The State of Open Data Portals in Latin America

Michael Steinberg at Center for Data Innovation: “Many Latin American countries publish open data—government data made freely available online in machine-readable formats and without license restrictions. However, there is a tremendous amount of variation in the quantity and type of datasets governments publish on national open data portals—central online repositories for open data that make it easier for users to find data. Despite the wide variation among the countries, the most popular datasets tend to be those that either provide transparency into government operations or offer information that citizens can use directly. As governments continue to update and improve their open data portals, they should take steps to ensure that they are publishing the datasets most valuable to their citizens.

To better understand this variation, we collected information about open data portals in 20 Latin American countries including Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay. Not all Latin American countries have an open data portal, but even if they do not operate a unified portal, some governments may still have open data. Four Latin American countries—Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua—do not have open data portals. One country— El Salvador—does not have a government-run open data portal, but does have a national open data portal ( run by volunteers….

There are many steps Latin American governments can take to improve open data in their country. Those nations without open data portals should create them, and those who already have them should continue to update them and publish more datasets to better serve their constituents. One way to do this is to monitor the popular datasets on other countries’ open data portals, and where applicable, ensure the government produces similar datasets. Those running open data portals should also routinely monitor search queries to see what users are looking for, and if they are looking for datasets that have not yet been posted, work with the relevant government agencies to make these datasets available.

In summary, there are stark differences in the amount of data published, the format of the data, and the most popular datasets in open data portals in Latin America. However, in every country there is an appetite for data that either provides public accountability for government functions or supplies helpful information to citizens…(More)”.