Open Source Software 'The Way to Go for Developing Countries'

Article excerpt

BYLINE: CRAIG MCKUNE

OPEN source software is the future for South African business and government. It lowers barriers to entry for small businesses, allowing them to turn their backs on "big American software companies".

This emerged in opening discussion at a geospatial conference focusing on free and open source software in Cape Town yesterday.

"This is about democratising technology in terms of access and creation," said Google's Ed Parsons, chief of geospatial technology.

Parsons was keynote speaker at the 2008 Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial Conference and Exhibiton at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

"It's about people having access to change the information if they want. It is no longer locked behind a piece of software and a big company."

Open source software is freely distributed and allows users to change a programme's source code - it's DNA - to suit their needs. They may redistribute this as they wish.

One example for people wanting to work with geospatial data, digital maps essentially, is to download a programme called QuantumGIS free, rather than buying the expensive ArcView. …