A jam-packed program of more than two-dozen, 5-minute presentations in five categories made for a potentially mind numbing day. Yet the Gov2.0 Expo Showcase, held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington DC yesterday, was full of poignant, powerful and pithy examples of successful web 2.0 initiatives happening throughout federal, state and local governments.
The well-attended event brought together people interested in all aspects of Gov2.0 – from financers looking for the next Facebook, to developers and innovators showing off their hard work. The audience was an interesting mix of government and private sector, for-profit and 501C3s. Equally as diverse were the applications of web 2.0 technologies on display. The 25 presentations gave examples of interagency applications and traditional social networking sites, as well as data mash-ups, crowdsourcing tools and iPhone applications. The presentations clearly demonstrated that collaboration tools are being utilized to effect safety, economic stability, healthcare delivery, transportation, policy development and many other areas of our government and our lives.
At the end of the daylong conference, awards were given in each of the five conference categories (Government as a Process, Government as a Provider, Government as a Protector, Government as a Peacekeeper, and Government as a Partner) based on the votes sent via text message by audience members ala American Idol. The award winners were the stars of the day; their passion for their web 2.0 enabled programs shining through. Rita King for example, in her presentation Digital Diplomacy: Understanding Islam through Virtual Worlds shared her conviction that web 2.0 technologies can and are changing how people relate to one another in a positive and peaceful way.
This event showed that really good work is being done in the government and in the private sector to leverage and push these new tools to do more than most imagined. We are starting to see innovation driven through contests like Sunlight Labs’ Apps for America. So how do we distribute this knowledge beyond the web/gov 2.0 communities? How do we link up people, foster productive debate and ultimately shine a bright light on the best ideas? Ideas like UNICEF’s txts 4 Africa, presented by Merrik Schaefer, which won the award for Government as a Provider, need to have more exposure. So, how do we move true innovation into the spotlight? Maybe web 2.0, blogs, wikis, and other collaboration tools are the light we are looking for.
written by Adrian Walker, September 28, 2009