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How was 2018 for Open Knowledge Brasil?

- February 26, 2019 in Brazil, OK Brazil, Open Knowledge Network

This blog has been translated from its original version on the OK Brasil blog. The complete 2018 Annual Report of OK Brasil is available here. The year 2018 was of great evolution for Open Knowledge Brasil from the institutional point of view. Under new leadership and with a new team, with the incorporation of “Operação Serenata de Amor“, we’ve dedicated time to strengthening our strategic vision and our programmatic lines, with the aim of positioning the organization at the forefront of the open knowledge movement in Brazil. We’ve achieved this goal in three ways:
  1. With the intensification of projects and activities with high potential for impact and the DNA of Open Knowledge,
  2. Through partnerships and coalitions signed with public sector regulation agencies, aiming for greater collaboration in scale, and
  3. Through participation in relevant events and mentions in the media to guide the national debate around issues such as transparency and social control.
We understand the tremendous value of technology and open data for strengthening democratic governance. For this reason, we have focused our efforts on structuring the Data Science for Civic Innovation program, which launched four new projects: Perfil PolíticoQuerido DiárioVítimas da Intolerância and Queremos Saber. We have also broadened our articulation and advocacy actions. We issued seven public statements with other organizations, especially on issues related to transparency and open governance. We have signed partnerships with public bodies, such as the Federal Audit Office and the Federal Comptroller’s Office, and actively participate in coalitions such as the Transparency and Social Participation Network and the Pact for Democracy. Escola de Dados, the Brazilian chapter of School Of Data, our data literacy program, held the third edition of Brazil’s main event of digital methods and data journalism – Coda.Br 2018, attended by more than 300 people in São Paulo in November. The School Of Data also expanded its course offers and launched new online tutorials. In addition, the program started a series of local events to foster the development of interdisciplinary communities to think about data-driven projects with social impact: Cerveja com Dados (Beer with data). There were 18 editions of the event in 10 cities, bringing together about 700 participants during the year. We’ve talked in more than 20 events in Brazil, conducted by partners from academia, civil society and governments. This allowed us to expand the reach of our projects and to sew new work fronts with more public and private entities. The results of our communication followed the rhythm of the other fronts of Open Knowledge. We’ve had a more consistent performance in social networks, aimed at presenting our vision, our projects and activities, and more appearances in the mainstream media, including in news broadcasts. We’ve participated or were explicitly mentioned in eight TV programs, three of them on TV Globo – one in the Jornal Nacional, three in GloboNews, one in Al Jazeera TV and another in Rede Record. As a result, we have been able to guide, with the reach of millions of Brazilians, issues such as the oversight of the electoral campaign, the increase of violence due to political motivation, challenges to advance data disclosure policies, and more. It was also a year of great challenges. The poor performance of economic activities, together with the political crisis scenario driven by the impeachment process and the consecutive phases of Operation Car Wash, undermined confidence in public institutions and social actors. The wave of populism and anti-democratic actions that spread around the world gained strength in Brazil, especially during the elections, marked by polarization and disinformation. The role of Open Knowledge Brasil in this context is to encourage social participation in order to safeguard rights and strengthen the relationship between civil society and public institutions. Supporting active citizenship is a path to regaining confidence in the country. And this is only possible if we also advocate for more transparency of power. The challenges for 2019 are set. Transparency, open data and civic technology will be transversal themes to all of them, and we will strengthen our actions to multiply relevant experiences in these themes. Demonstrating the value of an open and fair society is what guides the contribution of Open Knowledge Brasil in the years to come. Natália Mazotte, Executive Director

A lookback on 2017 with OK Brazil

- January 16, 2018 in Brazil, OK Brazil, Open Data Index

This blog has been written by Natalia Mazotte and Ariel Kogan, co-directors of Open Knowledge Brazil (OKBR). It has been translated from the original version at https://br.okfn.org/2017/12/29/como-foi-o-ano-de-2017-para-a-okbr by Juliana Watanabe, volunteer of OKBR.

For us at Open Knowledge Brazil (OKBR), the year 2017 was filled with multiple partnerships, support and participation in events; projects and campaigns for mobilisation. In this blog we selected some of these highlights. Furthermore, newsflash for the team: the journalist Natália Mozatte, that was already leading Escola de Datos (School of Data) in Brazil, became co-director with Ariel Kogan (executive director since July 2016).

