This is a somewhat belated entry about the Abrelatam and Condatos, the regional open data conference of Latin America. It comes more than a month after the conference took place in San José, Costa Rica, but the questions raised there are still relevant and super important for advancing open data in Latin America and working towards truly open states.

After five years, the discussions have shifted. We don’t only talk about open data and how to make it happen but about, for example: privacy and how we can make sure our governments will guarantee this the right to privacy in open data work; data standards and how to make them interoperable; and business models and how to be a sustainable organization that can last beyond project funding.

These discussions are crucial in the current context in Latin America, with cases of corruption like Lava Jato or #GobiernoEspía in Mexico. They are particularly important if we want open data to not only be a bunch of good intentions, but rather infrastructure that is there for and because of citizens.

Still, we have a big challenge ahead. As it was often commented in various sessions, we need to systematize all the knowledge we have gathered in these 5 years. We also need to be able to share it with the newcomers and open it up to organizations that aren’t traditionally in the open data sphere. This will help us avoid the echo chamber and keep the work focused on important matters and make open data a valuable asset in the construction of open states.

At the same time, we need to learn from our mistakes, understand what has worked and what hasn’t, continue improving the work, not only go to conferences and speak about the amazing work we do, but also talk about where we make mistakes and help other avoid them.

This won’t be an easy task, but I think we have the right ingredients to make it happen: we have a mature community that is eager to share its experiences and learnings. We’re ready to take on the next five years and construct an open region.


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Oscar Montiel is the international community coordinator at Open Knowledge Foundation