The University of Edinburgh Informatics Forum hosted the 2015 Open Source Awards on 25th February.

I visited the awards arranged by Greg Soper of Sales Agility this Wednesday in Edinburgh. More details of the event can be found here: The following summary is of the talks rather than the awards, which have been covered in other places. As there were multiple streams, I have only covered the ones that I attended. Open Source Awards 2015 logo

Paul Sinclair of CGI explained how Open Source is a key part of their strategy, and are growing an Open Source specialist team “OSDC” to address the growing Public Sector demand for services. They feel that cloud services are a race to the bottom and will be unable to sustain quality at the current rate. He asserts that Open Source Software is “where the innovation happens” and that the value chain is becoming clearer.

Glyn Moody provided his review of Open Source with a focus on the requirement for cryptography. He believes that the Internet of Things can only be built on Linux & Open Source. He reminded the audience that Tim Berners-Lee was inspired to release his work by Richard Stallman, and in fact intended to use the GPL, but due to concerns from peers, chose the Public Domain route instead. The prevalence of Linux across devices was investigated at two ends of the scale, with 97% of the world's fastest supercomputers using Linux, 3% on Unix and just one supercomputer running Windows. At the other end of the scale, 80% of smart phones are running Android, putting Linux in the hands of the majority of the population.

NHS England logo Peter Coates of NHS England stated the need for the Public Sector, and specifically the NHS, to invest in Open Source to realise the processes required to operate. To prevent re-occurrence of the lock-in and abusive behaviour of previous suppliers, Intellectual Property will be owned and protected by assigning it to Community Interest Companies who will be the custodian and ensure that it is always available for unencumbered reuse.

Peter explained the 3 key current issues cited by the users of the systems: 

  1. Lack of satisfaction from clinicians with systems
  2. Issues with usability
  3. Speed and cost of modernisation & integration
He explains that frustrations often occur where clinicians find new pathways to provide care, and in many cases, the technology would allow the process to be delivered. However, licensing constraints restrict the implementation, so the choice between delivery of appropriate care or operating within budgets overshadows the focus of the clinical staff.

Internal Defibrillator By far the most engaging talk was that of Karen Sandler. I shall not attempt to do her justice here as I fear I would trivialise the gravity of the subject. But suffice to say that she has a profound story, one which every human will connect with, and a depth of motivation on which her life literally depends.

In summary, the common themes through all threads were that Open Source is the only candidate for innovation, development and security. What is now obvious is that this message is being propagated by NHS professionals, lawyers, traditional system integrators and journalists. I do not think that anyone can present a case where an Open Source strategy is anything but the only strategy.

Posted by Stuart J Mackintosh on 26/02/2015