Version: 1.0
Publication Date: Sept. 15, 2020

The Digital Public Goods Standard is a set of specifications and guidelines designed to maximize consensus about whether something conforms to the definition of digital public goods laid out by the UN Secretary General in the 2020 Roadmap to Digital Cooperation: digital public goods must be open source software, open data, open AI models, open standards and open content that adhere to privacy and other applicable laws and best practices, do no harm, and help attain the SDGs.

This standard establishes a baseline of alignment with the definition which must be met in order to be considered a digital public good by the DPGA and broader community. As an open source project itself, the standard is open to contribution and we invite anyone who uses and benefits from the standard to join our growing list of endorsers

More information on applying and contributing to the standard is available below.


Digital Public Goods Standard 1.0 

Below is a list of the 9 indicators and requirements that must be met in order for a nominated software, data, AI models, standards and/or content (described in the standard below as the “project”) to be considered a digital public good.

Indicator Requirement
1. Relevance to Sustainable Development GoalsAll projects must indicate the SDG’s that they are relevant to and provide supporting links/documentation to support this relevance. 
2. Use of approved open source licenseProjects must demonstrate the use of an approved open source license. For Open Source Software, we only accept OSI approved licenses. For Open Content we require the use of a Creative Commons license. While we encourage projects to use a license which allows for both derivatives and commercial reuse or dedicate content to the public domain (CC0) we also accept the following licenses which do not allow for commercial reuse: CC-BY-NC and CC-BY-NC-SA. For data we require a Open Data Commons approved license. You can find the full license list here.
3. Documentation of ownershipOwnership of everything that the project produces must be clearly defined and documented i.e. through copyright, trademark or other publicly available information.
4. Mandatory dependenciesIf the open source project has mandatory dependencies that create more restrictions than the original license the projects must be able to demonstrate independence from the closed component and/or indicate the existence of functional, open alternatives.
5. DocumentationThe project must have some documentation of the source code, use cases, and/or functional requirements. For content, this should indicate any relevant compatible apps, software, hardware required to access the content and instructions about how to use it. For software projects, this should be present as technical documentation that would allow a technical person unfamiliar with the project to  launch and run the software. For data projects, this should be present as documentation that describes all the fields in the set, and provides context on how the data was collected and how it should be interpreted.
6. Mechanism for Extracting DataIf this project has non personally identifiable information there must be a mechanism for extracting or importing non personally identifiable information (PII) data from the system in a non-proprietary format.
7. Adherence to privacy and applicable lawsThe project must state that it complies with relevant privacy laws, and all applicable international and domestic laws.
8. Adherence to standards & best practicesProjects must demonstrate some adherence to standards, best practices and/or principles. i.e. the principles for digital development.
9. Do No Harm All projects must demonstrate that they have taken steps to ensure that the project anticipates, prevents and does no harm.
9.a) Privacy & Freedom of ExpressionAll projects must have strategies in place to anticipate, respond to and minimize adverse impacts on privacy and freedom of expression where governments are believed to be using the project’s product or services for illegitimate or political purpose
9.b) Data Privacy & SecurityProject’s that collect data must identify the types of data collected and stored and demonstrate that the project ensures the privacy and security of this data and has taken steps to prevent adverse impacts resulting from it’s collection, storage and distribution.
9.c) Inappropriate & Illegal ContentProjects that collect, store or distribute content must have policies identifying inappropriate and illegal content such as child sexual abuse materials and mechanisms for detecting and moderating inappropriate/illegal content.
9.d) Protection from harassmentIf the project facilitates interactions with or between users or contributors there must be a mechanism for users and contributors to protect themselves against grief, abuse, and harassment. The project must have a mechanism to address the safety and security of underage users.

Application of the Standard 

We encourage creators, maintainers, funders, implementers and consumers to use this standard to recognize, assess and support digital public goods. We maintain a list of vetted digital public goods that meet the standards described above on our registry.  

You can view the full list of questions that are used to assess each of the indicators here.

We apply this standard to projects on our registry that have either been nominated directly or have been pulled together from databases maintained by our partners. Projects that are submitted to our registry will be screened to ensure that they meet the requirements laid out in the standard. Projects with more complete information in their submissions will move more quickly through the screening process. 

Movement through the process shall be transparently displayed on GitHub and can be viewed here. If a project conforms to the standard it will be considered a digital public good, appear on the registry and may be eligible for additional recognition and support.


Contribute to the Standard 

Standard 1.0 was developed through an iterative process, building off of the original 51 indicator standard used by the Alliance in the preliminary review of Early Grade Reading projects and refined through contributions by many experts. The 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 and endorse the standard through our public GitHub Repo which also houses the governance documentation for the standards.  

One of the most meaningful ways you can contribute to the standard is by nominating a digital public good