Anna Shipman : JFDI

Cross government meetup on Open Source and Security

08 August 2017

We are hosting the second cross-government meetup on Open Source in London on Tuesday 26th September.

Make things open image

The event will focus on security considerations around Open Source and talks will be given by:

Following this, there will be a panel of security experts, including Ahana Datta, Head of Technical Security at Ministry Of Justice, Jenny Duckett from the GDS security engineering team and a representative from NCSC, who will answer questions from the audience about open source and security.

There will then be time for networking and open space discussion to explore security in-depth or discuss other topics.

The aim is to give you tools to take back to your organisations to support your work with Open Source. Everyone working in government is welcome, whether you’re against the idea of open source or already an advocate. In fact, if you’re not convinced, we’d be even more keen to have you come, so we can understand and try to address your reservations.

A recap of the previous event

The first in this series of cross-government meetups on Open Source was in February and had a strong turnout, with around 75 attendees from over 20 different government organisations. The feedback was generally positive, with over 80% saying they found it useful and would recommend it to a colleague.

We had talks from Dave Rogers, CTO of MOJ, explaining why they code in the open, someone from GCHQ talking about their open source projects, and Gemma Leigh talking about the GOV.UK Frontend Alpha.

This was followed by 10 Open Space sessions discussing topics suggested by participants. There was some really useful sharing of thoughts and experiences.

Giving people the tools to help

Something I noticed at the event was that in some ways we were preaching to the choir. People who will travel to a meetup about Open Source are people who are already working hard to promote it in their organisations. While an opportunity to discuss common areas of frustration can be cathartic, what would be more useful would be giving people the tools to have those conversations back in their organisations with people who are less enthusiastic about Open Source.

One of the primary concerns people have about using Open Source Software and coding in the open is the misconception that it is less secure. So this meetup will provide tools, experiences and information to help attendees combat those concerns.

Better opportunities for networking

A few people commented in their feedback for the last event that the structure of the day didn’t help them get to know the other attendees. I think it’s important to fix this because I want it to be easy for people to network and meet others in the Open Source community if they want to.

At this meetup we will have some structured networking activities so those who want to take part and would like an opportunity to meet others can do so. It will be organised by Jane O’Loughlin, who has a lot of experience running meetups and communities. Don’t worry, the networking will not be compulsory!

Location, location, location

In the original blog post I said that we would host other events elsewhere in the UK but feedback from people coming from outside London is that it’s a convenient location to get to. However, this was based on feedback from people who managed to make it, so if the location is preventing your attendance, please let us know, either in the cross-government Slack channel or in the comments below.

Let us know what else

The agenda of the next one is not set in stone so please feel free to share any thoughts or suggestions, for this or future events. And please do come along! Everyone working in government (both civil servants and contractors) is welcome. The invitation will be shared in the cross-government Slack and via mailing lists.

This post originally appeared on the GDS Technology Blog.

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