Being new to the Akvo team has many advantages. You are offered toast at lunch first, you don’t have to clean the coffee machine straight away and best of all you don’t get dragged in front of a camera to share knowledge in front of a information hungry audience. So far, so good. Of course – as it goes in life – there’s a price to all this.

In return for all these incentives you are expected to do some stuff in the background that some might consider a test of nerves and composure. Last week was the second Akvo Track Day – and I was kindly requested to set up a live stream session that would capture the plenary sessions of the day – Akvo Flow, RSR, Open Data and Social media – in such a way that people all over the world would feel like the were actually with us in the room. Innocently I accepted the challenge and chose to ignore the subtle grin that came across my colleagues’ faces –notably Jeroen, Peter and Frodo’s- when they heard the news. A few days before the actual Track Day the reality of all this started to sink in and I realised the sheer magnitude of this mission:


– Set up live streaming for the first time
– 6 hours duration
– Speakers visiting from 4 different continents
– 7 different presentation styles
– cater to PCs as well as Mac-lovers
– split screen options to be synchronised
– chat functions to be determined
– the social media guru in the house
– UNDP, special agents from Liberia and Mars representative speaking
– Possibly Ban-Ki Moon, the president of Liberia + Willy Wonka watching live
– super technical co-workers all over the world following closely and on top of this
– suddenly no more toast for lunch

Luckily there were three co-workers in the vicinity – Joyce, Charlotte and Kathelyne – who helped me through my panic attack and Lynn and Charmer from a distance who all assured me that everything would turn out for the best. As a matter of fact, apart for a slight disturbance in the broadcast late morning, it all worked out thanks to the entire Akvo team with Lissy and Josje in cool command of ‘Track Day things and thingies’. From arranging speakers, order of sessions, on the fly Akvo FLOW training or dealing with the catering, these two were un.stop.pa.ble. I happily dragged along and with the help from the people from Ventanaz we all managed to get the live stream thing up and running capturing 95% of the entire Track Day live. All I can say now that the dust has settled: I saw it happen.

Ricardo Wijngaarde is communications manager at Akvo, in Amsterdam. Photo by Mark Charmer.