About OTI

The Open Technology Institute's strengthens communities through grounded research, technological innovation, and policy reform.

The Open Technology Institute formulates policy and regulatory reforms to support open architectures and open source innovations and facilitates the development and implementation of open technologies and communications networks. OTI promotes affordable, universal, and ubiquitous communications networks through partnerships with communities, researchers, industry, and public interest groups and is committed to maximizing the potentials of innovative open technologies by studying their social and economic impacts – particularly for poor, rural, and other underserved constituencies. OTI provides in-depth, objective research, analysis, and findings for policy decision-makers and the general public.

OTI Priorities & Goals

  • Gather top technologists and tech-savvy policy analysts to inform current policy debates. Conduct assessments of open technologies as a means to lower the economic costs of doing business and providing services.
  • Build collaborations among community developers, entrepreneurs, academia, and industry.
  • Study the social and ecomomic impacts of open technologies and architectures.
  • Implement real-world open technology pilot projects and proofs-of-concept prototypes.
  • Expand the use of open source software, open APIs,and increased access of FOSS technologies.

Policy Impacts & Interventions

The Open Technology Institute is the newest program at the New America Foundation, but has already had substantial policy impacts during its short existence, four of which are discussed:
OTI's research on opportunistic spectrum reuse and alternatives to spectrum auctions for frequency allocation and assignment have been used by National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and White House staff to help develop a new federal spectrum management policy as well as a presidential directive on clearing federal bands The MeasurementLab.net project (M-Lab), a collaboration with PlanetLab and Google, was founded in early 2009 and is coordinated by the OTI team. The goal of M-Lab is to advance network research and empower the public with useful information about their broadband connections. The FCC and NTIA are both interested in using M-Lab to collect broadband data across the United States and the FCC collaboration is expected to be publicly announced in March 2010 with the FCC's National Broadband Plan. Building a 21st Century Broadband Superhighway requires investment in our nation's telecommunications infrastructure. OTI has lead the charge, having developed a briefing for the Obama campaign in 2008 and working with the White House and key Senators' offices to develop an action plan for integrating these ideas into the 2010 omnibus transportation bill. In November 2009, OTI released a joint report with Native Public Media, “New Media, Technology and Internet Use in Indian Country: Qualitative and Quantitative Analyses.” The report is the most extensive effort conducted to date to document the current state of new technology uptake amongst over 120 tribes across the United States.

OTI's Mission and Goals

The Open Technology Institute supports free expression and open technologies at home and around the world, and is committed to supporting engaged, self-sufficient communities by promoting safe and affordable access to connectivity.1 We view technology not an end in and of itself, but a means. Across our work, we are guided by these principles:


Our source code, processes, materials and reports are open and available. We encourage participation by individuals and communities adapting, improving and using our tools.


We support and defend the right to privacy and freedom from surveillance; our technologies are designed for safety and security; our research methods are respectful and sensitive to privacy concerns.


We believe in the equality of all individuals. We do not empowerthe communities we work with; they are already empowered, or they empower themselves. We support their work by providing trainings, tools, and resources.

Collective self-determination

Community partners decide how they want to engage and how they want to use our tools. We follow their lead.


We show respect and give back to the communities we engage with locally and virtually.


We are accountable to these principles in everything we do.
(1) As members of the Detroit Digital Justice Coalition, we believe that communication is a fundamental human right; we are securing that right for the digital age by promoting access, participation, common ownership, and healthy communities.