Mexico told to do more on open data

23 Jun 16

The OECD has urged Mexico to encourage the productive use of its wealth of open data, which has yet to have a substantial impact on the country’s economy or society.

In a short space of time, Mexico has become a leader in making open data available to its citizens  and is ranked as 10th best in the world for data accessibility.

The central American country’s open data policy aims to fight corruption, create new economic opportunities for the private sector and improve public service delivery, public sector efficiency and public engagement.

Its open data initiatives include a portal where the public to track government spending on, for example, a new airport being built in Mexico City. But in a report published yesterday, the OECD said the provision of data alone is not enough to enable better public governance.

OECD secretary general Angel Gurría praised Mexico for a number of bold initiatives over the past few years, and urged the country to go further.

“Mexico can build on these steps, and get a return on its investment, by strengthening its open data ecosystem so it can deliver local impact,” he said.

The OECD’s report recommends policies to actively support public officials, social entrepreneurs, businesses, journalists and civil society in using open data, including by providing skills training on how to create value from datasets.

“Building and engaging user communities around open data is an essential first step since active collaboration between producers and consumers of data is key to encourage its resuse,” it stated.

Mexico will have to go beyond “one-time consultation exercises”, opting instead for training sessions and exercises to increase awareness and ability. The country should also prioritise data release based on demand, the report suggested.

Other policy recommendations included reinforcing and harmonising the policy framework surrounding open data, building capacity in the public sector to make it more data-driven and ensuring continued high-level support and investment in the longer term.

As well as better-informed citizens, successful open data initiatives enable governments to design more evidence-based and inclusive policies and stimulate innovation both within and outside the public sector.

The OECD said analysis of published government data in Mexico in particular could lead to advances in areas ranging from healthcare to fighting climate change and the government’s ability to deal with natural disasters.

“Building user communities around open data is one of the main challenges for the Mexican government,” the report said. “But it is essential for achieving real economic, social and governance benefits and for fully exploiting the value of open data for specific policy sectors.”

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