Open data: closing gaps for sustainable development

August, 2021

Fredy Rodríguez 
Program Officer, Data for Sustainable Development Unit 
f.rodriguez@cepei.org

The purpose of data is to inform evidence-based decision making. It is becoming increasingly relevant for a better interpretation of the environment, understanding the past and projecting the future. And based on this, define actions to anticipate adverse events that could impact governments, the private sector, civil society and other stakeholders.

However, information is not always available, and difficulties exist in accessing data given the lack of knowledge about the value of releasing information, the conditions that data sets must meet, and the relevance of making them public.

What is open data?

The discussion on open data began more than a decade ago, when the United Kingdom was considered one of the pioneer countries in data release, aligned with a policy of transparency and promotion of knowledge generation. This led the government to open data, but also encouraged private organizations to publish information. As a result, the country has positioned itself as a benchmark in the Open Data Barometer 2016, occupying the second place in the ranking. In the Latin American region, Mexico (6th), Uruguay (11th) and Colombia (12th) stand out in terms of open data, improving their positions year after year.

The Open Government Partnership (OGP) generates incentives to connect citizens with their governments. Currently, more than 70 governments are part of this initiative, facilitating the construction of action plans developed through the discussion of civil society, academia, etc. needs. OGP has a working group on open data and establishes criteria to verify the implementation of actions aimed at consolidating open data policies.

Open data advocates have been on the rise, which is reflected in increased demands for data from their governments.For example, the Open Data for Development Network has regional nodes in Africa, Latin America and Asia, generating discussions with various stakeholders, as well as sharing practices across regions to improve open data.

The International Open Data Charter (ODC) was born in 2015, defining Open Data as digital data that is made available with the technical and legal characteristics necessary for it to be freely used, reused, and redistributed by anyone, anytime, anywhere.

In order to provide greater context and clarity, ODC establishes six guiding principles for data to be considered open:

1. Open by default

2. Timely and comprehensive

3. Accessible and usable

4. Comparable and interoperable

5. For Improved Governance and Citizen Participation

6. For Inclusive Development and Innovation

For many open data champions, the essential element is for data to be reusable, i.e., easily processed without format limitations or access restrictions.

How does Cepei contribute to open data for sustainable development?

DataRepública

Conecta

The Conecta module, maps the data available on the websites of data producing or disseminating institutions. This data tracking is done by identifying sources that are online and can be easily accessed by users.

The main added value of Conecta is the relationship of each dataset with one or more Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), making a connection to the closest subject matter according to the variables under study, and allowing their measurement and monitoring.

Analiza

This module monitors progress in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs through open and reliable data sources to measure the SDG indicators with traditional and non-traditional data sources.

Analiza integrates Ckan, specialized in the publication of open data, with which we facilitate access to the data we process to measure indicators and design visualizations.

Publica

Data stories integrate visualizations and a friendly narrative for a better understanding of the phenomena studied. Cepei promotes, together with its partners, access to the data used in the visualizations. For example, the data story Territorial demography to formulate public policies: the case of Paraguay, allows users to download the data employed to recreate the visualizations that make up the story.

We promote data openness through our initiatives

The final results of our analyses and studies are presented with reusable data. Our team encourages the dissemination of data that accompanies our narratives and describes the evidence of our findings. Examples of these are our SDGs LAC Position Tracker and SDGs LAC Easy Access tools.