AbreLatam/ConDatos: the Latin America’s open data community

by Digital Rights LAC on October 27, 2015


AbreLatam/ConDatos had their first meeting in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 2013; 2014 edition visited Mexico City; and 2015 was headed to Santiago de Chile.  The regional meeting revolving open data -who invites public in general, government officials, academics, entrepreneurs and journalists-  had their third edition, now the challenges are present in different ways, but they move forward one step at a time.

By Sergio Araiza, SocialTIC

For those not familiarized with the subject -and as a preview of the event’s experience- I must say that in various countries of the region, an opening process to open data formats is beginning from different levels of government.

Some of this processes are being made under information access laws, others as a part of a much broader open government and e-government strategies.

AbreLatam, meanwhile, is a meeting and reflection space that gathers civil society and people interested to interact in an anti-conference format, which enforces the construction of a discussion agenda meanwhile the event is on course. This allows a dialogue based on teaching and learning experiences of those gathered there. Even tho its counterpart, ConDatos, is a more structured space with government presence, lots of the discussions present on the anti-conference, come to light on the next days and echoes the interests and concerns of the civil society.

This year’s meeting was convened by the Smart Citizen Foundation on September 7th and 8th on the Gabriela Mistral Centre. On this enclosure, up to 20 work groups composed by activists, journalists, designers and programmers from all across the continent shared comments regarding subjects such as open data journalism, data visualization, interoperability and open formats; and the importance of information privacy on the open data procedures.

There are no final answers and nothing is set in stone yet. Talks along the hallways, 140 characters thoughts and a lot of ideas filled post-its are a part of what every assistant choose to take back home on their luggage. Three years away from its first edition, AbreLatam shows a community that grows with a steady step; a testimony that those ideas dribbled on a napkin are now a reality and keep growing strong.

The experience also leaves us with important questions regarding where the community’s way is heading. Who are the data users? How can the open data impact on the population be measured? More data equals more transparent governments?. This and other questions remains in the agenda and the answers have multiple layers in this and upcoming discussions. A year ahead keeps us waiting for the next edition and we are certain that in the future the movement will grow since now it shows its presence in several latin american social civil agendas.

Image: © Modernización y Gobierno Digital, Gobierno de Chile