I was recently in DC for a couple of days, taking part in the 2012 International Open Data Government Conference at the World Bank. This kind of event brings together a lot of talented individuals, many of whom are already psyched about SeeClickFix, so I was thrilled to be able to take part. It was an awesome experience, and I wanted to share some of my favorite moments.
I arrived on Wednesday, just in time to hear a panel featuring Todd Park, the US Federal Chief Technology Officer. I've heard a lot of rave reviews for Mr. Park since he was named to this position in March, and he definitely lived up to his billing. The thing I found most interesting about his input on the panel was his reference to "Joy's Law." Joy's Law, named for the founder of Sun Microsystems, asserts that no matter how many smart people work for you, more smart people work everywhere else. It serves as a reminder to businesses to stay rigorously open to collaboration with external constituencies, because this openness will ultimately create more value for the business itself. The point was very relevant in the setting of the conference as it pertains to cross-sector collaboration around open data. We're also witnessing the fruits of Joy's Law as more governments, citizens, and community groups come together through SeeClickFix. When everyone works together in a transparent platform, all of the contributors are better off.
The most fun part of the conference was taking part in a panel on local applications of open data (pictured above). The panel was moderated by Kathryn Petit, a researcher at the the Urban Institute, and I was joined by Rudi Borrmann, the Open Government Director for Buenos Aires, and Dorin Chirtoaca, the Mayor of ChiÅinÄu, Moldova. We had an informative conversation, and I think the audience found some value in it. Each of us spoke to the individual challenges and opportunities we encountered in working to make government more open and responsive. Interestingly, we all emphasized that resetting the prevailing mindsets both amongst citizens and government employees was an important challenge of this ongoing work. I look forward to continuing to follow the efforts of my fellow panelists.
The conference was a great way to step out of my normal routine and learn about how other individuals and organizations are working to make the most of open data. I learned a lot, spread the word about SeeClickFix, and even reported some graffiti I spotted using the DC311 app. A successful trip to our Nation's Capitol.