Digital Infrastructure Grants

Research grants for the study of digital infrastructure maintenance.

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Projects

Project

Municipal Digital Infrastructure

How do we build, sustain & improve city-led open source infrastructure projects?

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Fostering Open Collaboration

Will cross-company visibility into shared free and open source dependencies lead to cross-company...

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Security Ramifications of Open Source Software

What are the security ramifications of the extensive use of open-source software in modern softwa...

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Fairness & Digital Infrastructure

How do perceptions of unfairness when contributing to an open source project affect the sustainab...

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Digital Infrastructure Incubator

Supporting projects to implement research-informed best practices at the time of need. Areas of w...

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FOSS & Multilingual Computing

How do open source tools contribute towards creating a multilingual internet?

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API ToS: Towards a Creative Commons Model

How a Creative Commons model for API Terms of Service participate in the creation of open, safe a...

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Cooperative Model for Digital Infrastructure

Research the structurers, contributions, financial sustainability of open source cooperatives

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Digital Infrastructure vs Climate Change

What makes indegenous open source projects & collectives critical digital infrastructure and how ...

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Open Source in Public Service Delivery in India

An Indian case study of governance, implementation and private sector role of open source infrast...

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Open Source COVID Data Infrastructure

How are COVID data infrastructures created and transformed by builders and maintainers from the o...

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Infrastructure Funder's Toolkit

Developing an implementation framework for funders of digital infrastructure with guides, program...

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Mapping African digital infrastructures

How can African participation in the development, maintenance and application of the global open ...

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Top financial contributors

1
Sloan Foundation

$605k USD since Feb 2021

2
Ford Foundation

$303k USD since Aug 2020

3
Open Society Foundations

$100k USD since Jul 2020

4
Omidyar Nework

$50k USD since Oct 2020

5
Mozilla Foundation

$25k USD since Aug 2020

Digital Infrastructure Grants is all of us

Our contributors 8

Thank you for supporting Digital Infrastructure Grants.

Sloan Foundation

Financial Contributor

Total contributions

$605,000 USD

Ford Foundation

Financial Contributor

Total contributions

$302,500 USD

Open Society ...

Financial Contributor

Total contributions

$100,000 USD

Omidyar Nework

Financial Contributor

Total contributions

$50,000 USD

Mozilla Found...

Financial Contributor

Total contributions

$25,000 USD

About


Everything in our modern society, from hospitals and banks to universities and social media platforms, runs on software. Nearly all of this software is built on “digital infrastructure,” a foundation of free and public code that is designed to solve common challenges. The benefits of digital infrastructure are numerous: it can reduce the cost of setting up new businesses, support data-driven discovery across research disciplines, enable complex technologies such as smartphones to talk to each other, and allow everyone to have access to important innovations like encryption that would otherwise be too expensive. Sharing code to address common challenges is in principle cheaper, easier and more efficient.

While the collective action problems that characterize infrastructure funding are well-explored, the industrial organization of digital infrastructure is less well-understood. In 2016, the Ford Foundation funded a report by Nadia Eghbal titled “Roads and Bridges: The Unseen Labor Behind Our Digital Infrastructure” that described how that the development and maintenance of digital infrastructure often falls to communities of volunteers who take it upon themselves to maintain this infrastructure in their own free time and for little or no money. Unsurprisingly, this leads to significant risks to the open internet and the ability to develop new, innovative research and businesses within it.

In order to better understand the incentives and constraints that influence the maintenance of digital infrastructure, in 2018 the Sloan and Ford Foundations funded a portfolio of 13 research projects. In some cases the findings of these projects open up further questions, while in others they suggest interventions that could strengthen community practices.

To continue to advance this agenda, this RFP invited proposals to further study the maintenance of digital infrastructure. This new RFP is being funded again by Ford Foundation and Sloan Foundation as well as Mozilla, Omidyar and Open Society Foundations. .

In addition, for this second phase we've invited proposals that would move findings from the first funded research cohort into practice. 

Given the impacts and challenges facing open source communities worldwide, these research projects span the globe, including initiatives in the United States, South Africa, India, Brazil, and Mexico. Researchers will focus on issue areas including: 

  • How COVID data systems are created and transformed by the open source community; 
  • How indigenous communities and land defenders in Brazil have been using digital infrastructure in their fight against climate change; 
  • How do perceptions of unfairness when contributing to an open source project affect their sustainability; 
  • How public-private cooperation at the national level in India can support the development of software solutions to digitize government services. 

Budget


Transparent and open finances.

View all transactions

Financial contribution to Open Source in Public Service D...

from Digital Infrastructure Grants

-$27,830.00USD
Completed

Refund of "Financial contribution to Cooperative Model fo...

from Cooperative Model for Digital Infrastructure

+$10.00USD
Completed

Financial contribution to Cooperative Model for Digital I...

from Digital Infrastructure Grants

-$10.00USD
Refunded
$
Today’s balance

$457,810.00 USD

Total raised

$989,750.00 USD

Total disbursed

$531,940.00 USD