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February 24 2014

A Day to Strengthen Portugal's Open Data Community

A typical rabelo boat from Porto carrying the open data flag for the #OpenDataDay. Banner by Transparência Hackday.

A typical rabelo boat from Porto carrying the open data flag for the #OpenDataDay. Banner by Ana Carvalho / Transparência Hackday.

[Disclosure: The author of this post was one of the organizers of the event.]

Pro-transparency and tech for citizenship enthusiasts from different cities in Portugal joined in the global Open Data Day celebration with a gathering in Porto hosted by the Transparência Hackday collective on February 22, 2014.

Designers, programmers, hackers, communicators and public servants dedicated a Saturday afternoon to sharing their experience with transparency issues as well as to opening some data to the public.

Hands-on tasks included the Local Open Data Census by Open Knowledge Foundation, which aimed at putting together data sets at the local level, from transport timetables to annual budgets and air quality:

We know there is huge variability in how much local data is available not just across countries but within countries, with some cities and municipalities making major open data efforts, while in others there’s little or no progress visible. If we can find out what open data is out there, we can encourage more cities to open up key information, helping businesses and citizens understand their cities and making life easier.

By the end of the day, the cities of Coimbra and Porto had quite a full range of information available in a collaborative document that will be used to update the Open Knowledge instance for Portugal once it has been setup by the international organization.

A different group took on the yogurt cataloging challenge launched by Open Food Facts, a free, open and crowdsourced food products database. The idea behind “What's in my yogurt?” project was to gather nutrition facts, ingredients and other dairy data from as many countries of the world as possible in just one day. So did the Portuguese

Data ‘visualinspiration’

The cherry on top for this fourth anniversary of the International Open Data Day was the presentation of the designer and researcher Pedro Cruz from the University of Coimbra of his work on data visualization.

The association for cultural intervention Maus Hábitos (Bad Habits) opened its door for the open data venue.

The association for cultural intervention Maus Hábitos (Bad Habits) in Porto opened its door for the venue of the #OpenDataDay in Portugal.

The journey started with Pedro's data visualization of the evolution of the decline of the maritime empires of the 19th and 20th centuries by land extension. In the timeline of events, British, Portuguese, French and Spanish empires dissolute in a fluid way as “some kind of soft bodies”. Other works by him include the traffic of Lisbon condensed in one day – or portrayed as a metaphor of living organisms with circulatory problems – as well as text analysis, public transport exploration, and much more.

“An ecosystem of corporate politicians“ - interactive visualization at pmcruz.com/eco.

“An ecosystem of corporate politicians“ – interactive visualization at pmcruz.com/eco.

But his most recent deed, the interactive visualization ”An ecosystem of corporate politicians” – on the relationships between members of Portuguese governments and companies for the period of 1975 to 2013 – was the one sparking more debate.

The powerful visualization shows the companies where ministers and secretaries of state have had positions and allows for the exploration of what appears to be a parasite ecosystem, given the form of the designed organisms:

Data is approached as an ecosystem, where each set of interdependent relations are regulated by physical conditions—each politician has a sequence of companies to visit, chasing them and jumping between them, in order to restart the sequence each time it is completed.

The data was collected from a study on politics and business carried out for the documentary “Donos de Por­tu­gal” (Owners of Portugal).

Getting to know the community

Improve Coimbra was another project from the third main city of Portugal that participants had the chance to meet on #OpenDataDay in Porto. Alike the organizer in Porto, Transparência Hackday, Improve Coimbra promotes monthly meetings that anyone can join to help solve the problems of the city. In little more than one year of activities, Improve has already created several websites and mobile apps for the citizens of Coimbra, such as a platform for crowdsourcing home rents, a map of cafes with available wifi, and Burocracia which makes the minutes of Coimbra's city government assembly available and easy to search. 

Also the northern municipality of Alfândega da Fé was represented in this #OpenDataDay. Ranked in second place in the Index of Municipal Transparency [pt] launched in October 2013 by the watchdog Transparência e Integrigade, Associação Cívica (TIAC), this small municipality of the region of Trás-os-Montes, with less than 6,000 inhabitants, has been showing positive signs of willingness to open local governmental data

That was the ultimate aim of the event, after all, to encourage governmental data openness, and thus the #OpenData in Portugal has grown a bit stronger with more grassroots organizations and individuals dialoguing with each other and the world.

You can check out the agenda of the #OpenDataDay in a pad available in Transparencia Hackday's blog, and read more about the global event in the official website [all links in Portuguese]. 

February 21 2014

Developing Latin America: Winners of the Regional Acceleration Event

dal2013-2
Last year's Developing Latin America event evolved through several segments according to individual schedules for each of the 12 participating countries. The first segment was called the Apps Challenge, during which everybody had different activities such as conferences, hackathons, presentations of projects and other events throughout the month of October, ending the segment on 26 October with Demo Day [es].

The next segment was called Regional Acceleration. The 34 national winners resulting from the evaluations from Demo Day, who had a month to improve their apps, had the option of applying for this segment which consisted of building up the applications that had been developed with the help of Socialab, [click lower left corner for English] an organization specializing in supporting these enterprises.

After the period of nominations and evaluation by the jury, the six winners of the Regional Acceleration were announced on January 10, three in the form of in person presentations (in Santiago, Chile), and three remotely. They will receive Socialab support for three months.

The in-person Acceleration winners were:

Ayni [es] from Ecuador. “A web and mobile application that can geographically identify computer parts. It allows people to upload computer parts they are not using and generate a map of reusable parts. This map will be used by collectors (public or private entities) for faster recycling and clearer identification of each part.”

Dromos [es] from Ecuador. “Dromos is not just a transportation app. Dromos focuses on the landmarks of a city rather than routes. Using metadata tags to define each landmark it is possible to include criminalistics and tourist attractions, among other features. By not depending on the routes, we suggest intelligent alternatives estimating mobilization times, detours, safety and prices with a visually appealing app.”

Bizu Buzú [es] from Brazil. “Mobile application that offers a professional study plan focused on the skill the user wants to develop, taking advantage of free time on the trip to and from work, providing content in multimedia format so that the experience best fits one’s path of travel. These studies will be like a game and users accumulate points (Bizús) with which to establish a ranking.”

The remote Acceleration winners were:

Conciliador Virtual [Virtual Mediator] [es] from Brazil. “Our application will put interested parties in contact in order to reach a solution to their problems through a real mediator, as well as a real mediating session. In the end, the system will generate a signed and sealed contract.”

Tu Primer Trabajo [Your First Job] [es] from Argentina. “A game that allows young people to go through the experience of a job interview, get and then keep a job. The ability to advance in the game will be subject to the participant being able to correctly respond to questions about situations that could occur in the future. It also includes useful advice.”

Wedoo [es] from Chile. “Wedoo is a platform that seeks to promote the initiatives of NGOs and the laws that arise from them or that they hope to create. An NGO will be be able to not only publish an initiative (with its associated laws) and spread it via social networks, but may also, depending on the timing, encourage and coordinate specific actions by its members to boost their reach and influence.”

Given that two Ecuadorian apps took two out of three places in the in-person Regional Acceleration, there were various reactions from that country. For example, Fundapi, the the partner organization for Developing Latin America Ecuador, was among the first to congratulate them:

Congratulations to the Ayni and Dromos teams, who are the winners of the in-person Regional Acceleration

While the Center for Entrepreneurship at the Polytechnic School of the Coast (ESPOL in Spanish) commented [es]:

Felicitamos de forma especial a los ganadores de este concurso, ensalzando no sólo su potencial y talento sino de todos los ecuatorianos. Son un orgullo para nuestro país y para la ESPOL, siendo algunos de ellos ex-alumnos de nuestra institución.

We especially congratulate the winners of this contest, extolling not only their potential and talent but of all Ecuadorians. They make our country and EPSOL proud, since some of them are alumni of our institution.

Afterwards, ECStartups [es] organized a Hangout with the members of the Ayni group, headed by Luis Bajaña, and Dromos, led by Jorge Domínguez, José Espinoza and David Chang.

The Remote Acceleration starts this month, in February, and ends in April. During this time, Socialab will train the winning teams on topics such as Lean Startup, Business Model Canvas, Design Thinking, etc., and will give them the tools to measure the social impact.

In the case of the in-person Acceleration, which will start in March and end in May, apart from the training mentioned above, the teams will participate in an activity of co-creation “on the ground” with potential users and/or customers. They will also carry out their communication and financial plans, and seek funding for the sustainability of their projects. This is besides, of course, the prize of US $10,000 per team.

In conclusion, here’s a video summary of the Apps Challenge for Developing Latin America 2013:

Other related posts:

2011
Desarrollando América Latina – 30 horas de tecnología y sociedad [es]
Developing Latin America Open Data Project

2012
Developing Latin America 2012
Developing Latin America Draws Near
Day 1 of Developing Latin America 2012
Day 2 of Developing Latin American 2012
Winning Applications from Latin America's Biggest Hackathon

2013

Developing Latin America 2013: Apps Challenge for Social Impact
This Weekend at Developing Latin America Apps Challenge Part I
This Weekend at Developing Latin America Apps Challenge Part II
¡DemoDay en Desarrollando América Latina! [es]

Post originally published in Juan Arellano's blog Globalizado [es].

February 11 2014

International Open Data Day Set for February 22

Bloggers, hackers, designers, statisticians and other citizens who are interested in Open Data and Transparency will gather online and offline for the International Open Data Day on February 22, 2014. The event takes place to encourage governmental data openness.

Open Data Day is a gathering of citizens in cities around the world to write applications, liberate data, create visualizations and publish analyses using open public data to show support for and encourage the adoption open data policies by the world's local, regional and national governments.

Anyone can organize a local event in their city as long as the event is open for others to join. The attendees can participate in creating anything related to Open Data, be it with local or global applications, visualizations, scraping data from a government website to make it available for others or even organize a series of workshops with government officials, journalists or other stakeholders affected by open data.

The hashtag that will be used for the even is, #ODD2014. Some Twitter users have already started posting their comments on the hashtag.

Dozens of cities are participating in the hackathon.

International Open Data Hackathon

International Open Data Hackathon

Announcements are also made on Twitter for local events in different places.

The Open Data Day in Egypt, http://t.co/PdqDzokxcP

Add your city to the list if it is not already there, and start planning for a local event there.

October 24 2013

This Weekend at Developing Latin America 2013 Apps Challenge (Part II)

Foto obtenida del set en Facebook de Desarrollando América Latina.

Photo from Desarrollando América Latina Facebook page.

We continue the virtual tour of the countries participating in the third edition of Desarrollando América Latina [Developing Latin America]-#DAL2013. (See the first part here.)

Bolivia's [es] envisioning meeting took place a few weeks ago and they were also preparing for Demo Day. And although the organizers have not been very active on social networks, [es] they have been virtually supporting participants.

Learn about social issues to be worked on in Bolivia during #DAL2013

Tired of your work being a machine?

