Volume 3, Issue 2 - March/April 2003

Community Radio Stations use publicVoiceXML

By Roland Alton-Scheidl

PublicVoiceXML (http://www.publicVoiceXML.org) is both, the name of a VoiceXML 2.0 compliant browser and the name of a trial project with European community radio stations, who are evaluating VoiceXML technology for their day-to-day business. Some of them, such as Vienna's community radio station Orange 94.0, have contributed to the user requirements phase and have been successfully integrating VoiceXML into their content management and remote journalists management system. The trial activity, which started on March 1st 2002 and which will be lasting until August 2003, is partially supported by the Information Society Technology Program of the European Commission as one out of seven Open Source lead projects.

Open Source as the European Strategy
Open source software can be considered both a great opportunity and an important resource. Some recommendations regarding open source software have been made in several political circles in the European Union in the last years, including the talk by Erkki Liikanen (Commissioner for Enterprise and Information Society) given at ISSE 99 in Berlin, who said: "[...] the solution to this problem certainly lies in non-proprietary and open source systems." In the European Commission's Information Society Technology Advisory group (ISTAG) report "Orientations for workprogramme 2000 and beyond" we can read in the section about system architectures: "by focusing on open software standards (for example building Linux) it may be possible to spark European creativity in this area and dramatically reduce our reliance on imports."

Europe has now the opportunity of participating in, and benefiting from the open source movement. European companies and developers are already a driving force in many open source projects. If open source software is able to change the rules in the information technology industry, the companies and countries which better understand it and are more advanced in its use and knowledge will have a clear competitive advantage. And in any case, in the world of open source software, any party that helps the movement in any part of the world, in addition to have clear benefits, will always help the movement as a whole. A snapshot of the ongoing debate can be found here http://www.cordis.lu/ist/ka4/tesss/impl_free.htm .

The existence of free (open source) software has a complex and important impact on the economy as a whole. The fact that information technology becomes more accessible and is more trusted is an enabler for the creation of new markets. The existence of a population of pro-users (users that are also producers of software and information) plays a key role in the take-up of new activities and branches, as illustrated by the example of music, digital photography and personal home pages. New products (for instance appliances), new services (for instance training or information services) and new branches of activity can develop on this basis. In specific fields, such as education, the reduction in total cost of ownership that is enabled by use of open source platforms, and even more the mobilisation of the creative abilities of all players in the field lead to an increased efficiency of the public services. The dynamic stability enabled by open source platforms, that is the possibility to have long-term trajectories of innovation, make possible more efficient investment strategies in user industries.

However, while the reality of these macro-economic effects is well-documented, their quantification, and their comparison (taking in account possible negative macro-economic impact) is not possible today, because of the lack of adequate detailed statistical data on free and open source usage and its detailed links with economical and non-economical activities. Still, a number of companies have shown that it is possible to build business on top of the Open Source software distribution model, by offering consulting, expertise and special licenses. Details on free software business models can be found here http://eu.conecta.it/.


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