Local Manufacturing is Going Global

Press Release 2021

A new open data model called Open Know-Where launched to help share data about manufacturing capabilities online.

The Internet of Production Alliance is pleased to invite you to the launch webinar of Open Know-Where, a new open data model to help share data about manufacturing capabilities online.

Watch the recording of Open Know-Where Launch webinar
April 28th, 2021 at 16:00 - 17:00 BST (GMT+1)
Watch on Youtube

Digital maps have made it possible to find stores, restaurants and libraries near you. We are now adding machines to the map!  The Open Know-Where standard helps people to map manufacturing capabilities so that we may “Know Where” something can be made. Imagine searching to find 3D printers near you, to find the specifications of nearby plastics factories or to see the availability of your local makerspace.

What will this mean? Picture the humanitarian health worker preparing for Covid-19 response in a refugee camp: by mapping sewing machines using this standard, we can see just how possible it is to make PPE on site and show what the communities can make for themselves. They will be reached by markets more easily, to able to develop their own livelihoods and less reliant on imports and aid.

Full Press Release

A pioneering data model has been launched that will enable a consistent way of documenting and sharing information about manufacturing capabilities.

“Open Know-Where” will make it easier for anyone to know where they might be able to make anything, by providing a mechanism for the discovery and exchanges of the location of manufacturing capabilities.

It has been designed to improve the discovery of manufacturing facilities and equipment within the manufacturing industry and maker communities.

This initiative is particularly interested in the accessibility of knowledge relating to making things useful in humanitarian and development situations.

As a data model, the aim is not to create a single database of all the information, but rather to enable the data stored indifferent places to be shared more easily. The specification is designed to be adopted by anyone who collects or shares data about manufacturing capabilities and where to get something made, including government, manufacturers, trade associations, non-government organizations (NGOs), aid agencies, mapping communities, makers and online maker platforms.

In practice, the use of Open Know-Where will enable data to be shared from different mapping systems and platforms and to be aggregated to a regional or national level, paving the way for local production of global designs.

Open Know-Where was initiated by the Internet of Production Alliance and sponsored by the Shuttleworth Foundation. The standard was developed by an open working group, with facilitation and technical authoring by technical document specialists, Barbal, and their dedicated online platform.Maps are an essential tool for finding out things where they are needed and most relevant. Knowing where to make things is the essential step in enabling local production.

It has become so easy for us to find products online, to find products that are often made in distant countries, and to have them shipped halfway around the world to be delivered to you. The Internet of Production is about distributing and localizing manufacturing so that anyone, everywhere can have the chance to participate in production and to become creators and makers – not just consumers or recipients.

Open Know-Where follows on from the success of the Open Know-How documentation standard (released in 2019) for sharing hardware designs and documentation online, to “Know How” something can be made. These two models are part of a series of open infrastructure created by the Internet of Production Alliance, aiming to build a new web that will do for products what the web has done for information – give everyone the chance to participate in production. In the long run, we aim to make it possible to contract a 100 or a 1000 nearby manufacturing facilities with local machines to make the same quantities as mass production overseas.

Kat Sellers Field Ready

"We will use Open Know-Where to locate sewing machines in refugee settlements in northern Uganda, so that we can hire refugees to make face masks. It will help us find injection moulding factories in Bangladesh so that we can make face shields. We will use it to share our data on 3D Printers in Iraq so that the makers and small companies there can find orders from, say, nearby hospitals. It’s a game changer for the way we provide aid – not built on global supply chains, but on local capabilities."

Tom SalfieldCEO and Co-Founder of Wikifactory

"The Open-Know-Where model is perhaps the most important step towards establishing a common standard for transparently mapping the World's productive capacity. Everyone should be able to find and have open access to the manufacturing capabilities they require to get something made wherever it is needed. Now more than ever, this shift in standards can have a critical impact in reducing unnecessary shipping while ensuring that products are made in-place where supply chains have been most pressured, are fragile or even, broken. Wikifactory, which is building an open-standards based model of distributed design and production will be working hard to implement Open Know-Where into our manufacturing marketplace, and we encourage others to do the same."

Anna LoweInternet of Production Alliance, Chair of the project

“Open Know-Where has is the product of an excellent international collaboration to establish a common standard. With input from a wide range of viewpoints, Open Know-Where has tried to capture the important fields for data collection in a variety of circumstances. This standard will have a significant impact for mapping initiatives and maker communities. The Internet of Production Alliance will be working to implement Open Know-Where and circulate awareness of the standard.”

About the Internet of Production Alliance

The Internet of Production Alliance brings together people from around the world to build open infrastructures enabling anyone, everywhere to participate in production.

We are a global alliance of people and organizations who believe in a future of production defined by decentralized manufacturing and shared knowledge, allowing us to deliver products faster, made from locally sourced materials and with less ecological impact. We are building a foundation to enable this future, a world where people can quickly create and fabricate products made from a combination of locally sourced materials and global designs.

About Barbal

Barbal is an SME from Bristol. Barbal has developed a cloud based collaborative document editor for technical documentation; integrating planning and governance features within the authoring interface to support documents where governance and traceability of decisions is critical. The software has been used for International Standards, operational procedures and legal precedents.

Alongside providing cloud software for collaborating on technical documents like contracts, specifications and policies, the Barbal Knowledge Partners Team provides a consulting service, with an open consensus approach to problem solving in multi-stakeholder environments. The team also supported professional communities to develop and publish new data standards to support the industry wide digital transformation. Barbal was founded in 2018 by Tom Bartley and Dave Balderstone.

About the Open Know-Where working group

Membership of the Open Know-Where working group includes representatives from: Appropedia, COVID Action, Fab Labs, Field Ready, Juakali Smart, Makernet, MakerNet.work, Make Works, Manufacturing Change, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Metabolic, Procedurable, Royal College of Art, University College London and WikiFactory.

WikiFactory is the place where great ideas become even better products. Our community of product designers, engineers and enterprises comes together to design, prototype and manufacture hardware products in more agile ways. At Wikifactory we make the tools to do this, and we make them available to everyone.

Field Ready meets humanitarian and reconstruction aid needs by transforming logistics through technology, design and engaging people in new ways.

For press contact please reach out to:
Barbara Schack