DIAL OSC Strategic Grants to Foster Ecosystem Change - Call for Collaboration on OpenMRS Proposal

Hi All -

DIAL OSC has just announced their latest RFP for funding open source projects:

They will be funding up to 5 awards totaling $900k and up to 480 hours of in-kind TA from OSC, and will be expected to span a 6-month timeline for a project. Similar to the recent Digital Square Notice B, the DIAL OSC dirty jobs proposal, the current infrastructure & security proposal, and the upcoming Digital Square Notice C RFP - I’d like to call for collaboration on determining a scope of work and potential partners for conducting the activities within it. The applications are due July 31st, with awards announced early August. Please read through the request here:


Looks like we need to address one or more of the specified focus activities with the funding:

  • Enterprise-Level Quality Improvements
  • Multi-stakeholder Collaboration
  • Platform Building and Generalization
  • Product Consolidation
  • Managing Upstream Dependencies and Downstream Forks

Please start posting some ideas for things we should think about addressing if we were awarded. If folks are interested in working on the proposal with me, please speak up! From those ideas, we can start putting together a google doc for everyone to start contributing to.


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Sounds super interesting and quite spot on for both OpenMRS and Bahmni.

From an implementor’s standpoint I was quite impressed with their outline of the ‘Annex 5 - Managing Upstream Dependencies and Downstream Forks’ part. This is so true:

DIAL has identified a critical challenge for free & open source software (FOSS) projects serving the sector: there is a mis-match between the fast pace of programmatic work when deploying digital technologies “in the field” and the slower, more cautious work to update the project to a newer version of an underlying framework, or to incorporate new features into the core of an open source product’s codebase.

As a result, customizations that must be written with programmatic deadlines in mind are often never reincorporated as reusable features into the core product, leading to an ecosystem of custom “forks” of open source products all with single deployments, and a less feature-rich core product that has to be re-customized with each new programmatic use, leading to wasted and/or duplicative effort.

There is often just enough time and money “to make it work”, landing a low resource setup/org/facility stuck with a forked product, thereby loosing the benefits of being part of a mainstream recognized platform (whether it is OpenMRS or Bahmni). It can take years to undo such situations, if ever.

Cc @michael


@burke in this topic: Getting ready for the next 10 years (Openmrs 3.x) said that:

I believe to be relevant in the next decade, OpenMRS will need to be cloud-capable and (ideally) support multi-tenancy as well as tackling the issues you’ve enumerated.

About month and half ago, OpenEMR started to offer a full panel of easy to install packages on Amazon’s Cloud Services.


Maybe we could use this grant to create a similar, cloud-based, solution to theirs? I think this should fit perfectly into “Enterprise-Level Quality Improvements” and maybe also into “Platform Building and Generalization”.

I know there isn’t that much time, so I would like to hear your opinions about this.

Personally, to feel energised for this, i would love to first get feedback in regards to what could have led us not to receive this DIAL grant: Apply for DIAL OSC Catalytic Grant? (May 2018)

@dkayiwa we probably won’t hear about why we didn’t get that DIAL grant. @jdick, i know that you have developed some materials about ‘cloud ready’ that we may be able to use for this proposal. @mogoodrich, @janflowers @burke-- would you think that this is a good idea? We would have one week but @maciej is willing to help assist in the write up for this. Seems like an opportunity not to miss.

criteria for proposal include: Feasibility of Design and Technical Approach 20 Impact on Target Product 15 Current Impact of Product for End Users 15 Change in Impact for Ecosystem and End Users 10 Technical Capacity 10 Cost Effectiveness 10 Alignment with Digital Principles 10 Inclusivity 10 Overall Rating (out of 100 points) 100

what do people think?

I feel like this is a great opportunity to harvest innovations that are happening in various implementations / distributions and pull them back into general purpose community modules and applications. Things off-hand that I am thinking:

  • Building on and harmonizing the Bahmni Forms and Ampath Forms (JSON Forms) and form builders for use in new UIs. Potentially connect these up to OCL.

