According to the United Nations, the number of people affected by a humanitarian crisis has doubled in the past decade. With it, so has the need for open source skilled people to join teams dedicated to solving problems associated with these emergency situations. (Read: 11 ways to get involved with Humanitarian FOSS by Heather Leson)
Typically, when a crisis group or organization is faced with a humanitarian emergency, they tend to focus on what has worked in the past because new solutions need to be tested prior to an emergency. We also see that volunteers for these groups/organizations are usually the first to bring an open source tool or project to the table as a potential solution. With a greater influx of open source tools being used in crisis situations, organizations are realizing the power of open source to allow them to adapt technology quickly in a changing environment and to work together across organizations.
Many initiatives are changing the nature of how open source and open data become priorities for humanitarians, such as the UNICEF Innovation Fund, World Bank’s Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, UN OCHA Humanitarian Data Exchange, Missing Maps and the Grand Bargain.
IT services for NGOS are often project-based or consist of enterprise-level software components via donations, and the security and data protection rules are fairly strict. Both of these are cited as reasons to not use open source. Sound familiar?
Sharing sources or other frequently cited books and articles on how businesses are adopting open source software and practices shows that it is possible to use open source despite these concerns. (A good example is the Economic Impact of Open Source on Small Business: Case Study)
While the discussions and changes happen industry by industry, it takes people both inside and outside the institutions to make it possible. Whether you aim to volunteer or change your career, more opportunities are available for open…