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.

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.