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.


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