CapitolCamp 2010 Recap

On June 5th, 2009 more than 100 concerned citizens and civil servants converged in Albany for “CapitolCamp,” an open and frank full-day discussion about how to build a more transparent, efficient, and participatory State government by leveraging “Gov 2.0” technologies. Co-hosted by the New York State Senate and the Office of the CIO of New York State,  CapitolCamp 2009 was the first-ever “unconference” to be held in a State Capitol.

Building off of last year’s unprecedented engagement of citizens, elected officials and civil servants, more than 150 people reconvened in Albany for CapitolCamp 2010, to further engage and expand this community as a key component of the New York State Senate’s commitment to open and accountable government.  CapitolCamp 2010 was broken into two days: a developers summit and an “unconference.” Both days focused on how to build a more transparent, efficient, and participatory State government using technology.

"CapitolCamp is a new way for Albany to talk about the use of technology within government. This peer-to-peer conference blends the best of Web 2.0 with Government to address our specific needs while not requiring any one to spend a dime.  At CapitolCamp there are no vendors, no consumers, only users who learn from each other on what can go right and what can go wrong," - Noel Hidalgo, organizer of CapitolCamp with the New York Senate’s Office of the Chief Information Officer.

Thursday, Aug 19th, the "developer summit" featured a gathering of 80 programmers and technologists conducting detailed conversations on the challenges and opportunities associated with such topics as intra-government technology collaboration, open government data publishing, and open-source software development best practices.  In one of the five rooms set aside for the conference, programmers from the Rochester Institute of Technology, CIVX, the Sunlight Foundation, and the State Senate collaborated to “mashup” raw government data with open-source scripts into easy-to-understand visualisations of the Senate’s expenditure reports. Other rooms featured “how to open source” (discussing the relevance of Open Source in our day-to-day lives), “going mobile” (an overview of the Senate’s mobile apps for the Android, iPhone/iTouch and iPad),“Geo Disco” (regarding the servers and software necessary to manage government geospatial data), “Sunshine in the Cloud,” (regarding how to use cloud based technologies for Government).

While the developer’s summit focused on nuts and bolts technical work, the subsequent unconference focused on a broader set of topics, segmented into three thematic “tracks,” each with 45 minute session topics proposed by attendees upon their arrival at the event; the tracks were:

"Senate 2.0": Technology, Transparency, & Participation in the NY State Legislature: began with the deliberation of technology’s role in the State Senate, including an update on Senate CIO’s roadmap, the announcement of the launch of the nation’s first Legislative iPad app, the imminent deployment of the Senate’s new open-source Constituent Relationship Management system, and a summation of the challenges we see in the coming year; for the rest of the day, this track focused on "legislature 2.0" conversations which included:

  • Why the Senate chose Drupal as a content management session
  • Open Sourcing software in State Government
  • Making use of web analytics
  • Adventures in moderation


"Empire 2.0": began with an update from Melodie Mayberry-Stewart, Ph.D., the State’s CIO, who announced Empire 2.0 Showcase Agency of the Year award and discussed the role of the Office of the State Chief Information Officer (CIO/OFT) in developing the NY Executive Branch social/collaborative technology. It was followed up Deputy CIO, Rico Singleton’s launch of, a one-stop website dedicated to social media and web 2.0 in NY State Government. For the rest of the day this track focused on how agencies can “Government 2.0" themselves, topics included:


  • Social / Anti-Social: Collaboration Across NYS Agencies
  • Social Media use in Government / How to tweet?
  • NYSdot’s overview of 511


"New York 2.0": was introduced by Philip Ashlock, Open Government Program Manager from OpenPlans, an NYC based non-profit that informs and engages communities through journalism and open-source software. Throughout the day, citizens led conversation on what “digital natives” are doing to transform New York into the most collaborative, participatory, and transparent state in the nation. One notable conversation was led by John Kaehny, Reinvent Albany, who hosted a conversation on a wish list for the next four years. In this town hall styled conversation, attendances enumerated the difficulty they have in access information, collaborating with agencies and sharing resources. Other topics included:


  • Flacks & Hack(ers) - Hyperlocal 
  • The Value of Open Government?
  • Rebooting the government. Turning citizens into lobbyists
  • When .gov’s do it right.
  • Beyond streaming how open video is changing Government
  • Local (city) innovations at the state level


Online Resources 



CapitolCamp 2010 - Developers Summit Videos


CapitolCamp 2010 - Unconference Videos