Use Open Data, Open Standards, Open Source, and Open Innovation Tools

Are you on-board with the concept of Principle 6, but aren’t sure how to begin incorporating it into your work? Check out these resources recommended by members of the working group to help get started:

Code Innovation

As technology becomes a part of more and more aid and development programs, how and why we decide to incorporate new tools is increasingly important. Over the last few years, the ICT4D community has developed the Principles for Digital Development that guide the ethics and process of Code Innovation’s work.  The sixth of these principles is, “Use open standards, open data, open source and open innovation.”

In their primer, Code Innovation focus on just one aspect of this: open source- which includes the Creative Commons.  If you’ve never heard of open source or the Creative Commons, they can be confusing to navigate. That’s why Code Innovation decided to create a short primer for humanitarian aid and international development workers to understand what these concepts mean and how to use them.  Code Innovation has found these ideas to be pivotal to their work, and its their pleasure to share what they’ve learned.

Click here to access Code Innovation’s Open Source and the Creative Commons: A Primer for Humanitarian Aid and International Development

USAID Development Data Library

The Development Data Library (DDL) is USAID’s public repository of Agency-funded, machine readable data. The DDL is part of USAID’sPrimer-on-Open-Source-and-the-Creative-Commons-for-Aid-and-Development-Code-Innovation commitment to evidence-based programming and rigorous evaluation, while supporting the principles of the President’s Open Government Initiative.  In October 2014, USAID announced its first ever open data policy, Automated Directives System (ADS) 579 – USAID Development Data.

Click here to access the USAID Development Data Library.

World Bank Open Data

World Bank Open Data gives free and open access to data about development in countries around the globe.

Click here to access the World Bank Open Data site.





 Open LMIS International Aid Transparency Initiative

OpenLMIS is a collaboration of domain experts in logistics and supply chains, eHealth information systems, software development for low resource settings, and process improvement.  Like other open initiatives, the intention is to ensure OpenLMIS becomes the place for sharing information about LMIS planning, requirements and system design, promoting interoperability between systems, developing open source solutions and galvanizing interest in a shared vision for effective, scalable and sustainable solutions.

Click here to visit the OpenLMIS website.

International Aid Transparency Initiative

IATI is a voluntary, multi-stakeholder initiative that seeks to improve the transparency of aid, development, and humanitarian resources in order to increase their effectiveness in tackling poverty. IATI brings together donor and recipient countries, civil society organisations, and other experts in aid information who are committed to working together to increase the transparency and openness of aid.

At the centre of IATI is the IATI Standard, a format and framework for publishing data on development cooperation activities, intended to be used by all organisations in development, including government donors, private sector organisations, and national and international NGOs. It was designed in close consultation with key users of development cooperation data in developing countries, to ensure its relevance and utility for a variety of different data users.

Organisations implement IATI by publishing their aid information in IATI’s agreed electronic format (XML) – usually on their website – before linking it to the IATI Registry. The Registry acts as an online catalogue and index of links to all of the raw data published to the IATI Standard.

Click here to visit the International Aid Transparency Initiative website.


Open Source Initiative

The Open Source Initiative (OSI) is a non-profit corporation with global scope formed to educate about and advocate for the benefits of open source and to build bridges among different constituencies in the open source community.

Open source is a development method for software that harnesses the power of distributed peer review and transparency of process. The promise of open source is better quality, higher reliability, more flexibility, lower cost, and an end to predatory vendor lock-in.

One of our most important activities is as a standards body, maintaining the Open Source Definition for the good of the community. The Open Source Initiative Approved License trademark and program creates a nexus of trust around which developers, users, corporations and governments can organize open source cooperation.

Click here to visit the Open Source Initiative website.

Open Government Partnership

The Open Government Partnership is a multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. In the spirit of multi-stakeholder collaboration, OGP is overseen by a Steering Committeeincluding representatives of governments and civil society organizations.

To become a member of OGP, participating countries must endorse a high-level Open Government Declaration, deliver a country action plan developed with public consultation, and commit to independent reporting on their progress going forward.

The Open Government Partnership formally launched on September 20, 2011, when the 8 founding governments (Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, the Philippines, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States) endorsed the Open Government Declaration, and announced their country action plans. In just two years, OGP has welcomed the commitment of 57 additional governments to join the Partnership.

In total, OGP participating countries have made over 1,000 commitments to make their governments more open and accountable.

Click here to visit the Open Government Partnership website.


OpenHIE is a Global Mission-Driven Community of Practice dedicated to improve the health of the underserved through open and collaborative, development and support of country driven, large scale health information sharing architectures.

  • Enabling large scale health information interoperability
  • Offering freely available standards-based approaches and reference technologies
  • Supporting each other’s needs through peer technical assistance communities

Click here to visit the OpenHIE website.



18F, a digital services delivery team within the General Services Administration, develops in-house digital solutions to help agencies meet the needs of the citizens and businesses it serves. This requires flexibility in how GitHub codes, with a focus on lowering costs for the American people, while improving their interactions with the U.S. Government.

The default position of 18F when developing new projects is to:

  1. Use Free and Open Source Software (FOSS), which is software that does not charge users a purchase or licensing fee for modifying or redistributing the source code, in our projects and contribute back to the open source community.
  2. Develop our work in the open.
  3. Publish publicly all source code created or modified by 18F, whether developed in-house by government staff or through contracts negotiated by 18F….

Click here to read the rest of GitHub’s Open Source Policy.

Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition

In this discussion paper we highlight three specific ways open data can help solve practical problems in the agriculture and nutrition sectors: 1. Enabling more efficient and effective decision making 2. Fostering innovation that everyone can benefit from 3. Driving organisational and sector change through transparency. We present a series of 14 use cases showing how open data can be useful in different stages of agriculture, food production and consumption. From managing scarce water resources during the California drought or helping farmers in Africa estimate the outbreak of animal diseases, to helping consumers avoid harmful allergens in their food – open data is becoming a valuable tool for policy-makers, industry, small-scale farmers and consumers alike. These are some examples of the range of stakeholders involved in agriculture and nutrition. We hope they stimulate discussion about the potential uses, needs and challenges of people, organisations and governments interested in exploring open data within this field.

Click here to read the paper.