Open Government Partnership

The Challenge: Build a website that empowers a global multilateral initiative of over 55 countries to track national government actions and commitments to transparency, accountability, and citizen participation.

The Solution: When our strategic partner and client, Google, approached Echo & Co. about an opportunity to pioneer open government and data accessibility across the world on an unprecedented scale on the web, we were thrilled about having the chance to help with this issue that many of us are personally passionate about. The United States and Brazil had just begun spearheading an initiative to convene national governments, civic organizations, and private and public partnerships to declare their support for the basic principles of open government, and these countries needed a partner with the global digital strategy, technical experience, and creative vision to build an online platform to track the new Open Government Partnership’s work.

Echo & Co. began by facilitating a series of workshops and strategic planning meetings between diplomats and public servants from the initial eight countries -- Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, the Philippines, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States -- to outline the full scope of the organization’s work by examining its desired impact upon citizens inside and outside of their national borders. By crafting an approach that was centered upon a strategy of transparent and visible engagement, we set the framework for the initial tools and resources that countries, the media, and the public would use when the organization would would launch at the General Assembly of the United Nations on September 20, 2011.

The initial website consisted of a powerful content management system, built upon the Drupal robust collaboration framework and powered by an extensive development community of open source contributors. Extremely customizable, Drupal enabled us to rapidly prototype and develop a core feature set that included:

  • News Blog for the organization to publicize its work
  • Events Calendar, for tracking the busy schedule and many initiatives corresponding with the organization’s efforts
  • Country Profiles system, where each country could publish their initial National Action Plans in support of the open government commitments they were announcing in the public declaration, complete with full sovereign permissioning and security controls
  • Resources Library, with comprehensive support for third-party resources on Open Government and integration with open data providers
  • Email Signup and integration, so that the public could be made aware of major announcements

Upon the initial launch of the organization, and the public announcement of the Open Government Partnership by U.S. President Barack Obama and the other heads of state carried live by the national and international media, online and over broadcast stations, Echo & Co. expertly managed its hosting infrastructure on our colocation facilities to handle hundreds of concurrent webpage requests. Shortly after the initial launch, new features and functionality were developed and deployed to respond to the needs of countries and civic organizations:

  • Press System, integrated with Google News, automatically integrating the public media’s conversations about open government with the website while also empowering staff with full publication and moderation controls
  • RSS subscriptions for news, press, and events, making it easy for users to subscribe to content streams that would be automatically delivered to their favorite devices
  • Suppliers Database, a robust and comprehensive listing of all authorized third-party providers, enabling staff and users to identify providers by geography, type, services, and levels of expertise
  • Conference Portals, to support the publications and webcasts associated with the organization’s major conventions and plenary sessions
  • Country Commitment System, to enable authorized countries to submit major commitments, cross-referenced and geo-tagged in response to the Grand Challenges, and managed through a rich review and approval workflow

Echo & Co. has provided deep strategic and technical support to the Open Government Partnership as its institutions and concordant bodies have matured, enabling the organization to think critically, and act with purpose, on how it can project its message and extend its mission across its new online digital footprint. We are proudly committed to partnering with the OGP and the national governments, diplomatic missions, civil society organizations, and the growing network of suppliers and service providers in order to promote a more transparent, accountable, and participatory world for people everywhere.

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