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Mapping to support the fight against COVID-19 in Brazil: Open Data Day 2020 report

- June 1, 2020 in Brazil, Open Data Day, Open Data Day 2020

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 the Federal University of Bahia in Brazil who received funding from Mapbox to popularise open data mapping systems, especially OpenStreetMap, among undergraduate students and young people from vulnerable areas of Salvador. But their plans had to change in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to heavy rains, we had to postpone our planned Open Data Day event until 14th March 2020. And then, on the 13th, the Federal University of Bahia decreed the indefinite suspension of all face-to-face events due to the new Coronavirus pandemic. In the midst of the pandemic, we realised that we still have a long way to go before we can meet in person and that we are facing new challenges that are urgent, demanding our solidarity and a debate on access to information and to open data. So we redesigned our event to take place on 10th June and to make it virtual. We will make some changes to our schedule, add international debates and convert all the funds raised to support young people from vulnerable communities in Salvador, partners of our project, so that they can stay connected to the internet in this moment of crisis. Helping them to stay in their homes, to participate in events like ours, to educate themselves, inform themselves and support their families and community. We believe, in all aspects, that we are stronger together. And the event’s activities have already started. On 14th March, we held a virtual mapathon with the support of the Startup Social Communitech, which monitored the young people who stayed in the community while we were broadcasting the course.

In partnership with the Group Geocombate COVID-19 BA, we are undertaking joint efforts to map areas related to the flow of people and to the formation of agglomerations, in slums of Salvador. The mapping aims to guide the actions of community leaders and public authorities in the application of tests, disinfection of public places and awareness about the virus among other actions. The guidelines for this activity can be found on our event site. You can also find materials of the presentations and banners. With the support of the Open Knowledge Foundation, we made banners and shirts for the laboratories that host the event and purchased items for snacks which will be donated to community leaders. The event will be free but a payment of R$10 can be made by those who wish to receive a certificate or donate to this cause. The new payment method and details about the event will soon be available on our website.  We’ll see each other soon! #FicaEmCasa and #FicaEmPaz (#StayAtHome and #BeInPeace)

Connecting environmental politics and data in Brazil: Open Data Day 2020 report

- April 1, 2020 in Brazil, Open Data Day, Open Data Day 2020

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 blogspot is a report by Marília Gehrke from Afonte Jornalismo de Dados (Afonte Data Journalism) in Brazil who received funding from Resource Watch to raise awareness about environmental politics and empower the community to use public and open data.
Open Data Day Porto Alegre panelists and organising team (photo: Juliana Spilimbergo)

Open Data Day Porto Alegre panelists and organising team (photo: Juliana Spilimbergo)

People who attended Open Data Day Porto Alegre learned about the ecosystem where they live. Through graphics, figures, maps, and even a new database released during the event, three panelists explained the impact of Mina Guaíba installation. The project involves a coal mine exploration, which will affect Porto Alegre, in Brazilian South, and its metropolitan region. If it occurs, about 166 tonnes of coal might be extracted in 23 years. One of the main problems is pollution: Jacuí river, and consequently Guaíba Lake, which supplies water for the city, will be at risk of contamination. Approximately 4.6 million people would be affected.  “How can society feel safe about the coal mine?”, asked Dr. Rualdo Menegat, professor of Geosciences Institute at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) and one of the panelists. According to him, the project that aims to start coal exploration does not foresee potential risks and environmental emergencies – natural disasters, explosions, fires, storms, and inundations might happen. He also presented a periodic table of substances that are part of the chemical composition of coal. “It is chemical garbage,” he summarised.  Dr. Marilene Maia, the coordinator of the Observatory of Realities and Public Policies of Vale do Rio dos Sinos (Observasinos), believes science and data are essential for people to be aware of the mine’s risks, as well as public transparency. She said that sometimes data is available, but is not accessible because citizens do not comprehend it.
Presentation by Iporã Possantti (photo: Marília Gehrke)

Presentation by Iporã Possantti (photo: Marília Gehrke)

Iporã Possantti, who is an environmental engineer and also a member of the group Critical Environment (Coletivo Ambiente Crítico), organised and released a new database to empower the community and inspire people to investigate. Territorial and georeferenced information will allow the creation of maps and promote subsidies for data analysis. The main goal, he said, is to offer structured data that is already public in different places, but can disappear depending on the governors’ decision.  Open Data Day in Porto Alegre also had a workshop to stimulate the use of the Access of Information Law (a Brazilian version of the Freedom of Information Act) to obtain public data that are not publicly available unless if someone requests. LL.M. Bruno Morassutti, who is a lawyer and specialist in this topic, showed several examples of how to access Websites and protocols to ask for information. He also presented the environmental legislation in Brazil to support the arguments for the requirements.  The audience was able to ask questions during the event. In the first panel, invited journalists – freelancers and professionals from different news media – started the debate. Overall, the community expressed concern about the future of environmental events and people who did not know the data presented acted surprise. “It is not an event that starts tomorrow and ends at the end of the year. It will affect future generations”, said Dr. Menegat about the coal mine. About 60 people attended Open Data Day in Porto Alegre. For the second year in a row, journalists Marília Gehrke and Taís Seibt, from Afonte Jornalismo de Dados (Afonte Data Journalism), organised the event with support from Unisinos University. All the presentations (in Portuguese) are available online. The event was covered by the regional media and posts on Twitter.

Open Mapping in Brazil for Open Data Day 2019

- April 2, 2019 in Brazil, Open Data Day, open data day 2019, Open Mapping

This report is part of the event report series on International Open Data Day 2019. Code for Curitiba and Open Knowledge Brasil / UG Wikimedia in Brazil received funding through the mini-grant scheme by Mapbox to organise events under the Open Mapping theme. This is a joint report by Ricardo Mendes Junior & Celio Costa Filho: their biographies are included at the bottom of this post.

Open Data Day São Paulo

Open Data Day is an annual celebration of open data that takes place all around the world. In its ninth edition, in 2019, people in various countries organized events using and/or producing open data. This is a great opportunity to show the benefits of open data and to encourage the adoption of open data policies in government, business, and civil society. In Brazil, these events occurred in the first half of March. The initiative to conduct one of these events in the city of São Paulo came from two volunteers of the group Wiki Movimento Brasil. The idea of ​​the event came after the Brumadinho dam disaster, which occurred on January 25, 2019, when a tailings dam at an iron ore mine in Brumadinho, Minas Gerais, Brazil suffered a catastrophic failure. In this context, we perceive the importance of the existence of data from Brazilian dams of tailings properly structured on open platforms and with machine-readable data, such as Wikidata. This became even more visible when, by the end of January of this year, a report from the National Water Agency classified 45 reservoirs of dams as vulnerable, potentially affecting a population of 3.5 million people in risk-damped cities. The purpose of this Open Data Day, therefore, was to perform the scraping of databases whose content is free, and create items on Wikidata rich in structured information about the existing dams in Brazil. The site of the National Information System on Dams Safety, controlled by the National Water Agency was the main source; the site records more than 3,500 dams. Once the data organized in a spreadsheet, the process of “wikidatification” began with the help of the participants of the event. Wikidatifying data is nothing more than modeling structurable data, that is, trying to establish correspondences between the concepts and values ​​presented in the data table and the properties and items of Wikidata. Only after wikidatification is it possible to upload the data to Wikidata. Each participant of the event raised about 500 items of dams. Items created in this event can serve a variety of purposes, such as the illustration of dam maps by associated potential harm level ( and cross-checking of dam safety statistics with other databases (for instance, the ones related in the Brazilian news today:  The event is organized by the members of the Wiki Movimento Brasil and had the support of Creative Commons Brazil.  Map example: Pictures:

