Community Addresses UK Parliamentarians

Sep 14, 2007

In a half-day session in Westminster, members of the Free Software community gathered to inform British parliamentarians and civil servants of how Open Source software may impact the public sector and British industry in future.

Notable contributions to the Westminster eForum were made by Alan Cox of Red Hat, Tristan Nitot of Mozilla Europe, Mark Taylor of the Open Source Consortium and jounalist and author Glyn Moody. Nick McGrath of Microsoft was also present in order to give the proprietory perspective.

The forum had been split into two sessions one investigating the potential impact of Open Source in both the public and private sector and investigating the future of Open Source. In the first of these sessions, chaired by Dr. John Pugh MP, presentations were made by Specsavers and Alfresco detailing the success of these organisations in both using and developing Open Source. Michel Kahn, CIO of Specsavers, cited the use of Open Source as a crucial element in the success of his organisation's rapid groth across Europe in the last few years.

When it came to use of Open Source in the public sector,however, most speakers were positive about the potential for Open Source but were concerned that the UK public sector's overly conservative approach to software procurement and development may continue to be a barrier to adoption.

Much of the future impact session looked at how as Open Source adoption grows in the UK we shall see a rise in service based companies offering all the deployment, support and training required to make adoption viable. Glyn Moody concluded this session by making explaining that the biggest development in perception of Open Source occur when the public sector realises that Open Source is a social phenomenon advocating collaboration.

The meeting, as a whole, was very informative and should have been very useful to the senior parliamentarians present. However, the content and audience were both tipped in favour of Open Source, making the meeting unbalanced. As a result, the meeting was more successful in displaying the passion of the UK's Free Software community than it was at getting across a healthy balance of the facts.

» Westminster eForum Website

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