The people of Chile [es] are among the most enthusiastic about #DAL2013:

Preparation for #dal2013 in Chile :)

Learn more about the first #DAL2013 Chile workshop on Flickr

Days from hackathon #DAL2013 Chile! Check out what we've done so far

In Chile, preparations for the close of a successful day. #DAL2013 participants creating real solutions!

We share the Dynamic Management workshop at #DAL2013. Don't forget Oct. 26 is the end.

In Argentina [es] there have been a couple of preparatory meetings, but the actual hackathon will be the 25th of this month:

This Thursday at 19:30h will be the preview of #DAL2013, join in to think about technological solutions with social impact

And so we start Argentina's #DAL2013.  Crazy photos

The presentations of the projects begin

Argentina presents the projects for #DAL2013. Follow it live here

Click here to see the #DAL2013 Argentina projects

#Dal2013 Argentina is the hackathon where there are more girls than programmers

It is the first time [es] that Paraguay [es] is participating in a DAL event and expectations are high:

The day has arrived! #DAL2013 in Paraguay is a reality! Thanks to all for the support and effort, now all that remains is….

Paraguay. Day 1. Just started

In Paraguay #DAL2013 is not over! The teams continue developing!

There is still enthusiasm and will for @dalparaguay. The second day of #DAL2013 has been amazing!

talking about the environment in Paraguay :)

In Uruguay [es] there is once again a month dedicated to open data and the following tweets are only part of all the activity going on in Montevideo:

In Uruguay, the expedition is in development. The data is an unknown universe!

Subgroups present the results of the Data Expedition at the #OktoberDATAFEST

Thank you for the beautiful note about the #OktoberDATAFEST

Starting the #OktoberDATAFEST

This goes to show that anybody can participate in a hackathon!

And Brazil [es] is fulfilling its schedule of activities with a view towards Demo Day on this October 26.

The schedule of activities for the Brazilian edition of #DAL2013 has been published. Check it out, share it, and sign up!

This is #DAL2013 Brazil. Tomorrow 10 other countries have their turn.

We are on the third day of #DAL2013. Developers energetically brewing up ideas!

DAL Brazil 2013 Day 1 video

Prototype Saturday at DAL2013 Brazil

This has been a quick panorama of the activities in 12 Latin American countries participating in #DAL2013, but this isn't all that has happened; the central organization of #DAL2013 has been organizing and coordinating workshops for the participants, and many have had thoughts about Developing Latin America:

Open government isn't just transparency, it's openness to prioritize, create and implement policy and tools WITH its citizens

In a few minutes, a presentation of @EscuelaDeDatos, #DAL2013 and data scraping will begin. There will be a hangout 

What's cool about #DAL2013 is the interest generated by developers to create social solutions, hopefully it will be a success!

This October 26 at our Demo Day you can find out the results of #DAL2013. Stay tuned for more details!

We will soon bring you more updates about this year's Developing Latin America.

October 22 2013

This Weekend at Developing Latin America 2013 Apps Challenge (Part I)

dal2013pic

Photo from Desarrollando América Latina Facebook page.

This past weekend has been very productive for the Developing Latin America (#DAL2013) Apps Challenge; there was movement in person and on social networks in almost all locations of the participating countries. In this post we bring you a brief summary of what happened.

In México [es] they share some of the challenges they have raised and the activities they have organized to find solutions: 

#DAL2013 challenge about education in Mexico, children's rights and more.

Challenge ‘Infancy Counts': Visualizes the state of infancy in Mexico.

Video: Data expedition with @Mexicanos1o for #DAL2013

#DAL2013 Challenge: Information about quality and service in health clinics. Have you picked yours?

#DAL2013 Challenge: Help youth identify risky situations that can turn them into victims of trafficking.

Participants in Guatemala [es] have shown their excitement about a series of scheduled conferences:

Saturday conferences begin.

Socio-technical network of a flexible screen

“Ideas are easy to copy; business ideas, socio-technical ideas are harder” Alvaro Figueredo

The project has to take on a life of its own and have momentum to keep going- Javier Álvarez

The presentation on civic hacking is available here –> http://t.co/Y3PzA489T5

Civic hackers from Costa Rica [es] took some time off this weekend, but the previous weekend they held their hackathon:

Experts co-creating with participants. In Costa Rica #DAL2013 has just begun!

24 hours later, 10 teams, 34 young people, a lot of talent.

A lot has happened at #DAL2013 Do you want to learn about the hackathon in Costa Rica?

#DAL2013 Costa Rica winners awarded by President Laura Chinchilla

@nacion brings us an article about all the winning teams of Developing Latin America Costa Rica 2013

Colombia [es] also held its hackathon earlier:

@williamgomezg presents #mochilapp projects, health and technology, political oversight. Great ideas!

@TheColombist presents this interesting project #RutaCiudadana

@sibcolombia shows for the first time their dynamic and open app to explore georeferenced data

Colombia also develops solutions at #DAL2013

Hackers and other specialists in Ecuador [es] are working towards Demo Day on October 26, but they've also been sharing some tweets about their activities:

#DAL2013 kicks off in Ecuador at ESPAE, Espol Campus Las Peñas

Ecuador seeks to find solutions to problems related to transportation, environment, democracy, health and education.

Complete integration between participants at DAL Ecuador

Awards at DAL Ecuador are being presented, thanks to @McDonalds_Ecu

We thank Santa María University for hosting the data scraping event last night.

And in Peru [es] there's been a lot of activity in the past two weekends, with the hashtags #datamaskay (data search) and #dataminka (work with data) becoming quite popular on Twitter:

#DAL2013 throughout October! [month of hackathons, earthquakes and miracles!] > @IPAE_Innova and @escuelab invite you!

Solutions are found in open data. In Peru ideas become solutions!

We have data! Latest poll about corruption 2013

Ideas discussed at #dataminka!

Once participants decided which app would be ideal to develop, they debated which resources they will use.

In the next post we will continue reporting about activities in the other countries participating in Developing Latin America 2013!

September 27 2013

Developing Latin America 2013: An ‘Apps Challenge’ for Social Impact

flyer_inscripciones

“Developing Latin America”

Fundación Ciudadano Inteligente is about to launch a new edition of their regional initiative entitled Developing Latin America [es], which brings together the efforts of developers, social specialists, and others to use open data to create applications that serve the Latin American community. In their own words [es]:

Impulsamos aplicaciones innovadoras, sustentables, escalables y de alto impacto social. Celebramos a la comunidad de emprendedores, tecnólogos, desarrolladores y diseñadores, desafiándolos a trabajar en conjunto con sus gobiernos y organizaciones locales para co-crear soluciones que generen un cambio positivo para los ciudadanos. Fomentamos una cultura de creatividad, innovación y emprendimiento en América Latina.

We promote innovative, sustainable, and scalable applications with a high social impact. We celebrate the community of entrepreneurs, technologists, developers and designers, challenging them to work together with their governments and local organizations to co-create solutions that generate a positive change for citizens. We foster a culture of creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship in Latin America.

For its third edition, Developing Latin America (DAL) is transforming and is going from being a Hackathon to what they call an Apps Challenge, meaning a longer event with the goal of developing better ideas, obtaining more concrete solutions, and, as such, achieving applications that are more sustainable and scalable.

But, what is an Apps Challenge? [es]

Un Apps Challenge es una competencia entre aplicaciones. En el caso de DAL, es una competencia colaborativa que se realizará a lo largo de tres intensas semanas de desarrollo. Esta etapa está diseñada para dotar a los equipos de las herramientas que permitan desarrollar una aplicación innovadora y disruptiva. Realizaremos varias actividades con el objetivo de generar aplicaciones de alto impacto social.

An Apps Challenge is a competition between applications. In the case of DAL, it is a collaborative competition that will be held over the course of three intense weeks of development. This stage is designed to give teams the tools that will allow for the development of an innovative and disruptive application. Various activities will take place with the goal of generating applications of high social impact.

compartamos-ideas

“Let's share idea and work together to develop Latin America!”

DAL officially launches on October 5 of this year, and we say officially because in reality the coordination of DAL and the different teams in charge of the event in the participating countries (now 12) have been working on preparing for it for several weeks. In fact, each team has planned various activities [es] to take place in their country during the month of October and, on October 26, there will be a Demo Day in addition to the selection of the three best applications per country.

But that is not all. After this phase, in association with Socialab, a project accelerator specialized in high impact social projects, will choose five teams among the winners to build up their projects for three months, helping them construct a business plan and find funding, among other things:

  • Co-creación “en terreno” con sus potenciales usuarios y clientes.
  • Definición de áreas de impacto que el proyecto tendrá en la sociedad, estos son co-creados con la comunidad y usuarios en trabajos en terreno.
  • Capacitarse en metodología de innovación y emprendimiento (Lean Start-Up, Canvas Business Model, Design Thinking, etc.)
  • Búsqueda de financiamiento para la sustentabilidad de sus proyectos a través de distintos medios: inversionistas, crowdfundings, fondos concursables, entre otros.
  • Generación de redes con distintos actores relevantes para el proyecto.
  • Planes comunicacionales y financieros elaborados.
  • Co-creation “in the field” with their potential users and clients.
  • Definition of areas of impact that the project will have in society, these are co-created with the community and users in field work.
  • Training in innovation and entrepreneurship (Lean Start-up, Canvas Business Model, Design Thinking, etc.)
  • Finding funds for sustainability of their projects through various means: investors, crowd funding, competitive funds, among others.
  • Generating networks with various stakeholders relevant to the project.
  • Elaborating communication and financial plans.

To learn a bit more about what DAL will be like this year and familiarize ourselves with the Apps Challenge process, our collaborator, Elizabeth Rivera, met with Anca Matioc, Regional Coordinator of Developing Latin America. Below is a video [es] of the interview:

In the interview, Matioc expanded on DAL's decision to go from a Hackathon, typically 36 hours, to an Apps Challenge, which will span a period of three weeks. As a response to DAL's growth over the past two years, Matioc highlighted the desire to have participants go beyond making prototypes for applications by giving them the opportunity to create more efficient and finished apps for social change. With the Apps Challenge, which she described as an “extended hackathon”, each of the twelve participating countries will have its own agenda of activities and workshops, culminating in the Demo Day and Socialab nominations. Currently, DAL is continuing its preparations for the event and meeting with its stakeholders to discuss their roles as mentors for each team of participants.

DAL has already generated interest in the region. For example, ALT1040 reports on the event and says [es]:

Este tipo de programas son ideales para impulsar pequeñas startups que pretenden resolver problemas comunes de la región. Lo interesante es que las aplicaciones pueden estar enfocadas tanto en solucionar un problema de tu país como hasta solucionar uno de Latinoamérica en su totalidad. Un reflejo de que podemos y queremos cambiar el mundo en el que vivimos, aunque tengamos que hacerlo una aplicación a la vez.

