The Open Knowledge Foundation is pleased to announce that the 2013 Open Knowledge Conference (OKCon) will take place in Geneva, Switzerland on 17th -18th September. The theme of this year’s edition will be Open Data – Broad, Deep, Connected.

The world’s leading open data and open knowledge event, OKCon is the latest in an annual series run since 2005. Last year’s installment in Helsinki had more than 1000 participants from over 50 countries and was the largest event of its kind to date. Previous speakers have included inventor of the World Wide Web Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Hans Rosling of Gapminder, Brewster Kahle of the Internet Archive, and Ellen Miller of the Sunlight Foundation.

Located in Geneva, a major site for the United Nations and many other international institutions, this year’s event will focus on coordinating and strengthening public policy around the world to support a truly global and interconnected ecosystem of open data.

Open Data – Broad, Deep, Connected

In the last few years we’ve seen government open data initiatives grow from a handful to hundreds, and we’ve seen open data become important in areas such as research, culture and international development. This event will explore how open data is not only expanding geographically but also touching new sectors and new areas. How should governments and international institutions such as the UN react to these changes? How should business take advantage of new opportunities and contribute to the open data economy? How do citizens and civil society organizations turn data into accountability and into change?

This year’s OKCon will focus on the following questions:

  • How do we broaden open data – not only geographically across countries and regions, but also across domains and institutions? For example, whilst open data is now firmly on the agenda for government, in business its potential is only just starting to be explored. Similarly, though “open” is prominent in some areas of research, such as genomics, in others it is still barely known.

  • How do we deepen open data – ensuring a commitment not only for today but for the long term, and ensuring that open data is fully embedded into processes and policies? For example, though many governments have now signed up to the Open Government Partnership and announced open government data initiatives, in many cases the amount of data actually released remains limited.

  • How do we ensure the open data ecosystem is connected? Much of the value of open data will be lost if open data ends up locked into isolated silos – whether these are legal, technical or social. In today’s globalized world it makes no sense if open data ‘stops at the border’: we need data that extends across countries and institutions, and is easy to interconnect thanks to common standards and interoperable infrastructure.


The event is jointly organized by the Open Knowledge Foundation, Open Knowledge Foundation Switzerland with the support of the Federal Councillor Alain Berset and the Canton of Geneva and with Lift Events as an organizing partner.


Will there be other events in town during the Conference week?

Yes, we’re planning satellite workshops on Monday 16th September and Thursday 19th September. Please consider this when booking your travel!

When will the Call for Proposals be launched?

We will launch a Call for Proposals inviting you to send us your ideas for talks, panels and workshops in April. We can’t wait to make this happen together with you!

I’d like to offer my support as a volunteer. How can I apply?

We expect to welcome around 30 stewards in our team. Applications for these positions will be opening shortly, with preference given to those already in the Open Knowledge Foundation Task Force. Stewards will receive a free ticket.

Tips or support for travel and accommodation?

We’re planning to provide a travel bursary programme, and details of recommended hotels and hostels with good connections to the OKCon venue will be announced in the coming weeks.

What’s Happening with OKFestival?

Last year our annual Open Knowledge Conference expanded into the inaugural Open Knowledge Festival (OKFestival) which took place in Helsinki in September. This was a great event with a broad structure and festival atmosphere, and we look forward to future Open Knowledge Festivals. With their expanded format we’ll likely be running these in alternate years, giving plenty of time to plan and bring the community together.

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Rufus Pollock is Founder and President of Open Knowledge.

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