Foto: Engin_Akyurt / Creative Commons CC0

Mobilisation

At the beginning of the year, OKBR and several other organizations introduced the Manifest for Digital Identification in Brazil. The purpose of the Manifest is to be a tool for society to take a stand towards the privacy and safety of personal data of citizens and turn digital identification into a safe, fair and transparent action.

We monitored one of the main challenges in the city of São Paulo and contributed to the mobilisation for this. Along with other civil society organisations, we urged the City Hall of São Paulo for transparency regarding mobility. The reason: on 25 January 2017, the first day of the new increase to the speed limits on Marginais Pinheiros and Tietê, we noticed several news items about the decrease in traffic accidents linked to the policy of reducing speed in certain parts of the city was unavailable on the site of the Traffic Engineering Company (CET).

For a few months, we conducted a series of webinars called OKBR Webinars Serires, about open knowledge of the world. We had the participation of the following experts: Bart Van Leeuwen, entrepreneur; Paola Villareal, Fellow from the Berkman Klein Center, designer/data scientist; Fernanda Campagnucci, journalist and analyst of public policies and Rufus Pollock, founder of Open Knowledge International.

We took part in a major victory for society! Along with the Movimento pela Transparência (PartidáriaMovement for Partisan Transparency), we conducted a mobilisation against the rapporteur’s proposal for a political reform, congressman Vicente Cândido (PT-SP), about hidden contributions from the campaign and the result was very positive. Besides us, a variety of organisations and movements took part in this initiative against hidden donations,: we published and handed out a public statement. The impact was huge: as a consequence, the rapporteur announced the withdrawal of secret donations.

We also participated in #NãoValeTudo, a collective effort to discuss the correct use of technology for electoral purposes along with AppCívico, o Instituto Update, o Instituto Tecnologia e Equidad.

Projects

We performed two cycles of OpenSpending. The first cycle initiated in January and involved 150 municipalities. In July, we published the report of cycle 1. In August, we started the second cycle of the game with something new: Guaxi, a robot which was the digital assistant to competitors. It is an expert bot developed with innovative chatbot technology, simulating human interaction with the users. This made the journey through the page of OpenSpending on Facebook easier. The report of the second cycle is available here.

Together with the Board of Assessment of Public Policies from FGV/DAPP we released the Brazilian edition of the Open Data Index (ODI). In total, we built three surveys: Open Data Index (ODI) Brazil, at the national level and ODI São Paulo and ODI Rio de Janeiro, at the municipal level. Months later, we ended the survey “Do you want to build the index of Open Data of your city?” and the result was pretty positive: 216 people have shown an interest to do the survey voluntarily in their town!

In this first cycle of decentralization and expansion of the ODI in the Brazilian municipality, we conducted an experiment with the first group: Arapiraca/AL, Belo Horizonte/MG, Bonfim/RR, Brasília/DF, Natal/RN, Porto Alegre/RS, Salvador/BA, Teresina/PI, Uberlândia/MG, Vitória/ES. We offered training for the local leaders, provided by the staff of the Open Data Index (FGV/DAPP – OKBR) so that they can accomplish the survey required to develop the index. In 2018, we’ll show the results and introduce the reports with concrete opportunities for the town move forward on the agenda of transparency and open data.

We launched LIBRE – a project of microfinance for journalism – a partnership from Open Knowledge Brazil and Flux Studio, with involvement from AppCivico too. It is a microfinance content tool that aims to bring a digital tool to the public that is interested in appreciating and sustaining journalism and quality content. Currently, some first portals are testing the platform in a pilot phase.

Events

We supported the events of Open Data Day in many Brazilian cities, as well as the Hackathon da Saúde (Health Hackathon), an action of the São Paulo City Hall in partnership with SENAI and AppCívico, and participated in the Hack In Sampa event at the City Council of São Paulo.