These types of programs are ideal for inspiring small startups seeking to resolve common problems in the region. The interesting thing is that the applications can be focused on solving a problem in your country as well as solving one in Latin America as a whole. A reflection on the idea that we can and want to change the world we live in, even if we have to do it one application at a time.

El Becario from the Código Espagueti blog reflects [es]:

Sin duda, un gran reto para países en los que no todos tienen un smartphone o una tableta, aún así se trata de un gran esfuerzo que bien podría ayudar a mejorar las condiciones de vida en la región.

Without a doubt, a big challenge for countries where not everyone has a smartphone or tablet; still, it is a great initiative that could really help improve living conditions in the region.

If you are a developer and are interested not only in a professional challenge but simultaneously having the opportunity to help solve social problems in your city or country, such as education, health, public safety, and transportation, among others, you can sign up [es] until October 4 and participate in this event on a regional level.

On our behalf, we will be providing coverage of the details of this great initiative.

Other related posts:

2011
Developing Latin America – 30 hours of technology and society [es]
“Developing Latin America”: Open Data Projects

2012
Developing Latin America 2012
What Exactly is a Hackathon? And What is Open Data?
Developing Latin America Draws Near!
Day 1 of Developing Latin America 2012
Day 2 of Developing Latin America 2012
Winning Applications From Latin America's Biggest Hackathon

August 02 2013

Abre Latam: Developers and Solutions for the Region

Abre Latam [es], an event on Open Data and transparency in Latin American governments that took place in Montevideo, Uruguay on June 24 and 25, did not only bring together hackers and civil society activists from Latin America, along with other people from the region interested in spreading open data and the applications that use them, but also organizations and people from other parts of the world with the same interests.

For example, Alla Morrison, writing for the Open Data blog at the World Bank comments on what she had in mind before the event took place:

Does open data have economic value beyond the benefits of transparency and accountability? Does it have the power to fuel new businesses and create new jobs? Does it have the potential to improve people's lives by powering new services and products? If so, what should the World Bank be doing to help this along? These were questions we had in mind as we set out to bring together open data entrepreneurs from across Latin America for an Open Data Business Models workshop in Montevideo, Uruguay.

Logo-Abre-Latam-700

Abre Latam: An open meeting for an open region

As mentioned in a prior post, people from the Open Knowledge Foundation were present to launch the Spanish version of School of DataEscuela de Datos [es]. They had previously been in Santiago and Buenos Aires and their mission was to promote the launch of the School of Data, but also to try to find and meet the people that participate and drive the topic of open data. According to what they wrote in their blog, it was a magnificent experience:

The initiative [Escuela de Datos] was received enthusiastically and we’re looking forward to see the network grow. [...] After the two intense days all of us left with big smiles and new ideas in our minds. Big congratulations to the team at DATA for organising the event and bringing together such a great group of people from all around the region!

Foto de la página de Facebook ABRE LATAM

Photo from the ABRE LATAM Facebook page

Jen Bramley, of MySociety.org, one of the organizations present that is dedicated to developing software that will empower people in their civic and democratic aspects (FixMyStreet, for example), wrote that “it was extremely interesting to hear the social, cultural, and political experiences of other people in relation to technology,” and also mentioned that:

For me, the most important part was seeing the projects other people work on to strengthen transparency, citizen participation, and civil liberties in their own countries. It’s a humbling experience to realise that some things we take for granted are the subject of intense campaigning in other countries. Each day we had a series of workshops around different topics. I facilitated one, trying to learn what people want from open source technology to make it more globally usable.

Javier Ruíz of the Open Rights Group, an organization dedicated to defending freedom of expression, privacy, innovation, creativity, and consumer rights on the Internet, believes that it is interesting that among the attendees at Abre Latam there was a genuine concern that open data was not only playing with technological toys. He also wrote about his participation in the event:

ORG’s proposed session on privacy brought up many interesting examples of conflicts and difficult choices. Among others we heard of exam results being published in Mexico and the electoral register with Google indexed photos in Argentina. The consensus was that the privacy and open data nexus is very important but we lack the framework to analyse it. This is particularly complicated with the diversity of legal and cultural contexts we find in different countries. Many activists asked for more information and capacity building.

Foto de la página de Facebook ABRE LATAM

Photo from the ABRE LATAM Facebook page

Although Fabrizio Scrollini is Uruguayan and a member of D.A.T.A., one of the organizers of Abre Latam, he wrote a post in English as a guest for the Sunlight Foundation's blog, where he makes a series of reflections on the event as well as on the state of open data, transparency, and open government in the region. Among other things he says:

Community matters. This is hardly a surprise but community can mean different things. Indeed people are interested in open data for all sorts of reasons, but when it comes to a particular area or group of datasets, and the aim is social change, the need for different skills and common goals becomes crucial. Some of the greatest sessions were about how to link the different worlds of technology, communication, policy and social problem solving. Open data (or the lack of it) is sometimes a great excuse to put minds together working to achieve better outcomes.

Susannah Vila, a Global Voices collaborator, kept a live-blog for TechPresident, which she begins with a bit of history about the initiatives with open data in the region:

When Ciudadano Inteligente was launched back in 2011 it was perhaps the only initiative in the region using technology to enhance civic information, engagement and transparency. That same year a regional hackathon, Desarrollando America Latina, was created. Soon after, a community of civic technologists that rivals Chile’s emerged in Mexico, and then in Argentina, Perú, and elsewhere. Uruguay’s DATA launched less than a year ago. As bellwethers like Ciudadano Inteligente grow, and newer projects emerge, a convening designed to consider what has worked and what hasn’t is propitious. It’s also the first of its kind for the region, where civic technologists have come together (plenty) for hackathons, but never to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the hackathon and open data projects.

Foto de la página de Facebook ABRE LATAM

Photo from the ABRE LATAM Facebook page

In another post, Susannah identifies three tendencies that emerged in Abre Latam to answer the question: How do we engage the right people at the right time to use data from the government and turn it into policies for lasting change?

1. Top-Down Solutions: Donor-funded strategies that bring technologists together with NGOs, journalists, activists and other interested groups.
2. Bottom-up solutions: Workshops that develop political autonomy and engagement at the grassroots level.
3. Realistic Solutions: Engage deeply with niche groups.

In conclusion, we are sharing a quote from the blog of Raquel Camargo, a Brazilian journalist who attended the event and also presented the project where she works, Movimento Minas [pt]. After writing about the initiatives that impressed her the most, she reflects the following:

A mensagem que fiquei com todos esses projetos é que, quem quer faz. A grande parte desses projetos contam com poucas pessoas, mas muita vontade. São independentes, são alimentados de determinação e ideologias. Dinheiro? Nem sempre rola. Mas tem paixão no meio. Isso é, para mim, emocionante e faz total sentido ao momento do Brasil. A gente quer mudança? Então vamos fazer a mudança. Esse pessoal aí sabe o que é isso.

The message that all of these projects gave me is that, whoever wants to, does it. A big part of these projects have very few people, but a lot of will. They are independent, they are fed by determination and ideologies. Money? Not always. But passion is in the middle. That is, for me, exciting and makes a lot of sense in Brazil's present moment. We want to change? Then let's make the change. These people here know what that is.

Foto de la página de Facebook ABRE LATAM

Photo from the ABRE LATAM Facebook page

Related post:

Abre Latam, an Open Conference for an Open Region.

Original post published on Juan Arellano's Globalizado [es] blog.

June 20 2013

ABRE LATAM: Open Data and Transparency Unconference

Fernando Briano from Picando Código informs [es] about the upcoming unconference ABRE LATAM [es], organized by D.A.T.A. [es] and Ciudadano Inteligente [es], on June 24 and 25 in Montevideo, Uruguay. The event hopes to “bring together representatives of different sectors of Latin American civil society who work with Open Data on issues like transparency, citizen participation and the extension of civil liberties.” You can follow them on Twitter [es] and Facebook [es].

April 23 2013

Developing Latin America: A Summary

dal-anca
Desarrollando América Latina (Developing Latin America) has published a video summary of the regional hackathon DAL 2012, where 400 participants and 70 social experts developed 80 applications. Here [es] you can see Global Voices’ coverage of the event.

April 12 2013

Transparency NGOs Prepare for Sunday’s Election in Venezuela

In a few days, Venezuelan voters will head to the polls for the second time in six months. They’ll be choosing a successor to former president Hugo Chavez, who died in March. The country’s political climate is no less chaotic than it was during the election in October, however a group of NGOs have been able to come together to work towards transparency in the electoral process.

It is precisely the hyper polarized political environment in Venezuela that makes this collaboration worth noting. Elección Ciudadana – the name for the umbrella group – emerged in October through the efforts of Venezuela Inteligente [es], and has used the last five months to develop partnerships with a wider range of organizations. With these additional relationships, the organizations hope to be able to reach a wider audience of citizens. As a representative of one of coalition member, Transparencia Venezuela [es], said:

our goal is to place at the service of the population as many forms of contact as possible so they can make their complaints using the mechanism that suits them best, both during the campaign that begins tomorrow and the day of the elections.

Transparencia Venezuela (@NoMasGuiso) [es] also tweeted :

@NoMasGuiso: Tu denuncia con la de otros puede hacer la diferencia, no te quedes callado y denuncia los abusos que veas en estas elecciones #NoMasGuiso (no more corruption)

@NoMasGuiso: Your report with that of others can make the difference, don’t stay quiet – report the abuses that you see in these elections. #NoMasGuiso

Are the efforts to reach more Venezuelans with the simple message that they can both access and add to information about electoral malfeasance working? One coalition member, Usted Abusó, has received over 200 reports in 2013 which are largely about the political use of state resources.

Elección ciudadana map

Elección ciudadana map

Nearly 200 reports have been channeled thus far to Elección Ciudadana, which provides a map [es] that pulls in citizen reports that were originally sent to collaborating organizations. Its team expects to receive significantly more this weekend, when violence, detentions and failures in the election systems are all likely. Indeed, political violence has already begun – for instance there was politically motivated murder [es] and assault [es] this week.

On election day, Elección Ciudadana will be maintaining a volunteer center – organized largely by Venezuela Inteligente [es] – for individuals to intake, verify and post reports. Many others will be volunteering from home. Their hope is that the varied networks and experiences of each coalition member will make it easier to process, integrate and respond to reports on election day; they will be trying to elicit responses both from major media outlets and the official election authority [es].

January 28 2013

Regional Winners of Developing Latin America 2012

With some delay, here comes an update about the regional hackathon, Desarrollando América Latina 2012 [es] (DAL- Developing Latin America), following the winners at the local level, which completed the final round where awarded on a regional level were chosen among the 22 applications that resulted from the winners of the hackathon in each country.

The organization reported [es]:

Tu Huerta

Tu Huerta

Third place: Your vegetable garden (by RGN) | Uruguay. This application seeks to give an inexperienced person or community the necessary knowledge to create their own orchard and start to plant their own vegetables. The judges considered that the application used open data very well, resolving a specific problem with good development. The project demonstrated a profound and innovative work.

Ideal Factory

Ideal Factory

Second Place: Ideal Factory (by Blackout) | Bolivia. […] Using records of entities in the chosen area, this application offers imformation similar to that of a FODA [es] analysis (strength, opportunities, weaknesses, threats) from the type of organization that is requested (education, health, police and commerce). […] it is a tool through which an average citizen can support himself and learn about how to make future decisions not only to start a business or oganization, but also to be better informed about his zone.

For the judges, this application has great value for its scalability in other countries (like Chile and Mexico, among others). It also resolves the problem of duplication of work and promotes synergy and colaborations between different actors, fostering the entrepreneurial climate.

Lima I/O

Lima I/O

First Place: Lima I/O. The city speaks (by #Rememos (#werow) | Peru . The application consists of a system of devices with environmental sensors that are placed in various parts of the city, that send information through the Internet to a cloud platform, categorizing and geo-referencing what is received.

The judges awarded first place to this aplication for being a great and original idea, using innovative tools in order to achieve a real social impact. They hope to see “Lima I/O. The city speaks” completely implemented in the near future, with the support of an environmental organization to help spread the app and monitor the system annexed mechanisms.

There was also an honorable mention: Elbowing Latin America [es], “a platform where organizations and civil society publish projects and needs, exhibiting open data through CKAN and calling those interested in the areas of technology and design to resolve these projects and needs.

The RSS Technology blog summarizes here [es] the winners:

El galardón lo obtuvo la aplicación peruana “Lima i/o”, una solución basada en Internet de las Cosas para monitorear el estado del medio ambiente en tiempo real. El segundo lugar se lo llevó “Ideal Factory” de Bolivia, que entrega información para nuevas empresas u organizaciones, y el tercer puesto lo obtuvo la aplicación “Tu Huerta”, de Uruguay, que ayuda a comenzar a sembrar vegetales en tu hogar, sin necesidad de tener conocimientos previos.

The first place award was attained by the Peruvian application “Lima I/O,” a solution based on the Internet of Things to monitor the state of the environment in real time. Second place was won by “Ideal Factory” from Bolivia, which delivers information for new businesses and organizations, and third place was obtained by the application “Your Orchard,” from Uruguay, which helps start and plant vegetables in one's home, without needing to have previous knowledge.

About the Hackathon itself, Bárbara Blay, from Global Social Stream comments [es] that “the environment of creation and innovation is widespread, not only promoting the creation of applications for the search of a social solution, but also making a regional and connected atmosphere, accessible by the rest of the citizens, and promoting as such the use of technology for development“. She also adds:

Existen muchos puntos comunes en las problématicas que se han identificado para la búsqueda de soluciones como lo son la falta de información sobre los servicios públicos, y las alternativas a esta deficiencia sería la combinación entre facilitar la información a través de las herramientas numéricas y facilitar la participación y elcrowdsourcing para completar esta información.

There are many common points in the issues that have been identified in the search for solutions, like the lack of information about public services, and the alternatives to this deficiency are the combination of facilitating the information through numeric tools and facilitating participation and crowdsourcing to achieve this information.

David Sasaki, one of the judges at the regional level, reflects on the past use of the winning application: “But, will gathering data serve in a Court case when the environmental activists demand of the industrial contaminators? And if not, then why are we gathering the data?” He adds then about the purpose of hackathons like this one:

Bringing together diverse actors — including private sector, public sector, activists and technologists — to make sure that there is a purpose behind the data is the model of the “datapalooza,” which White House CTO Todd Park has been evangelizing for the past couple years. The starting assumption isn’t that there is an app or gadget that can fix complex social problems, but rather that there is value in bringing together diverse actors to contemplate the stories and social issues that lie out of plain sight in large datasets.

However he also has certain objections to the model of hackathons:

The optimist in me hopes that at least two or three of them will have a lifespan of more than a year, but the realist in me knows that this is not likely. I have judged over a dozen app contests and I can’t recall a single winning app that I use today.

Boris Krygel, of InSTEDD iLab, one of the participants (and winner) in Argentina, goes a little further and poses a question [es]:

Qué interesante sería organizar una hackathon en la que se destinara un cierto tiempo a testear los prototipos en el mundo real, ¿verdad? Nuestra experiencia nos demuestra que la mayoría de las aplicaciones que se postulan –al menos a nivel latinoamericano– están planteadas desde el punto de vista del que se propuso resolver una cierta problemática, pero carecen de su correlato empírico desde la óptica de quien será el beneficiario final de dicha app. Recordemos que el objetivo de un hacker es resolver un problema de la mejor manera posible con los recursos con los que cuenta y en el exiguo plazo temporal prefijado, asegurándose de que su prototipo verdaderamente funcione.

How interesting would it be to organize a hackathon in which a certain time was determined to test the prototypes in the real world, right? Our experiences show us that the majority of the applications that are nominated - at least at the Latin American level - come from the point of view of resolving a certain issue, but lack an empirical correlation from the view of who would be the final beneficiary of that said app. We remember that the objective of a hacker is to resolve a problem in the best way possible with the resources available and in a temporary, predetermined term, assuring that the prototype truly works.

In line with this tendency to not remain solely in the hackathon and forget the produced applications, the winners of each country will additionally receive cash as seed capital and a month tutorial to imporove their application. The three regional winners of DAL will also receive as an award the support of Movistar Innova, which consists of a tutorial program that gives feedback about the business possibilities of the aplication and evaluates possible links with this.

Finally, I leave you with the presentation of the winning application on the regional level, Lima I/O [es], in Escuelab [es], moments before winning the local level:

Other related posts:

Developing Latin America 2012
What Exactly is a Hackathon? And What is Open Data?
Hackathons in Droves: How is a Hackathon Organised?
¡Desarrollando América Latina se acerca! 
Brazil: Rio de Janeiro Demands Better Sanitation
Crowdmapping Water Contamination in Peruvian Indigenous Communities
What is Web Mapping?
Desarrollando América Latina #DAL2012 – Día 1 [es]
Desarrollando América Latina #DAL2012 – Día 2 [es]
Day 1 of Developing Latin America 2012
Day 2 of Developing Latin America 2012

December 07 2012

Day 2 of Developing Latin America 2012

[All links lead to Spanish language pages unless otherwise noted]

Last Sunday December 2 saw the completion of day 2 of the regional hackathon Developing Latin America 2012, organised by the Ciudadano Inteligente Foundation. This year the event was carried out [en] in eight Latin American countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay.

After about 36 hours of intense and continuous work, the teams participating in the various headquarters began the presentations of their projects in order to later find out the jurys' decision.

From Chile, the website Fayerwayer announced the country's three winners out of the 26 applications that were presented:

Equipo ganador DAL2012 Chile

Winning Team DAL2012 Chile. Photo shared by @Tia_Ivonne via Twitter.

  • Seg3“: Creada por Ivonne Yañez y Rodrigo Fuentealba, esta app ayuda a realizar evaluaciones médicas generales a adultos mayores, mediante tests en el ámbito fisiológico, deterioro cognitivo y trastornos afectivos, proponiendo ciertas actividades y seguimiento a las personas a su cuidado.
  • “Friendly Food“: Una aplicación para smartphones que ayuda a elegir alimentos saludables en el supermercado, haciendo una evaluación rápida del contenido nutritivo.
  • “Ciclo rutas”: Una app para ciclistas, donde estos pueden dar a conocer los recorridos que realizan, independientemente de si hay ciclovías o no. La idea es que con esta información, los gobiernos puedan evaluar la creación de nuevas ciclovías.
  • Seg3“: Created by Ivonne Yañez and Rodrigo Fuentealba, this app helps to carry out general medical evaluations on the elderly through tests in the fields of physiology, cognitive deterioration and affective disorders, proposing certain activities and monitoring their care.
  • “Friendly Food“: An app for smartphones that helps [the user] to choose healthy food in the supermarket by making a quick evaluation of the nutritional content.
  • “Ciclo rutas”: [Cycle Lanes] An app for cyclists, where they can publish the journeys that they take regardless of whether or not there are cycle lanes. The idea is that this information can be used by the government to better evaluate the creation of new cycle lanes.

TechnoChat announces the three winners in Costa Rica, where there were 11 teams participating:

Equipos DAL2012 Costa Rica

DAL2012 Teams in Costa Rica. Photo shared by Inco Group on Facebook.

Primer lugar: Pixelated Dot, compuesto por William Rodríguez, Diego Carballo y David Madrigal. Ellos desarrollaron un juego denominado “Escuadrón Salud”, que permite educar a los niños de 6 a 10 años en materia de prevención de enfermedades. En el prototipo utilizaron de referencia el dengue y la diarrea.

Segundo lugar: TIC, compuesto por Daniel Castro, Mauricio Muñoz y Samantha Ramijan. Este equipo desarrolló una solución para que los médicos puedan, al recetar, consultar la disponibilidad de un medicamento en la farmacia, además, con la puesta en línea de la aplicación, se reduce el tiempo y despacho de las recetas prescritas.

Tercer lugar: The Code Monkey, compuesto por Natalia Sibaja, Leonardo Ortiz, Iván Alarcón y Javier Carvajal. Este grupo desarrolló una plataforma que brinda los datos sobre sismos que acontecen en el país y permite al usuario detallar información sobre su estado, así como emitir alertas en caso de riesgo.

First place: Pixelated Dot, consisting of William Rodríguez, Diego Carballo and David Madrigal. The team developed a game called “Escuadrón Salud” [Health Squad], that educates children between 6 and 10 years of age in matters to do with the prevention of illnesses. In making the prototype, the team used dengue and diarrhoea as their references.

Second Place: TIC, consisting of Daniel Castro, Mauricio Muñoz and Samantha Ramijan. This team developed a solution for doctors to be able to check the availability of medicines in the pharmacy when prescribing drugs to patients. Not only this, but also by reserving the medicines online it reduces the time to prepare and dispatch the prescriptions.

Third Place: The Code Monkey, consisting of Natalia Sibaja, Leonardo Ortiz, Iván Alarcón and Javier Carvajal. This group developed a platform that provides data about earth tremors occurring in the country and allows the user to detail information about their situation, in this way sending out alerts in case of risk.

In OpenDataMx they write about the seven projects that participated and present the three winners:

Ganadores DAL2012 México

Winners DAL2012 Mexico. Photo shared by Juan M Casanueva in Facebook.

Codeando México 1er lugar Integrantes: @adrian22 @emikebr @rod_wilhelmy @edolopez @juanpabloe @javi_ayala. Codeando México busca habilitar un espacio de hackatón permanente en donde la transparencia y colaboración ocurren todos los días, codeandoMexico es una plataforma donde se pueden publicar proyectos por parte de fundaciones o gente de la sociedad civil exponiendo datos abiertos e involucrando interesados del área de tecnología, diseño, o de industrias en general para desarrollar una solución tecnológica.

