Open Hardware Needs Policy Attention Now

From the Journal of Open HW:

Open Hardware Needs Policy Attention Now

Increasing government attention to “open” agendas, complemented by growing community capacity, have laid the groundwork for driving policy attention towards open hardware. The COVID-19 pandemic spotlighted the ability of open hardware communities to mobilize for disaster response, including through the design and production of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other medical supplies when traditional supply chains failed. A new Administration offers an opportunity to build on lessons learned from this unforeseen and extensive experiment in scaling open collaboration on hardware and also to revisit what has worked in the past for related fields such as community science and open source software. A whole-of-government approach to elevating open hardware, including for scientific research and disaster response, feels both timely and necessary in order to amplify effective activities and provide scaffolding for an even more impactful future.

To better understand potential opportunities, researchers and practitioners from the Wilson Center, Open Environmental Data Project, and University of Cambridge convened a workshop on October 28, 2020 to bring together members of the open hardware community, such as those involved in GOSH and OSHWA. Beginning with the question What are you most excited about in open science hardware right now, the workshop focused on establishing a value proposition for open hardware as a matter of public policy as well as elucidating open challenges that might be addressed by policy interventions. One goal of the workshop was to develop high-level consensus around “key messages,” for policy makers and a list of eleven suggestions was subsequently ranked by participants. This exercise made it clear that to refine these further, more work was needed to understand specific accelerators and barriers to the adoption and use of open hardware, and to align perspectives between the policy community and diverse developers and users of open hardware from academia, industry and community organisations operating across a broad range of disciplines.

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Open Hardware Needs Policy Attention Now

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