Open Data Day Curitiba 2019

The Open Data Day Curitiba 2019 was held at the FIEP Paula Gomes Training Center and had 61 people participating, in 4 working rooms and watching the lectures in the auditorium. The programming of lectures had the collaboration of 11 special guests who spoke 15 minutes each one, in the subjects Access and reuse of scientific data, Open data of public spending in accessible formats, Open Science: Repository of scientific data of Research, Collaborative Mapping, Open Education and open educational technology, Impacts of the Brazilian General Data Protection Act, Information Systems for public transport, Use of methodology City Information Modeling (CIM) for urban planning, Transparency and social control, Roadmap to civic innovation in the public sector and Urbanism and collaborative mappings, civic engagement and urban laboratories. At the opening of the event the director of the Curitiba/Vale do Pinhão Agency, Cris Alessi, spoke about the innovation ecosystem of Curitiba and what actions we can perform as participants in the movement of civic hackers and encouraging public open data. In the working rooms the participants discussed and develop activities related to the themes of the ODD Curitiba 2019.

Open science

In the Open science working room 13 people participated in the activities and the group started discussing the contextualization of the concept of scientific data and some international approaches on the topic, the differentiation between scientific information and research product. The group then identified 3 datasets, analyzing its structures (data, documentation and support of the original publication that contextualizes the information). After this activity the group discussed the 8 Panton Principles that analyze the quality of open data, and discussed the repositories and As a last activity, they discussed the context of scientific data in scientific journals, the types of copyright license for data and the difficulty of obtaining information from the data published on the platform of Brazilian researchers’ curricula.

Tracking flow of public money

In the Tracking flow of public money working room 28 people participated. The initial discussions were about money spent in public events and public policy actions that use public resources and how to find the destination of these resources in the city’s documents (bids, commitments, notices, etc.). After this discussion, the group decided to concentrate on tracking drug expenditures and public transport costs. So, they started the discussion with questions related to these expenses. Subsequently, a map was elaborated with the money trail for these expenses, including the sources of information. This trail will be improved by the group, who pledged to continue working on these ideas. And the conclusion of the group is that citizen engagement is the best remedy and has been summarized in one sentence:
“The Ministry of Health warns: Citizen participation is the best remedy for public health management. “

Open Mapping

In the Open Mapping working room was held the 1st Urban Accessibility Mapathon of Curitiba (Mapathon = Collaborative mapping marathon). The activity consisted of gathering information in the field of about 800 meters of sidewalks, per team, in the neighborhood of the event’s location. With the help of mobile applications, situations related to accessibility problems was collected, with coordinates, photos and videos. The Checklist had 18 items such as irregular pavement, irregular or non-existent accessibility ramp, hole in the lanes. After collection, the raw data were edited using the free QGIS software, generating the final unified maps that were made available to the community via an online map ( Were Raised 39 Problems Of Accessibility In Surroundings.


8 people participated in the ô project working room. The initiative started in 2019 and maintained by the Code for Curitiba aims to be an aggregator of data related to public transportation in the city of Curitiba. In the event, the project leaders, Guilherme and Henrique, presented the project, raised questions and the participants discussed ways to identify the answers. They conducted an exploratory survey of public and private services, extracted data and studied The webservice provided by URBS (Urbanization of Curitiba S/A). They Created a comparative table for identification of lines in different services and coded in PHP + HTML a view of these schedules. At the end, they took the opportunity to development and integration with the project Kartão, developed in Code for Curitiba in 2016, which presents the points of sale and recharge of the public transport card.


The Open Data Day Curitiba in previous years was also carried out by the Code for Curitiba. The ODD of 2019 was greater in public participation and in activities performed. The results obtained in this year include some direct results indicated below. A group formed to discuss and implement a solution to track the public money applied in medicines in Curitiba. The activity of the 1st Urban Accessibility Mapathon of Curitiba resulted in information geolocated that will be delivered to the Ippuc (Institute of research and urban planning of Curitiba) demonstrating how it is possible using technology to involve the population in collaborative urban planning with the mapping of information of the city. The ô project received valuable contributions from the participants and began to count with new collaborators. All projects under development in the Code for Curitiba are conducted by volunteers. The discussions on the Open Research Data initiated in the ODD 2018 have advanced. And finally, the evaluation by the participants considered the event positive to understand the existing challenges to work with open data and that data integration still requires great work. Collaborative mapping participants liked the idea of using georeferenced data for the improvement of the city. All were unanimous in stating that they would like to continue in the activities proposed by the ODD 2019, would like to receive more information and consider these important activities and of great impact to the city and to the understanding of effective citizenship.

