The event, which took place in the Olympic Center, was opened by Jerzy Koźmiński. PAFF President welcomed the guests and reminded that the TechCamp is an international program of the U.S. Department of State, initiated by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, comprising conferences organized in various parts of the world on practical use of modern information and communication technologies in building democracy and strengthening the civil society. President Koźmiński emphasized that the PAFF’s participation in the organization of a Polish edition of the conference is important in the context of achieving the Foundation’s programmatic objectives. “Our experiences confirm that modern information technologies are and can be of great significance for non-governmental organizations’ success in the implementation of their undertakings,” he said.
The special guest on the first day of conference was Michał Boni, Minister of Administration and Digitalization. In his address, Minister Boni said that technological progress, comparable to the revolution such as the introduction of printing by Gutenberg, has not only changed the way people communicate or the way economy functions but also the way people participate in culture and education.
“We treat modern technologies only as tools while we do not think about the consequences of the development of the Internet for social life. You are the best group which experiences itself how deep is the transformation caused by the digital revolution. I hope you will be such a force in Poland that will be followed by others,” the Minister addressed the conference participants. “Poland must take a leap into digital revolution if it doesn’t want to stay on a heap of coal, ” he emphasized. Minister Boni informed that his Ministry will prepare the “Digital Poland” operational program aimed at giving people better access to broadband Internet, development of e-administration and counteracting digital exclusion of seniors and the disabled. The program will also offer support to the most able students of IT faculties.
Later in the plenary session, Megan Specia, an American journalist, spoke about the special nature of TechCamps, speaking, among other topics, about her participation in the New York edition of this conference.
After the official part, a Speed Geeking session was held with trainers, who presented the participants with some interesting and inspiring examples of applying new technologies. This was an introduction to the next, workshop part of the conference.
The Warsaw TechCamp was attended by more than 80 representatives of Polish NGOs, mainly operating on the local level, 20 Polish and American experts and a group of Kirkland scholarship holders, that is socially active students from Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia and Belarus.
In line with the TechCamp philosophy, the two-day activities conducted by experienced Polish and foreign experts were held in small groups. The workshops covered such topics as: civic journalism and social media use or finding solutions for non-governmental organizations based on open sources as well as crowdfunding and crowdsourcing software.
The Conference is to inspire and be a source for the preparation of specific solutions for the needs of the third sector, as the “Everyday life of Polish NGOs” study carried out in 2012 had shown that Polish non-governmental organizations do not sufficiently make use of the ICT potential. The expert commission shall select three solutions out of all worked out during the Warsaw TechCamp, which will be awarded with mini-grants financed by Intel and PAFF. All interested will be able to see the results of the groups’ work on the Internet. “We want the solutions worked out during the first Polish edition of the TechCamp conference to serve effectively Polish non-governmental organizations,” summed up Radosław Jasiński, PAFF Program Director.
The Polish edition of the TechCamp conference was organized in cooperation with the Office of eDiplomacy at the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw, the Polish-American Freedom Foundation (PAFF) and the Information Society Development Foundation (FRSI). The strategic partner of the conference is Intel, the business partner – Microsoft, the event was also supported by Google. The content partners of the event were: the TechSoup Foundation, Centrum Cyfrowe (Digital Center) and Fundacja Widzialni (The “Visible” Foundation).
The conference’s website: www.techcampwarsaw.org