FWD50 and the Novel Coronavirus

FWD50 may be months away. But our society is confronting a once-in-a-generation health crisis that is already disrupting every facet of modern life. The safety of our attendees, our speakers, and our team are our first priority. Click right to read more.

The pandemic is a defining moment for governments and technologies from around the world, helping us to track the spread of disease and care for one another remotely. We have much to discuss—and we must do so safely.

While we hope that our collective response to this crisis allows us to run an in-person event in November, we are taking steps today to prepare for what might happen in the coming months. We’ll offer more details in the coming weeks, but our current strategy includes:

  • Offering a safe alternative: We will probably be able to put on a safe event in November. But if we can’t, we’re planning for online tools to deliver content, provide safe networking, and share resources for digital government at a distance.
  • Adjusting ticketing policies: We’re putting together robust cancellation policies that allow ticket buyers to get a partial refund in return for attending an online event, and deferring the remainder of their ticket price to the following year, should we have to cancel a physical event. Tickets will also be exchangeable up to the week of the event.
  • Changing sponsorship terms: FWD50 is made possible by partners from around the world. They want to continue supporting us, but need flexibility in their planning at the moment. So we’re going to let our sponsors pay in installments as we learn more about the duration and severity of the crisis; we’ll use earlier installments to sponsor an online event if the physical one is cancelled.
  • Assuring speakers they can participate remotely: Some of our speakers may be unwilling—or unable—to travel to the event in November. While in-person interactions are undeniably more engaging and effective, we are assuring all speakers that they can deliver their content in person, or from a remote location. This means a significant investment in telecommunications and A/V tools to produce the calibre of content our audience deserves.

FWD50 is a global digital government gathering held annually in Ottawa, Canada. Each year, technologists, executives, and industry come together for a week of content and discussion, focused on steering progress and innovation towards our better selves.

By the numbers

Now in its fourth year, the event welcomes thousands of attendees from around the world.

3 days of workshops, keynotes, and breakouts

2,200 participants in 2019

Over 300 speakers and 30 countries since our launch

More than 100 government departments represented

For government executives

For modern leaders, technology is no longer an option. It’s the key to better services, more inclusive design, lower costs, and increased transparency.

But while tech can help government, it’s also fundamentally reshaping society. Technology isn’t just in service of policy—it is policy.

To help executives navigate these tumultuous waters, we’ve created a new track tailored to government executives, featuring content on policy, culture, and leadership. Learn more about this exciting addition to FWD50.

For technologists

AI. The Internet of Things. Big Data. Cloud Computing. In the last decade, the public service has undergone a huge upgrade. And it’s your job to keep it all working properly.

Modern government runs on tech at nation-scale. FWD50 has the deep-dive workshops, hard-won lessons, and diverse voices you need to shape the platforms on which government runs.

For industry

Modern society is a partnership between the public and private sector. To keep up with rapid, pervasive change, governments need the help of disruptors in industry.

FWD50 creates meaningful conversations between government and industry. Whether you want to attend, speak, or help support the event, this is the best way to connect with your public service counterparts and chart the course of digital government together.


Our faculty travels from around the world to share their knowledge at FWD50 each November. Here’s a taste of the amazing speakers taking the stage and teaching this year. Stay tuned—we’ll be announcing more in the coming weeks!

DJ Patil

Head of Technology, Devoted Health
Senior Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School

The Honourable Joyce Murray

Minister of Digital Government

Amanda Renteria

Chief Executive Officer
Code for America

Tim O'Reilly

Founder, CEO, & Chairman
O'Reilly Media

Gina Lucarelli

Team Leader
United Nations Development Programme Accelerator Lab Network

Jazmyn Latimer

Design Manager
Code for America

Meagan Commonda

Indigenous Community Liaison
Talent Cloud, Treasury Board Secretariat

Dipayan Ghosh

Co-director, Digital Platforms & Democracy Project
Harvard Kennedy School

Ann-Marie Cavanaugh

Deputy Government Chief Digital Officer
Wellington & Wairarapa, New Zealand

Shomik Dutta

Partner & Co-Founder
Higher Ground Labs

Lauren Hunter

Talent Cloud, Treasury Board Secretariat

Ramy Nassar

1000 Days Out

Want to join these amazing digital government innovators onstage? The 2020 Call For Proposals is open.

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Get involved

There are plenty of other ways to get involved with FWD50:

Our Partners

Some of the world’s leading tech companies help us put on FWD50, including: