Earlier this summer we shared our three-year Strategic Plan, outlining the shape of the work ahead and how we were going to approach key aims to advance investment and adoption of open infrastructure. Today, we wanted to share more about what we're working on to prototype guidance for those looking to invest and/or adopt open infrastructure solutions, including investigating underlying costs.

IOI’s work is centered around providing targeted, evidence-based guidance to institutions and funders of open infrastructure to help them become wiser about where to invest. Our work also aims to surface information to advance best practice and community alignment around governance, transparency, and sustainability.

We firmly believe that to increase investment into open infrastructure to make it a competitive and reliable choice for institutions, we need to better understand the underlying costs, economics, and key dimensions to guide decision-making. Data on current investment in the sector - from external funders, institutions, and from projects themselves - is at best disaggregated, and at worst incomplete.

Over the next few months, we’ll be working to interview project leads, budget holders, and funders invested in open infrastructure to learn more about the underlying development and maintenance costs for leading infrastructure projects, map existing sources of funding and capital, and examine additional sources of information to further inform funders and drive adoption of these tools and systems.

This effort will build on our research from the past year to investigate available funding data as well as conduct in-depth interviews with a series of open infrastructure providers to better model their underlying costs and challenges. Our approach includes building a knowledge base of existing funding, project and grants data from a variety of public data sources, as well as qualitative research to verify those findings and further expand our understanding of project costs.

The ultimate aim of this work is to model a system of reporting key data and findings to support those looking to invest and choose open infrastructure solutions. We view this as a first step towards supporting decision makers interested (and with the ability) to invest in open infrastructure solutions.

Next steps

In order to support decision making within the open infrastructure landscape, we are proposing three distinct areas of development and exploration.

This is designed to examine the current state of publicly available fiscal data (funding information for OI projects as well as their spending information) as well as the “hidden” or under-reported costs of open infrastructure.

Areas of focus:

  1. Development of a framework and criteria to assess & describe open infrastructure;
  2. An exploration and audit of the status-quo of public fiscal & organizational data;
  3. Investigation into the “hidden” costs of operating open infrastructures & points of resource scarcity.

We’ll be sharing more about these pieces of work and what we’re learning over the coming weeks. For more detail, check out our Project Plan.

Posted by Kaitlin Thaney