Natália Mazotte, co-director of OKBR, participated in AbreLatam and ConDatos, annual events which have become the main meeting point regarding open data in Latin America and the Caribbean. It is a time to talk about the status and the impact in the entire region. We also participated in the 7th edition of the Web forum in Brazil with the workshop “Open patterns and access to information: prospects and challenges of the government open data”. Along with other organizations, we organized the Brazilian Open Government meeting.

The School of Data, in partnership with Google News Lab, organised the second edition of the Brazilian Conference of Journalism of Data and Digital Methods (Coda.Br). We were one of the partner organisations for the first Course of Open Government for leadership in Weather, Forest and Farming, initiated by Imaflora and supported by the Climate and Land Use Alliance (CLUA).

We were the focal point in the research “Foundations of the open code as social innovators in emerging economies: a case study in Brazil”, from Clément Bert-Erboul, a specialist in economic sociology and the teacher Nicholas Vonortas.

And more to come in 2018

We would like to thank you to follow and take part of OKBR in 2017. We’re counting on you in 2018. Beyond our plan for the next year, we have the challenge and the responsibility to contribute in the period of the elections so that Brazil proceeds on the agendas of transparency, opening public information, democratic participation, integrity and the fight against corruption.

If you want to stay updated on the news and the progress of our projects, you can follow us on our BlogTwitter and Facebook.

A wonderful 2018 for all of us!

The Open Knowledge Brazil team.

Brazil’s Information Access Law and the problem of ‘un-anonymous’ request for public information

- July 19, 2017 in Brazil, Freedom of Information, OK Brazil, Open Government Partnership

It is critical to build mechanisms that allow and promote the exercise of right to information access in a way that is safe to Information Access Law users. In this blog, Ariel Kogan (managing director of Open Knowledge Brasil) and Fabiano Angélico (transparency and integrity adviser and author of the book “Lei de Acesso à Informação: Reforço ao Controle Democrático” (Information Access Act: Reinforcement for the Democratic Control) ) talk about the importance of anonymous requests of information to preserve the identity, privacy and safety of citizens. According to the Brazilian Information Access Law, which has been effective for five years this May, the information requesting party – either an individual or an entity – needs to inform the government authority of its name and a document number. This obligation has shown to be problematic, especially for journalists and activists who search for information that might uncover cases of corruption or misappropriation of public resources.  Brazil submitted its third action plan to Open Government Partnership in December of 2016. One of the country’s commitments is to “create new mechanisms or improve existing mechanisms to evaluate and monitor the passive transparency of Law 12.527 of 2011 in the Federal Government”. Another commitment is to “safeguard the requesting party’s identity under excusable cases through adjustments in request procedures and channels”. 

Image: Digital Rights LAC (CC-BY-SA 2.0)

Brazil has however failed to adhere to some of the commitments of the Open Government Partnership. The following paragraphs document the treatment meted out to some individuals who have dared to use the Information Access Act to request for somewhat sensitive data. Several cases of subtle or aggressive threats, employee termination and other kinds of reprisals have been reported. A member of a non-governmental organisation (NGO), Renato used a state government’s system to request information on their military police. A military police officer responded to his request with a threatening tone. The officer even mentioned the names of the fundraisers of the NGO of which Renato is a member. Joana, a federal government public employee, requested a ministry information about a quite controversial contract. Shortly afterwards and without previous notice, she was dismissed from her leadership position while she was on vacation. João, a state company public employee, suspected that the company’s top executives were misusing public funds. He asked his brother to request information access. He was then discharged with cause for disobedience. Feeling threatened, Maria was afraid to request information about the budget execution of the town where she lived. Searching the Internet, she found another person who lived in a very distant town who was in a similar situation. They then decided to exchange favours, and one requested information on behalf of the other. It was safer for both of them. Manoel, a journalist, requested information from a city hall via the Information Access Act. However, he didn’t inform that he was a journalist. In a few days, the municipal secretary of communications called him and, is a less than cordial tone, said that Manoel didn’t need to use the Information Access Law to collect data.  All names mentioned above are fictitious.  The reported cases, however, are unfortunately real. In addition to discharges and threatens, the requesting party identification leads the government to respond to information requests according to the requesting party “status”. Research in several countries, including Brazil, shows that the response to the same information request is more complete when the requesting party is identified as an investigator from a renowned university, for example than when the individual is identified just by his/her name. These cases demonstrate that the identification of the requesting party may have not democratic and republican consequences. In all cases, an illegal and disproportionate force was used to silence requests for information. It is, therefore, critical to develop mechanisms that allow and promote the exercise of the right to safely and, if necessary, anonymously access information. This would be enriching for all and would allow social control in many critical situations. The Information Access Act may be an excellent tool to identify and monitor suspicions of misuse of public resources, contract frauds, or other improprieties in public agencies. For this law to be effective, however, it is essential that the requesting party is safeguarded. We believe this will be the next great challenge to the Information Access Act implementation process.  

