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: open-source software, open data, open AI models, open standards, and open content that adhere to privacy and other applicable best practices, do no harm by design and are of high relevance for attainment of the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This definition stems from the UN Secretary-General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation.

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.

Open Software
Open Data
Open AI Models
Open Standards
Open Content

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

Indicator Requirement
1. Relevance to Sustainable Development GoalsAll projects must indicate the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) they are relevant to, and provide supporting links/documentation to support their relevance. 
2. Use of Approved Open LicensesProjects must demonstrate the use of an approved open license. For open-source software, only OSI approved licenses are accepted. For open content, the use of a Creative Commons license is required. While we encourage projects to use a license that allows for both derivatives and commercial reuse (CC-BY and CC-BY-SA) or dedicates 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 here for reference.
3. Clear Ownership Ownership of everything the project produces must be clearly defined and documented. For example, through copyright, trademark or other publicly available information.
4. Platform Independence If the project has mandatory dependencies that create more restrictions than the original license, the project(s) must be able to demonstrate independence from the closed component(s) and/or indicate the existence of functional, open alternatives.
5. DocumentationThe project must have documentation of the source code, use cases, and/or functional requirements. For content, this should include all relevant/compatible apps, software, or hardware required to access the content, and instructions regarding how to use it. For software projects, 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 data was collected, and how it should be interpreted.
6. Mechanism for Extracting DataIf the project has non personally identifiable information (PII) there must be a mechanism for extracting or importing non-PII data from the system in a non-proprietary format.
7. Adherence to Privacy and Applicable LawsThe project must state to the best of its knowledge that it complies with relevant privacy laws, and all applicable international and domestic laws.
8. Adherence to Standards & Best PracticesProjects must demonstrate adherence to standards, best practices, and/or principles. For example, the Principles for Digital Development.
9. Do No Harm by Design All projects must demonstrate that they have taken steps to ensure the project anticipates, prevents, and does no harm by design.
9.a) Data Privacy & SecurityProjects collecting data must identify the types of data collected and stored. Projects must also demonstrate how they ensure the privacy and security of this data in addition to the steps taken to prevent adverse impacts resulting from its collection, storage, and distribution.
9.b) Inappropriate & Illegal ContentProjects that collect, store or distribute content must have policies identifying inappropriate and illegal content such as child sexual abuse materials in addition to mechanisms for detecting, moderating, and removing inappropriate/illegal content.
9.c) 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.
NOTE: Evidence for requirements 7-9 can only be given by someone authorized to speak on behalf of the project. We collect title, name, and contact information to confirm this authority.

Applying the DPG Standard

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

For digital solutions wanting to be recognised as digital public goods: 

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

Then, the DPGA reviews the nomination to determine if the digital solution meets the minimum requirements set by the DPG Standard. You can view the full list of questions that are used to assess each of the indicators here. 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 authority to speak on behalf of the project, which is confirmed by submitting their title, name, and contact information. The documentation submitted by, and communication with nominees during the review process is available on the public 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 and endorse the DPG Standard.

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