On Saturday 7th March 2020, the tenth Open Data Day took place with people around the world organising over 300 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. Thanks to generous support from key funders, the Open Knowledge Foundation was able to support the running of more than 60 of these events via our mini-grants scheme

This blogpost is a report from LEAD University in Costa Rica who received funding from the Open Contracting Partnership to organise an event for data science students to meet public officials behind the National Public Procurement Portal.

On the 7th of March 2020, LEAD University organised a Datathon as part of the global celebration of Open Data Day. This activity took place on our campus in San Jose, Costa Rica from 10am to 6pm. The event was attended mainly by first-year students of the data science degree from the same university, although we also had the participation of external guests.

The first hour was devoted to three blocks of presentations: 1) Welcome and introduction to the concept of the five stars of open data, 2) Presentation of a dataset that includes public contracts for the last 10 years, 3) Public procurement data use cases (achieving value for money for government; strengthening the transparency, accountability, and integrity of public contracting; enabling the private sector to fairly compete for public contracts; monitoring the effectiveness of service delivery).

A group of technical mentors supported the teams in the use of tools such as R, Python, Power BI, among others. Most teams, including the winning team, were inclined to analyse the use of data to promote the transparency and integrity of public procurement.

For the organisers, the datathon turned out to be an effective opportunity to expose students to the challenge of working with open data. One of the great lessons of the day was discovering that the dataset used does not offer ideal conditions for analysis for two reasons: a) the published data dictionaries are very poor and b) the current data do not contain a sufficient level of detail.

The adoption of protocols such as the Open Contracting Data Standard is clearly an area of opportunity in the Costa Rican case.