Public Code is an early stage concept for a type of code developed with the public interest in mind.

Point of departure is that in our emerging platform society, «Code == Code»: Software and policy are both code. The former executed by machines and the latter by humans. This means we need to look differently at the software developed for public tasks than we do for private tasks. The software is held to standards to guarantee that it is inclusive, usable, adaptive, open and sustainable.

This project aims to further develop the concept of Public Code. How should we understand Public Code, and how can we create it? What kind of technological and institutional arrangements are needed to shift towards the production of Public Code?

In a series of workshops, we want to build a network of collaborators to identify directions for the development of public code and set up research & development projects and grant applications.

This project aims to contribute to the transition from proprietary smart city software to the design & employment of ‘public software’ that can be deployed by cities in their operational and policy processes, in order to better safeguard public values.

With the advance of smart city technologies, software deployed by municipalities can no longer be understood as just a productivity tool. The mechanics and algorithms operative in the software and the data it collects have become key elements in the execution of urban policy and have started to become a resource for decision-making processes. That means that transparency and data-ownership are becoming important public values in software deployment.

Most proprietary software systems that cities are currently using in their operations do not fulfil these requirements. Therefore a transition is needed for the deployment of what we call public software. To bring this transition about, for municipal governments it is important to learn more about the process in which public software can be procured, deployed and shared between cities. For creative industries players such as developers and creative agencies, it is important to gain further knowledge about what role they can play in this process and learn more about possible business models to sustain the production and upkeep of public software.

This project addresses these knowledge gaps through three workshops in which the most important issues for this transition will be identified, leading to a Guide for the Deployment of Public Software as well as a research agenda and an international network of stakeholders.