Open data, which refers to releasing freely accessible, standardized and easily readable data, promises to make governments more transparent, accountable and efficient. It can also foster greater civic participation and promote new business opportunities. Governments, entrepreneurs and civil society organizations in Latin America are interested in exploring the potential of open data. As a result, several governments have set up open data portals releasing budget, education and other public datasets on the Internet. Social and economic entrepreneurs across Latin America and the Caribbean can now create web and mobile applications using this data, thus potentially leading to more efficient delivery of public services to citizens.
Despite the promise of addressing development problems through open data reforms, several challenges have arisen in attempting to harness their potential. In 2013, attendees at the first Latin America and the Caribbean Open Data Conference in Montevideo explored the opportunities and challenges for open data in the region. An emerging community of governments, civil society, academics and entrepreneurs came together to discuss the use of open data in the areas of urban governance, health, education, budget, parliamentary transparency, agriculture, and the environment.
The consensus from the event is that while examples of successful open data initiatives are emerging, these tend to be scattered, often leading to duplication and wasted resources. Moreover, previous open data studies have highlighted the lack of focus on the unintended consequences of implementing open
data initiatives, such as personal privacy breaches and greater social exclusion. The overarching objective of this initiative is to strengthen the accountability and legitimacy of public institutions, improve public services, and fuel economic growth in Latin America and the Caribbean through
research and innovation on open data initiatives.
To address these issues, the project Open Data for Development in Latin America and The Caribbean (OD4D) will support two initiatives: the Latin American Open Data Institute (Instituto Latinoamericano de Datos Abiertos - ILDA) and the Caribbean Open Institute. These initiatives, which will act as innovation and research hubs, will explore the opportunities and challenges of using open data to prevent and solve development problems. Working in coordination with governments, the private sector and civil society, these initiatives will explore measures to catalyze demand for, and usage of, open data to achieve development goals across the region. As a result, it is anticipated that policies and practices related to open data in Latin America and the Caribbean will be better informed, thus enabling them to achieve their stated intent to strengthen the accountability and legitimacy of public institutions, improve public services and fuel economic growth.
The ILDA will be hosted by the Avina Foundation, in coordination with the Organization of American States (OAS), and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). Red Gealc will work in the framework of OAS component of ILDA.
The project is founded by IDRC.