Open-source software refers to software whose source code (its instructions) can be freely modified and distributed. While the majority of users of parliamentary data train their focus on the contents of that data, the use of open-source software enable citizens to understand how that data is being used by parliament and to create adaptations to the software so that they can view it in the way they find most beneficial. Unlike many proprietary software solutions that restrict data use, most open-source software allows data to remain open, an advantage that benefits users and the parliament in case the parliament decides to shift its data to another platform in the future. Open-source software has the added advantage of being shareable among parliaments, thus potentially reducing the cost of adoption of new technologies by many parliaments.
According to the World e-Parliament Report 2012, “…shared applications that are based on open source or commercial software may enable parliaments to acquire more easily many of the tools needed to support the work of their members and staff.” While few parliaments have taken the innovative step of using open-source software, many governments have employed the CKAN open-source data portal software. Managed by the Open Knowledge Foundation, CKAN “is used to power official data portals by national and local governments in the UK, Brazil, the Netherlands, Austria, the US, and
elsewhere, as well as by other organisations and data communities wanting to publish or collaborate with data.
- Go open source. Develop a source code policy recommending that new software purchased by parliament be open
source, where open-source solutions exist./li>
- Facilitate the exchange of code that helps to make parliamentary information more usable.