Is Drupal a Public Good?

In the words of economist Paul Samuelson, “one man’s consumption does not reduce some other man’s consumption.”

The characteristics of what can be considered a public good are that it is non-excludable and non-rivalrous. In 2014, at DrupalCon Amsterdam, Drupal Founder Dries Buytaert charted the meaning and definition of a public good. He quotes Samuelson and explains why Drupal falls under these characteristics and can be considered a digital public good.

“Nobody can Stop you from using Drupal (Non- Exclusive), and one person using Drupal won’t prevent someone else from using Drupal (Non-Rivalrous).”

explains Dries in his Keynote.

Belgium born Drupal founder, Dries Buytaert is a pioneer in the open source web publishing and collaboration platform space. Dries is passionate about technology innovation, social media and photography. Dries maintains the role as the project lead for Drupal, as well as the president of the Drupal Association. He is the co-founder and CTO of Acquia, the enterprise guide to Drupal; and the co-founder of Mollom, a web service that evaluates content quality and stops spam on your website.

To be considered a public good or precisely a Digital public good, one has to be reviewed according to the standards of the Digital Public Good Alliance.

Who are the DPGA, and what do they stand for?

The DGPA is a multi-stakeholder initiative whose aim and mission are to speed up the process of attaining Sustainable Development Goals in low and middle-income countries. They also accelerate facilitating discovery and investment in digital public goods.

According to the DPGA, Digital public goods are open-source software, open data, open AI models, open standards, and open content that adhere to privacy and other applicable laws and best practices, do no harm by design, and help attain the SDGs. DGPA put forward nine standards to qualify.

A Drupal Distro Is Now a Digital Public Good

Drupal distribution called Farm OS is already included in the registry. It is a web-based application software for farms that benefits farmers worldwide and helps in agricultural management, record keeping, and planning. Farms worldwide can use the application on android or iOS for farm mapping, planning, and record keeping. Farm OS has been considered a DPG. To read more about farm OS click here.

LocalGov Drupal is a distribution and install profile built to help UK councils publish public-facing websites quicker, cheaper, and better. Councils initiated it for councils to ensure government websites are not left stagnant. Apart from the efficiency of using Drupal, it is also an excellent experience for citizens at a much lower cost. It is another example of a Drupal distribution aligning closely with Sustainable Development Goals set by the UN.

What is the sudden interest in applying for inclusion in the coveted list? See this Twitter thread for an answer:

Daniel Cothran, who initiated this move, replies to a query by Mike Herchel about the apparent benefits of being on the list. 

I work in the public health industry, which is often donor-driven. Donors are aware of these digital public goods, and they put out RFPs for organizations to either work on or use digital public goods. That means 1) companies like mine have an easier time justifying using Drupal (and contributing back in the process (see how many commits I've made to the Charts module)), and 2) potentially direct funding for specific feature sets.

Dries Buytaert himself opined in the thread that ‘Drupal could qualify.’ Now the Drupal Community is putting together an application and is reaching out to the community to find enough use cases to supplement the application. Now is the time to help. 

Anoop John, founder, and CTO of Zyxware Technologies, started a Google Doc for collecting evidence and answering the questions which are part of the application process. 

“The fact that a good number of UN sites run on Drupal could be a big part of that evidence. UNDP and UNICEF are on the board of the alliance. Both run on Drupal. I verified 7/7 for Drupal for eligibility.

-says Anoop. 

Tim Lehnen, CTO of the Drupal Association, is expected to forward the application to DPGA. 

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