The open source alliance for social innovation and sustainability (OASIS) is a new collective formed to help social sector organisations and communities leverage open-source technology to drive impact in their field of work. Formed jointly by seven social and tech organizations – FOSS United, ASPIRe, Tech4Good Labs, Tech4Good Community, TinkerHub, and GitHub -- THEOASIS alliance was launched last week in Bengaluru at a summit that saw 400 individuals, non-profit organizations, and technologists in attendance.
Free and open-source software (FOSS) is an umbrella term for software that can be freely used, copied, improved, and redistributed. Some of the popular FOSS examples are the Linux operating system, Mozilla Firefox, and Python. The FOSS community in India is very vibrant with Indians both actively contributing to and using open software. India Inc. is also leveraging open-source technologies, along with the startup community which has seen a massive boost as a direct result of such tech adoption.
However, the social development sector has been unable to tap into the potential of publicly and freely available technology. “The social development sector where people work on critical problems, like soil, climate, livelihoods, poverty, sanitation, etc., don't have access to this technology, not because it's not available, but because there's a huge gap in awareness and tech capacity,” said Kailash Nadh, the co-founder of FOSS United and the chief technology officer at Zerodha.
OASIS aspires to bridge this gap by uniting technology consultants, facilitators, and non-profits on a single platform. Their goal is to create a reusable playbook for practical technology adoption, facilitate workshops, foster connections between relevant parties, and provide guidance to social sector organizations, enabling them to achieve technological self-sufficiency through open-source solutions.
One of the alliance partners, ASPIRe is a global initiative from Ashoka that works with and supports social entrepreneurs. Irina Snissar Lobo, the knowledge and design director at ASPIRe said that the initiative works with non-profits from around the world that leverage some advanced technological solutions, however, such organizations are too few and far between. More often than not, such organizations would have sound technical know-how, from the beginning.
“Other non-profits, irrespective of how great of a work they were doing, struggle with technology. Often they end up building technological solutions from the ground up which is expensive and may not be scalable or customizable to other use cases,” said Lobo.
She said that OASIS is designed to help stakeholders in the ecosystem solve their technology problems with FOSS and enter into strategic partnerships and relationships for the greater good of the community. “With OASIS, our vision really is to make technology a non-issue for the citizen sector.”
At the OASIS Summit held on September 14, attendees got the opportunity to attend various technological showcases including Jugalbandhu, ERPnext, AVNI, and Gram Vaani, along with panel discussions and tinkering workshops.