FONDOxDiabetes 2do lugar Integrantes: @dave_domz @karemcitamz @mgjoseluis Elías Sánchez Martín. FONDOxDiabetes es un sitio de consulta y participación ciudadana en donde se puede votar a favor o en contra georeferenciando los votos y publicando argumentos a favor y en contra. Se buscó exponer el problema del consumo de refrescos embotellados en México y su relación con la diabetes, un problema de salud pública nacional.

InfoAgua 3er lugar Integrantes: @janzaldo @tuxtitlan @balam_0 @lepamaz. InfoAgua es una herramienta de consulta para realizar análisis estadísticos del agua en relación al crecimiento de la población y detectar factores de riesgo por Entidad Federativa. También se realizaron juegos interactivos educativos para Facebook vinculados a la educación sobre la problemática del agua.

Coding Mexico First Place Members: @adrian22 @emikebr @rod_wilhelmy @edolopez @juanpabloe @javi_ayala. Coding Mexico looks to house a permanent hackathon space where transparency and collaboration are everyday occurrences. Coding Mexico is a platform where projects can be published on behalf of foundations or civilians exposing open data and involving people interested from the areas of technology, design or industry in general in order to develop a technological solution.

FONDOxDiabetes Second Place Members: @dave_domz @karemcitamz @mgjoseluis Elías Sánchez Martín. FONDOxDiabetes is a consultation and participation site where you can vote in favour of, or against, georeferencing votes, as well as publishing arguments for and against. It was looking to expose the problem of consumption of bottled drinks in Mexico and its relationship with diabetes, a national public health problem.

InfoAgua [InfoWater] Third Place Members: @janzaldo @tuxtitlan @balam_0 @lepamaz. InfoAgua is a consultation tool in order to carry out statistics analysis of water in relation to the growth of the population and to detect risk factors for Federative Entity. They also carried out interactive educational games for Facebook linked to educating people about the issues surrounding water.

Escuelab announced the Peruvian winners:

Equipos, colaboradores y staff de DAL2012 en Perú

Teams, collaborators and staff of DAL2012 in Peru. Photo by Maru Panta http://visorperu.com/ for Escuelab. Used with author's permission.

Primer lugar grupo: Rememos. Proyecto: Monitoreo Ambiental. Integrantes: Antonio Cucho Gamboa, Renzo Arauco, Jordi Cook, Juan Luis Peña

Segundo lugar grupo: YS. Proyecto: Alerta Ciudad. Integrantes: Arturo Ochoa, Riccardo Mija, Franks Samamé, Paul Osorio Schuler

Tercer lugar grupo: #OTA. Proyecto: EducAya! Integrantes: Pedro Valverde, Jairo Gutierrez, Daphne Orihuela

First Place: Rememos. Project: Environmental Monitor. Members: Antonio Cucho Gamboa, Renzo Arauco, Jordi Cook, Juan Luis Peña

Second Place: YS. Project: City Alert. Members: Arturo Ochoa, Riccardo Mija, Franks Samamé, Paul Osorio Schuler

Third Place: #OTA. Project: EducAya! Members: Pedro Valverde, Jairo Gutierrez, Daphne Orihuela

Wingu (@desdewingu) tweeted about the Argentine winners:

Ganadores DAL2012 Argentina

Winners DAL2012 Argentina. Photo shared by Sandra Crucianelli in Facebook

@desdewingu: Tercer puesto #DAL2012 #Argentina para Mapa de asistencia a la víctima @pollatos @alegranza_a @malev pic.twitter.com/nlpQr6uq

@desdewingu: Third Place #DAL2012 #Argentina for assisting Map for victims @pollatos @alegranza_a @malev pic.twitter.com/nlpQr6uq

@desdewingu: Segundo puesto #DAL2012 #Argentina Grandes pequeñas ideas! pic.twitter.com/lp8krE2R

@desdewingu: Second Place #DAL2012 #Argentina Great Small Ideas! pic.twitter.com/lp8krE2R

@desdewingu: Ganador #DAL2012 #Argentina Puedo jugar solo. Proyecto para niños con autismo de @casaangelman pic.twitter.com/ALCLk2FZ

@desdewingu: Winner #DAL2012 #Argentina I can play alone. A project for children with autism by @casaangelman pic.twitter.com/ALCLk2FZ

In Uruguay, Data (@DataUY ) also tweeted its winners:

@DataUY Felicidades a Ombudsman Uy, Me Robaron, y Tu Huerta, los tres primeros proyectos ganadores del #DAL2012 en #Uruguay

@DataUY Congratulations to Ombudsman Uy, Me Robaron [I Was Robbed], and Tu Huerta [Your Veg Patch], the first three winning projects from #DAL2012 in #Uruguay

W3C Brazil followed suit (@w3cbrasil):

@w3cbrasil App brasileiro no @DAL hackathon latino americano http://i9bits.com.br/seuLixo/  @w3cbrasil #dadosabertos

@w3cbrasil Brazilian App @DAL Latin American hackathon http://i9bits.com.br/seuLixo/  @w3cbrasil #dadosabertos

The Bolivian Apps can be found on the Developing Latin America website, where you can also find all the other apps. A recount of tweets, photos and anecdotes from the second day of #dal2012 can be found in Storify.

Now all that is left is to wait a few more days before finding out the regional winners. In the meantime, the teams that have passed this stage find themselves making improvements to their apps in order to be best prepared for competing with the rest of the winners. We will continue to update!

Other related posts:

Developing Latin America 2012
What exactly is a hackathon and what is open data?
Hackathones in droves: How is a hackathon organised?
Developing Latin America Draws Near!
Day 1 of Developing Latin America 2012
What is web mapping? [es]
Brasil: Rio de Janeiro Demands Better Sanitation
Crowdmapping Water Contamination in Peruvian Indigenous Communities

December 05 2012

The Winning Applications from Latin America's Biggest Hackathon

This post was originally published in the engine room

Desarrollando America Latina [es], a kind of World Cup for hackers in Latin America, took place this weekend in 8 countries in South and Central America. When technologists get in the room with open data and a mandate to address social problems, a lot can happen. Here are some of the winning ideas.

1. Codeando Mexico [es]: Why should hackathons be time bound? Codeando Mexico would be an online space for a hackathon that is always happening.  The platform would provide an opportunity for people working on social issues to post ideas for things they would like to do with open data, and create entry points to get technologists involved. This idea is really only 10% about code and 90% about community building, but Mexico would be a great place to pilot the concept.  (Mexico)

2. AlertaCiudad [es]: Allows people to find information about where they are in their city taken such as the closest hospital, the owner of a car (based on license plate), the cheapest medical services, the closest fire and police stations.  It's 100% made for SMS, and the code (the hacker used Python on a Linux server to create an SMS Gateway) is available now for anyone interested. (Peru)

Desarrollando América Latina

Desarrollando América Latina

3. Ciclas Rutas [es]: An application for cyclists to share their favorite routes so that the municipality can then react accordingly by replicating the characteristics that people like so much when it is designing other bicycle routes. (Chile)

4. FondoxDiabetes [es]: Aims to spotlight the problem of sugary beverages and diabetes in Mexico by creating a geo-referenced voting mechanism for people to express their opinion the prospect of a 20% tax [es] on such beverages. (Mexico)

5. Mapa de Asistencia a la Víctima [es] (Victim Assistance Map): Makes it easier for Argentinians to find community centers providing legal aid and other kinds of support for victims of politically motivated false accusations. (Argentina)

6. LimaiO [es]: This is a piece of hardware which collects information about its surrounding environment like air quality and temperature and uses its own internet connection to send this information out to citizens. It might sound simple (which it is) but the creators decided that someone needed to start collecting information about changes in the environment after growing sick of seeing the same traffic light display the words “without data” instead of the information is was put there to display. (Peru)

7. Grandes Problemas, Pequeñas Acciones [es] (Big Problems, Small Actions): Because statistics about pressing, global problems often overwhelm people, this team opted to create a toolkit for people to get together and start small, community initiatives and then see how these community-driven initiatives that are related to pressing global problems like climate change. (Argentina)

8. Seu Lixo [pt]: Visualizes the amount of trash produced daily in Brazil, to show the impact of major cities on the country's garbage production. (Brazil)

9. Friendly Food [es]: A smartphone tool allowing people to do a rapid evaluation of food when they are in the aisles of their local super market so that they can choose what is healthiest. (Chile)

10. InfoAgua [es]: An application for people to learn more about the relationship between population growth and water quality by district. (Mexico)

There were 14 other winners – 3 for each country – and a few runners up, including:

Seg3 [es] from the Chileans, which makes it easier for people to track their health as they get older and supports activities to avoid physical and mental deterioration.

Escuadrón Salud [es] from the Costa Rican team, which raises awareness and provides information on public health epidemics and provides advice on how to avoid contracting prevalent diseases.

EducaYa! [es], an online learning platform for students in Peru which takes existing resources [es] from the Ministry of Education and makes them more user friendly. The only reason we didn’t include the latter in the top ten was because the low internet connectivity in most of Peru makes an online learning platform seem like a stretch.

If you want to learn more about who won in Uruguay, talk to DATA (@DataUY) [es]. If you’re interested in applications from Bolivia, check out their winning entry: a crime map called SeguriMapas [es].

The winning teams will now have one week to continue developing their ideas before they head to the regionals. Three teams will win this contest, and they will get personalized mentorship from Movistar’s innovation lab [es].

December 02 2012

Day 1 of Developing Latin America 2012

[All links lead to Spanish language pages unless otherwise noted]

Finally, December 1 saw the start of Developing Latin America 2012 (#DAL2012). This year, the regional hackathon organised by the Ciudadano Inteligente (Intelligent Citizen) Foundation [en] is being carried out [en] in 8 Latin American countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay.

Chile, home to the Ciudadano Inteligente Foundation headquarters, has seen various media outlets covering the topic. For example, the website of radio Cooperativa reported:

La iniciativa que busca la creación de aplicaciones que intenten solucionar problemas sociales, se realiza a esta hora en Santiago, Viña del Mar y Temuco, ciudades donde desarrolladores web, periodistas y diseñadores son los creativos encargados de crear la mejor aplicación al servicio del desarrollo social del país y la región.

The initiative, that looks to create applications that aim to solve social problems, is currently being carried out in Santiago, Viña del Mar and Temuco; all cities where web developers, journalists and designers are the creatives in charge of producing the best application that serves both the social development of the region as well as of the country.

Team of developers. #DAL2012 Lima headquarters. Photo shared by Escuelab on Facebook.

Two of the main activities that characterised the first hours of the day were the organisation and the fine-tuning of the participating teams, and the expert exhibitions in a variety of fields, such as public transport, education, budgets, and more technical aspects such as web mapping and data licensing amongst others.

