Open source can boost S'pore innovation

Open source technology can help Singapore become a hotbed for innovation under the country's iN2015 masterplan, says ICT regulator.
Written by Sol E. Solomon, Contributor

SINGAPORE--Open source technology has a role in aiding Singapore's quest to become a hotbed for the creation of innovative products and services, according to a senior government official.

Through its 10-year Intelligent Nation 2015 (iN2015) masterplan, Singapore seeks to create an environment where its people, the private and public sectors can collaborate on innovative next-generation ICT products and services, said Tan Geok Leng, CTO of the country's Infocomm Development Authority (IDA).

During his keynote address here Tuesday at the Open Source Singapore Pacific-Asia Conference and Expo (OSSPAC), Tan urged attending developers and delegates at the event to use Singapore as a place to create innovative services, pilot them and then provide these services globally.

For instance, he said creators of innovative new services could use NextGen NBN, the country's next-generation network infrastructure as a delivery platform for their products. Targeted for completion by 2015, the network is touted to provide access speeds of up to 1Gbps.

These developers can "exploit open source technologies" to build their services, he said. Tan added that open source makes it easier for developers to compete without having to bear the cost of acquiring "licenses for 1,000 servers".

In the price-sensitive mobile devices market, for example, developers looking to save on costs could build their new products on open source mobile operating systems such as Google's Android or Nokia's Symbian.

Harish Pillay, open source evangelist and sales training manager at Red Hat, welcomed any opportunity for the open source community to contribute to Singapore's iN2015 effort.

Also a speaker at the conference, Pillay said commitment by governments toward open source can rapidly boost the technology's deployment.

"When the open source community is engaged and recognized…they will join you," he said.

However, he noted that here is "not enough contribution in the open source space in Asia, which is very disappointing". "We need people to get the participation going [in the region]," he said.

Despite this predicament, Pillay told ZDNet Asia, there are "pockets of contribution" to the course in the region such as Sri Lanka to the Apache technology, as well as significant contributions from Australia and Japan.

To help encourage participation from the region, he suggested introducing open source into schools and educating students on the technology.

Citing an October report by the Linux Foundation, Pillay said efforts poured into building free Linux community distribution, Fedora 9, would have otherwise cost US$10.8 billion. This figure was estimated based on the 204,500,946 lines of codes written for the software, 59,389.53 man-hours spent, and the average programmer's annual salary of US$75,662.08 as determined by the US Department of Labor.

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