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The Impact of Open Source: A Conversation with Ulrich Ahle, CEO of FIWARE Foundation.

The contribution of technology and the partnership with Ubiwhere.

Ulrich Ahle, CEO of the FIWARE Foundation, is one of the most prestigious names in world technology. Before joining Gaia-X, Ulrich Ahle, still CEO of FIWARE, gave us an interview in which he shared his knowledge of Open Source.

Ubiwhere and the FIWARE Foundation are partners and work together on several projects and initiatives where the focus is on research and the creation of innovative technology. FIWARE has played a crucial role in Ubiwhere’s Smart City strategy since 2015 by delivering the standardisation layer that brings all of Ubiwhere’s Smart Cities solutions and data sources together.

’’Open Source is only one side of the coin when creating digital platforms and smart solutions.’’

Ubiwhere: Before taking on the new challenge of Gaia-X, and still as CEO of the FIWARE Foundation - responsible for driving the definition and the Open Source implementation of key open standards that enable the development of portable and interoperable smart solutions in a faster, easier and affordable way, avoiding vendor lock-in scenarios whilst also nurturing FIWARE as a sustainable and innovation-driven business ecosystem - our first question is: for those who do not know, what is Open Source?

Ulrich Ahle: A very good example of Open Source is the operating system Linux. It is a software which is available at no cost for everyone. One of the best-known repositories for such software is Github. Also, the FIWARE Open Source building blocks (Generic Enablers) can be found on GitHub. The software is available for everyone, for free forever. When talking about Open Source software, it is always important to look at the ecosystem behind it. A single developer or company providing their software as Open Source is not automatically creating an Open Source ecosystem. It is always important to check that a wide ecosystem of different entities is behind the software. Otherwise, it will not be possible to reduce the so-called vendor lock-in.


In FIWARE, we are talking about a global Open Source ecosystem with over 8,000 developers from hundreds of organisations contributing to maintaining and developing the FIWARE Open Source technology or using it to create digital platforms or smart solutions. But Open Source is only one side of the coin when creating digital platforms and smart solutions.


Open Standards are the other side. They are the enablers for interoperability and replicability of digital solutions and the final enablers to avoid vendor lock-in.


UW: Can Open Source be used across sectors? How can it impact the industry, health, blue economy, mobility, telecommunications, Smart Tourism, TICE, Energy and Construction?

UA: FIWARE has proven the ability for sector coupling and breaking down data silos in different domains. Looking at the FIWARE reference architectures in different domains like Smart Cities, Smart Industry, Smart Energy, Smart AgriFood or Smart Water, the core building blocks and the APIs are always the same. FIWARE has the potential for sector coupling and building bridges between the different sectors. This is an enabler to create a multi-sided data market, bringing data from different domains onto a common data platform and utilising the benefits of the data.


UW: FIWARE is a consortium member of the "Data Spaces Support Centre". How can this project impact the future of the sectors previously mentioned?

UA: The Data Spaces Support Centre (DSSC) was initiated by the European Commission to develop the frame condition for the creation of interoperable data spaces in different domains. With its partners of the Data Spaces Business Alliance (Gaia-X, BDVA and IDSA), FIWARE is at the core of the DSSC, defining the frame conditions for creating interoperable data spaces in different domains, always based on European values. The project creates a large ecosystem of initiatives defining and creating data spaces in different domains. We have defined a set of building blocks required to create interoperable building blocks within the Digital Europe program of the European Commission.


We aim to have 80% of the required building blocks to create a data space domain agnostic to enable this interoperability. Only 20% should be domain-specific to address the specific needs and standards of the given vertical.


UW: How do you see the contributions technological SMEs, such as Ubiwhere, can bring to help achieve a smarter and more open future?

UA: We do need a solid mix of different sizes of organisation. Large global corporations for the global reach, universities for the research and innovation, and SMEs with domain know-how, flexibility, and local reach to the end users. At the same time, many innovations are coming from SMEs, especially in the digital world. Therefore, SMEs like Ubiwhere are important members of the global FIWARE ecosystem.


UW: Thank you so much, Ulrich Ahle. It is an honour for us to be one of the partners of the FIWARE Foundation. The teamwork makes the dream work!