In Escuelab, the hackathon headquarters in Peru, these were some of the speakers that contributed as much with their experiences as with their suggestions:

1.- Cynthia Yamamoto from www.transitemos.org 2.- Rosa Gutierrez from www.las3renmiaula.com 3.- Victor Luyo from the Municipality of Lima, Assistant-Manager in Informatics 4.- Javier Casas from www.sumaciudadana.org and www.llenametuagenda.pe 5.- Camila Bustamante, La Factura and Datea.pe 6.- Yannick Warnier from Chamilo Association

Team of developers. #DAL2012 Headquarters La Paz. Photo shared by Developing Latin America -Bolivia on Facebook

In Buenos Aires, Wingu, the organisation in charge of #DAL2012, said:

@desdewingu: Estamos terminando de presentar las ideas, 26 ideas y todas muy buenas!, ahora a armar los equipos!! #DAL2012

@desdewingu: We are finishing presenting the ideas. 26 ideas and all brilliant! Now to assemble the teams!! #DAL2012

From Uruguay via Twitter, DATA (@DataUY) reported on their work teams:

@DataUY: 5 equipos: defensa del consumidor, servicios publicos, derechos infantil, seguridad y medio ambiente los temas elegidos en #DAL2012 #Uruguay

@DataUY: 5 teams: Consumer Protection, Public Services, Children's Rights, Security and Environment are the topics chosen in #DAL2012 #Uruguay

#DAL2012 Headquarters Sao Paulo. Photo shared by Desarrollando América Latina on Flickr

And in Chile Anca Matioc [en](@AncaMatioc) from Ciudadano Inteligente commented:

@AncaMatioc Excelente turnout en #DAL2012 #Chile Más de 13 equipos hasta ahora y todavída siguen llegando! Vamos!

@AncaMatioc Excellent turnout in #DAL2012 #Chile More than 13 teams to date and still more are arriving! Let's go!

Early in the afternoon Maikol Porras from Costa Rica (@maikolporras) updated:

@maikolporras: Cae la tarde en Costa Rica y los equipos siguen desarrollando y avanzan con sus aplicaciones sociales #OpenData #DAL2012

@maikolporras: Afternoon is already upon us in Costa Rica and the teams continue developing and advancing with their social applications #OpenData #DAL2012

A little afterwards, a round of reports was introduced, commenting on how the different work teams were advancing in each headquarter. Here for example, the report from Mexico via Juan Manuel Casanueva:

Video streaming by Ustream

OpenDataMx shares a summary of what happened at its headquarters in Mexico. A bigger selection of tweets and photos of the events of the day can be found here.

To finish, we leave you with a tweet from @sotojuanjo in Chile that sums up the spirit of #DAL2012:

@sotojuanjo: #dal2012 es muuucho mas que apps, es una red latinoamericana de profesionales buscando soluciones a problemas comunes

@sotojuanjo: #dal2012 is sooo much more than just apps, it is a Latin American network of professionals looking to find solutions to common problems

Soon we will bring more news and results from #DAL2012!

Other related posts: [All in English unless otherwise noted]

Developing Latin America 2012
What Exactly is a Hackathon? And What is Open Data?
Hackathons in Droves: How is a Hackathon Organised?
Developing Latin America Hackathon Draws Near!
What is web mapping? [es]
Brazil: Rio de Janeiro Demands Better Sanitation
Crowdmapping Water Contamination in Peruvian Indigenous Communities

November 29 2012

Developing Latin America Hackathon Draws Near!

[All links lead to Spanish language pages unless otherwise noted]

We are only 2 days short of commencing the regional hackathon Developing Latin America 2012 (#DAL2012, or DAL), and in each participating country the teams have already begun sharpening their skills and refining details. A workshop about Open Street Maps [en] was carried out during the weekend, which relied on transmission via streaming and was replicated in various headquarters; both developers and those interested in participating attended the events.

Furthermore, the organisation #DAL2012 has published a guide for the Evaluation of Applications, an extremely useful document that tries to bring participants up to speed about certain concepts that will be considered important in the development of applications. Aside from general instructions and evaluation procedures, amongst those concepts mentioned are: scalability, efficiency, spectacular-ness, the use and re-use of technology and data, and depth and coherency of subject matter. These are some extracts that include practical examples:

Eficacia - El problema de encontrar comida a domicilio puede ser más que sólo un directorio de teléfonos. En este sitio(Quehambre.cl) se puede encontrar los restaurantes cuyas áreas de cobertura incluyen el punto de interés, además permite ver los menús y ordenar el pedido desde el mismo sitio, es decir, entras al sitio y solucionas tu próxima cena.

Uso y Reuso de Tecnología y Datos - Esta aplicación (Polygraft, Detector de influencias) detecta entidades (empresas, políticos, empresarios, deportistas, etc) en artículos en los medios, en correos electrónicos, etc. Luego de detectar estas entidades busca en una fuente de datos central las relaciones que han tenido con otras entidades y más.

Efficiency - The problem with finding home-delivery food might be more than just a telephone directory issue. In this site (Quehambre.cl) you can find restaurants whose delivery areas are favourable to a point of interest, as well as being able to view menus and place your order all in the same place. In other words, you enter the site and your next meal is sorted.

Use and Re-Use of Technology and Data - This application (Poligraft, [en] Influences Detector) detects entities (businesses and businessmen, politicians, sportsmen, etc) within media articles, in emails, etc. After detecting these entities, it searches for their relationships with other entities via a central data source.

Anca Matioc, who is in charge of the organisation of DAL, spoke with us about preparing for the event. She also answered some questions relating to the development of a hackathon like Developing Latin America:

Anca Matioc, organiser of the hackathon Developing Latin America 2012

Global Voices (GV): What experiences and lessons have you taken on board from the first hackathon that took place last year?

Anca Matioc (AM): Last year the topics were the same for everyone. It was good that this year each country was able to choose their own since in 2011 there were some people left wanting to present work in other areas.

One of the difficulties from last year was the databases. In some cases, they simply didn't exist! In other cases, the governments showed signs of fear at having to provide access. This year the countries are more open in talking about open-source data. In one year we have seen very big changes in favour of these initiatives, principally in Brazil, Chile and Uruguay. Even in Brazil there is now an advice board for open-data available; they meet monthly and look for ways of making data available to everyone. Also, there are more people from outside technological fields that are wanting to get involved.

Furthermore, we realised that the projects needed further support, outside that which was being offered in the hackathon, in order to be correctly completed as well as looking to be economically sustainable. For this reason, this year the prizes will be in seed capital and projects will receive backing for one month afterwards in order to guide bringing the developments to a conclusion, whether it be in design, testing or even searching for potential clients and funding.

The 8 countries that have joined this year will work on different social issues. This time we have ensured that there are good quality databases in all 8. However, in Bolivia, we had technical difficulties since the subject of databases is not well developed.

Another thing that we have ensured this year is that the participants have made themselves aware- through workshops prior to the event- of the root of the problems with which they are going to work, that way they can arrive with more ideas for possible solutions, as well as the necessary information in order to achieve a good project.


GV: How did you manage to achieve access to better databases?

AM: One of the influencing factors that has encouraged governments to make their data available to us is to have invited them to be either part of the judging panel or spectators at the very least. After interacting with participants they have realised the potential benefit of opening up their data. Furthermore, we have seen that by involving the government we are able to generate long term results. The Chilean Government, for example, was so inspired by the hackathon last year that it organised its own during 2012 from which arose many interesting applications.

GV: Who are the main users of the applications that are developed in a hackathon?

AM:The main users of the applications depend on the topic and the data. The idea is that the applications are for the everyday citizen, for people that are looking for certain information or are curious to know more. Journalists are also popular users of the applications that are derived from open data.

GV: What happens to the applications after the hackathon?

AM: Generally what happens is that the teams want to launch their application. We ask everyone during their support month to keep their application going as an open code and from there, owners can do what they want with them. The ideal situation would see the applications generating an income and therefore opportunities to continue forward as well as stimulating the developers to continue making improvements and creating more. Let's hope that “open data” is more than just a good idea. Governments will be more interested as well if their databases are seen to be generating an income.

GV: For those that don't know what open data is, could you describe it in a ‘tweet'?

AM: Open data is data permanently available in an appropriate platform. It results in more transparency, citizen web applications, and hopefully business.

Soon we will be reporting on the events of the hackathon Developing Latin America!

Other related posts (all in English):

Developing Latin America 2012
What Exactly is a Hackathon? And What is Open Data?
Hackathons in Droves: How is a Hackathon Organised?
Brazil: Rio de Janeiro Demands Better Sanitation
Crowdmapping Water Contamination in Peruvian Indigenous Communities

Juan Arellano collaborated with the writing of this post.
Azucena Ramos and Carolina Paz Alarcón transcribed and subtitled the video in this post.

November 23 2012

Hackathons in Droves: How is a Hackathon Organised?

[All links lead to Spanish language pages unless otherwise noted]

In the following article, guest, J.J. Merelo, Doctor in Physics and Professor at the University of Granada, Spain, tells us of his experience organising educational hackathons in light of the regional Hackathon Developing Latin America 2012 [en] which will take place next month in December.

A priori the word hackathon should not give rise to many doubts: marathon + programming. 52 kilometres of programming until someone collapses with exhaustion. Joined by a few others, you'll say, come on, let's programme! Any doubts? No? Well off you go.

In reality, it isn't so easy and we realised this when organising the first free software projects hackathon in the UGR (University of Granada).

Photo taken from the album Hackathon in Picasa, used under the licence Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Photo taken from the album Hackathon in Picasa, used under the licence Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0).

This hackathon was carried out in order to support the projects participating in the Free Software Contest, which was being celebrated for the second time in Granada. The main idea was to spread awareness of the projects, attract the community and, obviously, to give a little push in order to help the participants from the UGR to work on their projects and resolve any problems that they were having. I don't know what ideas we had if I'm honest. If only the most experienced person in the UGR in Java [en], Python [en], MVC environment [en] and, of course, programming methodology would come.

Naturally, we did have all of this. Moreover, arriving eager to learn, came along the freshman, and the telecommunications guy who had only seen Java and thought that Python was the name of a revolver. And the translators. When you do a hackathon in the university, people from the whole university will come. The university is a big place and is home to diversity.

To get programming from the word go is very difficult. The tools used have to be taught, these are principally tools for collaborative development and social networks. Yes, social networks. Believe it or not, there are more Whatsapp users than there are for Twitter. Also, development methodology. It isn't about ‘you', or you do this and you do that but what to do, how to do it and with whom to do it. To whom will you present the result? How will you test the development to make sure it's correct? Everything. So begins the hackathon: bringing everyone up to speed and to the same level as far as possible. And with that, the first hours are filled.

In reality, the first hours have been filled well before then: in the buildup to the hackathon. All of the projects' participants have to organise tasks that are going to try to address the same issue. Tasks for all levels, from Jennifer's level in IT Crowd: barely knowing how to click the mouse once or twice, up to the level of: “don't worry, I've already created a new interpreter for the language that I created in one afternoon.” And, of course, preparing the talks specific to the project in which you are going to work. What libraries am I using and why? Do I have some specific criteria for coding? Am I using a strange language that nobody knows and will I have to teach it to people? Like this, the following hours are filled.

