Two weeks ago Santiago hosted the first State of the Map LatAm, and open data conferences Abrelatam and Con Datos. This series of conferences convened the rich open data community in Latin America. I was there to talk about our open mapping and open contracting work and to learn about the incredible projects and teams across the region.
Here is my favorite experience from each conference:
State of the Map LatAm:
The first State of the Map in Latin America showed the depth of the community and its unique characteristics. Over 100 people attended. Compared to State of the Map US, there was much more attention on data imports, such as the integration of Brazilian address and road names from the National Registry of Addresses for Statistical Means. The individuals leading these initiatives wanted to ensure that the good data they collected would benefit the larger OSM community. Challenging the notions of what it means to contribute to OSM is an important topic that I hope the community will continue to address.
Abrelatam’s unconference structure provided an environment to brainstorm, and hear from a wider slice of the open data community. Discussions tended to focus on the open data policies and approaches rather than technical implematation. One of the common themes amongst the projects presented was transparency of political messages in the media, shown in projects such as Cheaquado, Mapa de Medios, and Yo Quiero Saber.
At Con Datos, I most closely followed the conversations on the Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS) data. The OCDS is common approach to publishing data on government contracts that makes it much easier to examine contracting within and between countries. Development Seed has been working on a few projects that involve OCDS, including a project with the Government of Mexico that will launch at OGP. There were multiple sessions at Con Datos revolving around OCDS, the high point being the project showcase during the last conference session. The visualizations presented by the National Management of Public Contracting in Paraguay are particularly awesome as they highlight different steps of the contracting process.
My Santiago trip was my first as a Development Seed team member and I couldn’t have asked for a better welcome from the open data community. I’m looking forward to continuing these discussions in the weeks to come.