FOSS - Free and Open Source Software in Trinidad and Tobago

The free part and cost benefits of FOSS is very attractive but we shouldn't forget the open source part of this where we can review the code and contribute modifications. FOSS are distribured under different licenses, for example, there is GNU GPL (General Public License) and BSD (Berkeley Software Distribution).

Our latest national ICT plan 2018 - 2022 makes no mention of open source. I am very surprised at this. I am contacting iGovTT to see if they have plans for FOSS locally. Over the years we have had several national ICT plans, Fast Foward, SmarTT and Fast Forward II. The SmarTT plan (2014 - 2018) had a section on FLOSS and states, "Research and position papers have already been developed at the National ICT Company Ltd. (iGovTT) to aid in developing policies for FLOSS uptake."

There have been attempts over the years to develop a position on FOSS by the government. In my research, I found, The role of Open Source Software in Trinidad and Tobago (2006 – 2008) A Consultation paper. Then, DRAFT Open Source Software (OSS) and the Government of Trinidad and Tobago A Position Paper 31 October 2014. In the conclusion of that paper, is stated, "The Government of Trinidad and Tobago should conduct the necessary studies to determine where Open Source Software can be incorporated into our ICT practices."

What about software that is created by the government? The Public Money, Public Code campaign addresses this in a way that I like. The idea is that code developed using taxpayers dollars should be made available to the public under a FOSS license. The website states, code paid by the people should be available to the people!

Regionally, we can look to what Jamaica is thinking, as I read in, Government of Jamaica to Actively Pursue Greater Use of Open Source Software. The minister tells of the huge benefits to be gained from greater use of open source software. I like how he lists examples of FOSS that includes OS, office software, database servers and programming languages, that shows the dept and variety.

This UNESCO report is dated but useful today and I found no other recent and similar, Free and Open Source Software, Open Data, and Open Standards in the Caribbean : Situation Review and Recommendations. August 2013. Some of the recommendations in that include, seminars to increase awareness, creation of government policy and implementation framework, provide training, create FOSS portal and marketplace, and develop technical support personnel.


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