Since 2017, FWD50 has welcomed over 40 countries to our stages and audiences. But when we launched the event, it included primarily participants at the Federal level, from the members of the Digital Nations and beyond.
In 2019, we decided to change that by launching the Regional Digital Government Summit. We invited public servants who worked in regional governments—at the state, provincial, county, and municipal levels—to discuss the unique challenges and opportunities of smaller, more local, civic endeavours.
The first RDGS happened in person. Many of the participants had never met face-to-face, despite being in the same country. The folks who’d helped us put it on asked us to limit participation to only public servants, because they wanted a safe place to talk candidly—so we called an audible and did so on the spot. One of the perks of being a small team is being able to make changes on the fly.
The timing was fortuitous. We didn’t know that in a few short months, we’d be facing a global pandemic where co-operation and rapid communication between all levels of government was vital. Several of the participants told us that their new-found connections helped them share ideas and processes, letting them respond faster and better to the crisis.
In 2020, FWD50 happened online. We also hosted the Digital Nations, a group of governments who share digital best practices. We realized this was an opportunity to dramatically expand who participated in the conference, so we launched our Regional Access Program that gives a pair of public servants from every regional jurisdiction in the world passes to the online event. Over 200 regions worldwide have taken advantage of the program.
We know that public service is a calling, and that budgets are tight, particularly in smaller governments. Together, the Regional Digital Government Summit and the Regional Access Pass program give those who work at the coalface of digital innovation access to some of the world’s best content, as well as a chance to connect with their peers globally. So we’re continuing the program as we bring the 2022 hybrid event to Ottawa and the world this November.
If you’re a regional public servant, we hope you’ll claim your passes. And when you do, be sure to join us online, and check out the amazing lineup of practical content from people around the world facing the same challenges you are in this year’s RDGS.