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Forum opens doors to annual meetings…and more

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Open Forum session on open development. Credit: World Bank

The World Bank's first-ever Open Forum—an interactive online conversation about pressing development issues—threw open to the public discussions normally held behind closed doors.

Three sessions, held Oct. 7 and 8, brought together all-star thinkers and actors in three key areas: the open development movement, jumpstarting jobs, and today’s development challenges.

Open Forum playing on jumbotron displayed outside Bank headquarters in Washington, DC. On screen: Aleem Walji, Innovation Practice Manager, World Bank Institute. Credit: World BankIt was especially cool to see the interplay between Annual Meeting events and the online forum, where hosts held discussions in a talk-show format that was webcast live, while cutting away to the official meetings where live bloggers gave a blow-by-blow of proceedings. Meanwhile, participants worldwide chatted, shared views and experiences, and submitted questions to the forum panels. The live chat rooms continued for 12-24-hours after each session.

Here's a sampling of the rapid-fire chat room conversation that took place during the Open Development session:

12:40 [Comment From Rebeca]
I'd like to know how the data is actually shared...when you fly a plane over Haiti and take pictures, how to do you get it to others?

12: 41 [Comment From Asad]
Data manipulation is one of the major problem to detrack people how to verify the authentification

12:43 [Comment From Michael Sean Wright]
Rebeca - do you mean how do you share the photo? In crisis, you can create a layer within tools like google earth, import from picase, annotate, etc

12:46 [Comment From James]
What about the people who do not have access to computers?

12:46 [Comment From Ann - USA]
Any pointers of how the "average citizen" can evaluate veracity/accuracy of the data?

12:47 [Comment From James]
Why question the authentication of data, when the issue of accessiblilty must be addressed first?

12:50 [Comment From Kev]
Disclosing data to the public is good as it empowers people. Developing countries which are recipients of development programs will benefit from this. However, communication infrastructures are still lacking in poor countries. Thus, the World Bank should also identify alternative access nodes apart from being online if it wants to achieve universal access of tis data.

The forum was one more step in the Bank’s push to “democratize development”—that is, to put unfiltered information into the hands of all to come up with innovative new approaches to resolving long-standing development issues.

The goal of the push toward greater openness is more evidence-based decision-making and better results. But another benefit is a more transparent, accessible and nimble World Bank that can more easily tap into communities of knowledge to help solve development problems.

You can replay all the discussions and read the transcripts here:


Angie Gentile

Head of Communications, Concessional Finance & Global Partnerships

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