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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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Exploring FOSS opportunities in natural hazard risk assessment and disaster management

This chapter examines natural hazards and disaster management (DM) as a critical sustainable development intervention. It puts into perspective the state of natural disasters across the globe and highlights challenges dominating the area – especially in developing nations. The primary focus is on the application of free and open source software (FOSS) technologies in developing value-adding information systems that can support effective hazard risk analysis and efficient natural DM. By and large, while developing countries lack information systems for integrated end-to-end management of disasters, there has been a rise in frequency of occurrence of disasters due to a number of human and geophysical factors. Contemporary holistic DM is now premised on abilities to gain in-depth understanding of natural hazard risks, full short- and long-term implications of disasters and proactive planning for disasters. Such an approach demands the analysis of combined data on seismology, meteorology, topography, soil characteristics and vegetation, hydrology, settlements, infrastructure, transportation, population, socio-economics and material resources; this requires robust and dynamic supporting information systems. Thus there is a need to develop innovative systems based on a scalable and flexible architecture in which best practice FOSS technologies can be implemented. The aim is to ensure DM initiatives, particularly in developing nations, become highly sustainable. The chapter includes two case studies of the application of FOSS in the natural hazards and DM space.

English

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