More information and photos:



Code for Curitiba is a brigade of Code for Brazil, inspired on Code for America. They use the principles and practices of the digital age to improve how government serves the public, and how the public improves government. To inspire public servants, people from the tech sector, and community organizers to create change by proving government can do better and showing others how. Providing government with access to the resources and digital talent they need so that together we can meaningfully impact some of the world’s toughest societal challenges. Connecting and convening people from inside and outside government, and from all over the world to inspire each other, share successes, learn, build, and shape a new culture of public service for the 21st century. Ricardo Mendes Junior is currently the captain of Code for Curitiba. Graduated in Civil Engineering and PhD in Production Engineering he is currently professor at the Federal University of Paraná working in the Postgraduate Program in Information Management. His topics of interest are: Information Engineering, City Information Modeling (CIM), collaborative production, public participation thru collaborative mapping, crowdsourcing plus artificial intelligence, crowd collaboration and civic entrepreneurship. Celio Costa Filho is a founding member of Open Knowledge Brasil, the Wiki Movimento Brasil user group and the Creative Commons Brasil wiki coordinator.

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 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


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.


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.


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.  

Gender inequality on focus in São Paulo Open Data Day

- April 21, 2017 in Brazil, Open Data, Open Data Day, South America

This blog is part of the event report series on International Open Data Day 2017. On Saturday 4 March, groups from around the world organised over 300 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. 44 events received additional support through the Open Knowledge International mini-grants scheme, funded by SPARC, the Open Contracting Program of Hivos, Article 19, Hewlett Foundation and the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office. This event was supported through the mini-grants scheme under the human rights theme. This blog has been translated from this Portuguese original post. The International Open Data Day was celebrated for the seventh time on March 4th, 2017. It is always a good opportunity to present open data and show its benefits for newcomers. This year, as a joint initiative between PoliGNU, PoliGen, MariaLab e Transparência Hacker, on the Human Rights theme and we focused on the discussion about women participation in public policy development by looking at related open datasets. Our open data day activity was designed with the following 4 steps:
  1.     Initial presentations and explanations;
  2.     Open data initiatives mapping;
  3.     Women’s fights related initiatives mapping;
  4.     Data analysis and visualization made by thematic groups;

1st Step – Initial presentations and explanations

We started with a brief introduction from each participant to allow everyone to know each other. This showed how diverse of a group we were: engineers, developers, business consultants, designers, social assistants, teachers, journalists, students and researchers. Some of the participants had collaborated with the Brazilian Freedom of Information Act (FOIA – 12.527/2012), so we had a small discussion about how this law was produced, its purposes and limitations. There was also a brief presentation about what is open data, focusing on the eight principles: Complete, Primary, Timely, Accessible, Machine processable, Non-discriminatory, and License-free.

2nd Step – Open Data initiatives mapping

We started with a brainstorm in which everybody wrote open data related solutions onto post-its notes. The solutions were grouped into four macro themes: Macro Politics, Local Politics, Services and Media.

3rd Step – Women’s fights related initiatives mapping

After we had a second brainstorm about initiatives connected to women’s fights, claims and demands were mapped and added onto post-its. Those initiatives could be not internet-related, as long as they would be related to open data. The post-its were grouped into 5 themes: “Empowerment through Entrepreneurship”, “Empowerment through Technology”, “Visualisations”, “Campaigns” and “Apps”.

