Free Software Conference: Google, Hackathon, and an Award

This year’s South Tyrol Free Software Conference at the NOI Techpark, which was held on Friday, 16 November, sported an international cast. The keynote speaker was Google’s Josh Simmons from the US. Paolo Dongilli received the Free Software Award for his commitment to the use and advancement of free software. The highlight of the Free Software Conference at the NOI Techpark was, and still is, the “hackathon”, during which approximately 100 programmers are programming sustainable solutions for the SMART Green Region of South Tyrol until Saturday afternoon. The Free Software Conference was organised by the Ecosystem ICT & Automation by IDM Südtirol – Alto Adige.

The name of this year’s recipient of the Free Software Award is Paolo Dongilli. The justification for the award states, “Paolo Dongilli has been the coordinator of the FUSS project by the Italian school board for almost two years. The FUSS project enables students and teachers to use the same ‘informatics tools’ at home that they use at school, free of charge.” Dongilli’s personal commitment, they continue, has breathed new life into this project, which has been running since 2005. The prize is awarded by the Linux User Group in Bolzano.


Presentations and a hackathon

Google employee Josh Simmons’s presentation was centred on thoughts on community building. Simmons explained how to professionally organise community building: “Community members must know each other and what each individual can do, and that also means that they have to meet regularly at events. They can’t just stay in touch online. This is essential especially for fast-growing communities,” said Simmons. Simmons continued that it was important for the organisers of communities to understand that a community is always multidisciplinary, and that opportunities are created for the members of different communities to contribute to the work of local industrial businesses, too. “If you keep creating these opportunities, your free software community will last a very long time,” said Simmons.

A total of three representatives of international free software non-profits were expected at the conference. They illustrated the positive economic impact of the use of free software. Molly de Blanc and Patrick Mason spoke from a US perspective whereas Matthias Kirschner explained the economic impact of free software on the European market. Moreover, the presentations also shed some light on the positive effect digitisation has on society as well as the importance of open platforms for the cooperation between economy and research.

The afternoon saw the kick-off of a “hackathon”, a programming marathon during which approximately 100 programmers from all over the world programme sustainable solutions for the SMART Green Region of South Tyrol. The hackathon is still up and running and will finish on Saturday, 17 November, at 2 pm.

“After 18 years in the business, all I can say is that the Free Software Conference has become an international meeting point for programmers, developers, scientists, and entrepreneurs,” said Patrick Ohnewein, coordinator of the Ecosystem ICT & Automation, after the conference. “The participants’ feedback shows that we address the topics that matter to them. I am already looking forward to next year.”

The Free Software Conference and the hackathon are supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and also sponsored by Made in Cima, R3 GIS, Würth Phoenix, the Südtiroler Sparkasse foundation, and other businesses.

For more information on the Free Software Conference at the NOI Techpark, please contact Luca Miotto at, T +39 0471 094 203.

Free Software Conference: Google, Hackathon, and an Award