Financial Times

Nanotechnology, Mesh networking future of Sri Lankan software

The future of Open Source software in Sri Lanka is in projects pertaining to nanotechnology, defence / security technologies, and mesh networking applications, such as elephant tracking and neighbourhood watch. This is according to Open Source proponent and Lanka Software Foundation (LSF) Founder, Director and Chief Scientist, Dr. Sanjiva Weerawarana, who was speaking at a recent event announcing the creation of a new governing body for Sahana, a holistic management software system developed by LSF in the 'wake of the 2004 South Asian tsunami'.

Since its initial deployment in Sri Lanka in early 2005, Sahana has emerged as the 'de-facto' global disaster management software system, notes LSF, being instrumental in managing the aftermath of several natural disasters: in Pakistan during the Asian Quake, in Indonesia during the Yogjarkata Earthquake, three disasters in the Philippines, and also incidents in Peru, China, etc. Sahana has also been used in New York as a tool to create a population evacuation plan as a preparedness measure against potential coastal disasters.

Further, Sahana's success could be attributable to LSF's desire to ultimately harness the potential of Open Source to create real economic impact in Sri Lanka, suggests Dr. Weerawarana, because of Open Source's versatility, as a code freely available to all, and the software's increasing popularity/adoption with "projects driven by small numbers of highly motivated, highly committed and highly skilled individuals".

In fact, Dr. Weerawarana also indicated that Sahana was just the latest successful example of LSF's operating model of identifying a promising project in a domain where there is a lot of space for improvement since there was no single software package that was geared to handle all the resulting scenarios caused by a natural disaster.

Earlier successes included LSF projects, such as Apache Axis/C++ & Axis 2/Java, which resulted in Sri Lanka now being recognised as the largest contributor to the Apache programme outside USA and a handful of European countries.

The newly set up Sahana Foundation, which has been accredited with USA 501-C3 non-profit organisation status, will be led by Brent Woodworth, President and Chief Executive Officer at Global Crisis Services, Inc., as Chairman of its interim board which is expected to function for six months.

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