Tuesday, September 30, 2008

PNG can save millions by using Open Source Software

Papua New Guinea can save millions of kina by using Open Source Software instead of expensive software such as Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office, according to Goroka-based computer expert Robert Schilt.

Mr Schilt, an Australian currently on assignment at Goroka General Hospital through Australian Volunteers International, made this revelation as PNG government departments and others continue to spend huge amounts of money on software for their computers.

He also noted that though software copyright laws have been effective in PNG for over five years, many institutions both government and private continue to deploy unlicensed software throughout their organisations.

“This illegal practice eludes criminal prosecution due to the non-existence in PNG of a Government Body to regulate these unprofessional practices,” Mr Schilt said.

“It also distorts IT budgets as software license costs are generally omitted from the financial planning process thus giving an inaccurate and under-estimated financial snapshot of Total Cost of Ownership (TOC).

“The Open Source Software (OSS) model for applications development is based on principles of openness and collaboration compared to the proprietary model which is closed and is primarily focused on profit,” he said.

“Open Source Software is a development method for software that harnesses the power of distributed peer review and transparency of process.

“The promise of Open Source is better quality, higher reliability, more flexibility, lower cost, and an end to predatory vendor lock-in.”

Mr Schilt quoted a recent Garter report, The State of Open Source in 2008, which states that “in few years time, almost all business will use Open Source”.

The report goes on to say that “by 2012, more than 90% of enterprises will use Open Source in direct or embedded forms”.

“Although a thorough analysis and study of processes and business requirements should always precede the decision as to which software is to be used in any organisation, there currently exists a window of opportunity in Papua New Guinea for Open Source projects and implementations,” he said.

“ This window of opportunity that now exists within PNG can be attributed to the so called ‘Green Field’ situation and the fact that many institutions are now just embarking upon Information Systems (IS) projects and thus are able to bypass the high costs associated with migration from a Proprietary to an Open Source solution.”

Mr Schilt said the tangible benefits when adopting an Open Source method to software implementations within PNG Hospitals were as follows:

  • Open Source Software is almost 100% immune to virus, spyware and other forms of malicious attacks. One can safely deploy PC's in an organisation without the need to install complex and costly virus protection software and at the same time feel confident that their PC's will remain virus free. This point alone gives incredible strength to the argument for Open Source. Goroka General Hospital has close to 60 PC's deployed, not one runs any form of anti virus software and in the past 12 months it has not had not had one single virus incident.
  • There are no software licensing costs associated with Open Source Software. Because Open Source is based on a collaborative model rather than a model for profit, the costs savings in software licensing alone make for a very strong business case for Open Source. Goroka Hospital’s IT Training Center as an example has saved the Hospital K5,000 per PC, that is approximately K60,000 in software licenses that would have been needed to purchase had it installed PC's with Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office.
  • Collaboration groups around the world that are currently involved in software development initiatives for Health Information Systems (HIS) are mature and offer a wide range of Health Informatics application software solutions. These groups, too many to name, have had a major impact on the delivery of health care solutions not only globally but also in the Pacific Region.

“The ultimate objective of our work at Goroka General Hospital is to provide both management and staff with accurate and timely information that supports and enhances the delivery of an efficient health service to the public of the Eastern Highlands,” Mr Schilt said.

“This goal will only be achieved through the provision of efficient, reliable and integrated health information systems that are cost effective.

“The IT Team at Goroka General Hospital is more than happy to share their experiences with other PNG Hospitals about to embark upon a similar exercise.”

Mr Schilt has over 25 years experience in the IC&T Industry and comes to the Goroka General Hospital with experience in a wide range of aspects relating to the implementation of information systems.

Before coming to PNG in 2005 he was a key team member on a high-profile, large-scale and successful E-government implementation.

Through him Goroka General Hospital is the first in the country to have its own website with an online health forum soon to follow, an intranet is soon to follow, staff have been trained using Open Source Software, new training modules are being developed, and the next major challenge is the development of an Electronic Patient Records System (PRS) including the tidy up of hospital's records whilst adhering to recognised international health record keeping standards.

“This task has already commenced and is envisaged to run for the next 18 months to two years,” Mr Schilt said,

“The basis and starting point for a PRS at Goroka General Hospital will be the evaluation of an existing Health Information Systems (HIS) through the Open Source Software (OSS) community.”

Mr Schilt can be contacted on email address rschilt@hotmail.com or through his website at http://www.trupela.com/.

1 comment:

  1. Just to let you know that several companies are already using open source in PNG and saving thousands. For example Air Niugini uses an open source product for its main web site. Just because it is Open does not mean it is not a quality product.