Dr. Francisco Sarmiento III, project officer of the United Nations Development Programme-International Open Source Network (UNDO-IOSN) Asean+3 Sub-regional Node, said local small and medium enterprises (SMEs), government and non-government organizations migrating towards the free and open source software (FOSS) may now link up for support with the Mindanao State University's (MSU) Computer Center here.
He said MSU General Santos has been designated by UNDP-IOSN and its partner InWEnt Capacity Building International, Germany as Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao's first OpenHUB or accessible resource center for FOSS.
"As an OpenHUB, MSU now serves as the area's technical base and resource center for FOSS and the open source systems," Sarmiento said.
Region 12 covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Cotabato, Sarangani and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Kidapawan, Cotabato and Tacurong.
UNDP-IOSN and InWEnt formally unveiled MSU as an OpenHUB, the first in the country, during the three-day first OpenHUBS Conference at the Isla Parilla Resort in Alabel, Sarangani Province last week.
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 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."
Balthas Seibold, InWEnt's senior project manager, said OpenHUBS intends to institutionalize the linkages and cooperation among the players in the FOSS ecosystem and eventually build FOSS business models in the area.
"We want to see IT companies working together with universities to give FOSS to the community and generate income, which can be shared," he said.
Seibold expressed keen interest and enthusiasm on MSU-General Santos' selection as an OpenHUB.
He said he is optimistic that with the institution's expertise on enhancing and developing FOSS as an educational tool, it can now sustain community extension programs for General Santos City and the rest of Region 12.
"Higher education institutions, which use FOSS within the curriculum and within their own organization's operations, are well positioned to provide support to the various sectors such as business, education and administration, as these communities shift from the proprietary software to the more accessible, affordable, adaptable and legal open source software solutions," Seibold stressed.
Engr. Felipe Galia, Vice Chancellor for Finance of MSU-General Santos, said the selection of the university as an OpenHUB practically complements the ongoing build up of their ICT programs and FOSS-based systems.
He said it will also help increase awareness on FOSS and further enhance its use and development in the area.
"(OpenHUBS) planted the seeds of FOSS in the fertile grounds of the Socsksargen area," he added.
UNDP-IOSN is a Centre of Excellence for 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 centres – 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.
InWEnt, through its 'it@foss' program, supports the development and application of local innovative software solutions and business models based on FOSS in the Asean region. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)