Article: A revival at the intersection of open source and open standards

Open Source, Software

A revival at the intersection of open source and open standards

I served as a volunteer firefighter in California for 10 years and witnessed firsthand the critical importance of technology in helping firefighters communicate efficiently and deliver safety-critical information quickly. Typically, multiple agencies show up to fight these fires, bringing with them radios made by different manufacturers that each use proprietary software to set radio frequencies. As a result, reprogramming these radios so that teams could communicate with one another is an unnecessarily slow — and potentially life-threatening — process.

If the radio manufacturers had instead all contributed to an open-source implementation conforming to a standard, the radios could have been quickly aligned to the same frequencies. Radio manufacturers could have provided a valuable, life-saving tool rather than a time-wasting obstacle, and they could have shared the cost of developing such software. In this situation, like so many others, there is no competitive advantage to be gained from proprietary radio-programming software and many priceless benefits to gain by standardizing.

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