4th Step – The teams’ work on Data Analysis and DataViz

Two groups of complementary interests were formed: one that focused on the underrepresentation of women in elected public positions, and another, which sought to address gender inequality from an economic bias perspective. The team that focused on political perspective, sought open data from the Electoral High Court referred to the Brazilian 2016 elections (available here). The group spent considerable time downloading and data wrangling the database. But even so, they got interesting statistics such as the average expenditure per candidate: ~ R$16,000 for male candidates and ~ R$6,000 for female candidates. Although all parties and states have reached the share of 30% of women, as defined by the law, women’s campaigns receive much less investment. For example, all women’s campaigns, together, did not reach 7% of the total amount of money in Rio de Janeiro City Hall Elections. Tables, graphs and maps were generated in and the code produced is available in PoliGNU’s GitHub. With this disparity in women representativeness, it is undeniable that the decision-making power is concentrated in the hands of rich white men’s hands. How is it possible to ensure the human rights of such diverse society if the decisions are taken by a such a homogeneous group of rich white men, majority of whom happens to be old? This and other questions have remained and are waiting another hackday to delve again into the data. The team that focused on economic perspective sought open data from the IBGE website of income, employed population, unemployed population, workforce, individuals microentrepreneur profile, among others. Much of the open data available was structured in a highly aggregated form, preventing manipulation from generating or doing any kind of analysis. As a consequence, this team had to redefine their question a few times. Some pieces of information deserve to be highlighted:
  • women’s workforce increasing rate (~ 40%) is higher than that of the men (~ 20%)
  • the main segments of women’s small business are: (i) hairdressers, (ii) clothing and accessories sales, and (iii) beauty treatment activities;
  • the main segments of men’s small business are: (i) masonry works, (ii) clothing and accessories sales, and (iii) electrical maintenance.
These facts show an existing sexual division of labour segments – if this happened only due to vacation, it would not be a problem. However, this sexual division of work reveals that some areas impose barriers and prevent women’s entrance, although, these areas often provide better pay than those with a female majority. Graphs were generated in and the data used for the graphs is available here.

Open Knowledge Brazil summer 2016 update

- August 22, 2016 in brasil, Brazil, Chapters, network, network updates, OK Brazil, Open Spending

This blog post is part of our summer chapters updates and was written by the team of OK Brazil.  Brazil is not only about the Olympics. A lot has been going on in the Brazilian chapter of the Open Knowledge Network as well. Here we highlight the significant chapter developments, including some new faces and some exciting plans. Personnel One of the most crucial changes in the chapter is in the area of human resources.  Ariel Kogan, an OK Brazil longtime member, took over as CEO from Tom (Everton) Zanella Alvarenga. We wish Tom much luck in his new path and would like to thank him for the work he has done for the chapter so far.
Also, We also have a new addition to our chapter, Elza Albuquerque who joined us as our communication officer.  Lastly, we have a new advisory board. You can meet our new board in this link.   Open Spending News
Where did my money go website already has the executive budget data for four Brazilian cities: São Paulo (SP), Belo Horizonte (MG), in order toCuritiba (PR) and Recife (PE). The Brazilian Open Spending team is looking for more information about the others so they can add them to the platform. We also welcome a new developer to the OpenSpending team, Lucas Ansei. He will be responsible for the next system implementations.   Our latest publications

Open Knowledge Brasil planning sessions Credit: Open Knowledge Brasil – Rede pelo Conhecimento Livre Facebook

Global events
– Trip to Estonia, digital government laboratory. In July, Ariel Kogan and Thiago Rondon (Open Spending coordinator and Adviser for Open Knowledge Brazil)  travelled to Estonia to learn about their experience with e-government, e-vote, data security and administration. The trip was supported by Fundacion Avina, in the context of EuVoto (I vote) project.
– OKBr participation in the Berlin International Open Knowledge leadership course by Rufus Pollock. The participation in this meeting was also possible thanks to Fundacion Avina support. Transparency Check our accounts and balance – – Copy of Bank StatementTrial Balance   Final words… Lastly, OK Brasil is in the process of planning ahead. We initiated a new strategic planning process for the chapter for 2016-2018. The goal is to validate what was built in previous stages in order to increase new contributions to present the first OKBr planning document from 2016 to 2018. Have a look at the Open Knowledge Brazil retrospective and next steps and let us know what you think. We are looking forward to hearing from the global community and connecting more with what others are up to.  Follow us on Facebook or Twitter for more live updates!

