Digital Public Goods Standard

The Digital Public Goods Standard is a set of specifications and guidelines designed to maximise consensus about whether a digital solution conforms to the definition of a digital public good. According to the UN Secretary General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation, digital public goods are open-source software, open standards, open data, open AI systems, and open content collections that adhere to privacy and other applicable best practices, do no harm, and are of high relevance for attainment of the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

To operationalize this, the DPG Standard establishes the baseline requirements that must be met in order to earn recognition as a digital public good (DPG). This standard is designed to complement other relevant principles, such as the Principles for Digital Development, and is applicable to DPGs in all sectors across the SDGs. The DPG Standard is itself an open project open to contribution on GitHub, and developed in collaboration with organisations and experts.

Below are the 9 indicators and requirements that determine if nominated software, data, AI systems, and/or content collections can be considered a DPG.

Indicator Requirement
1. Relevance to Sustainable Development GoalsDigital public goods must demonstrate relevance to advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
2. Use of Approved Open LicensesDigital public goods must demonstrate the use of an approved open license. For open-source software, only OSI approved licenses are accepted. For open content collections the use of a Creative Commons license is required. DPGs are encourageed to use a license that allows for both derivatives and commercial reuse (CC-BY and CC-BY-SA), or dedicate content to the public domain (CC0); licenses that do not allow for commercial reuse (CC-BY-NC and CC-BY-NC-SA) are also accepted. For open data, an Open Data Commons approved license is required. See The full license list for reference.
3. Clear OwnershipOwnership of assets that the digital public good produces must be clearly defined and documented. For example, through copyright, trademark or other publicly available information.
4. Platform IndependenceWhen the digital public good has mandatory dependencies that create more restrictions than the original license, proving independence from the closed component(s) and/or indicating the existence of functional, open alternatives that can be used without significant changes to the core product is required.
5. DocumentationDigital public goods require documentation of the source code, use cases, and/or functional requirements. For content collections, this should include all relevant/compatible apps, software, or hardware required to access the content collection, and instructions regarding how to use it. For software solutions, this should be technical documentation that would allow a technical person unfamiliar with the project to launch and run the software. For data projects, this should be documentation that describes all the fields in the set, and provides context on how the dataset was collected, and how it should be interpreted.
6. Mechanism for Extracting DataDigital public goods with non-personally identifiable information (PII) design for possibility of extracting or importing non-PII data and content from the system in a non-proprietary format.
7. Adherence to Privacy and Applicable LawsDigital public goods must be designed and developed to comply with privacy and other applicable laws.
8. Adherence to Standards & Best PracticesDigital public goods must be designed and developed to align with relevant standards, best practices, and/or principles. For example, the Principles for Digital Development.
9. Do No Harm by Design Digital public goods must be designed to anticipate, prevent, and do no harm by design.
9.a) Data Privacy & SecurityDigital public goods that collect, store and distribute personally identifiable data, must demonstrate how they ensure the privacy, security and integrity of this data in addition to the steps taken to prevent adverse impacts resulting from its collection, storage and distribution.
9.b) Inappropriate & Illegal ContentDigital public goods that collect, store or distribute content must have policies identifying inappropriate and illegal content such as child sexual abuse materials in addition to processes for detecting, moderating, reporting and removing inappropriate/ illegal content.
9.c) Protection from HarassmentIf the digital public good facilitates interactions with or between users or contributors there must be a process for users and contributors to protect themselves against grief, abuse, and harassment. The project must have system(s) to address the safety and security of underage users.

Applying the DPG Standard

The DPG Standard exclusively focuses on the design of the core, generic solution. The Digital Public Goods Alliance does not evaluate local implementations as part of our review to determine if a digital solution is a DPG.

While the DPGA is not actively evaluating specific standards as digital public goods at this time, we recognise standards play a critical role in ensuring interoperability and promoting an open digital ecosystem, making them a crucial element in defining a digital public good. The DPGA will promote the use of open standards by expanding our focus on indicator 8: “Adherence to Standards & Best Practices”. Open standards will remain a part of our list of requirements for new DPG applications, making them a critical component of DPGs.

For open-source software, open data, open AI systems, and open content collections wanting to be recognised as digital public goods: 

  1. Use this eligibility tool to assess readiness. 
  2. Submit a nomination.

The DPGA reviews nominations to determine if a digital solution meets the minimum requirements set by the DPG Standard. DPG status is valid for a period of one year from its approval. This is to ensure that all solutions comply with the latest version of the DPG Standard. Once a digital solution is successfully reviewed against the DPG Standard, it is identified as a DPG and found on the DPG Registry.

For indicators 1-6 the DPGA takes steps to review publicly accessible information as well as the information provided via the nomination form for accuracy. This includes SDG relevancy, documentation, and licensing. For indicators 7-9, this information must be provided by someone with the authority to speak on behalf of the project, which is confirmed by submitting their title, name, and contact information. The documentation submitted and communication with nominees during the review process is publicly available on the GitHub repo

Contribute to the DPG Standard 

We encourage creators, maintainers, funders, implementers, and consumers to recognise and use the DPG Standard to support DPGs. 

The DPG Standard was developed through an iterative process, building off of the original 51 indicator standard used by the DPGA in the preliminary review of Early Grade Reading projects, and refined through contributions by many experts. The DPG Standard is free for anyone to use and adapt and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0 International License. We actively solicit contributions to improve the DPG Standard.

To learn more about the DPG Standard, including governance, please visit our public GitHub Repo.