OpenUp: Empowerment for Citizens


In this episode, we talk with JD Bothma, a senior developer at OpenUp, in their Cape Town office. OpenUp is making government and corporate data more accessible and useful to citizens so that they can take an active role in shaping their communities. We discuss building low-tech hyper-maintainable solutions, applying Agile development practices to government contexts, the importance of good testing and onboarding, and more.


“If people have the information that they need to address a situation, then they’re likely to actually try and address that themselves.”

“If you set everything up so that everything has automated tests and continuous integration and you can set up test data really easily, that's going to benefit you, whether you’re using freelancers or not or contractors or not, but it's critical if you have contractors.”

“We actually do as little dynamic backend apps as possible. If we can build something on a statically generated site like with Jekyll or Gatsby, we do, because it means you can just host it on GitHub Pages or on Netlify or something like that, and not worry about the uptime of your server because someone else is worrying about that.”

“One of the key offerings we can bring to government and to civil society is the benefits of Agile, the experimental nature of getting an iteration out and learning from it.”

“I've got a seven phone call rule. You need to make seven phone calls to get access to data.”

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Julia Neidert