Program for Open UN: Engagement in the Age of Real-Time

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United Nations Global Pulse invites you to attend and participate in a Social Media Week special event on February 8 and 10 in New York.

Entitled Open UN: Engagement in the Age of Real-Time, the event is designed to foster a conversation about the emerging role of real-time and open technologies in the context of aid, development, and global institutions—and to put the work of the UN in a broader context.

Social Media Week, February 7-11, is a global event that connects people, content, and conversation around emerging trends in social and mobile media. Open UN will take the form of a series of discussions and presentations, hosted by Global Pulse, examining the operational and institutional ramifications of the emerging new media landscape. It is an opportunity for the United Nations to be an active participant in the global conversation about how these technologies are transforming social, political and institutional relationships.

The program will be spread over two days (see below for full program). Registration is free via the Social Media Week website on a per day basis. Links are provided below. Discussion will also be available via live video stream.

The event coincides with the release of a new report prepared for Global Pulse by PSFK called “The Future of Real-Time.” It is a survey of emerging technology trends in areas like human sensor networks, social sentiment, mobile communities, instant mapping, timeline narratives, intelligent infrastructure and data democracy among others. PSFK will be presenting the report at the session on Thursday February 10 and the report may be downloaded at .

Hashtags: #OpenUN #SMWNY

Tuesday February 8, 2010 – Google Headquarters

Video available here.

9:00 – 9:30                PSFK Presentation: The Future of Real-Time

9:30 – 11:00              Panel Discussion: The evolution of the crowd
How can we move to a more dynamic and nuanced understanding of different kinds of “crowds” and how and when to engage with them?
Experience has taught us that there is no such thing as one “crowd”. Rather, there are many types of crowd and they are far from static. In the aftermath of a crisis, for example, there are many types of informal actors. Citizen reporters, expert practitioners, volunteer technologists, paid micro-taskers, and members of diaspora with local knowledge, are all distinct “crowds.” All have different roles to play in different contexts and all require different tools, incentives and support. The panel will explore new strategic approaches to help organizations engage with and combine the right crowds with the right tools to maximize impact. 

•     Mr. Ivan Sigal, Executive Director, Global Voices
•     Mr. Nadim Mahmoud, Research Director, Co-founder, Medic Mobile
•     Mr. Shaun Abrahamson, Founder, Colaboratorie Mutopo
•     Ms. Soraya Darabi, Co-founder, Foodspotting and Digital Strategist, ABC News
•     Mr. Mark Belinsky, Co-Founder, Digital Democracy
•     Mr. John Crowley, Research Fellow, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative


Thursday 10th February, 2011 – Paley Center for Media – Registration Closed 

Livestream link:

11:30 – 12.15am       Presentation by PSFK: The Future of Real-Time report
PSFK, a New York City based trends research and innovation company, and the United Nations Global Pulse, a project harnessing innovation to protect vulnerable populations during crises, teamed up to produce the Future of Real-Time report. This report surveys the global real-time landscape to identify trends and opportunities that are rapidly transforming the relationships between societies and technology.

12:15 – 12:30             Keynote by Robert Kirkpatrick
The world is changing with increasing rapidity and one of the significant emerging trends is the relationship between real-time technologies and open engagement. Robert will explore the roles of communities/crowds (experts, amateur, machine) and the impacts that they are having on institutions, from the perspective of Global Pulse’s mission to provide real-time information about populations during crises.

12:30 – 13:30              Lunch

13:30 – 14:30             Panel Discussion: Real-time field operations
Is real-time citizen engagement the engine of relief and development in the 21st century?
Recent experiences in both disaster relief and ongoing development efforts show that there is a potential to leverage real-time information and open collaboration for operational efforts. There are powerful—and dependent—connections between emerging technologies and communities. The panel will explore how new tools and approaches are already changing facts on the ground.


  • Ms. Corinne Woods, Director, United Nations Millennium Campaign
  • Ms. Katrin Verclas, Co-founder and Editor,
  • Mr. Sean Gourley, Research Fellow, Oxford University
  • Mr. Jihad Abdalla, Emergency Officer and GIS focal point, Office of Emergency Programmes, UNICEF
  • Mr. Nigel Snoad, Senior Information Management Officer, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA

14:30 –  14:45             Q&A

14:45 – 15:00              Coffee Break

15:00 – 16:00              Panel Discussion: Institutions in the age of real-time
How must local, national and global institutions adapt to succeed in the real-time world?
Real-time technologies and strategies of openness represent both an opportunity and a profound threat to how institutions and governments organize themselves to deliver services in the 21st century. Increasingly, individuals are empowered to interact directly with one another, challenging the hierarchical structures and processes of traditional institutions. However for organizations that are able to harness the untapped potential of global communities in real-time, the possibilities are mind-blowing.

•     Dr. Robert Orr, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Planning, United Nations
•     Mr. Clay Shirky, Adjunct Professor, Interactive Telecommunications Program, NYU
•     Mr. Richard Tyson, Co-founder and Principal, Helsinki Group
•     Mr. Zia Khan, Vice President, Strategy and Evaluation, Rockefeller Foundation
•     Mr. Carne Ross, Founder, Independent Diplomat

16:00 – 16:30              Q&A

16:30                          Finish


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