  • Better and more consistent tooling and frameworks to support configuration of a distribution without writing Java code (eg. like bahmni config and including metadata management). Easier metadata management overall.

  • Reliable data audit / event tracking mechanism with goal to support common use cases like:

    • Detecting change to row-level data and running ETL process that results in a parallel data structure for fast analysis and reporting (eg. a more real-time and better architected version of what many of us are running in bash via SQL scripts)
    • Detecting changes, and playing them back on a remote system to achieve database replication
    • Detecting changes and writing HL7 / FHIR messages to an outbound event queue
  • Extracting Bahmni integrations with OpenELIS, Odoo, etc. into general OpenMRS features that both Bahmni and other distributions can utilize

  • Generally extracting as much from Bahmni EMR back into OpenMRS as possible and making Bahmni function more like an optional application that can run on other distributions

  • Dedicated time and energy to extract / harvest as much as possible out of eSaude, AMRS, Bahmni, PIH EMR, and other major distributions back into common products


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Those are some good ideas @mseaton. Are any of them relevant enough to you and PIH that you’d want to take a lead role in them somehow?

Via email @maciej from the Soldevelo Foundation suggested a few ideas:

  1. Security overhaul for OpenMRS (can repackage this: Core Infrastructure Fund - opportunity for funding strengthening digital security and data protection in OpenMRS)
  2. Cloud-ready solution (similar to the OpenEMR products in AWS), with topics such as:
    • Prepare production-ready images for cloud, update CI/CD pipelines to support new builds
    • Adding multi-tenancy support
    • Better and more consistent tooling and frameworks to support configuration of a distribution without writing Java code (eg. like bahmni config and including metadata management). Easier metadata management overall.
    • Fix vulnerabilities and assure compatibility with standards (HIPAA, GDPR, etc.)

Time is very tight for this (indeed we are late to decide and start writing) since it’s due in 6 days.

On tomorrow’s Strategy/Operations call we will discuss these ideas, and select one. Please join that call if you want to be part of the discussion. (Or reply here before the call.)

These are great ideas. And time is extremely tight. Looking forward to tomorrow’s discussion.

My gut reaction is that this opportunity might be best used to bring the platform up to date (e.g., updating Spring, Hibernate, etc. so we can run under contemporary versions of Tomcat/Ubuntu/etc.). Perhaps this could be incorporated into the security overhaul. On the other hand, if the security overhaul is focused more on the front-end, then it could have a more limited benefit (which front-end?).

Paraphrasing some feedback I got on an analogous Bahmni proposal: at first glance this sounds small, and more appropriate to DIAL’s catalytic grants instead of their strategic grants.

(If combined with something else, though, it could work.)

Update: we will prepare a submission based on two work packages:

  1. Security overhaul for OpenMRS (see thread linked above)
  2. Taking an inventory of interesting work done in implementations and distributions (“downstream forks” in DIAL’s wording) and making a plan to incorporate some of them back to the core, refapp, and/or shared modules, in future work.

If you’d like to help write/edit these proposals, please reach out to @maciej and @janflowers.

Here is a link to the proposal, that we will work on:

All of you are welcome to edit, comment or suggest something. Every help is deeply appreciated.

This are merit review criteria of this grant:

Feasibility of Design and Technical Approach - 20 points - The quality and feasibility of the application in terms of the viability of the proposed technical approach. The proposed technical approach can reasonably be expected to produce the intended outcomes. Proposed activities are appropriate to achieve desired outcomes. Innovativeness of the proposed approach. Realistic and sufficient work plan for achieving project outcomes. Proposed testing tools and plans will also be appraised.

“How we will do it?” section of our proposal.

Impact on Target Product - 15 points - Applicants must clearly describe how their proposed activities will benefit the target product in terms of usefulness, quality, and/or functionality.

“What is our idea?” section.

Current Impact of Product for End Users - 15 points - The applicant should describe the number and scale of existing deployments of the target product, and also estimate the number of end users impacted by the proposed work.

