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Report to World Bank recommends open standards

Governments and large companies have been urged to do themselves a favour by adopting open standards

Governments and businesses should adopt open standards in their software in order to boost their efficiency, innovation and growth, according a report presented at the World Bank last Friday.

The report — Roadmap for Open ICT systems&nbsp/; — recommended that governments and business harness the potential power of using ICT for economic growth through "collaboration, innovation and development".

Most governments and businesses use software which does not currently support open standards, such as most Microsoft software.

The report does not recommend that governments adopt open-source software, but instead recommends they embrace open standards which enable greater interoperability.

"The Roadmap defines an ICT ecosystem as open when it is capable of incorporating and sustaining interoperability, collaborative development and transparency," the report says. "Open ecosystems are heterogeneous, combining open and closed, and proprietary and non-proprietary technologies," it added.

The report was a collaborative effort of senior government officials from thirteen countries, representatives of global organisations, experts from technology companies and academics from Harvard.

The report acknowledges that open-source software has had an influence in provoking a revisiting of policies.

"Open source does not define an open information and communications technology ecosystem, but it can be an important transformative element," it said.

In the interests of greater interoperability some governments are now beginning to move away from exclusively using proprietary software, notably Massachusetts, which is on track to only use software based on open standards from the beginning of 2007.

The report was by The Open ePolicy Group for the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School.