Couple of weeks ago we received an invitation from the Mexican Federal Government and The GovLab to join a group of companies in Mexico that use Open Data in order to grow their businesses, develop new products or services, and promote social value. We were very excited to see this, and we wanted to participate in the Open Data 100 Mexico initiative, part of the Open Data 500 network of international studies, to show the world why we care about open data, transparency, civic hacking and how those are new developing terms within technology.
We got involved into Open Data about 2 years ago during certain hackathons such as Open Data MX and Desarrollando América Latina. We didn't know anything about open data, we were a bunch of hackers looking for the next great hack in typical hackathon. At the end of the hackathons we ended up with functional products demanding from us to keep going with them because of the opportunities.
The first product we built was called Becalia, a crowdfunding platform looking to help very talented students and let them access to the best universities. We tried to ship the product to the masses. We were invited to interviews in newspapers and TV; the commitment was there. We couldn't handle the project because of the expertise required specifically in the education industry, also we didn't figure out the right legal figure to execute our value proposition of tax deduction. There's no legal framework to start a benefit corporation such as in USA.
The second product we built was with 2 collegues. We named it Codeando Mexico, similar to Code for Mexico in English. The team involved in this idea was really passionate about the opportunities and the few explorations done so far. This product was bootstrapped, doing investment of time and resources every single day until we applied for a grant from AVINA Americas 7 months after the project was born. Codeando México now is a working non-profit organization with a growing team developing new and open technologies to empower citizens and connecting them in a better way with the government.
Today Codeando México is working closely with Transparency Organizations arranging open innovation challenges, building the civic Open Data platform in Mexico, and moving the first civic hacker initiatives such as Civic Hack Nights in the country.
Although Codeando México is now an independent organization, we are always in the loop of conversations regarding tech products impacting in the civic context. We recognize them as the civic hacker experts, and combined with our expertise in product development we will be able to build many products coming in the next couple of months.
Part of Open Data 500
After some interviews and information requested, October the 1st. was the day when Icalia Labs became part of the initial phase on the Datos Abiertos 100 Mexico project. We are proud to share our experience with the world and with our country.
One of the validations we found during our involvement in Open Data is that there are many opportunities non developed or well documented yet at least in Latin America:
- Monetization from open data initiatives.
- Government as a true platform for citizens.
- Interoperability between data in government dependencies and public/private organizations.
- National funds for tech civic initiatives.
Development countries are places where social problems are obviously seen every single day: Poberty, Insecurity, Impunity, Hunger, and so on. We have the talent and courage to make a change now. Open Data is raw information that can help individuals, organizations, companies and governments to take better decisions and see more transparent surroundings. This Data is waiting to be exploted in different ways; one of the tech challenges, for instance, is making it available and interoperable among living technologies in order to help any person in need of valuable information about our cities and spaces in real time and in a consumable way. Hope this can inspire others to get into these developing areas in technology.
Find more about Icalia Labs in Open Data 500 and let us know about any interesting product or initiative you want to build related to the Open Data field. We will be glad to chat and talk about any type of technology.