Over the last eight months, GitHub has been supporting the creation of a World Health Organization (WHO) Open Source Programme Office (OSPO). The WHO OSPO will be the first in the greater United Nations (UN) system.
The primary purpose of an OSPO is to create capacity within an organization so that everyone feels empowered to use and develop open-source solutions. OSPOs primarily focus on bettering organizational efficiency in open source engagement. While that’s certainly a benefit, there are unique considerations of an OSPO in the UN system.
OSPOs can be sustainable vehicles to create new and surface existing Digital Public Goods (DPGs). Reducing duplication of efforts in humanitarian crises, maximizing funding, and contributing to DPGs can also provide further guidance on ethical use and development of open source. An OSPO in the UN will also facilitate this change in its tools, the policies it sets, and the openness and support it provides to its staff.
Creating an OSPO in a UN agency may increase open-source software employment opportunities in low- and middle-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and South/East Asia.