The participation of the Latin American and Caribbean Hub in AbreLatam / ConDatos 2023 included various presentations and working tables. Here are the testimonies of the participation of representatives of allied organizations.
A year ago, on the occasion of the América Abierta event - which was what AbreLatam was called in 2022 - we at the Hub reflected that we should focus on the promotion, dissemination and support in the creation of synergies “since the regional open data community is like a natural community for mappers and people interested in open mapping.”
Consequently, for the edition of AbreLatam / ConDatos 2023 - held in Montevideo, Uruguay from October 31 to November 3 - we prepared in advance, being an active part of the organizing committee and the event program, and therefore proposing the organization of several tables and presentations around mapping topics, which we carried out successfully and which we will talk about later.
What we want to share on this occasion are different testimonies from people involved in the organization of AbreLatam and from those who participated in our tables, representatives of organizations with which we work on various projects.
Daniel Carranza, co-founder of DATA Uruguay - one of the organizing entities of AbraLatam - believes that it was a transcendental moment in the growth of the regional data movement:
For 10 years, the open data community in Latin America had an unjustifiable disconnection with other movements closely linked to data such as Wikimedists or mappers. The presence -very significant - of the Open Mapping Hub and its community at ABRELATAM/CONDATOS 2023 was the best possible first step to close that gap, because it went far beyond participation in the event. The Hub was part of the co-organization team, its activities were completely integrated into those of ABRELATAM/CONDATOS (and other Data Marathon events such as the Data Festival), but above all a clear integration was felt at the community level.** Those of us who work in open data have a lot to learn and to share with the mapping community** and my feeling after the events is that we have -finally- taken a very important step to build collaboration, projects and the friendship that forges a community.
I received many new ideas (for me) that I would like to realize at Bolivia scale. If I had to go back, I’d leave with more things to share and already with some results. Regarding the collaboration with the HUB, I saw what they are doing and I like this bond, since** forming projects with the support of experts or with visions on a specific topic helps us generate networks that can benefit disadvantaged populations or groups and society in general**. This also allows me to involve other actors in this initiative: other municipalities, other cities, other universities in Bolivia.
Virgilio Benavides, Deputy Secretary of the Risk Management Secretariat of Ecuador, considers himself a novice on the subject of open data but says that he found the experience “particularly enriching and revealing”:
Although I was already familiar with many aspects of open data in my sector, this event allowed me to discover dimensions that I had not previously considered. Without a doubt,** the integration of open cartography and its implications in the context of open data were revealed as fundamental aspects**. By observing the maturity of experiences at the regional level, I envision the potential to achieve significant progress and share valuable learnings. My participation in this dual event has awakened in me a renewed interest in exploring and developing this concept more deeply in the processes of my specialization. I aspire to integrate these perspectives to improve the results in the public service of my institution and, gradually, contribute to the progress of Ecuador and eventually, the Latin American region.
Igor da Mata, from the Alagoas Federal University UFAL in Brazil, and associated with the Canoa de Tolda project, reflects on the importance of AbreLatam reaching its tenth edition due to “the actions of generating open data aimed at empowerment, the visibility of social groups and access to public policies”:
When we talk about open data, we inevitably talk largely about geographic data through cartographic actions. The format of the event prioritizes the exchange of information and, above all, collective constructions, through the integration of professionals and multidisciplinary projects, with a view to the application of resources and the optimization of financing. Due to its historical and geopolitical characteristics, Latin America is strategic for the issue, promoting a necessary integration so that the continent and its people can become stronger, more resilient and, above all, free of external interests that conflict with the real collective.and legitimate, development, social and economic interests.
Carlos Duarte, from Geotecnológica de Guatemala, and associate in the OpenCities Guatemala project, believes that it was a great experience, professionally and personally rewarding:
It allowed me to expand and update my perspective on the importance of open data, particularly geographic data, in practically all areas; It gave me the opportunity to share my experiences in a project as inspiring as OpenCities Guatemala, in which we work with indigenous peoples who fight to protect their natural heritage; I learned incredible work experiences from other participants and we formed an endearing community of allies from the HOT Latin America and Caribbean Hub that opens up a wide range of possibilities and opportunities for collaboration and joint projection. My new friends from the HOT LAC Hub and ally network are the unexpected added benefit of this participation.
Cuauhtémoc Gutierrez from Comapper, Mexico, reflects on ‘the importance of international collaboration on the issue of open data management’:
By interacting with professionals from different countries, I realized the richness that arises from the diversity of approaches. This experience also highlighted the need to adapt global best practices to local realities. One aspect that especially caught my attention was the convergence of technology and citizen participation in the “Open Mapping” Hub. Collaborative mapping is not only a powerful tool for data visualization, but also a means to empower local communities. This decentralized approach to the collection of geospatial information could have significant applications in my country, where citizen participation is key to addressing various challenges such as territorial planning, climate change, natural disasters, the environment, among others.
Leonardo Jiménez, from the POMOTE Center for Studies with Populations, Movements and Territories of the Latin American Autonomous University of Colombia, believes that the space was useful “to identify and recognize experiences and processes from the public-institutional spheres, academia, NGOs and the private sector”.
It was also an interesting space for dialogue and recognition of experiences and processes of data democratization in Latin America, much broader in its thematic agenda, since very powerful dialogues were generated linked to issues related to human rights, social movements, new technologies, gender demands, education, pedagogies and local governance. The proposed formats and methodologies allowed for more fluid dialogues, and the generation of links between the processes and participating people was encouraged.
Johnattan Rupire, from the San Marcos National University, and leader of OpenStreetMap Perú mentions that:
This first AbreLatam/ConDatos has been for me a very special space for articulation with colleagues from other countries with whom we share very similar and geographically coexisting interests and research topics. Going forward, I hope these new networks will serve and support the growth of OpenStreetMap communities in the region.
As can be seen, AbreLatam has served not only to put the Hub in contact with the data community in the region, but also for our allied organizations to expand their own network of alliances with a view to new mapping and open data projects, strengthening a regional community of practice.
See you in Brazil for AbreLatam 2024!
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