Fostering public support for Digital Commons — takeaways from the DCPC Policy Lab

May 30, 2024

Two weeks ago, Open Future participated in a policy lab on public support for the Digital Commons. The lab was organized by the Digital Commons Policy Council (DCPC).

As part of the work for the NGI Commons project, we are currently mapping existing policies that contribute to the development of Digital Commons and consulting various stakeholders. At the end of this process, we will formulate a strategic agenda for Digital Commons policies in the context of the next multiannual financial framework (MFF) — the EU’s long-term budget. The outcomes of this Policy Lab contribute to this effort.

The DCPC conducts scientific research to increase recognition of the digital commons and the voluntary work that creates these common goods. It is an informal think tank founded in 2021 at the University of Canberra, building on the earlier work of the Journal of Peer Production. The DCPC produces public reports based on empirical data, submissions to lawmakers, educational resources for schools, and scientific articles.

The event brought together experts from academia, public institutions, Digital Commons communities, and civil society organizations from Europe and beyond. Participants shared experiences, presented their work, and discussed long-term challenges and opportunities.

The main goal of the Policy Lab was to define best practices and tools to increase cooperation between public institutions and Digital Commons projects. The identified problems, solutions, resources, and projects for future collaboration will be included in the forthcoming DCPC Handbook. Following the discussions that took place during the lab, participants decided to split into three areas of work:

  1. Public Support Best Practices: The first group will identify and document successful public support mechanisms in different countries that could be replicated elsewhere.
  2. Policy Proposals Mapping: The second group will map existing policy proposals to support the Digital Commons, starting with recommendations from participating institutions and other key proposals. The goal is to create a WikiData list that policymakers and advocates can easily access.
  3. Guide to Public Procurement: The third group will create a guide on public procurement issues for Digital Commons. This guide will compile policy proposals, legal procedures, and practical solutions to better integrate Digital Commons into public procurement.

DCPC will produce a detailed report this summer incorporating the findings from the three groups. They also plan to organize a follow-up event in the fall of 2025 to continue bringing together researchers and practitioners working on the Digital Commons and to develop new opportunities for collaboration.

Open Future will continue engaging with policymakers, community leaders, academics, and Digital Commons practitioners to map existing initiatives, assess their impact, and provide evidence-based policy recommendations to the EU.

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