The purpose of the “Na-prostem.si: Free software for the digital inclusion of NGOs and its users” project is to enable the independent digital transformation of non-governmental/voluntary organizations and to increase the digital inclusion and digital skills of their users.
The project started in 2022 with the following two objectives: 1) To develop the digital service https://www.na-prostem.si/ supporting an efficient operation of non-governmental organizations in the digital sphere and 2) To provide training to the target groups on how to use of the “Na-prostem” digital service and the free and open source software (FOSS).
The target groups of the project are employees, associates, members and volunteers in the non-governmental sector, socio-economically weaker users of NGO services and disabled persons or members of disabled organizations.
The “Na-prostem” digital service offers: news and information on verified free software and on-line services, a public database (repository) of FOSS, an educational quiz, a wiki knowledge base on digital transformation, distribution of refurbished computers with the Linux operating system, a Nextcloud service for NGOs, video tutorials, an on-line forum for user support and community discussions. In total, 200 refurbished computers with Linux are planned to be distributed to NGOs and the socio-economically vulnerable users of NGO services. In addition, the project targets 10,000 unique visitors of the digital service.
The project provides sets of hands-on trainings on how to use free and open source software (FOSS) including LibreOffice office suite (Writer – word processor, Calc – spreadsheet program and Impress – presentations creator), Jitsi Meet video conferencing software, Mozilla Firefox web browser and Thunderbird email application. Training also includes an introductory lecture on open source software. In total, 500 people are expected to attend trainings in different regions across the country and 200 of them will receive a free USB stick with verified FOSS after completing the training.
Before designing the tailor made hands-on trainings, the survey on using computer software and on-line services by NGOs and their attitudes towards FOSS was assessed by using the EUSurvey open source surveying tool (https://ec.europa.eu/eusurvey/runner/ProstoprogramjeNVO). The results of the survey among 125 NGOs indicated the following advantages of using FOSS: free to use, independence from software providers, quality, efficiency, security and underpinning ethics / values (the “open source way”).
Overall, the project aims to increase the awareness and use of FOSS by NGOs and their users, thus effectively strengthening their digital sovereignty in relation to the business models of Big Tech companies and data capitalism. For that purpose, the annual event on the occasion of the International Telecommunication and Information Society Day 2022 was organized entitled: “Free Software and Services for a Digital Sovereign Society and People”.
In the long run, the project is planned to be expanded into an “open organization”. It will function as a sustainable and inclusive supporting environment for technical development, service, localization, advocacy, promotion, popularization of free software and services for a wide range of people, small companies, municipalities and public administration. It will connect a community of users, enthusiasts, advocates, experts and programmers, effectively contributing to a more just digital society.
The project is implemented by 8 non-governmental organizations, members of The National Thematic Network of Non-Governmental Organisations for an Inclusive Information Society (Network NVO-VID https://www.informacijska-druzba.org/english/). The 2-year project budget is EUR 200,000.00.