Photo taken from the album Hackathon in Picasa, used under the licence Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Photo taken from the album Hackathon in Picasa, used under the licence Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Fortunately, the programming itself comes next, and that needs time and space. Sufficient time in order to be able to start and finish the task and a space in which it can be developed. This should be well connected with good lighting (in my case the lights went in the house where we were working) and, above all, well known by the pizza boy so that he can arrive quickly and efficiently. It can even be a bar, but it should have sockets and no one must look badly upon those that throw back a beer every hour. Or if you polish off three beers in half an hour. Sometimes coding needs high octane lubrication.

In the end there are three key parts to a successful hackathon: awareness (and I must emphasise there must be a lot, over a lot of time, from word of mouth, posters, social networks to press releases), adequate preparation from participating projects (sufficient tasks and sufficient formation for those that are going to be involved) and attractive projects (if someone wants to make a compilation of Brainfuck [en] they are not going to be as successful as if they wanted to make a mobile app for finding a partner). The latter of course, you cannot guarantee. Sad as it seems, a project may not always take off, so you, as an organiser, must have something up your sleeve. A ‘guardian hackathoner' if you like.

What do you get at the end of the hackathon? Coding, of course. This isn't to say that it is a social event where participants leave empty-handed, but rather as collaborators and sometimes having made lasting friendships. So, we will most certainly be doing it again next year. If you're in Spain, will you join the 5th UGR projects hackathon? And if you're in Latin America, will you join Dal2012?

Photos taken from the album Hackathon in Picasa, used under the licence Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0).

November 14 2012

Latin American Youth Against Corruption

During November 5 and 6, 2012, over 100 young journalists, leaders, and experts in social media and information and communication technologies (ICTs) participated in the Third Global Voices Against Corruption Forum, organized by the Global Youth Anti-Corruption Network (GYAC) in Brasilia, Brazil.

Global Voices contributor Andrea Arzaba reports about the Latin American youth session for Animal Político [es]:

Libertad de expresión, falta de unión regional y miedo a hablar de temas en materia de transparencia gubernamental fueron algunos de los temas más discutidos en la sesión juvenil Latinoamericana […]

En el encuentro se tuvo una visión común en cuanto al poco uso de tecnología para el desarrollo ético de la región y, sobre todo, la falta de capacitación de jóvenes en materia de anticorrupción. También se habló del tema de educación, en donde se discutió la importancia para generar un cambio a través del trabajo con jóvenes, ya que ellos estarán próximamente en puestos importantes de trabajo, vulnerables a la corrupción.

Freedom of expression, lack of unity in the region and fear to talk about issues regarding government transparency were among the topics discussed at the Latin American youth session […]

Participants in the meeting shared a common vision regarding the limited use of technology for the ethical development of the region and, above all, the lack of training for youth in anti-corruption issues. They also talked about education, where they discussed the importance of bringing about change by working with the youth, since they will soon be holding important positions, vulnerable to corruption.

Andrea also shares a video where she showcases some projects in favor of transparency and accountability led by Latin American youth. With Piero Locatelli, Andrea interviewed Margarita Valdés from Xpressate [es] (El Salvador), Caio Monteiro from Marília Transparente [pt] (Brazil), and Andrea Benavides from Ocasa [es] (Colombia):


You can follow GYAC on Facebook and Twitter (@GYACNetwork). Furthermore, you can read reports and reactions shared from the forum under the hashtag #GYACBrasilia.

November 12 2012

Brazil: Rio de Janeiro Demands Better Sanitation

[All links lead to sites in Portuguese unless otherwise stated.]

Sanitation is one of the central issues that will be addressed in the regional hackathon [en] Developing Latin America [en] on December 1 and 2, 2012. The work of one particular project in Brazil could serve as inspiration for the development of new platforms.

The initiative Sanitation is Basic! is part of the nonprofit organisation Meu Rio (My Rio) dedicated to civic participation through technology. According to the organisation, “half the population in Rio de Janeiro is still without mains water and sewerage”. This accounts for nearly 3 million citizens who are “[obliged] to drink dirty water or throw sewage directly into the rivers, lakes and beaches of this wonderful city”.

Meu Rio has launched an online petition accompanied by the video “Eu quero 100% de #saneamentoparaorio” (I want 100% sanitation for Rio), which presents the problems of everyday life that the people of Rio have to put up with:

Pressure Cooker

One of the platforms of Meu Rio, the Pressure Cooker, has made it possible for any citizen or social movement to create their own popular pressure campaigns, as the website explains:

A receita é simples: você aponta um problema, convoca outras pessoas que desejam a mesma mudança e pressiona diretamente políticos, empresários e administradores públicos, por email, Twitter ou Facebook.

The recipe is simple: you point out a problem, then call on other people who want the same change to directly put pressure on politicians, businessmen and public officials, by email, Twitter or Facebook.

Campaigns related to sanitation problems in Rio de Janeiro have been no exception. One exposes the problem of sewage spill on São Conrado Beach. The campaign, launched by the movement Salvemos São Conrado (which also has a blog and its own Facebook page with over 2,500 followers), points to an analysis of the water quality of the beaches of Rio, made by INEA (the State Environmental Institute) and indicates:

O Secretário Estadual do Ambiente, Sr. Carlos Minc criou a Lei 2661/96 de 27 de dezembro de 1996 que exige níveis mínimos de tratamento de esgotos sanitários, antes de seu lançamento em corpos d'água, de modo que não ofereça riscos à saúde humana e ao meio ambiente, porém o mesmo permite tal afronto por parte destas instituições e compactua com o descaso ao carioca e ao meio ambiente.

The Secretary of State for the Environment, Mr Carlos Minc, created the Law 2661/96 on December 27, 1996. This law requires minimum levels of waste water treatment before it is released into bodies of water, so that there are no risks to human health or the environment, but it allows such defiance by these institutions and colludes with the neglect of the people of Rio and the environment.

In spite of the promise of the State Environmental Department to eliminate pollution from the beaches, Salvemos São Conrado describes the current situation in a worrying way:

"Salvemos São Conrado" Campaign

“Salvemos São Conrado” Campaign

Temos várias linguas negras que invadem nossas areias em períodos de chuva, porém o que é mais revoltante é o despejo proposital de todo o esgoto produzido na [favela da] Rocinha (…) desde à época do governo Garotinho. (…) No mesmo período foi criada uma estação de tratamento que deveria tratar esse esgoto antes de chegar à praia, porém a “Rio Águas” que é responsável pela estação, não faz o seu trabalho e despeja todo o esgoto “in natura” através desta galeria.

We have several black tongues that invade our beaches during periods of rain, but what is more appalling is the deliberate discharge of all sewage produced in [the slum] Rocinha (…) since the time of the Garotinho government. (…) At the same time a treatment plant that would treat the waste water before reaching the beach was created, but the “Rio Águas”, which is responsible for the station, does not do its work and dumps all the sewage “in natura” through this culvert.

Through Pressure Cooker, 415 direct messages have already been sent demanding “access to the complete technical project planned for the elimination of pollution on São Conrado beach, and [a guarantee] that the work will begin immediately” to the respective people in charge: the president of the Companhia Estadual de Águas e Esgotos (State Company of Water and Sewerage, CEDAE), Wagner Victer, the municipal secretary for the Environment, Carlos Alberto Muniz, the Secretary of State for the Environment, Carlos Minc, and the Foundation Institute of the Waters of the Municipality of Rio de Janeiro, Rio Águas.

Another connected case reported on the site by journalist Guilherme Ramalho is that of the pollution in Guanabara Bay:

"Put an End to Pollution in Guanabara Bay!" in the Pressure Cooker

“Put an End to Pollution in Guanabara Bay!” in the Pressure Cooker

O Programa de Despoluição da Baía de Guanabara (PDBG) foi anunciado na Eco+92. Começou a ser executado em 1994, mas nunca foi concluído. Em duas décadas, a limpeza da Baía de Guanabara já passou por seis governos e custou R$ 1,5 bilhão em recursos. O esgoto continua sendo jogado na baía praticamente sem tratamento.

Agora, surgiu o PSAM (Programa de Saneamento Ambiental dos Municípios do Entorno da Baía de Guanabara), que prevê gastos de R$ 1,13 bilhão em obras de esgotamento sanitário e em projetos de saneamento dos 15 municípios do entorno da baía.

The Programme for the Elimination of Pollution in Guanabara Bay (PDBG) was announced in Eco+92. It commenced in 1994, but was never completed. In two decades, the cleaning of Guanabara Bay has seen six different governments and cost R$1.5 billion [£460 million, USD $733 million] in resources. The sewage is still thrown in the bay with virtually no treatment.

Now the PSAM (Environmental Sanitation Programme of Municipalities Surrounding Guanabara Bay) predicts costs of R$1.13 billion [£347 million, USD $550 million] for sewerage and sanitation projects in the 15 municipalities surrounding the bay.

Looking for ways to ensure that the goal now set up for a “clean-up that has lasted over 20 years” is fulfilled by 2016 (the year the Olympic Games will take place in Rio), the campaign is putting pressure on the Secretary of State for the Environment, Carlos Minc, who up to now has received 115 replicas of the following message in his inbox:

Queremos que a Secretaria Estadual de Meio Ambiente divulgue um cronograma com metas anuais do PSAM para que a população, as universidades e a mídia possam fiscalizar e garantir o sucesso dessa despoluição.

We want the Secretary of State for the Environment to give us a timeline with annual targets for the PSAM so that the people, the universities and the media are able to monitor and ensure the success of the depollution.

"We do not want increased water rates!" created by Nalva Pinheiro, resident of Colégio

“We do not want increased water rates!” created by Nalva Pinheiro, resident of the neighbourhood Colégio

A campaign that has already ended, and that despite not having achieved the outlined objective attracted a lot of media attention, denounced a series of problems in the services provided by CEDAE in a video, and demanded the cancellation of the increase in water rates of between 10 and 14%, “until the problems with the service are resolved”:

É um abuso ter que pagar um preço ainda maior de um dia pro outro, sendo que o serviço é péssimo. As contas vêm erradas, eles cortam a nossa água sem explicação, muitas vezes a água vem suja, e é muito difícil falar com eles no telefone para corrigir os problemas. Somos mal-tratados toda vez que tentamos. Sem falar que muita gente recebe conta sem ter água chegando em casa, e tem que pagar o preço pra não ficar com nome sujo.

It is an abuse to have to pay a higher price from one day to the next, given that the service is terrible. The accounts are wrong, they turn off our water without explanation, the water is often dirty, and it is very difficult to talk to them on the phone to fix the problems. We are treated badly every time we try, not to mention that many people receive water bills without having water at home, and they have to pay the bill so they don't get a bad name.

