MSU-GenSan regional center for free software

Dr. Alvin Marcelo, project manager of United Nations Development Programme-International Open Source Network (UNDP-IOSN) Asean +3, said they have signed a memorandum of agreement with officials of MSU-General Santos City to establish the university as the primary resource center for FOSS in Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao.

Region 12 covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Cotabato, Sarangani and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Kidapawan, Cotabato and Tacurong.

”MSU will primarily cater to the needs of small and medium enterprises, non-government organizations and government organizations for further buildup of their ICT (Information and Communication Technology) capabilities with FOSS," Marcelo said.

UNDP-IOSN is a Centre of Excellence for Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) in the Asia-Pacific region. It shapes its activities around FOSS technologies and applications through a virtual secretariat – and now a network of sub-regional centers – IOSN South Asia (Chennai, India), IOSN PIC (Pacific Islands Countries) in Suva, Fiji, and IOSN
ASEAN+3 based at the University of the Philippines Manila-National Telehealth Center.

Dubbed the OpenHUBS Project, the initiative was a response to the call for capacity building through FOSS training and support involving state universities and colleges in the country.

It also aims to "encourage SUCs to establish a viable FOSS ecosystem with small and medium enterprises, non-government organizations and government organizations to sustain and strengthen linkages and reach out to the community that it is mandated to serve."

Marcelo said they selected MSU-General Santos as the launch pad of the OpenHUBS Project because of the area's huge potentials in moving to FOSS, especially in its growing business sector.

"With MSU as the designated OpenHUB and with support of our local FOSS advocates, we can now easily entice our local business to move to FOSS and eventually adopt it for their mainstream operations," he said.

Lawyer Abdurrahman Canacan, MSU General Santos chancellor, hailed the selection of the university as the first OpenHUB in the country and the entire Southeast Asia saying it practically shows that it is ready to break into the international scene.

"This is a big challenge for us to work better and improve our services and we're very much ready to do that," he said.

Canacan initially designated the university's Computer Center Director Rodulfo Dorado as the lead person for various activities related to the development of the OpenHUBS.

Alfredo Hebrona Jr., chair of the newly-organized Socsksargen Open Source Society, said the designation of MSU-General Santos as the first OpenHUB augurs well for the development of the ICT capabilities of the region's business sector.

"The major considerations that stop small or even medium-size companies from simply automating their operations are the cost or investment and the lack of technical support. With FOSS now very much available for our businesses and with an OpenHUB right in the neighborhood for the needed technical support, there's no reason for businesses not to automate," added Hebrona, who is also president of the Sarangani Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Meantime, as part of the launching of the OpenHUBS Project, Marcelo said they will host a three-day OpenHUBS Conference slated on November 27-29 at the Isla Parilla in Alabel, Sarangani Province.

He said they have invited "decision-makers" from the business, academe, government and non-government organizations to the conference.

The conference is supported by the InWEnt Capacity Building International, Germany and jointly organized by the MSU-General Santos Computer Center, SoCSKSarGen Open Source Society and the Koronadal National Comprehensive High School FOSS Society.