Roundtable "Potential of OSS for ATM" - Jointly organized by CALIBRE and EUROCONTROL
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A priori and a posteriori INTRODUCTION

by Jean-Luc Hardy, EUROCONTROL

ATM is part of the Secondary Software Sector (SSS), i.e. the industries where software is considered as an enabler or a component of a product or service, but not as the final product in itself. Presently, there is no model and no published examples for the adoption of OSS in SSS. Therefore, new initiatives must be taken towards such adoption. The process of these initiatives must be described explained and analysed, in order to allow refinements, dissemination, and innovative modelling.

A round table was organized at the EUROCONTROL Experimental Centre in Dec. 2005 in order to discuss the adoption of OSS in ATM. The present introduction reports about two particular aspects of the process of the round table: a cross-fertilization principle and extensive proceedings to allow follow-up initiatives.

A priori: a cross-fertilization process

The brochure prepared by organizers to introduce the roundtable contained the following explanations.

In the middle of 2005, the Innovative Research department of the EUROCONTROL Experimental Centre asked for the support of the CALIBRE project to organise a round table on the subject: "Potential of Open Source Software (OSS) in Air Traffic Management (ATM)".

EUROCONTROL's objective is to increase awareness and to gather facts and arguments concerning four broad hypotheses about the possible implications of the OSS paradigm for the ATM (in particular for Air Traffic Control).

In order to reach this objective, the round table has been organised so as to foster cross-fertilization between two domains of expertise: the OSS expertise and the ATM expertise.

Speakers were invited to consider the questions presented in the introduction to the book Perspectives in Free and Open Source Software by J. Feller, B. Fitzgerald, S.A. Hissam, K.R. Lakhani (editors).

The program has been arranged to alternate presentations about ATM initiatives and presentations from the CALIBRE group concerning OSS.

The EUROCONTROL initiatives are pioneer actions towards the introduction of OSS in ATM projects. The OSS presentations consider ATM as a possible case study for the introduction of OSS in the Secondary Software Sector.

A posteriori: proceedings and follow-up

This roundtable was a première:it was probably the first time that the issue of OSS in ATM was thoroughly discussed by experts invited from both domains. Normally, these people have very little chance to meet and to share their insights: ATM specialists are involved in ATM projects and have no time to visit OSS conferences to improve their OSS insights; OSS specialists have not much time to consider the specific issue of OSS in ATM, despite the fact that they can immediately provide relevant feedback when this issue is raised.

The quality of the presentations, the number of reported interventions (216) and the value of the arguments that were discussed are evidence that the a priori objectives for this event have been met, both for CALIBRE and EUROCONTROL.

In terms of follow-up for the ATM community, there is a reference corpus of arguments that people can visit and revisit to increase drastically their awareness and build their own opinion about the potential of OSS in ATM. Some participants to the roundtable are now considering practical consequences of the roundtable for specific projects, but this may take time and will depend on managerial decisions and negotiation with the industrial partners in the ATM industry.

The ATM case is now mentioned by the participating OSS experts in conferences and workshops. Such a case study is of mutual benefit for both the OSS and the ATM field.

In terms of follow-up for the OSS community, this roundtable has triggered similar initiatives in other industrial domains. On 4th May 2006, at Madrid, CALIBRE organized a second cross-fertilization workshop with Vodafone. Another one is planned at PHILIPS (19th Sept 2006, The Netherlands).

This event has also triggered interest from academic OSS specialists who questioned to what extent this event could be used as a model and repeated or extrapolated to other industrial context. The effectiveness of such events depends on actions taken before, during and also after the event:

Here are a few reasons why much emphasis has been put on the proceedings.


(1) The EEC report will be available soon in PDF format from the EUROCONTROL website.

(2) Two pieces of JavaScript code created to increase the security of this website were put on under ne project names No Spam Mailto and Disable Right Click.

(3) Thousands of noises and hesitations in the original audio recordings have been filtered. The length of the audio recordings has been reduced by more or less 20%. This filtering process explains the delay of the production of the proceedings. Now the filtered audio recordings can be listened as if the speakers were reading their text in a dynamic way. However, for some parts, the sound quality is low, because backup recordings had to be used.

To receive a CD-ROM with the audio files, please send us an e-mail.

(4) In order to trace what has been argued by each participant, please start at the participants' page and click on their first name.

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