This post was written by Daniel Carranza from DataUY
Uruguay has made headlines in the news lately. Mostly due to our unconventional former president José “Pepe” Mujica, and initiatives such as legalized abortion, regulated marijuana market and egalitarian marriage. It’s not the first time that our small country brings up innovative ideas ,as with divorce by mere will of the wife or the 8 hour workday at the beginning of the 20th century. But what most people don’t see behind the “maverick” headlines is the steady – but usually slow – processes that follow.
Our country is not -and probably never was- in a rush. And Open Data doesn’t escape that contradictory logic that reigns everything over here; that tension between innovation and resistance to change.
This year’s seventh position in the Global Open Data Index tells only part of that story.
Open Data initiatives had a relatively early start in Uruguay from the government side, but amazingly demand actually came after that. Government policy and initiatives, such as it’s Open Data Portal, have been praised and recognized internationally, but we’re still working on a firm legal framework that supports all those initiatives for the long term. In civil society, we’ve been lucky enough to launch a couple of surprisingly successful projects (ATuServicio.uy, Rampita, PreciosUY), but struggle with only a handful of organizations (grouped at the Red de Gobierno Abierto) actively involved in Open Data and Open Government. We need to “open“ the open data space (pun absolutely intended).
The challenge is then to keep moving forward. To rid ourselves from our conservative instincts and keep pushing until Open Data is the norm, not an effort, and requires less of all of the ecosystem’s energy. Reaching the Index’s top 10 should help us tip the scales just enough to keep things moving, but the risk of conformity is there, waiting for the slightest distraction.
The best news is that most of the actors involved in open data are working together on this, and it gives us the hope that the only way on is forward. Another trait of our country is closeness; you can share a seat on a bus with a Senator or call some big shot in government and actually get an answer. The same goes for middle managers -many of whom became our friends-, crucial players in delivering on the promise of Open Data. You see this among the relationships that build the Open Data ecosystem as well. This gives us incredible opportunities for dialogue, collaboration and most importantly co-creation. From a roundtable dialogue, to actually drafting legislation.
Now it’s time to be calm, but bold. So we can keep advancing at our own pace, to our own mellow rhythm, but firmly moving forward.