OWF Initiative – Encourage the Use of Open Source Technologies in Water Resources

The OWF initiative to Encourage the Use of Open Source Technologies in Water Resources leverages open source software to provide functionality that is needed to solve water resources problems.  Open source software, like scientific methods, water law, and public policies and regulations, ensure that the analysis of water resources considers the public good of decisions.

Why Open Source?

Open source software is now widely used and perhaps there is little need to explain why open source software should be considered for water resources.  Nevertheless, the following reasons are given:

  • May be more cost-effective – open source software, like proprietary solutions, still requires support, training, integration, etc., but likely is less expensive initially because prototypes can be developed to evaluate a solution. Free software can encourage collaboration among larger stakeholder groups because everyone has access to the same tools.
  • Encourages integration – many open source products support open data standards and open application programming interfaces (APIs) allow software to be integrated. Open data standards also encourage proprietary software to also support such standards in order to compete in the market.
  • Transparency – access to code ensures that software can be examined and modified if necessary. Transparency also allows users of the software to confirm that functionality is as expected, for example when implementing scientific analysis.
  • Quality – software that is open encourages scrutiny, and most open source software products with many users also have many developers that are able to fix bugs and implement enhancements.

The OWF develops open source software tools for water resources.  We use open source software tools to develop software and as components in the software we develop.  We feel that the transparency and collaboration offered by open source software leads to higher quality and open data standards.  Open data and software are complimentary to understanding complex water issues, where stakeholders need to understand and trust sources of data and how data are analyzed.

Examples of Using Open Source Software in Water Resources

The following examples illustrate how OWF is using open source software:

  • OWF uses open source languages such as Java and Python to develop software tools
  • OWF uses open source development environments such as Eclipse to develop its software
  • OWF uses open source databases including PostgreSQL, SQLite, and MySQL to implement database solutions
  • OWF uses open source Linux and Cygwin operating systems for productivity and to match customer systems
  • OWF uses many useful open source software programs for productivity (see resources below)

The OWF experiments with open source software tools to solve problems and we discard tools that do not meet our standards.  Contact OWF if you would like assistance in implementing a water resources solution built on open source software.