects, discuss them publicly, and contribute from anywhere in the world Implement financing systems to address the sustainability in the creation, development, implementation, and maintenance of digital public goods
A public good is a good that is both non-excludable (no one can be prevented from consuming this good) and non-rivalrous (the consumption of this good by anyone does not reduce the quantity available to others). Extending this definition to global public goods, they become goods with benefits that extend to all countries, people, and generations and are available across national borders everywhere. Knowledge and information goods embody global public goods when provided for free (otherwise the trait of non-excludability could not be met on the basis of excluding those who cannot pay for those goods). The online world provides a great medium for the provision of global public goods, where they become global digital public goods. Once produced in their digital form, global public goods are essentially costless to replicate and make available to all, under the assumption that users have Internet connectivity to access these goods.
- Software: Products and services typically in the form of websites and applications that offer a user interface through which the public good is provided to the user. Extensible to software libraries, Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and other pieces of software that are designed as modular components to more complex programs.
- Data: information or knowledge that is either easily understood directly by people or coded into a form that is efficient for movement or processing.
- Standards: compendia of norms, laws, specifications and reference implementations.
Despite the important caveat related to Internet access, digital goods including data, content and services can be of benefit to many people around the world, particularly when they can be freely used, distributed, and adapted, not only today, but also in the future. Digital public goods are therefore in a sense goods with the potential for becoming global public goods if one assumes that everyone will eventually have access to the Internet. The requirements for digital public goods are built upon the Principles for Digital Development, that are nine living guidelines designed to help digital development practitioners integrate established best practices into technology-enabled programs.
The two primary requirements for digital public goods are:
- Use Open Standards, Open source, Open Data and Open Innovation
- Use Open Licenses: Open Software Licenses (software), Creative Commons (content) and Open Data Licenses (data) Depending on the type of digital public goods, there are additional requirements:
- For those Products and Services that handle user data: Address Privacy and Security
- For those Products and Services with user interfaces: Accessibility In addition to the above requirements, digital public goods shall embrace as best practices the rest of the Principles for Digital Development, where applicable.
This session will address the conference theme — Wikimedia, Free Knowledge and the Sustainable Development Goals — in the following manner:
Digital Public Goods(DPG) also serve to further the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals in general. Wikipedia may be the most prominent digital public good in the information sector but there are many others we could point to, including Khan Academy and wikiHow. In some cases a DPG will focus on for example SDG 4(Education) but in many cases a DPG can be relevant for many SDGs.
At the end of the session, the following will have been achieved:
In this session we will discuss how we can build strong global partnerships to support the development of more Digital Public Goods. The requirements, categories and definition of Digital Public Goods are still in an early draft and
Session leader will be Christer Gundersen.
Each Space at Wikimania 2019 will have specific format requests. The program design prioritises submissions which are future-oriented and directly engage the audience. The format of this submission is a:
- Panel with audience Question & Answer session
The session will work best with these conditions:
- Room: Projector and speakers.
- Audience: The setup is flexible.