FYI: Brasil is unlocking the value of government information and data

What’s the big deal?

Governments around the world released over a million datasets open in the last decade. The aim was to spur the creation of jobs and the realisation of changes in society, including increased government accountability and consumer protection, more transparency in costs to the health system and more resilience against climate change.

Why is it important?

The analysis of these data, if done right, can help policymakers make better decisions, but they are just beginning to explore this potential.

What’s this about?

The MIT Macro Connections Media Lab team launched the DataViva tool that allows users to visualize more than 500 gigabytes of Brasilian government figures 1 billion different ways. The public can use the platform to cross multiple sets of economic data, demographic, commercial and educational, quickly and easily.

What’s different about DataViva?

Data is organized the data into profiles for each location, industry, occupation, university, etc. There is as advanced visualisation generator that can be used to create different types of charts.

Where can I learn more?

If you can read Portuguese, there’s a Brasil Post article with more details. Or you can read an English translation of the article from Google Translate. Note that the translation doesn’t work in Internet Explorer 8 — best to view in a current browser.

Where can I get the code?

It’s been open-sourced and is available on GitHub.

Other thoughts

  1. Share information and data asset registers to make it easy to recognise potential recombination — such as publishing asset registers on data.govt.nz — so people can tell us what information and data they consider to be valuable. This has happened in other jurisdictions such as the UK and the US.
  2. Bring information and data together in new ways to inform decision-making and engage people in it — up until now there has been a reliance on 3rd parties/volunteers doing this work, but they have not had good data to work with. This also limits the use of the information/data to people who have the requisite skills for analysis and presentation.
  3. Recognise the important role that open data can play in public service transformation, these exemplar authorities are unlocking new benefits for their communities and strengthening town hall transparency.

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