“Who is the project for?” section

Change in Impact of Product for Ecosystem and End Users - 10 points - The degree to which proposed activities will directly or indirectly stimulate and build the reach and effectiveness of other development organizations and other product consumers as well as resources to replicate, develop, reuse, or implement activities deploying the product or products in their programs. Additionally, the degree to which proposed activities will expand the reach of existing or new deployments when compared against existing capabilities of the target product.

“What are hoped for goals or longer term effects of the project?” and “Why is this project needed?” sections

Technical Capacity - 10 points - The applicant must provide CV’s or other biographical information on 1-3 individuals to proposed to perform the work, demonstrating experience and capabilities necessary to achieve the proposed activities.

“Our bios” section

Cost Effectiveness - 10 points - To achieve maximum points in this category, the applicant must demonstrate how the budget reflects best use of both new grant resources and existing product/project resources.

“Budget” section

Alignment with the Digital Principles. - 10 points - To achieve maximum points in this category, applicants must clearly indicate an understanding of the existing ecosystem as well as address issues of scale, sustainability, privacy, security. Applications should demonstrate how the proposal plans to reuse and improve existing solutions, and how any new technology development is not duplicative of existing solutions.

“What are our principles?”, “Similar/Complementary efforts” and “What community currently exists around this project?” sections

Inclusivity - 10 points - The extent to which the proposed activity includes a gender, youth or LGBT population component or represents a strong commitment to women, youth and the LGBT community as beneficiaries.

Part of “Who is project for?” section

Biggest thing on to-do list is adding

Taking an inventory of interesting work done in implementations and distributions (“downstream forks” in DIAL’s wording) and making a plan to incorporate some of them back to the core, refapp, and/or shared modules, in future work."

to the proposal.

Besides that, we have to complete budget, decide about whose CV send and who will complete the risk assessment form (and be contact for DIAL and send this proposal). We have now about 7 pages, budget will take one, CV another and I think this should be it, just corrections and adding some things.

Today I’ll do necessary clean-up and some of the corrections to this proposal. Again - any suggestions or comments are deeply appreciated and help us a lot.

I want to thank @janflowers @jslawinski and @burke for their help. Proposal is almost done, I’m going to do the last changes and corrections and this is going to be it.

I’m going to send this proposal in about 6 hours. If any of you have any last comments or suggestions - please give a reply here or in the document, maybe you’ll see something that we’ve missed.

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Our proposal was send just a minute ago - as soon as I will have any information from DIAL about it, I’ll post it here.

The estimated start date of grants awarded under this solicitation is August 3, 2018.

Not sure if this is realistic, but I hope that we will get a reply from them pretty soon.

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Thank you @maciej for leading this effort and doing the majority of the work! Fingers crossed. :slight_smile:

Unfortunately we didn’t get this grant

Dear Maciej and the OpenMRS Team– Thank you once again for your proposal during this past round of the DIAL Open Source Center’s strategic grant program. Unfortunately we will be unable to fund your proposal during this specific round of funding. Our review team was overwhelmed by the number of outstanding projects and proposals in this round, and has just finalized all of the grant offers our budget permits for this round. While we wish we could provide resources for each and every submission, we regret we were not able to do for your specific project. Please note, we plan to offer these strategic grants annually, as well as catalytic grants so please stay tuned for upcoming announcements about the next round. Additionally, you may be aware we also offer our twice-annual small “catalytic grant” program. More information about that both of these grants is available on our website at http://www.osc.dial.community/. We realize this news may be disappointing, but hope you will continue to stay involved with the growing OSC community. If you have not yet done so, we encourage you to sign up to the OSC Forum at https://forum.osc.dial.community/ to stay informed of new programs as they are announced, and to network with others doing similar work. With gratitude, Governance Advisory Board DIAL Open Source Center

I’ll send them an e-mail, asking for feedback about our proposal. If I get any answers, I’ll post them here.

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