OKCon Wrap-up

Rufus Pollock introduces the OKFN at OKCon 2013
From 16.-18. September 2013, Geneva became the focal point of the global open data movement, with over 900 registered participants from more than 45 countries, the Open Knowledge Conference 2013 was a success on every level. The world’s top Open Data event of the year provoked about 15,000 responses on Twitter, was the “Trending Topic” in Washington, and sparked outstanding coverage in the national media.

Among Swiss Highlights were the spectacular launch of the Swiss Federal Open Government Data pilot, as well as an impressive breadth and depth of technical input from organizations based in Berne, Zurich and Geneva, the UN, and not in the least from nearby CERN. The conference appearance of Ellen Miller and Jay Naidoo received a great amount of well-deserved international attention.

Jay Naidoo was one of the companions of Nelson Mandela, and as Communications Minister played a decisive role in shaping the conditions for the rapid growth of mobile telephony in Africa. Today he is fighting malnutrition and corruption, two closely connected evils.

In his post-event summary Naidoo talks about his impressions of OKCon: “These are young digital warriors. They are connected. Their weapon is the internet. Their enemy is corruption. And they are here to bring a revolution of ethics into the 21st century.” – even more inspiring was his speech:


OKcon – Main Stage – Opening remarks & Jay Naidoo

Ellen Miller, Director and co-founder of the pioneering transparency organization in the United States Sunlight Foundation, was a major highlight: the content of her presentation went viral around the globe via Twitter, Facebook and live broadcast. Miller spoke of the principle political challenges that concern using open government data, of the crucial importance of the issue, which is far more than just about IT or efficiency. That it’s not about “e-government”, but “We-Government”!

Among many other video recordings, Ellen Millers talk is online:


OKcon – Ellen Miller

Representatives of Opendata.ch, who together with the international Open Knowledge Foundation organised the conference, were overwhelmed by developments surrounding the conference: the National Council decision in favour of a master plan for open government data, the launch of opendata.admin.ch, the strong media response and intensive conference days pushed the association and its supporters a large way forward in a short period of time.

While in Geneva the World Bank announced an extensive partnership for Open Data in developing countries, in Berne the open data debate continues now into the Senate, where it will likely be handled during the upcoming winter session.

There is little time to contemplate successes: in Switzerland, the Open Knowledge movement has been green lighted and is set for prime time. The first milestone is behind us, but this is only the beginning. An Open Government Data strategy for Switzerland must be defined, further events – like the upcoming Open Data Hacknights in Zurich – and new histories will be written. This will be no less than the essence of the future information society, the cornerstone of a contemporary interpretation of transparency and participation.