Open Data Day Santiago: “Bringing an “open” philosophy to the people”

This post was written by Manuel Barros Open Government Partnership coordinator at Fundación Ciudadano Inteligente.

Read the full blog in Spanish on the ILDA site.

One of the pillars at Fundación Ciudadano Inteligente has been to strengthen democracy through the creative use of information technologies. Inevitably, that mission has always been strongly linked to the use of data -in all formats- and the availability and accessibility of this data.

Open data- although still a small world reserved for a few nerds and therefore difficult to digest for most people –  is a movement and a way to understand public utility data (and especially their availability). Data that is directly related to our lives as citizens; It is a philosophy that, if widely and properly used, can generate benefits for society as a whole … and that’s what we strive  to communicate as an organization!

So, on Saturday March 5th we decided to celebrate the Open Data Day in a completely different way.

In this celebration, held annually for several years all over the world, events like hackathons or conferences are carried out and unfortunately, due to its high level of technicality, they are difficult to access for most people. Activities that, although they are very useful, work for the same circle of people interested in such issues (nerds, geeks and other astronauts in the “open” atmosphere).

This time, however, we decided to take the “open” philosophy to the streets.

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Yes, to the streets!

How did we do it? Very simple. We installed our stand on a pedestrian path at the Quinta Normal Park in Santiago and invited passers-by to contribute to  mapping their neighborhood and extended area surrounding the park. Our objective was to build  a collaborative physical map, from which all data would go to the OpenStreetMap records.We had a couple of computers enabled to make a collective and strong contribution to the open, online map and, incidentally, learn about open data and the several concepts around it.

So, people who approached  our stand (or taken by the hand  by our team of evangelizers) used colored stickers to add important landmarks, like restaurants, bike workshops, cultural centers, schools, shops and a number of other points to the physical map, while others worked on the online map.

The results were better than we expected!

Many people were interested and participated in the activity. Everyone left the place with a clearer idea about what open data is and its benefits (thanks to the super marvellous triptychs we distributed) and some even took advantage of the data on the physical map to decide where to eat or a drink that very evening.

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So, today the OpenStreetMap has more and better data in the area of Yungay, Brazil and Mapocho neighborhoods in Santiago.

We all share, we all use, we all win! That is what open data is all about and that’s what we wanted to do on this special day. So in the same vein, it’s expected that more actions of this type are made in the future, from public, private and citizen initiatives. It is necessary to broaden the debate and, especially, to put the data to  use…because opening it’s not enough.

 



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