Reflections from the field #1: It’s not enough to do great work. Talk about it

- August 8, 2016 in Brazil, Event report, fellowship, Reflections from the field

A lot of projects using data are making a great impact. We just don’t notice them because people don’t tend to advocate about their work image alt text During #CodaBR, the first ever Brasilian Conference of Data Journalism, the last session of the event was a showcase of the groundbreaking work of Latin American journalists. So often, we reference the work of more-developed countries, whose work achieves greater prominence thanks to their rich resources. Countries with a bigger rate of internet users and easy access to the latest technologies have a technical advantage and tend to be more able to produce cutting edge work. Often, those working in smaller, less-developed countries tend to envy the work that happens in more-developed contexts, but Latin America has proven that the work produced within the continent is not just of good quality, but also tackles social justice issues from within a local context, thereby making the work of greater merit. In a series of Lighting Talks, three local projects and two from other countries (Peru and Guatemala) showed the impressive range of impacts using data in stories has had in their work. A lot of people in the audience commented about how easily data-literacy work in Latin America can be overlooked, due to the overflow of information from more-developed countries and the lack of communication channels for journalist to showcase and advocate about their work. Here are few great examples that were presented during the conference:

Ojo Publico and political finance tracking

OjoPublico, a team from Peru, have tracked the corruption that affects the political campaign funding system in their country. The work is comprehensive, with visualizations, tools, and practical explanations of the ways in which these money transfers happen. Antonio Cucho, developer and founder, took us on a tour of the flow of money behind the Peruvian political campaigning system. image alt textimage alt text

Estado o dados and the failed Brazilian education projects

From Brazil, Daniel Bramatti talked of how he uncovered the way the government gave billions of reais to private Brazilian universities in order to increase the number of graduates in the country, but failed. The work is all explained in these seven graphs: image alt text

The Huffington Post and LGBT-phobia in Brazil

With highly developed storytelling, Daniel Flor showed many cases of LGBT-phobia in Brazil and developed a crowdsourced map for people to report cases. The lesson learned? When there’s no data to work with, build a way to obtain it. Collecting is a vital part of the process of working with data. image alt textimage alt text

TV Globo and the murders in São Paulo

Thought that data journalism was only fit for the web or print? Think again. Luísa Brito showed how one of the mainstream Brazilian TV stations has used data in their video stories. After analysing police records in São Paulo, obtained through freedom of information act requests, TV Globo found that one in every four people murdered in the city was killed by the police. image alt textimage alt text

Plaza Publica and malnutrition in Guatemala

I had the opportunity to talk about the way the Guatemalan government hid the deaths of kids who died, due to malnutrition, by analysing a database of death records of the country. image alt textimage alt text image alt text To me, it was an important lesson to learn. Data literacy practitioners who work in more difficult contexts, with less access to the latest technology and with more challenges in obtaining data that supports stories, can still produce relevant, impactful work.
Event name: 1st Brazilian Conference of Data Journalism
Event type: Conference
Event theme: Data Journalism
Description: Meeting point to discuss the landscape for the production of data related products in journalism, learning basic techniques about data-driven approach to social change and use of information
Trainers: Yasodara Córdova, Vitor George, Vadym Hudyma, Natália Mazotte, Marina Atoji, Marco Túlio Pires, Juan Manuel Casanueva, Joana Varon, Humberto Ferreira, Fabiano Angélico, Dirk Slater, David Opoku, Daniel Bramatti
Partners:, SocialTIC and Escola do Dados
Location: Sao Paulo, Brazil
Audience: Journalists, Data Scientist, Communication Officers, Students, Activist, Developers, Designers
Gender split: F 40/ M 60
Duration: 1h
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Visualizing How the Brazilian Government Underspends on the Public Good

- August 22, 2013 in Brazil, federal budgeting, OKF Brazil, OKFN Local, Open Spending, OpenSpending

This post is authored by Vitor Batista, who works as developer for the Open Knowledge Foundation, and Neil Ashton, Data Roundup Editor for the School of Data blog. It is cross-posted from the PBS Ideas and OpenSpending blogs. Brazilian NGO INESC (Institute of Socio-Economic Studies) and Open Knowledge Foundation Brasil want Brazilians to participate in the allocation of their public spending and ensure that it is used to construct a free, fair, and sustainable society. That’s why we partnered to create Orçamento ao seu Alcance, a site which presents the execution of the Brazilian federal budget in an interactive and intuitive form. We used OpenSpending as our database. This made it easier to focus and develop our visualizations without the need for setting up additional infrastructure for data hosting, and it made the data readily available in an accessible way.

