How open source software benefits public sector organizations

Sara Ana Cemazar
April 22, 2022
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5
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In the last two decades, digital transformation was one of the overarching trends in the world of business. Due to the constant technological advancements, organizations are always working on adopting new tools and finding better ways to serve customers with higher efficiency.

Increased cybersecurity challenges together with the need for flexible solutions have put open source solutions on the map. It turns out that open source software is perfectly suited to the needs of public sector organizations.

Digital transformation is being encouraged by governing bodies such as the European Commission, and governments are taking action to improve their services while being mindful of data privacy and security. Read on to find out why governmental organizations choose open source software in greater numbers.

What is open source software?

Open source software is the kind of software that has a publicly available source code. In contrast to the more traditional type of software - proprietary - open source software code can be explored and reviewed.

This leads to unique advantages to the software quality. The open source community is constantly proposing changes to the code in order to improve its functionalities or security. In other words, there are many more eyes on the code making the software better.

Benefits of open source for government-related organizations

open source benefits

Open source software has proven to be a great match for organizations in heavily regulated industries. These often include organizations that work with the state in some capacity or other. For example, there is numerous open source software for education, and several major open source vendors in the healthcare sphere.

Moreover, government and defense institutions often choose open source solutions due to their unique advantages:

Transparency

Since the source code is available to inspect in open source solutions, there is no hidden agenda between the vendor and the customer. In this case, government-related organizations know exactly how the software works.

Public sector organizations not only operate under strict regulations, but are also responsible for fair and transparent use of citizens’ data. Therefore, knowing how the data is handled makes a big difference in comparison to closed-source software.

Data security

Open source community members often contribute to the source code security, wanting to make it less possible to exploit in a cyberattack. Due to that, open source software is often highly secure.

Moreover, open source software vendors often enable users to deploy on-premise. This means that organizations have full control over their data, making it even less exposed and more secure.

➡️ Learn more about data security best practices.

Data privacy

Public sector and government-related agencies need to be extra mindful of data privacy. Regulations such as GDPR in the EU outline the specific ways in which individuals’ data must be protected. Moreover, government-related organizations have a heightened responsibility toward their citizens.

In this regard, the transparency of the open source software is once again beneficial. Organizations’ representatives can see where the data is stored and how it’s used, without hidden third-party involvement.

Flexibility

It’s no secret that public sector and government-related organizations are less technologically inclined and agile than consumer-oriented organizations. The state apparatus is massive, and it’s hard for smaller organizations to move forward with the newer technology.

Open source software code cannot only be inspected but also modified. This means that organizations are free to change certain aspects of the software to fit their needs. This also means that smaller organizations can more easily fit in new solutions in their existing infrastructure - not to mention that open source software can be modified to respect the overarching legal regulations.

Cost-efficiency

Open source software comes at a reduced cost in comparison to proprietary software. However, the unprecedented flexibility of the software is something that would also carry a hefty price tag with closed-source software, not to mention it would take very long to implement.

The price and the freedom from vendor lock-in are often one of the main reasons why public sector organizations choose open source software.

The push from the EU and governments toward open source

Digital transformation is moving at a slower pace for the public sector and government-related organizations. Open source software is a great way to speed it up.

Luckily, governing bodies in Europe have not been oblivious to the transformative power of open source. European Commission (EC) has been actively promoting open source solutions since 2014. In its newest Open Source Strategy 2020-2023, EC is doubling down on encouraging the use of open source software:

The internal strategy, under the theme ‘’Think Open’’, sets out a vision for encouraging and leveraging the transformative, innovative and collaborative power of open source, its principles and development practices. It promotes the sharing and reuse of software solutions, knowledge and expertise, to deliver better European services that benefit society and lower costs to that society.

Most recently, the Swedish government issued a report with suitable open source solutions to use for collaboration between public sector organizations. The main premise? To move away from the harmful data hosting practices toward data ownership and digital autonomy.

As stated in the report,

A public-sector organisation should not have to spend time and resources on protecting information from a supplier. Instead, it should select an alternative supplier that does not present a risk in terms of the unauthorised dissemination and processing of information. (...) By maintaining a focus on legality, information security and digital sovereignty from the start, the public sector can avoid having to disable functions or impose restrictions on the use of services.

How government bodies can securely collaborate with Rocket.Chat

Knowing all the benefits of open source solutions, it’s no wonder that so many government-related and public sector organizations choose to implement it and use it.

Here at Rocket.Chat, we’ve been happy to assist several organizations working with or related to governments in facilitating collaborative best practices. Read the stories from our customers:

➡️ How the Government of British Columbia uses Rocket.Chat to securely solve DevOps issues 10x faster

➡️ How German Universities improve their communication with Rocket.Chat

➡️ How Rocket.Chat is transforming public safety communications in the US

open source public sector

Rocket.Chat’s instant messaging platform is flexible to fit into the complex IT infrastructures of public sector organizations while enabling employees to communicate effectively.

Read more on our solution for government-related businesses or contact our team to see how Rocket.Chat can benefit your organization.

Sara is an SEO Strategist at Rocket.Chat. She is passionate about topics around digital transformation, workplace experience, open source, and data privacy and security.
Sara Ana Cemazar
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