ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) – The sharing of information, especially when it comes to research, has been happening for nearly 30 years and only accelerating in the past few years. As we continue to research the best ways to fight COVID19, these open source databases are becoming even more important. 

“The whole reason the internet works the way it does today in part is due to the desire for science to be more open,” said Stephen Jacobs, professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology and director of Open@RIT. “The first and biggest impact we’ll have on campus is hopefully, we’ll be building this group of people who are just finding out ‘Oh you do research on that?’ Or, ‘Your stuff is open and I can build on that?’ So first is discovery.” 

Jacobs has been working with open-source databases for over a decade and found significant interest within RIT for space where researchers and creators can share ideas and experiments. “50 RSVP’s from 37 different units on campus. The library, photography, a whole range. Some of the medical faculty.” 

Research sharing has exploded in popularity over a unified fight to beat the coronavirus. Unfortunately, there has been some reservation from researchers with certain developments. “There’s always this tension between, do you give things away because it will benefit the larger set of research in general, or do you hold on to it?” said Jacobs. 

There is a resource called the COVID19 pledge that allows researchers to work around patents toward the common goal. Locally, RIT is focused on getting different departments and researchers to help each other in the advancement of science and technology. 

Ryne Raffaelle is Vice President for Research and Associate Provost at RIT and sent his remarks on Open@RIT:

“I’m extremely excited about what the new Open@RIT initiative could hold for our research community. This initiative which is designed to support the engagement and interaction for our faculty, staff, and students in all things Open.  It is a natural extension of FOSS@MAGIC (RIT’s Center for Media, Arts, Games, Interaction and Creativity), an initiative started by Professor Jacobs a decade ago to promote the practice of free and open source software development.  Since its inception, Professor Jacobs has developed an interdisciplinary minor for students who want to develop a deep understanding of how they can use the technological and social aspects of FOSS to spur innovation. He has connected hundreds of students to humanitarian projects and undergraduate research fellowships.  While FOSS@MAGIC has also been able to provide some limited support for faculty and staff, Open@RIT in general, and the LibreCorps effort in particular, will leverage Professor Jacobs’ work to support faculty and staff in all university units who strive to engage in, and/or extend their efforts in open source software, open hardware, open educational resources, open data and Creative Commons licensed work.”