Google's trusted hardware initiative is open source, pixel-precise postal codes, and more open source news

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In this edition of our open source news roundup, we take a look at Google's trusted hardware initiative, Australia's open source notification service, pixel-precise postal codes, and more!

Google unveils trusted hardware project

Google has jumped into the realm of secure, trusted hardware with its latest open source release. The search giant made the announcement of OpenTitan, a "collaborative open-source secure chip design project." Software engineer and security expert Jessie Frazzelle shared her enthusiasm for its release:

The aim of OpenTitan is to create "trustworthy chip designs for use in data centers, storage and computer peripherals." It's built on the back of Titan, a secure chip that Google developed and which it uses in Android-powered phones and to generate security keys. To achieve its aim, OpenTitan relies on a technology called root of trust, which "cryptographically ensures that the chip hasn’t been tampered with."

Google's tapped non-profit hardware organization lowRISC to manage OpenTitan. They're not going at it alone — Google and lowRISC have partnered with ETH Zurich, G+D Mobile Security, Nuvoton Technology and Western Digital. You can learn more about OpenTitan on the project's website.

Australia builds notification service in record time with open source

One of the key selling points of open source, especially to business and government, is the ability to reuse existing code to quickly and cheaply build software and services. The Australian government discovered how true that is by building a text message/email notification service in eight weeks and for $105,000 AUD (about $72,000 USD).

The service, called Notify, was built with code developed by the Government Digital Service in the UK. According to a report in The Mandarin, over 100 departments at all levels of government are using Notify to send "immediate text or email updates on non-sensitive information, with small snippets of useful information." And it's faster and cheaper than previous solutions. The Department of Health, for example, took days to send 13,000 emails. Using Notify, the same task takes an hour and has no acquisition cost.

If you're interested in taking  a peek at Notify's source code, you can find it in this GitHub repostitory.

Remote communities receive postal addresses thanks to open source mapping tool

Have you ever wondered what it would like to be without an address? About how difficult it would be for visitors, delivery services, or emergency services to find your home? Until recently, that's what members of the Navajo Nation in Utah had to deal with daily. That will be changing soon thanks to open source mapping software developed by Google.

That software is called Plus Codes, which is a "grid that can locate any point with precision independently of street names." Each point on the grid is a Plus Code, which "offers far more accurate location information than directional addresses." The application of this technology is far reaching, already spanning from remote Ireland to India. 

The biggest project to date has been a home addressing program in densely populated slums in Kolkata, India, with an Ireland-based organization called Addressing the Unaddressed. Many of the 300,000 homes that have been given Plus Codes are tiny, some less than 80 square feet, and have never had postal addresses.

Most recently, the Rural Utah Project, whose mission is to ensure voting rights to underrepresented Americans, have marked 2,600 inhabited homes in two remote areas in Utah with Plus Codes. Residents of those areas are already experiencing the difference. When someone told area resident Menvalia Redhorse they'd found her house using the Plus Code app on their phone, she replied: "I usually have to drive out toward the highway to meet [guests]."

In other news

Thanks, as always, to staff members and moderators for their help this week.

That idiot Scott Nesbitt ...
I'm a long-time user of free/open source software, and write various things for both fun and profit. I don't take myself all that seriously and I do all of my own stunts.

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