Nearly 2,200 messages were sent to the Ombudsman to the President of CEDAE, but according to the text of the petition mentioned above, he replied that “the increase will not be reviewed because there exists a decree that was signed 12 years ago that says that CEDAE can increase the water rates without passing through the sieve of an agency that ensures the quality of service and the need to readjust the price”.

The petition launched by the Meu Rio cites the campaign of the citizens of Rio and addresses the Governor of the State of Rio de Janeiro, Sérgio Cabral, demanding the repeal of the decree 25.997/200 [pdf] which delegates power considered abusive by the organisation to the President of the CEDAE.

October 30 2012

What Exactly is a Hackathon? And What is Open Data?

In an earlier post, we announced the next regional hackathon for Latin America: Developing Latin America 2012 [es]. But it is likely that some readers are not sure what a hackathon is or above all, what it's for.

Martín Onetto of Red Users [es] commented [es] on the origin of the term:

el “Hackathon”, (es un) neologismo compuesto por las palabras “hack” + “marathon”. “Es ‘hacker’ en el sentido originario del término: no el que comete delitos informáticos sino el que es capaz de desarmar y transformar para resolver una tarea compleja”,

the word “Hackathon” is a neologism formed by the words “hack” + “marathon”. It uses “hacker” in the original sense of the word: not someone who commits computer crimes but someone who is able to dismantle and transform a complex task.

Wikipedia in Spanish has an article [es] that offers a good definition of what a hackathon is:

es un término usado en ambiente hacker para referirse a un encuentro de programadores cuyo objetivo es el desarrollo colaborativo de software. Estos eventos pueden durar entre dos días y una semana. El objetivo es doble: por un lado hacer aportaciones al proyecto libre que desee y por otro aprender sin prisas.

it is a term used within the realm of hackers to refer to an event in which programmers get together to collaborate on the development of software. These events can last between two days and a week. The objective is two-fold: on one hand, contribute to the open project that is being created, and on the other hand, learn slowly but surely. [Note: see English-language Wikipedia article for more information.]

There is a great variety of projects to which programmers, or developers, can dedicate their efforts. In fact, there are also distinct types of hackathons, including those which deal with specific types of platforms, such as cellular phones or certain operating systems, or those which develop software using only one programming language or for a particular company.

Imagen de datos.gob.es en Flickr, bajo licencia de Atribución-CompartirIgual 2.0 Genérica (CC BY-SA 2.0) de Creative Commons.

Image from datos.gob.es on Flickr, under Creative Commons license Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Unlike the hackathons mentioned earlier, Developing Latin America is dedicated to social issues, such as health, education, public safety, transportation, among others. What you may be asking yourself is, how can developers deal with these issues by making computer programs? Here enters the concept of open data.

And what is open data? Referring again to Wikipedia [es] in Spanish, we find that it is,

una filosofía y práctica que persigue que determinados datos estén disponibles de forma libre a todo el mundo, sin restricciones de copyright, patentes u otros mecanismos de control.1 Tiene una ética similar a otros movimientos y comunidades abiertos como el Software libre, el código abierto (open source en inglés) y el acceso libre (open access en inglés).

philosophy and practice that certain data should be freely available to everyone, without restrictions of copyrightpatents or other mechanisms of control. The goals of the open data movement are similar to other open movements and communities such as free software, open source and open access. [Note: see English-language Wikipedia article for more information.]

The Open Data Handbook, a project of the Open Knowledge Foundation, lists a similar definition:

Open data is data that can be freely used, reused and redistributed by anyone - subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and sharealike.

In general, when we talk about open data or the opening of data, we are talking about government data, under the concept that the collection and administration of this data is done with public money and therefore it belongs to everyone. This governmental data usually covers almost all public activities to which the government as well as citizens dedicate money.

To find out more about open data, we spoke with Mariano Crowe, hacker and co-director of Escuelab [es], a learning platform and co-development space in Lima, Peru.


Not long ago, David Sasaki, of Omidyar Network, summarized [es] the main characteristics of open data in a post titled “The Eight Main Principles of Open Data (and Hipsters)”: 

- Completo: todos los datos públicos está disponible. Los datos público no contempla datos privados ni limitaciones de seguridad o privilegios.
- Primario: los datos son recolectados en la fuente de origen, con el nivel de granularidad mas alto posible, no en forma agregada ni modificada.
- Oportuno: los datos están disponibles tan rápido como sea necesario para preservar el valor de los datos.
- Accesible: los datos están disponibles para el rango mas amplio de usuarios para el rango mas amplio de propósitos.
- Procesable por maquinas: los datos están estructurados razonablemente para permitir un procesamiento automático.
- No discriminatorio: los datos están disponibles a cualquiera, sin requerir un registro.
- No propietario: los datos están disponibles en un formato sobre el cual ninguna entidad tiene un control exclusivo.
- Libre de licencias: los datos no están sujetas a ningún derecho de autor, patenté, marca registrada o regulaciones de acuerdo de secreto. Razonable privacidad, limitaciones de seguridad y privilegios están permitidos.

- Complete: all public data are available. Public data don't include private data or limitations due to security or privileges.
- Fundamental: the data are collected at the source of origin, with the highest level of granularity possible, not in aggregate or modified.
Opportune: the data are available as quickly as necessary to preserve the value of the data.
- Accessible: the data are available to the widest range of users and for the widest range of purposes.
- Processable by machine: the data are reasonably structured to allow for automated processing.
- Not discriminatory: the data are available to anyone, without requiring registration.
- No owner: the data are available in a format over which no one entity has exclusive control.
- Free of licenses: the data are not subject to copyright, patent, trademark or regulations stemming from secret agreements. Reasonable privacy, security limitations, and privileges are permitted.

AESIC, the Agency for Electronic Government and Information Society of Uruguay, leads the country in these issues, and on part of its website dedicated to open data, the organization comments [es] why we should care:

¿Ud sabe exactamente qué cantidad de dinero de sus impuestos se gasta en alumbrado público o en la investigación del cáncer? ¿Cuál es la ruta más corta, más segura y con vista más linda en bicicleta desde su casa a su trabajo? ¿Y la calidad del aire que respira en el camino? En su región, ¿dónde encontrará las mejores oportunidades laborales y el mayor número de árboles frutales per cápita? ¿Cuándo puede influir en las decisiones legislativas o gubernamentales sobre temas que le preocupan profundamente, y con quién debe hablar?

Do you know exactly how much money from your taxes goes toward public lighting or cancer research? Which bicycle route from your house to your job is the shortest, safest, and with the most beautiful view? And the quality of the air you breathe on the street? In your region, where will you find the best job opportunities and the greatest number of fruit trees per cápita? When can you influence legislative or governmental decisions about issues that profoundly matter to you, and with who can you speak?

Later on, they mention that the use of open data on the part of citizens can benefit citizens themselves, many different institutions and even their own government, and they offer some examples:

- En el área de la transparencia, ¿Adónde va mi dinero? de Gran Betaña, es una aplicación web que muestra cómo el Gobierno gasta los recursos que recauda a través de impuestos. En Dinamarca y Brasil existen aplicaciones donde se puede seguir el proceso de legislación del parlamento.

- El área de información geográfica es una de las más avanzadas, existen múltiples aplicaciones de interés para el ciudadano. Autobuses de la ciudad en tiempo real, de España, permite conocer la ubicación del transporte público en tiempo real y los minutos que le restan al ómnibus para llegar a la próxima parada. OpenStreetMap puede considerarse la “Wikipedia de los Mapas”. Provee datos geográficos gratuitos y de libre disposición para todo el mundo.

- In the area of transportation, Where does my money go? is a British web application that shows how the government there spends the money it collects from taxes. In Denmark [da] and Brazil [pt], there are applications available that allow you to follow the legislative process in parliament.

- The area of geographic information is one of the most advanced, with many applications of interest to citizens. City buses in real time [es], from Spain, allows you to find out the location of public transportation in real time and the number of minutes until the next bus arrives. OpenStreetMap could be considered the “Wikipedia of Maps”. It provides free and unrestricted geographic data for everyone.

More examples of applications developed with open data can be found on this other link [es] from AGESIC, on this link [es] from the Regional Government of Andalusia, and on this link [es] from the Generalitat of Catalonia. In addition, in this post [es] from Ticbeat you will find 10 applications that various people would like developed using open data.

But, what can motivate developers -who normally have high-paying but demanding jobs- to dedicate a part of their free time to continue programming without compensation? To answer this, we return to Mariano:


Many elements have to come together to successfully and effectively work with open data, from a government that has a clear and decided vision to that respect, to a civil society that promotes and disseminates its use. But, in a way, programmers are the key element that make sure these types of initiatives move forward.

Are you a developer? Give your two cents to make the place you live a better place. While reading this article, have you come up with an idea on how to collaborate? Sign up [es] for Developing Latin America and participate!

Original post [es] published on Juan Arellano's personal blog.
The first video in this post was transcribed by ireireireire and translated by Laura Rebollo Quero. The second video was transcribed and translated by Sonia Ordoñez.

June 25 2012

Egypt: Introducing the MorsiMeter

This post is part of our special coverage of Egypt Elections 2011/2012.

On June 24, a new president has been officially declared in Egypt and his name is Mohammed Morsi. The Muslim Brotherhood's Morsi has become Egypt's first freely elected president, and like all other candidates, he has his own presidential program and promises that voters - supposedly - elected him based on.

But how can Egyptians hold Morsi accountable for his promises and watch the progress in achieving them? Wael Ghonim tweeted about a new application for that.

@Ghonim: Tracking the performance of #Morsi (Egypt's newly elected president): http://www.morsimeter.com (via @ezzatkamel)

MorsiMeter, Tracking the performance of Morsi, the newly elected president of Egypt

MorsiMeter, Tracking the performance of Morsi, the newly elected president of Egypt

The application is created by Zabatak, (@Zabatak), a non-profit initiative which aims at making Egypt become bribery free, corruption-free and safe. And on MorsiMeter's Facebook page, they describe the application as follows [ar]:

هذه محاولة لتوثيق ومراقبة أداء الرئيس المصري المنتخب محمد مرسي وفيها سيتم مراقبة ماتم انجازه وفق ما أقرّه د.محمد مرسي في برنامجه أول مائة يوم.
The is an initiative to document and monitor the performance of the new Egyptian president, Mohammed Morsi, and we will monitor what has been achieved from what he had promised in his program during his first 100 days in power.

Egyptian netizens shared their thoughts and opinions about the meter on Twitter as follows:

@MagedBk: Brilliant! http://Morsimeter.com

@omarkamel: MorsiMeter NOT a bad idea. But must also measure how good we think those ideas are to start with. Security plan SUCKS.

@AbdoRepublic: Brilliant idea to assess #morsi 's performance. Goodbye Dictatorship

This post is part of our special coverage of Egypt Elections 2011/2012.

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