7 open hardware projects working to solve COVID-19

The open source hardware movement has long championed the importance of the right to repair, fully own the technology you buy, and be able to remix and reproduce gadgets, just like you can with music. And so, during this challenging time, open hardware is providing some answers to some of the problems created by the coronavirus pandemic.

These are the projects covered in more detail in the linked article:
* Opentrons says its products can help dramatically scale-up COVID-19 testing with systems that can “automate up to 2,400 tests per day within days of an order being placed.”
* Chai’s Open qPCR device uses polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to rapidly test swabs from surfaces (e.g., door handles and elevator buttons) to see if the novel coronavirus is present.
* OpenPCR – the device aims to democratize access to molecular diagnostics.
* PocketPCR thermocycler is used to activate biological reactions by raising and lowering the temperature of a liquid in small test tubes.
* Open Lung Low Resource Ventilator is a quick-deployment ventilator that utilizes a bag valve mask (BVM), also known as an Ambu-bag, as a core component.
* Pandemic Ventilator is a DIY ventilator prototype.
* Folding at Home is a distributed computing project for simulating protein dynamics, including the process of protein folding and the movements of proteins implicated in a variety of diseases.

A further 8 other projects are also listed at opensource.com/article/20/3/open-hardware-covid19

Top 10 open source tools for working from home including an excellent collaborative online whiteboard app and document editing apps at zero cost

With the current pandemic taking the world by storm and many small businesses having to suddenly cater for working from home, FOSS can provide some excellent tools at zero cost. When you’re away from your colleagues, it’s vital to connect a few times a week, even if it’s just so you have a human connection as you otherwise toil away in solitude.

Covered in the linked post are:

  • Jitsi video conferencing
  • Drawpile collaborative whiteboard
  • Kanban as Trello alternative for projects and task management
  • Joplin personal notes
  • Riot team chat as an alternative to Slack or MS Teams
  • Etherpad to work together on a document
  • Ethercalc to work together on a spreadsheet
  • Nextcloud for file sharing, storage, calendar, video chat
  • LibreOffice for free installation on home computers to edit documents, spreadsheets, presentations in docx or odf formats

These are all free to get small businesses (or large ones) productive without license restrictions where workers must use private computers from home.

See https://opensource.com/article/20/3/open-source-working-home

Very Positive To See An Open Source Tender Advertised By SANParks

The organisation is also looking for an accredited service provider for the provision of open source e-business technologies on an on-demand basis for a period of three years.
Non-compulsory briefing: 21 Feb
Tender no: GNP- 039- 19
Information: Technical: Nedret Saidova, Tel: (012) 426 5283, E-mail: Nedret.Saidova@sanparks.org. General: Quinton Chetty, Tel: (012) 426 5247, E-mail: Quinton.Chetty@sanparks.org.
Closing date: 6 Mar 2020

‘SA needs tech boost in case Trump recalls US companies’ says SA Comms Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams

Communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams  is concerned that SA relies heavily on software produced by the West or the East and says its time government focuses on home-grown technologies.

Her reasoning is that if US president Donald Trump, for example, was to prevent all US companies from operating in SA, the country could be in trouble.

Our view is that open source software offers the ideal vehicle for this as it’s already available, in use in many enterprises as well as governments, and can be modified for use within South Africa without starting from scratch. No-one can disable or refuse our access to open source software, and this also gives South Africa an opportunity to contribute back to open source communities globally. Open source would also mean that South Africa cannot be held hostage even by local vendors (which has happened in the past). Savings from existing annual licensing can be ploughed into this initiative as local economic investment.

See the media article at https://www.dispatchlive.co.za/news/2020-01-30-sa-needs-tech-boost-in-case-trump-recalls-us-companies/

Response to SA Police Tender: RFB 2040/ 2019: Enterprise architecture toolset for SAPS

Response was sent on 6 December 2019 to Lesley.Chauke@sita.co.za – No reply

Hi Lesley, I note this tender is advertised but would like to point out that going to tender could possibly miss out on far more cost effect effective and free and open source (no annual license renewals or restrictions) products such as ArchiMate or similar toolsets. Thinking back to the recent events for SA Police when they were held to ransom around their forensics system by the external provider, I would think they would be very interested in rather using an enterprise open source tool which is not only free of cost and procurement, but has no license restrictions in its use.

ArchiMate is a tool provided by the Open Group who also runs the various TOGAF courses that most departments of SA government attend. There was a move, within SITA as well as government, to try to standardise on the use of ArchiMate for SA government for the above reasons.

It would be a great pity if SAPS were again locked into an expensive proprietary product set. This could be the opportunity for SITA to take this requirement up a notch and look at it transversally for SA government.
The approach for SA gov, SAPS, or SITA to procure an open source tool would involve two steps:

1. A methodology to evaluate suitable free toolsets on the market without bidding. If a suitable tool is found then you go to step

2. If not, then an open bid is advertised knowing there was no suitable open source tool available.2. Use of a contract such as contract 1183 to select a local service provider to install, configure and support the toolset if no internal resources are available.

SA gov’s open source policy approved by National Cabinet is still in force for procurement by SA government – see https://foss.oss.gov.za/?p=2373.

From https://www.archimatetool.com – “The ArchiMate® modelling language is an open and independent Enterprise Architecture standard that supports the description, analysis and visualisation of architecture within and across business domains. ArchiMate is one of the open standards hosted by The Open Group® and is fully aligned with TOGAF®. ArchiMate aids stakeholders in assessing the impact of design choices and changes.”

I’m hoping the above could save time, costs, and prevent any vendor lock in.

Response to NSFAS RFI003/ 2019: contact centre solution

Sent 6 Dec 2019 to their SCM at scm@nsfas.org.za – No reply:

Hi, I am not formally submitting a solution but can point out that Armscor is using free and open source iTop as listed at https://foss.oss.gov.za/?forum=oss-products-discussion/helpdesk-software.

The advantages for you would be:

1. No procurement delay or cost in procuring actual product – can download and use.

2. No vendor lock in with any specific company – anyone could train up and support it.

3. No annual license costs or restrictions if you wanted to expand scope.

4. Transversal contract 1183 could be used to select a vendor to support it, or an open bid, but the value would be a lot less than buying a commercial product.

Re iTop: “A simple, web-based IT Service Management tool. iTop adapts to the needs of digital businesses (infrastructure or application service providers, software, telecom) to manage multiple customers, contracts and SLAs.”

Hope this helps with your RFI process.