On the 20th May, we have been invited to participate to the 2nd Brazilian Data Tuesday, taking place this time in Belo Horizonte, the capital city of the state of Minas Gerais. An event focused on Data, Technology and Innovation renamed over here Digital Tuesday. Since we were already in town before the day of the event, we could get an impression on the status of the Open Knowledge ecosystem of the region beforehand.
That’s why we landed at Seed, an accelerator program managed by the government of Minas Gerais to bring young entrepreneurs from all over the world along with their ideas to Belo Horizonte and support the creation of innovative start-ups with 6-months funds and a special coaching agenda. A 3-level co-working space, regular talks also available online (seedcasts), the best networking opportunities and a swimming pool full of balls to jump in if you feel stressed; the Seed offices represent the best environment imaginable for each one who want to put his ideas into practise. On the long list of start-ups initiated there, we definitely need to say a few words about CityHeroes, a collective platform where citizens can report any security incident or risk situation. The data is shared online to all users, including competent authorities such as the police, the next fire station or further public services in order to act and solve the problem as soon as possible.
Not surprising that these initiatives have occurred in Minas Gerais since the regional government has showed itself committed to innovate and support the use of new technologies. Regarding Open Data, 2 platforms have been recently created: one dedicated to economical data, Data Viva, developed in partnership with the MIT Media Lab, where you can search, download and visualise data by choosing one of the 8 visualisation charts. Apart from the UN Comtrade, the data comes also from two federal ministries where the information was already available online but far away from what we can call user-friendly. The aim behind Data Viva is to boost the economical growth in Minas Gerais and Brazil by giving entrepreneurs and companies the knowledge on how to make business and attract investment. On the same line, the platform helps the government of Minas Gerais as well to define its economic policies. The tool is Open Source and a new version is planed to add data on 3 further subjects: education, taxation and technical jobs. But DataViva it has not been conceived to compete with the second platform, Numeros, which was created beforehand and focus on indicators and social topics.
Outside of Belo Horizonte and Minas Gerais, local public administrations experiment Open Data/Open Government initiatives in the cities of SÃ£o Paulo and in Rio de Janeiro too. According to two research articles from the ODDC, which we covered recently, in SÃ£o Paulo there is still a lot to do, but in Rio the actual state is much more advanced. At federal level, Brazil counts already with its Open Data platform and another site dedicated to strengthen transparency. The national state is member of the Open Government Initiative and takes part in the OGP too since 2011 which gives indications for further engagement on the topic.
During Digital Tuesday, we could enjoy interesting presentations on topics such as Big Data, Data Visualisation and Internet of Things. On this last topic, Ewerson GuimarÃ£es from the local Hackerspace Area31, gave us a cool introduction to the technology, risks and potential of RFID/NFC micro biochips that can be â€œinstalledâ€ on your hand.
Not forgetting that Brazil is a gigantic and multi-faceted country, we could say that the general momentum in terms of Open Knowledge is very good. In February this year, the local OKFN group got the status of full chapter and they have been quite active organising events since then. Also, we have discovered initiatives such as â€œPolitica Esporte Clubeâ€, an original way of encouraging citizens to follow the performance of its politicians and act as a barometer, as if it was a football league. Perfect to the upcoming world cup!