Open Data Matters: Generating Benefits for the People and Government of Mexico
09 June 2023
We live in an era in which we generate enormous amounts of information every day. For this reason, it has become essential to know and adopt the best practices to ensure that this information, mainly made up of data, has the appropriate mechanisms for its generation, administration, treatment and protection, as well as, when possible, for its openness, publication, and use by society, companies or the government.
When data is duly used, it becomes a transformative input for our society, as well as a generator of both individual and collective benefits. For example, thanks to open data, a journalist can identify an act of corruption and expose it to the authorities; a business person can better understand its market and increase their business possibilities; a society organization can analyze the environmental damage caused by a wrong public management and formulate public policies; or, public institutions can evaluate their processes and generate improvements that result in efficiency, effectiveness, or budgetary savings.
Documenting the Impact of Open Data
Another example of taking advantage of open data is what is happening in Mexico as part of the implementation of Open Infrastructure. An initiative promoted by INAI, México Evalúa, INFO-NL, OCP and CoST that promotes (1) the publication of information in open and accessible formats about public works projects and their contracts, (2) citizen participation and monitoring of the public budget and, (3) the use of open data to improve the quality and price of goods and services contracted by the State. It is important to note that, implicitly, this openness effort based on the empowerment of communities also encourages the participation of women in public affairs.
In 2022, this project began with the participation of public institutions from nine states of Mexico. Among them is the Vista Hermosa Municipality in Michoacán, with a population of around 20,000 people (50.62% are women). In this town, the municipal government decided to publish data and documents about the project called “Colector Poniente”, an underground conduit in which the town’s sewers discharge their drainage. In the process, the municipal government disseminated information related to the work program and the assigned budget, which motivated the participation and involvement of the beneficiaries to supervise and follow up until ensuring that the project was completed on time and in accordance with the quality that had been contracted.
This is just a sample of the work we are doing by implementing Open Infrastructure through 23 public institutions and with the support of 55 organizations and experts (within these, there is an active participation of organizations made up of women, and that address issues associated with equality and gender perspective). At the end of this initiative that we are promoting today in its “pilot project” modality, it is expected to make transparent 43 postulated infrastructure projects, which represent an approximate investment of more than 300 million dollars and which will benefit a population of 1.5 million people. In fact, this project was recently presented at the United Nations World Data Forum.
Open data works. It strengthens both citizen participation and democracy. It contributes to making political and government systems more transparent and detonates the logics of innovation and social accompaniment to do things better. It is important to recognize, however, that in Mexico we still face challenges in this agenda. For example, the conceptualization of what we understand by open data in the different regions of the country, and with it, the definition of criteria and procedures for its generation and the standardized publication from public institutions; at the same time, the lack of synergies and effective collaboration between the various sectors, to design strategic projects that promote the use of open data and impact the guarantee of rights.
Building a National Open Data Policy
For this reason, from INAI, and in collaboration with other organizations, we started the “Abramos México” strategy. With it, we are working to build a National Open Data Policy, which will eventually be applicable to more than 8,200 public institutions in the different branches and orders of government in Mexico. An unprecedented effort, that seeks to establish the necessary conditions for the development and sustainability of the open data agenda in the country. In principle, the National Open Data Policy, expected to be published in August 2023, will strengthen various institutional processes and social dynamics to achieve the following objectives:
- To plan (from the institutions) the processes of opening data based on concepts, principles, characteristics and common criteria, seeking that they are linked to social demands and that they meet information needs.
- To publish the strategically defined data through common, interconnected computer platforms that are easy to access and download by interested audiences.
- To promote and consolidate the optimal use of open data by people and user organizations, promoting its use and impact in the environment.
In the society of information, data has become a highly valuable currency for the different sectors of public life. These allow us to understand the world around us from different angles and make better decisions, build fairer societies, more competitive markets and more effective governments.
Collaborating for a Better, More Open Future
From Mexico, we are convinced that the National Open Data Policy will consolidate this agenda and promote the necessary conditions to make open data a strategic and valuable resource that contributes to the generation of knowledge, capacity building and innovation. The impact of open data exists at all levels —individually, regionally, nationally, and even globally. As we near closer to the midpoint of the SDGs, we believe open data is the key to helping us not only measuring and monitor progress towards our goals but to also achieving them.
Come to Mexico, come to INAI and find out what we are doing. The best is coming. Let’s explore collaboration possibilities to build, from open data, a better future.
Commissioner of the INAI
General Director of Access Policies of the INAI
 Expected results. The final results will be published on June 6 during a public event, and will be available on the Open Infrastructure website.
 The INAI (coordinator), the Open Government and Proactive Transparency Commission of the National Transparency System, the General Archive of the Nation, the National Institute of Statistics and Geography, Codeando México, the Ministry of Public Administration, the Committee of Citizen Participation of the National Anti-Corruption System and its Executive Secretariat, as well as researchers from the CIDE and El Colegio de México.