Canadian Humanitarian Initiatives Committee

collaborative technology addressing humanitarian needs


Open Technology for Humanitarian Projects

Open Technology for Humanity

Technology for humanity is one of IEEE core values. The HIC has embraced HTC’s vision of creating open source design to benefit humanity. It is leading the way in understanding how to use available open source hardware and software, notably in its student competition.

References, working documents and templates of HIC’s open technology model are available in our virtual community. The first project released under this model is the WE CARE solar suitcase:

WE CARE Solar Suitcase: Open Hardware platform

Index for this Article:

About Open Hardware

To get a good understanding of Open Hardware read the article by Semmelhack, who is the Founder and CEO of Bug Labs. Bug Labs is a group focused on “bottom-up, community based innovation” in the hardware market. His talk, “The Long Tail of Gadgets”, focuses on how open source hardware is enabling this bottom-up innovation. Semmelhack’s vision for hardware is that we’ll move away from a small number of companies building gadgets with markets of millions, to millions of innovators creating devices for the few:

For a list of Open Hardware Projects:

Wikipedia includes a section on Renewable Energy.

Available Types of Licenses

Open Source Hardware (OSHW) Draft Definition

OSHW Draft Definition version 0.3 is based on the Open Source Definition for Open Source Software and older OSHW definitions. The definition is derived from the Open Source Definition, which was created by Bruce Perens and the Debian developers as the Debian Free Software Guidelines. Videos and Documentation of the Opening Hardware workshop which kicked off the below definition are available here. Please join the conversation about the definition here

Open Source Hardware (OSHW) is a term for tangible artifacts — machines, devices, or other physical things — whose design has been released to the public in such a way that anyone can make, modify, distribute, and use those things. This definition is intended to help provide guidelines for the development and evaluation of licenses for Open Source Hardware.

It is important to note that hardware is different from software in that physical resources must always be committed for the creation of physical goods. Accordingly, persons or companies producing items (“products”) under an OSHW license have an obligation not to imply that such products are manufactured, sold, warrantied, or otherwise sanctioned by the original designer and also not to make use of any trademarks owned by the original designer.

For more details, visit the OSHW website.

Creative Commons (cc) Attribution Share Alike

Creative Commons is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to making it easier for people to share and build upon the work of others, consistent with the rules of copyright. They provide free licenses and other legal tools to mark creative work with the freedom the creator wants it to carry, so others can share, remix, use commercially, or any combination thereof.

They are not permitted to provide legal advice or legal services to assist anyone with enforcing Creative Commons licenses. However, they maintain a list of lawyers and organizations who have identified themselves as being willing to advise clients about CC licensing issues.

For more details, visit the Creative Commons website.

The TAPR Open Hardware License

The TAPR Open Hardware License is a license used in open source hardware projects. It was created by Tucson Amateur Packet Radio (TAPR), an international amateur radio organization. Version 1.0 was published on May 25, 2007. According to the official website, like the GNU General Public License, the OHL is designed to guarantee freedom to share and to create. It forbids anyone who receives rights under the OHL to deny any other licensee those same rights to copy, modify, and distribute documentation, and to make, use and distribute products based on that documentation.

There is also a TAPR Noncommercial Hardware License, which is similar but does not allow for commercial application.

For more details, visit the TAPR website.

Open Hardware Groups

Open Source Charge Controller Yahoo Group

This group is dedicated to developing an open source charge controller with maximum power point tracking (MPPT). A charge controller sits between a solar panel, wind turbine, etc and a battery pack and ensures that the two play well together. A charge controller with MPPT allows a power source to charge the batteries at maximum efficiency.

Also be sure to check out their wiki at


This video documentary shocases the Arduino open-source prototyping platform for DIY electronics. It is an interesting model that could benefit humanitarian projects:


Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It’s intended for artists, designers, hobbyists, and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments.

RIT Open Hardware Wind and Solar Installations

RIT students made a wind- and solar-powered WiFi hotspot. A 30W solar panel and a 1/4
horsepower 90V DC motor charge two 6V batteries. In brisk wind the turbine generated 120W.


List of Links and Resources

Introduction To Open Source Licensing

More presentations from Mark Radcliffe.

Making Sense of Open Source Licenses

Business Models for Open Source

Introduction to Open source Licences

Open Source Hardware (adolescence)

Slide 40 Mintyboast using bike Open Source USB Charger

Sustainable open-source hardware project

Wikipedia entry for Open Hardware

Engineering for Change (facebook)

Wikibon to Sharing Technology

Wikibon is a professional community solving technology and business problems through an open source sharing of free advisory knowledge.

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