Geneva to host the United Nations of Open

Sept. 2, 2013

This release is also available in German, French, Traditional Chinese and Greek.

Press Release: 2nd September 2013 \ For immediate release

On September 16th to 18th, Geneva will see an international convention unlike any other this prestigious diplomatic hub has ever seen: the Open Knowledge Conference is bringing together representatives from a wide range of UN agencies and public administrations with technology activists, civic entrepreneurs and data-driven designers. Hackers and makers will shake hands with distinguished diplomats, aid workers will solve concrete problems with data analysts!

In the last few years, governments around the world and international organizations alike have made enormous progress in opening up essential data to the public – data ranging from sonnets to statistics, from genes to geodata. Open data has fast become an eminent driver for more transparency, accountability and innovation. Today, as these initiatives grow and continue to enable innovators both in technology and society, it becomes clear that the notion of "open", like "green", is rapidly becoming an important foundation of both sustainable technology strategies and forward-looking policymaking.

The coming together of over 600 data practitioners, researchers and decision makers from around the world in Geneva marks an important milestone in this movement going global. And with participants from UNICEF, UNITAR, UNESCO, UNDP, CERN, the World Bank and many more global organisations it also marks the coming of age of "open" inside the network of international institutions.

Main speakers include Ellen Miller, CEO of the Sunlight Foundation, Chris Vein, Chief Innovation Officer at the World Bank, Chris Taggart, CEO of OpenCorporates and Jay Naidoo, Chair of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN). In addition to the high-level plenary sessions, a hacker space for software developers as well as a large number of workshops, from data journalism to open finance, from open transport data to civic data literacy will make sure the event is highly interactive, highly productive and connect the principal actors of the global open movement. The goal: to open up knowledge around the world and see it used and useful.


Alain Berset, Swiss Federal Councillor and Head of the Federal Department of Home Affairs, welcomes this global movement to Switzerland: "The development towards an information society opens up hitherto unimagined possibilities for the citizen. We stand today at the very beginning of this development: one whose importance for our society can hardly be overestimated. Let us therefore grasp this opportunity to work together, for example in the pilot project for the Swiss Federal Data Portal, which is being launched at this conference."

Rufus Pollock, founder of the Open Knowledge Foundation, adds: "We’re delighted that many countries have indicated their support for open data, both in forums like the G8 or the Open Government Partnership as well as in their very concrete steps in implementing open data initiatives. Bringing together international leaders at the Open Knowledge Conference in Geneva is important to broaden and deepen this consensus for open knowledge that has proved so productive for activists, entrepreneurs, researchers and aid workers alike. The Open Knowledge Conference 2013 is a small ‘United Nations of Open’, and the assembly is calling upon the UN to take a leading role in opening up the world’s data, to enable real transparency and accountability."

Hannes Gassert, co-founder of, the host of this event: “This event marks a major milestone for open data in Switzerland. We are convinced that this is but a start for our movement, that increased data-driven transparency, data analysis and visualization will contribute towards fostering openness and innovation in the public sector as well as, in the end, towards rejuvenating our cherished direct democracy.“


For further enquiries and to schedule interviews please contact

For accreditation and additional imagery see

For further comments contact Hannes Gassert (see quote above), +41786631109 /

Notes for Editors

OKCon 2013, will take place in Geneva, Switzerland, at the CICG Conference Centre on 16th-18th September 2013. Organised by the Open Knowledge Foundation Switzerland ( and the Open Knowledge Foundation with support from the Swiss Government, the event brings together experts and changemakers from private, public and community sectors around the world. See for the full schedule.

The Open Knowledge Foundation is a global movement to open up the world’s data and see it used and useful, empowering citizens with new knowledge and insights, and enabling fair and sustainable societies. The Foundation catalyses activities which promote and build on freely reusable open data and open content – including public information, publicly funded research and public domain cultural content. See, the Swiss Chapter of the Open Knowledge Foundation is hosting the Open Knowledge Conference 2013. Since 2011 the group is influencing public policies, building the local community and exploring the relationship between direct democracy and open data. It’s succesful series of hackdays has become well known for productive collaboration between designers, developers and decision makers.

The Swiss Federal Data Portal, to be launched at the event on 16th September 2013 on, is a joint undertaking by the Swiss Federal Archives and their project partners to create a central pilot portal providing access to open data from the Swiss authorities of all levels. A wide variety of data records will be made available for the launch, including Swiss municipal boundaries, population statistics, up-to-date weather data, historical documents or, for example, a directory of Swiss literature. All interested parties can freely use and recombine the data. See

The Open Definition sets out the principles which define "openness" in relation to data and content, to ensure that it can be freely used, reused and redistributed, and that it is interoperable with other open materials. Open materials must be freely usable and distributable by anyone, anywhere, for any purpose. To ensure this, the Open Definition requires that open material is accessible, in a suitable format, and has an appropriate open license associated with it. See

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