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Free and Open Source Software and Technology for Sustainable Development

image of Free and Open Source Software and Technology for Sustainable Development
Free and open source software (FOSS) technologies transcend geographical and cultural boundaries to usher in a new paradigm where volunteers collaboratively develop software for the commons. The political economy of FOSS technologies has far-reaching implications because of the centrality of information and communications technologies for development (ICT4D). The global trend in the diffusion and adoption of FOSS technologies is a testimony to the socio-economic and technological impact the software has for both developed and developing economies. While FOSS development, education and business potentials may appear as a phenomenon for the developed world, a sizable number of developing countries have undertaken bold measures to bring about innovation, sustainable ICT development and technology independence.

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Improving public healthcare systems in developing countries using FOSS: The EHAS foundation case

Providing healthcare in rural areas of developing countries is a very challenging task, since they are inhabited by the most vulnerable and most impoverished sectors of the population – those who suffer the most acute diseases. In addition, in these countries a high proportion of the medical expertise is located in urban areas, barring the most needy, those living in rural and isolated areas, from access to quality healthcare. Many initiatives have tried to improve public primary healthcare systems in rural and isolated areas by using information and communication technologies (ICT) to connect rural health centres with urban hospitals to address this issue and foster the development of rural communities (Wootton et al., 2009). The isolation and lack of infrastructure (roads, energy) of these regions make them less economically attractive for telecommunication operators to invest in deploying information and communication networks in these areas. This leaves only two solutions for connecting healthcare facilities: either they make use of satellite connections, or they build the networks themselves.

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