What’s the project about?

Millions of Brazilians pay the taxes that fund the federal budget, but few actually understand it. Most are unaware of Brazil’s unjust regressive tax regime and of the scale of the losses to the public through misallocation. The information they need to understand these realities is simply not available in a comprehensible form. By building Orçamento ao seu Alcance, we hope to change that. Orçamento ao seu Alcance’s development focused particularly on the issue of underspending. All Brazilian public bodies spend less money than is allocated to them, to varying degrees. The Ministry of Education, for example, left 16.3% of its budget (about US$ 6.1 billion) unspent in 2012, and the Ministry of Culture only spent 47.5% of its budget in 2012. If Brazilians’ needs were really being met – if every Brazilian who wanted to study had access to good public schools, for example – this underspending would not be a problem. But that is far from the case; in fact less than 1% of schools have an ideal infrastructure (a problem we have explored previously). To explore and highlight the problem, and we created a special-purpose data visualization.

How we used OpenSpending

Orçamento ao seu Alcance took data collected by SIGA Brasil, an aggregator for the many systems used by the Brazilian government to organize budget data, and added it to the OpenSpending database. Using OpenSpending freed us from creating our own database and allowed us to use the OpenSpending API to construct visualizations and a full-text search system.
Visualizing underspending
We designed our own graph to tackle the problem of underspending. The result is a time series graph that combines bars, lines, and an area. The site constructs such a graph for each budgetary unit, showing how its budget and spending compare for a given year. Orçamento ao seu Alcance: underspending The blue area in the graph represents the total budget – which, as you can see, changes over the year. Each red bar shows how much was spent in a particular month, and the red line tracks total spending. The distance from the red line to the tip of the blue area gives the share of the budget remaining to be spent. The amount remaining in December is money that is underspent. This graph was built using NVD3, a JavaScript library with a collection of reusable charts made on top of D3.js. The data comes from OpenSpending via its Aggregate API.
Budget treemap
For the index page, we wanted to show a broad view of the budget across all public bodies. More than that, we wanted to show the amount of money used in each function and subfunction (e.g. Education and Basic Education). To do this, we used the OpenSpending treemap visualization. Orçamento ao seu Alcance: treemap OpenSpending allows you to create a treemap as a “widget” which can be simply dropped into a site. We used a modified version of the widget code with customized colours and a “back” button for improved navigation.
To help the user find public bodies, we implemented a search box with auto-complete using Twitter Bootstrap‘s typeahead library. Orçamento ao seu Alcance: search To make the search instantaneous for the user, we load all data entries as soon as the user enters the page. The OpenSpending Aggregate API once again helped with this, allowing us to get a list of all public bodies with a simple query.

Problems we had

We did run into a few problems using OpenSpending to build the site, though all of them could be overcome. The Aggregate API only allows you to request one financial quantity (one measure) at a time. You can’t request both a budget quantity and a payment at the same time, for example. Our underspending graph ended up using three measures, requiring three requests. This is a performance problem. Because the API caches results, however, it ends up being OK – and there are already plans to support multiple measures in future versions, so this problem will soon be solved. With the treemap visualization, our problem was that widgets are not customizable. They’re made to be dragged and dropped into a blog post or a newspaper article, not integrated into a site with its own design. To change the treemap’s colours and fonts, we had to use a modified version of the widget’s code.


We’re happy with how Orçamento ao seu Alcance turned out, and OpenSpending contributed a lot to its success. For developers, OpenSpending made it possible to run the site without its own database and to publish its content in a sleek, cacheable form. For the project’s NGO supporters, using OpenSpending makes it possible to update the data without needing to deal with the site’s developers. Everyone is happy. We hope that Orçamento ao seu Alcance will inspire other OpenSpending satellite sites that will help spread budgetary awareness around the globe.