DataBO, Bolivia’s first data accelerator

April 13, 2015

The open data philosophy is starting to become known in Bolivia through the DataBO project, the first data accelerator in the country. Supported by Hivos and Oxfam, this initiative is promoted by La Pública, a digital newspaper aimed at contributing to a culture of transparency and accountability.

There are only a few initiatives in Bolivia framed within data journalism. The country does not have an information access and transparency law, and public institutions do not have a culture of openness to citizens.

DataBO is envisioned as a space to disseminate stories created by working with data, and as a repository of tools for the development of research studies framed within the practices of data journalism.

DataBO’s maiden project is the creation of the First Accelerator of Data Journalism in Bolivia, a process promoted by the Argentine journalist Sandra Crucianelli. A Knight International Journalism Fellow, Crucianelli will be conducting a five-day workshop in La Paz in May aimed at journalists, communicators, communication activists, developers and designers. During this workshop, which will cover topics from data collection to keys for their visualization, teams will be organized to work on projects that will put into practice data journalism tools. After the workshop, Crucianelli will mentor these teams for a month until their work is published on DataBO’s website. Data sets used to perform this research and the tools used for its systematization and visualization will also be available for public use on the website.

The workshop will be livestreamed on internet and also recorded so that Internet users may access it later on DataBO’s website.

The winning team will be awarded a trip to Santiago de Chile in September to attend AbreLatam, the region’s most important meeting for open data activities.

Bolivia’s Data Accelerator is not the only initiative aimed at building bridges between technology and transparency. In June, the Fundación Ciudadano Inteligente will come to Bolivia to organize the Civic Hack Labs. This two-day event, which will also be held in Peru and Ecuador, will provide an opportunity for developers and social activists to get to know each other and develop social tools to support the struggle for individual and collective rights. Casa Hacker in La Paz will be the Bolivian venue.

For Hivos, transparency and accountability are two essential elements of ‘good governance’ – an elusive principle that is very hard to enforce in a top-down fashion. Hivos’ partners in the South operate through a bottom-up, citizen-led approach that concentrates on four themes:  a citizen’s right to information; a government’s duty to deliver essential services; collective election monitoring; and anti-corruption campaigns.