If you build it, they will come: OpenGov Hub launch in Washington DC


It was an idea that came up one day in 2011 between a few friends working in the open government space. “We work in the same space, so why not be in the same space?” Today, the OpenGov Hub is a physical location, home to 13 organizations working on transparency, accountability and participation issues. On January 10th, 2013, the OpenGov Hub hosted its official launch event to welcome the Washington, DC community to see what has been built. And come they did!

Jim Baird Rethink

Over food and drink, nearly 200 people working in the open government community wandered throughout the halls of the OpenGov Hub and crowded around a stage to learn about the space and its 13 tenants. Through a series of lightning talks, OpenGov Hub tenants[1] talked about their work and how it fits into the joint space – all the while doing their best to avoid using any of the catch phrases on the now infamous OpenGov Hub Wall of Clichés.

Ian Solomon OpenGov Hub

To kick off the event, Ian Solomon, U.S. Executive Director at the World Bank Group, spoke about transparency not for the sake of transparency but as a means to ensuring that real results are achieved. Caroline Anstey, Managing Director of the World Bank, went on to underline the importance of open data and how this movement has led the World Bank to continually strive to make its data publicly available. As part of the event’s closing remarks, Samantha Power, Special Assistant to the [US] President and Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human rights, spoke about the value of such a space in the context of how governments need civil society organizations to ground grand theories in practical reality, and to give advice for how to implement “big ideas” on the ground in a practical way.

Wall of Cliches OpenGov Hub

What the future holds for the OpenGov Hub is still very much in the making, but how it approaches that future is what makes the hub unique. Unlike many other “hubs”, the OpenGov Hub is not an incubator, accelerator or start-up hive. Since it opened its doors in late-2012, the space has already run a number of activities from sponsoring transparency index releases, hosting hackathons, organizing brownbag lunches, and throwing happy hours. It is a space for like-minded organizations to work, throw ideas around, share inspiration, and, in a very organic way, to become a true community. The space is built, and the people have come. Here’s to an exciting year ahead.

For those of you who missed it, here are some pics.

-- Christina Crawley, OpenGov Hub Community Manager

[1] OpenGov Hub lightning talk speakers: Jean-Louis Sarbib, CEO, Development Gateway; Sean McDonald, CEO for Social Enterprise, FrontlineSMS; Jim Baird, Senior Media Associate, Rethink Media; Erica Hagen, Director, GroundTruth Initiative; Caetie Ofiesh, Product Manager, Akvo; John Crowley, Board Secretary, Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team; Linda Frey, Executive Director, Open Government Partnership; Rob Baker, Senior Program Developer, Ushahidi; Shireen Zaman, Executive Director, Institute for Social Policy & Understanding; Blair Glencorse, Executive Director, Accountability Lab; Ben Powell, CEO and founder, Agora Partnerships; Melissa Nussbaum, Development Lead, World Wide Web Foundation (absent); Nathaniel Heller, Executive Director, Global Integrity.

Nathaniel HellerComment