Taking Stock: Our Hub 2016 Year in Review

As we reflect on what happened and what we accomplished at the OpenGov Hub in 2016, we think there’s much to be proud of and excited about!

This year we published and began to implement our new, first-ever Hub strategy. This was designed to foster more active, deeper collaborative community within our network of members and friends, in order to help us reach our collective potential and better promote more transparent, accountable, and participatory governments and governance worldwide.  

This strategy also clarified the Open Gov Hub’s two-part mission: enabling open government advocates and organizations to have greater impact through both resource sharing and collaborative community. And it identified four cross-cutting themes for the community as a whole:  open data, adaptive learning, difficult places, and localizing open governance.

In addition to saving time and money through sharing basic resources in our large open office, Hub members are starting to benefit more and more from the network effects of being part of the community. This includes formal and informal channels, like workshops, brown bags and relevant events, staffing referrals, providing feedback on each other’s work, curated introductions, and other collaborative endeavors.

So, what exactly did we achieve this year?

By the Numbers

  • 70 Public Events

    • Including: 16 Brown Bags, 11 Panel Discussions, 2 Book Talks, 2 Conferences, 10 Happy Hours, 9 Workshops, 1 Film Screening, 1 Hackathon, 1 Mapathon, and more!

  • 1,600+ Event Attendees

  • 50% Increase in Twitter Following

  • 150,000+ social media impressions

  • 50+ Past and Current Member Organizations

  • 200+ Individual Members

  • 1 New Strategy

2016 Highlights

During 2016 we grew our team, which allowed us to better leverage our convening ability and maintain a vibrant calendar of wide-ranging, high-quality events at least once per week throughout the year -  from a book launch on How Change Happens, to a World Bank World Development Report consultation, a transportation and public-safety hackathon with DC city government, a De-Jargoning workshop, countless brown bag discussions and much more.

 

Through robust events programming, broadening our communications efforts and in other ways, the OpenGov Hub also experienced growth in its membership and network of partners, and implemented significant operational improvements (notably, for example, by launching our first comprehensive online Member Portal).

Perhaps most importantly, this year we saw steady growth in the shared collective identity of the diverse members of the OpenGov Hub, through indicators such as increased participation in Hub activities, increased initiative-taking by Hub members themselves to organize activities for community benefit, and generally more and more Hubbers connecting with each other across organizations. This process of deepening community and collaboration was shepherded by a volunteer Collaboration Committee, and led to a marked shift in our community culture by the year’s end.

We now feel better poised than ever to channel powerful new energy around the urgency of collaboration to protect and promote open governance in the US and around the world.

What We Learned

In experimenting with various collaborative activities this year, we learned a few things:

  • Genuine community necessarily takes time. Interpersonal familiarity, relationships and trust must first be established in any network or collaborative before the full fruits of collaborative work can be realized. This lesson has informed our 2017 activities, which reflect a diverse array of ways Hub members will be able to come together to get to know one another, explore shared interests (personal and professional), learn from each other, and ultimately innovate and work together for greater social impact.

  • And by soliciting and analyzing community feedback several times throughout the year, we also learned to more precisely take stock of all our member organizations’ specific needs and assets, in order to tailor/curate collaborative activities that directly meet/fulfill specific priorities of our members.

Snapshot of Impact

We foster community and catalyzes collaboration in a number of ways, including through our regular events that draw both Hub members and others working on similar issues.

For example, in November we partnered with several governmental and non-governmental entities - including the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief PEPFAR, the State Department, Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT), USAID (YouthMappers) and Missing Maps - to host the first mapathon supporting the AIDS relief efforts of PEPFAR. Volunteers mapped remote areas surrounding Lake Victoria in Kenya and Tanzania, and in doing so improved PEPFAR’s understanding of HIV/AIDS program coverage and ability to  optimize supply-chain logistics to better delivery services to HIV-prone communities.

Mapping volunteers improved PEPFAR’s ability to better delivery services to HIV-prone communities.

 

In a few short hours, 50 volunteers contributed to over 42,000 edits (over 34,000 buildings and 5,800 km of roads) to this map. This Mapathon was part of a broader global effort for OSM GeoWeek that included at least 140 public and 150 private events that took place in 42 countries. In total, with 1 million edits, together we added 861,865 buildings and 145,030 km of roads to OpenStreetMap.

What's Next

In 2017, we’re excited to focus on catalyzing further collaboration among Hub members through our 2017 Action Plan.

We will also work on forging more meaningful ties with global affiliate Hubs and other partner spaces, and publishing more content more often to share the fascinating ideas that regularly bounce around our space with a broader audience.  

We will also explore potential funding that could extend the Hub’s role in energizing the work of its members. For instance, we’re exploring whether a shared functional services model could aid early stage, innovative members in professionalizing their support functions at a lower cost, whether targeted financial support available to member collaborative projects can incentivize the formation of new and fruitful partnerships, and/or whether creating a Hub-wide fellowship program - perhaps bringing professionals from reform movements around the world to the Hub for rotations among relevant member organizations - could both support our global partners more while also improving the impact of Hub member organizations.

This blog was written by Nada Zohdy, Manager of the OpenGov Hub.

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