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 set by the UN Secretary-General in the 2020 Roadmap for Digital Cooperation, which states that a DPG, “is 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 and are of high relevance for attainment of the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”.

The DPG Standard establishes a baseline of requirements that must be met in order to earn recognition as a digital public good by the Digital Public Goods Alliance (DPGA) and the broader community. This standard has been operationalised and is stewarded by the DPGA to enhance alignment and reduce fragmentation in the digital landscape. 

The DPG Standard has been designed to be relevant for all DPGs regardless of sector and to cover minimum viable criteria. The term, “digital solution” is used to reference the software, content, data or AI model being nominated for review against the DPG Standard.

It is important to note that the DPG Standard exclusively focuses on the design of the core, generic solution and does not evaluate local implementations as part of the DPG vetting process.

The DPG Standard itself is an open project and therefore open to contributions through the public GitHub Repo. As an open standard the DPGA supports the 5 Core Principles of OpenStand and we invite anyone who uses and benefits from the DPG Standard to join our growing list of endorsers.
Below are the 9 indicators and requirements that determine if nominated software, data, AI models, standards and/or content can be considered a digital public good and recognised as such on the DPG Registry.

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 (described in the chart below as the “project”) can be considered a digital public good and therefore recognised as such on the DPG Registry.

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 All projects must demonstrate that they have taken steps to ensure the project anticipates, prevents, and does no harm.
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.

Glossary of terms

Open Source: 

A digital solution is open source when it can be modified and shared because its design is publicly accessible. For software, data, and content to be open source the source code, data, and content must be made accessible through the use of an open license. For software, we require OSI approved licenses. For open content we require a Creative Commons license. For data we require an Open Data Commons approved license. See the full license list for reference.  

Sustainable Development Goals: 

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a collection of 17 interlinked global goals designed as a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. The SDGs were established in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly and are intended to be achieved by the year 2030. They address the global challenges we face, including poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace, and justice.

Digital Public Goods (DPGs):

The DPGA uses the digital public goods definition set by the UN Secretary-General in the 2020 Roadmap for Digital Cooperation: “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.”

Digital Public Goods Standard (DPG Standard):

A set of 9 specifications and indicators designed to maximise consensus about whether a digital solution conforms to the definition set by the UN Secretary-General in the 2020 Roadmap for Digital Cooperation. 

This standard has been operationalised and is stewarded by the DPGA to enhance alignment and reduce fragmentation in the digital landscape. The DPG Standard has been designed to be relevant for all DPGs regardless of sector and to cover minimum criteria of general relevance. It incorporates and references existing guidelines and best practices such as the Principles for Digital Development.

The Digital Public Goods Registry (DPG Registry): 

The DPG Registry lists digital solutions that have either been nominated directly or have been pulled from partnership databases. If a nominated digital solution is successfully reviewed and found to adhere to the DPG Standard, it is considered a digital public good and labeled as such in the DPG Registry.


Application of the DPG Standard 

We encourage creators, maintainers, funders, implementers, and consumers to recognise and use the DPG standard to support digital public goods. Digital public goods that meet the described standards are found on the DPG Registry. To see how they meet the DPG Standard, you can click on the DPG icon in the DPG Registry.

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

We apply the DPG Standard to projects on the DPG Registry that have either been nominated directly or have been pulled together from databases maintained by our partners. Projects that are submitted to our platform will undergo three stages of review to ensure they meet the requirements set in the DPG Standard. As a project undergoes various reviews it will move from nominee to candidate, to a fully reviewed digital public good.

Movement through the process is transparently displayed on GitHub and can be viewed here.


Contribute to the DPG Standard 

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 through our public GitHub Repo which also houses the governance documentation for the DPG Standard.  

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