How do you shoot simple project videos? Can I harvest data from Akvo RSR to use in reports? What’s the best tool to create an email newsletter, and are they even worth bothering with now? Is it appropriate for support partners to edit project information posted by their field partners? Can we display projects without the funding information column please? How can Akvo FLOW help my organisation?

These were some of the many questions raised at the Akvo Track Day earlier this week. One purpose of the event was to answer queries like these. But equally important for us were the questions that we can’t yet answer, because they’ve given us some pointers about what our support partners need and how we could or should be directing our energies to help.

Photo above: Akvo’s Peter van der Linde introduces Thomas Bjelkeman and the Akvo software development team via Skype link from Stockholm. This first ever Akvo Track Day was held in the spectacular entrance hall of our new office in the former headquarters of the Dutch West Indies Trading Company, in the centre of Amsterdam. It was built in 1642.

Photo: Akvo’s Mark Tiele Westra talks a workshop group through Akvo FLOW, our new mobile phone-based field monitoring and evaluation tool. Amsterdam, Tuesday 6 March 2012.

Around 50 people attended – most from a cross section of our Dutch support partner organisations. Fuelled by a locally sourced organic lunch and fundraising cupcakes handmade by a volunteer supporting a 1% Club project, the energy in the room was high.

For our guests, the day provided an opportunity not only to answer questions and flag up needs and wants relating to Akvo tools, but also to find out about new developments in the pipeline such as Akvo FLOW (which by coincidence we were able to publicly announce on the day of the Track Day itself). They gained a perspective from the World Bank, were able to gem up on what to do to meet International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) standards, they honed practical skills like video interviewing and had a chance to network.

 Practicing the art of simple video interviews. Amsterdam, 6 March 2012.

You can view a Flickr photo set by Frodo van Oostveen here, containing some highlights. Or click on the collage below.

Our thanks go to our guest speakers Merrick Schaefer from the World Bank and Mark Brough from Publish What You Fund, as well to all our partner colleagues who participated. We’re already looking over the insights and experiences they shared as they seek to navigate the new development communications landscape. Everyone’s input will help us learn how to do the best job we can to support everyone moving forward.

[Updated to add:] Read about Mark Charmer’s Akvo Track Day communications training sessions and watch the video interviews that took place here. See Luuk Diphoorn’s slides about using Akvo RSR here.

Jo Pratt is Akvo’s communications manager