Where’s the Gov 2.0 epicenter?

One year following the groundbreaking Apps for Democracy contest, the Gov 2.0 world turns its gaze once again to the District of Columbia for Gov 2.0 Expo this May. In a conversation with Gov 2.0 Expo Co-chair, Laurel Ruma told CivSource that social media and open data initiatives in government have spread far beyond the Beltway. She predicted that 2010 was going to continue to see more international and local governments adopt Web 2.0 technologies, while trail blazers like DC continue to push the boundaries of government transparency, participation and collaboration.

O’Reilly Media’s Gov 2.0 Expo kicks off next month and it’s the second component of a community building effort around the concept of “government as a platform.” Tim O’Reilly, founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media, said the public sector built two of the most important digital platforms: the Internet and Global Position Systems (GPS). “The government built these platforms and the private sector ran with them,” he said at Gov 2.0 Summit last year. Additionally, he argued the government has also benefited from what the private sector did with those platforms once they were allowed to innovate.

And following the President’s agenda of transparency, collaboration and participation, O’Reilly knew that technology was going be central to helping people carryout that mission. So why not refocus that community-building towards government and the kinds of technologies they could leverage to be more transparent, collaborative and participatory.

Gov 2.0 Expo will be held over three days, consisting of keynotes, workshops and sessions aligned according to track: Open Data and Web Services, Social Networks and Collaboration, Agile Government, Cloud Computing and Security, and Emerging Technologies. The conference will have a keynote kick-off Tuesday night, Ms. Ruma said, with Deloitte’s Bill Eggers serving as the M.C. and leading ten to twelve rapid-fire presentations. “It should be a good way to get people to wet their appetite for the conference,” she said.

The speakers for Gov 2.0 Expo have a decidedly international and sub-national flavor in addition to an ever-expanding group of federal govies blazing the Gov2.0 trails. Officials from Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and Brazil have sessions on the conference docket.

  • Kate Lundy, is a Senator from the Australian Capital Territory in the country’s Federal Parliament and she’ll be talking about Lessons from Down Under.
  • Tim Berners-Lee, from the World Wide Web Consortium, will talk about Linked Open Data and Gov 2.0 in the UK.
  • David Eaves, from the Centre for the Study of Democracy and a consultant to multiple Canadian governments’ open data initiatives will talk about Open Data, Baseball and Government.
  • André Blas from Brazil-based WebCitizen will talk about transparency and civic engagement in Brazilian politics.

“We’re trying to show the broadness of this, it’s not just a flash in the pan. Its international, it’s at every level of government,” Ms. Ruma said. But darlings of the state and local gov20 crowd, like Dustin Haisler (City of Manor, Tx.) and Bryan Sivak (CTO for the District of Columbia) will also be in attendance to share their latest innovations and spread best practices.

Other state and local officials include:

Despite the fact that transparency, e-government and civic engagement initiatives have been on policymakers’ and politicians’ minds for years, 2009 saw a lot of interest in how the world was using social media, according to Ms. Ruma, and they spent time trying to figure out how they could make these new tools work for them.

“Last year there was a lot of optimism, but some people were sort of hesitant,” she said. “In 2010, people are starting to realize the immediate effect of things, like open data initiatives and apps contests, have real value.”

“This is a place and a time to come to DC and really just see what everyone is doing and to understand this is hands on.”

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