Why I’ve (temporarily) stopped making political commentary about Sri Lanka

When I left WSO2, I said that beyond leading Ballerina, I would focus on “building software to (help) run the country” via the Lanka Software Foundation.

LSF is doing this at multiple levels: first is to put together easy-to-deploy infrastructure technology such as email and identity management. We’re chugging along with both of those and have ideas for a host of others.

The next level is to help various government organizations develop a proper software architecture for themselves, thinking holistically and very long term (20+ years). This is being done on a case by case basis and also partly through the work I’m doing as a member of the ICT Agency’s Technology Foresight Council.

I formed a volunteer group of architects to help with this and that’s coming along well too. We’re currently helping with architecting solutions for the Ministry of Home Affairs (the Grama Niladari system), Education, Transport, and several others that are in the works. For this I’m making direct contact with technical teams and finding ways to help them define architecture for themselves — this work is not about LSF but about each of those organizations being able to take complete control of their software infrastructure so that their digital future is in their own hands and not in the pocket of one or more vendors.

Helping with software for the Elections Commission

Beyond that we’re also engaging deeply with specific organizations to do complete designs and help with writing code. The first is an MOU we signed with the Elections Commission of Sri Lanka to become their software technology partner on a long term basis.

As part of this, we have designed the overall software architecture for all the systems elections needs to run and are building it step by step. Given the recent incidents in the country, things that were going to be done in 6–12 months have to be done in weeks! No problem .. we know how to muscle up with volunteer energy and get that done.

I will write a separate call for help when we’re in a slightly more organized place to get wider help on implementing some of the software.

Sri Lanka’s election process is (by law) paper driven, but other than the actual voting process itself, everything will have a digital counterpart that will greatly increase transparency, make information more timely and give citizens even greater confidence in the election process, which of course is critical for a functioning democracy. This includes everything from elector (voter, in casual speak) registration, complaints reporting and tracking, staff and resource management for elections, vote result aggregation and dissemination and more. The awesome IT team in the elections commission has already done some of this and we’re partnering with them to make it all much more connected, much more secure and much more holistic digitally.

At the request of the Elections Commission, I am going to stop making public comments about all the incredible goings on in Sri Lanka right now.

(Jeez its killing me but I have to stop at their request.)

ALL of the software that will run elections in Sri Lanka will be 100% open source. I will share links to repos etc. very soon as well as fully automated deployment systems so anyone and everyone can try it out. We want as many people as possible to review the code and make sure there are no problems either in the code itself or in the deployment. We don’t want any “computer jilmart” accusations :-).

So, stay tuned for more on this if you are looking to help by writing code or reviewing each and every bit of it!

In the meantime, its keep my mouth shut for me :(.