By: Carlos de la Fuente
I recently visited Chile to conduct a survey of the readiness of that beautiful country to support an open government data (OGD) program. This is part of the Web Foundation’s OGD project, funded by the Open Society Institute and the Omidyar Network, the other part being our survey in Ghana. My organization, CTIC, is partnering with the Web Foundation on this interesting project.
Chile is a democracy under construction. It is gradually overcoming the fears of the past and is progressing on the constructive thinking of its leaders and the generational change within their governments. Chile, now more than ever, has a government capable of decisively deliver new visions and new governance schemes. There is ample room for ideas from young people who are aware of the value of democracy and the value of citizen participation as a cornerstone for achieving progress. Chile has always been a prosperous country with a leadership role in Latin America. Chile’s history has been tarnished by a cruel dictatorship. It now seeks to reposition itself based on values that permeate its citizenry.
Conquered fears, feuds identified, with a great view of the inherent potential, there are indications that Chile’s government may be prepared to move toward an era of open government and to free its government data from its dark data mine.
Outside of the government, enthusiastic civil society groups are already taking government data this is available and are creating products aimed at encouraging accountable governance. But it is also essential for the private sector to become more enthusiastic and think about what services it could provide based on data available now and in the future.
There is plenty of data in the mines of government information systems which could be released to become the source of new commercial and social services. Data sets that are, in short, politically insensitive could stimulate entrepreneurial activity and economic growth and development. It would not be a bad idea to ask prospective consumers what information they need, and use that input to help define the appropriate strategy for opening up data.
It is important for Chile to address concerns about launching a transparency law. Once the challenge is met, it’s time to step up to the opening of data. I’m sure that later in time there will be another blog post talking about the quality of its open government.
The world watched and rejoiced on 13 October as Chile rescued 33 miners from the San José copper and gold mine near Copiapó. Now it’s time to free Chile’s government data. Chile seems ready.