Embracing open-source: The SIS-CC journey so far

June 19, 2024

Five years ago, in June 2019, the Statistical Information System Collaboration Community (SIS-CC) embarked on a significant journey by launching the .Stat Suite as an open-source initiative. This pivotal moment during the community’s 9th annual workshop, attended by over 90 participants from 40 organisations, was not just about unveiling a software solution; it was about fostering a collaborative ecosystem driven by innovation and shared development in the field of official statistics.

Reflecting on the growth since 2019

The inception of the .Stat Suite as an open-source project, underpinned the SDMX open standard, represented a bold commitment to transparency, inclusivity, and collective problem-solving. Over the past five years, SIS-CC’s journey has been marked by significant strides in adapting and expanding the capabilities of the .Stat Suite, aligning with the best practices of open-source and open-knowledge, and welcoming a diverse range of organisations into its fold. By encouraging the sharing of ideas and resources, the Community has pioneered a unique model of co-investment and co-innovation.

“If you want to go slow or not go at all, go alone; if you want to go fast and far, go together”

Head of Smart Data at the OECD, and chair of the SIS-CC Management Level Group, Eric Anvar, presented the key ingredients for a successful open-source community at the High Level Group on Modernisation of Statistics (HLG-MOS) meeting in November 2023, illustrating the many ingredients contributing to a successful open source journey – including key success factors such as the component-based architecture,  the robust community engagement and business model, the DevSecOps delivery as well as the capacity to continually stretch the value, for example in the areas of open knowledge and AI.

Envisioning the future

SIS-CC has cultivated an environment where innovations flourish through collective contributions, rooted in shared strategic directions that encourages co-investment and shared expertise. As we look towards the future, the SIS-CC continues to prioritise the scalability of its tools and the growth of its community, members, partners, contributors, and adopters. The .Stat Suite, with its user driven design principles and support for the full data lifecycle, stands as a model for the potential successes of community-driven open-source projects in official statistics and beyond.

Key ingredients of a successful open-source community

“Posting on GitHub contributes to a fraction of open-source delivery! …there are many more ingredients to make for an open-source project.”

Reflecting on the success of the SIS-CC, several key elements emerge as essential for nurturing a thriving open-source community:

  1. Generosity: At its core, SIS-CC thrives on a culture of cooperation, where members share knowledge and resources generously, fostering an environment that encourages innovation.
  2. Alignment: Effective leadership and clear communication protcoles ensure that contributions align with community goals while allowing for flexibility in building consensus on priority.
  3. Inclusivity: Embracing a wide range of perspectives from various organisations and individuals enhances the quality and applicability of the solutions developed, making sure contributions adds up to create value.
  4. Transparency: Regular updates, open dialogues, and transparent decision-making processes instill trust and engage the community continually – including on sensitive issues such as IT security.
  5. Agility: By staying ahead of the curve in terms of technology and user research, the Community continually enhances its relevance and value proposition in a rapidly evolving landscape.

“Open-source does not mean free!!  You need a sustainable model to fund, support, coordination, and promotion activities, as well as product development and innovation.”

Looking ahead, the journey is far from over. The principles of open-source collaboration, as exemplified by the SIS-CC, promise not only to advance the capabilities of statistical organisations but also to define future pathways for innovation in public data handling and dissemination. As we embrace these challenges and opportunities, the shared vision for a world empowered by accessible, high-quality data continues to guide our way forward.

The past five years have been transformative for the SIS-CC and .Stat Suite highlighting the power of open-source collaboration in modernising statistical information systems. The journey ahead promises even greater opportunities for innovation, co-development, and community building.