Open Data Index in Brazil launched! by FGV and Open Knowledge Brazil

- May 25, 2017 in network, Open Data, Open Data Index

Open Knowledge Brazil and Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV) – a higher education institution in Brazil worked together to develop the Brazilian edition of the Open Data Index, which is being used by governments as a tool to enhance public management, and bring it even closer to Brazil’s reality. 

About the Open Data Index

The Brazilian edition of the Open Data Index has been used as a tool to set priorities regarding transparency and open data policies, as well as a pressure mechanism used by civil society to encourage governments to enhance their performance, releasing sets of essential data. The indicator is based on data availability and accessibility across 13 key categories, including government spending, election results, public acquisitions, pollution levels, water quality data, land ownership, and climate data, among others. Submissions are peer reviewed and verified by a local team of data experts and reviewers. Points are assigned based on the conclusions reached through this process.

OK Brazil and FGV Partnership 

Through a series of events held in partnership with Open Knowledge Brazil (OKBR) and FGV’s Department of Public Policy Analysis (DAPP) launched the Brazilian edition of the Open Data Index (ODI) – a civil society initiative designed to assess the state of open government data worldwide. Three assessments were established for Brazil through a joint effort between the two institutions:
  1. Open Data Index (ODI) for Brazil, at the national level, 
  2. ODI Sao Paulo at the municipal level and
  3. ODI Rio de Janeiro, also at the municipal level
The last two are part of a pioneering initiative, since these are the first regional ODIs in Brazil, in addition to the nationwide assessment. 
This partnership with OKBr and the development of the Open Data Index complement DAPP’s life-long efforts in the areas of political and budget transparency, featuring widely recognised tools such as the Budget Mosaic and Transparent Chamber. We believe that public debate can only be qualified through data transparency, social engagement and dialogue within network society –  Marco Aurelio Ruediger, director of DAPP

The two institutions are working to develop the indicator used by governments across 122 countries as a tool to enhance public management and bring it even closer to Brazil’s reality. The goal is for data disclosure to promote institutional development by encouraging transparency within the government’s foundations, achieved both through constant scrutiny by civil society and improvements implemented by administrators regarding the quality and access to information.
Among the practical results of this new effort for society is the possibility of using results to develop and monitor public policies regarding transparency and open data – Ariel Kogan, CEO of OKBR

Open Data Index for Brazil 

The Open Data Index for Brazil, launched on April 27 in Brasilia, revealed that the country is in 8th place in the world ranking, tied with the United States and Latvia, and it occupies the leadership among its neighbours in Latin America. In total, 15 dimensions related to themes such as public spending, environment and legislation were analysed. However, the overall score of 64% indicates that there is still a lot of room for improvement. Only six — or 40% — dimensions of the index received the total score, that is, they were considered totally open: Public Budget, Electoral Results, National Maps, Socioeconomic Statistics, Laws in Force and Legislative Activity. However, no public databases were found for three dimensions surveyed: Locations, Water Quality and Land Ownership.

Open Data Index for Cities – São Paulo

The ODI São Paulo, launched two days earlier, had a similar result. In the overall assessment, the municipality had a positive result in the index, with 75% of the total score. Within the index analysis dimensions, 7 of the 18 evaluated databases obtained a maximum score: this means that 38% of the databases for the city were considered fully open. On the other hand, the Land Ownership dimension was evaluated with 0%, due to the unavailability of data; and another four had a score lower than 50% (Business Register, Water Quality and Weather Forecast).

