12 Nov 2014

Dstl launches open software for public consultation

globeSummary: The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) has placed a piece of software into the open source domain for editing and improvement by the public for the first time.

The new web application, Ideaworks, will allow those that use it to collate, comment on and rate ideas in order to help workforces collaborate more effectively.

The move is part of a Cabinet Office push for greater use of open source products across government. In its document All About Open Source, it told departments they must consider open source when procuring software, if it is available.

The application was developed by Dstl to provide a low-cost and quick prototype to help users. Allowing others to access the code in this way allows greater transparency, new ideas to be shared and eventually new developments to the public.

Dstl’s Chief Technical Officer Andy Bell hopes people accessing the code, including small and medium-sized enterprises, academia or individuals, will use it and contribute to its development to benefit both Dstl and the public.

He said: “Sharing code in this way allows us to reach out to a wider population of experts, so that they can draw on our work, using the application to potentially improve their products, allowing us to learn from their knowledge and expertise, possibly enhancing our code or finding and fixing any bugs.”

Other government departments, including the Cabinet Office and the Department for Energy and Climate Change are already sharing code publicly.