Opening Up Data as a Collective
Hello from ODC’s new Project Manager…
I was born and raised in Casbas, a town of 5,000 inhabitants in the interior of Argentina, where bicycles line the street and doors are kept unlocked. The closeness and neighbourliness of my town influenced my idea of the collective and what it means to me. I have been working in openness, access to public information and citizen participation for 8 years now. I started my career in the Buenos Aires City Legislature, monitoring bills, following up the commissions’ work and reviewing what legislators discussed in the sessions. Having information made all the difference in my work. It was in that role when I identified that if parliamentary data was lacking, legislative discussions lost their quality and as a result, the laws that were passed in that chamber were not always the most effective solution. At the age of 22, I felt it was necessary to start working internally to ensure that this information was published.
In 2016, after several other jobs, I started working at the Government of the City of Buenos Aires on a project called the “Transparency Agenda of the City of Buenos Aires”. This platform included 11 initiatives on open data and transparency policies to improve the management of the government at the time. My role was to raise awareness within government areas about the importance of publishing information about the projects that the government was implementing. My main learning experience was in the management platform of BA Obras, a website that published data on contracts, tenders and start and end dates of public works in the City of Buenos Aires. That’s when I realised how necessary it was to change the culture of public affairs, to move towards a scheme of openness in decision-making.
Along the way, I came across people I consider foundational in defending and demanding accountability from governments: Civil society organisations. I worked as the Director of Citizenship and Government Institutions at Directorio Legislativo Foundation. For four beautiful years, I met and worked with local, regional and global leaders to design global standards for Open Parliament policies. I participated in several advocacy processes with the aim of making Latin American governments accountable to their citizens.
My experience in managing and leading openness and transparency projects in both government and civil society led me to the Open Data Charter. I believe that the way to build robust policies is through open data. The Covid-19 pandemic not only demonstrated the imperative for open data to make decisions, but also presented a new challenge: to defend and protect people’s privacy. I am eager to take on the ODC’s mission as I lead on projects and support our network of 150 adopting governments and the many civil society organisations we work with. I will continue to advocate for open data policies and the production of quality information for public policy making, as well as those working to defend privacy rights at global and local levels. We will seek to prioritise the use of data to uphold the rights of the people who have lost so much in this crisis.
I have a degree in Political Science from the University of Buenos Aires and I chose this track for a reason. One day one of my teachers explained to me what democracy was and the importance of elections, political parties and the participation of citizens in public affairs. What I learned that day never left me. I learned to recognise the power of the collective through citizen participation and how it could transform our lives. To anticipate any crisis in the future, we must find a way out of this pandemic as a collective, and for it to be a real collective effort — data must be public and open.