Open Data Index for Cities – Rio de Janeiro

The ODI Rio de Janeiro [report in Portuguese], released on May 4, showed a slightly different performance. The city of Rio de Janeiro had a high overall score, reaching 80%. The study indicates, however, that only five dimensions (Election Results, City Maps, Administrative Limits, Criminal Statistics and Public Schools) had the individual score of 100%, with only 27% of the databases being considered fully open. The incompleteness of the dataset appears six times, i.e. there is no availability of certain information which is considered essential. The issue of access restriction appears only in the Business Register dimension. The Land Ownership dimension is also considered critical, since there is no data available for carrying out the ODI assessment. In summary, it is believed that the information can be useful for an open data policy at the municipal and federal level, to provide the paths for the replication of good practices and the correction of points of attention. The benefits of an open data policy are innumerable and include the extension of management efficiency, the creation of an instrument for collecting results from public administration, promoting accountability and social control, engaging civil society with public management and improving the public image, with the potential of becoming an international reference

A summary of the last 8 months at Open Knowledge Brazil

- May 11, 2017 in network, OK Brazil

This blog post is part of our on-going Network series featuring updates from chapters across the Open Knowledge Network and was written by the Open Knowledge Brazil (OKBR) team.   This post was written by Ariel Kogan, CEO of Open Knowledge Brazil and first appeared on OKBR
website: https://br.okfn.org/2017/04/03/um-resumo-aconteceu-ultimos-oito-meses/
Open Knowledge Brazil (OKBR) seeks to build a more open, transparent, fair and collaborative society. At the same time, we seek to build an organisational model that develops a dialogue and is coherent with that mission and challenges of the 21st century. And this is the direction we are going. Eight months ago, with this purpose, I accepted the challenge to become the organisation’s CEO. In collaboration with advisors and the OKBR community, we established partnerships, participated in projects and developed others. It has been a very productive period! And, for this reason, we would like to share an overview. Firstly, we have put together an essential document: the planning for the organisation until 2018. The priority initiatives will be:
  1. Our participation in the national and sub-national process in #OGP (Open Government Partnership);
  2. Open expenses project. More than 180 leaders from different regions of Brazil are playing a game to open their cities budget data. We have also developed the first Open Budget course in partnership with ITS Rio.
  3. In partnership with FGV-DAPP, we are building the Brazilian Open Data Index at a federal and local level (Rio de Janeiro e São Paulo). We are going to post the results in April 2017;
  4. We are designing and building a lean and intelligent structure, which manages to give the necessary support to projects and community.

Learning

With the support of Fundación Avina, we travelled to Estonia to learn about two of the main current cases of digital government. We shared this experience in the following articles: “Estonia: a digital democracy” and “The country that votes through the internet“.

Partnerships 

We are building new strategic partnerships for the OKBR mission. We have already agreed with the Social Observatory, Brazil Transparency and we are about to do the same with the Planning Ministry and the Ministry of Transparency of Brazilian Federal Government, Superior Electoral Court (TSE), Alagoas State Government and São Paulo City Hall. We became partners, advisors and we are helping in the planning and fundraising for Operação Serenata de Amor project, one of the most interesting initiatives that are taking place nowadays in Brazil. It mixes artificial intelligence, open data, fights against corruption and engages an excellent team of young people who are passionate about what they do. We have also built (in collaboration) and posted a Manifest for the Brazilian Digital Identification. This is a very important initiative that seeks to protect and preserve the citizens’ personal data in order to create a more digital society. Furthermore, in partnership with Fluxo and AppCivico, we are building a microfinance tool for independent journalism. Soon, we are going to share more news about this project through the OKBR social networks.

Actions 

In December 2016, we launched the webinar series “OKBR Webinar Series: open knowledge & information worldwide” with open knowledge and open government specialists. The first of them took place on December 6th, with entrepreneur Bart van Leewen, about “Linked data and emergencies prevention”. In January, the webinar participant was Paola Villarreal, Fellow do Berkman Klein Center, programmer/data scientist, about Justice Data; in February, Fernanda Campagnucci, journalist and public policies analyst, spoke about “Open data and local governments: how to assist people’s data demands.” Next webinar will take place on May 5th at 1 pm, with Rufus Pullock, an economist and founder of Open Knowledge International. It will be about “Civil society’s role to open data and knowledge.”