09 March 2007

Urban Forest Tracker = Open Source 2.0?

Traditionally, open source has been most successful when applied to generic, mainstream software categories - operating systems, Web servers, browser etc. Specialised, vertical applications have not generally been thought suitable, because the pool of interested people who can contribute bug reports and fixes is small.

But the appearance of this open source urban forest tracking system suggests we may be entering a new phase:

In urban San Francisco, the public works department and nonprofit organizations work together to preserve and expand tree life as part of that city's efforts to create sustainability. The city today unveiled a new Web portal and open source application that will help those agencies, and the general public, keep tabs on a growing urban forest.

This new project will probably work not so much because there is a huge untapped group of urban forest tracking system hackers just waiting to hit some code, but because there are plenty of tree-huggers who will help debug the system and input data. In other words, these new kinds of open source projects - call them open source 2.0 - only require a small core of coders to maintain, but survive and thrive thanks to the larger group of suppliers of open data.

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