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What Is Colombia's Open Data Pathway And Why Is New Zealand Following This Model?

In the year 2014, Colombia undertook the “Open Data Pathway” (ODP) or “Política de Datos abiertos”, aimed to promote free access for all citizens to information from government institutions, encouraging a citizen-driven administration. This initiative was carried out as a recommendation of the OECD Council on Digital Government Strategies, after Colombia expressed its interest in joining this organization.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is an international entity that works to create, promote, and coordinate social and economic policies around the world. Founded in 1961 by 20 European countries, in addition to the United States and Canada, its members are often considered as high-income countries with high rates of human development.

Over the years, other members have joined the exclusive group, including some Latin American countries such as Mexico, Chile, and Colombia, who joined the OECD in April 2020, after an application process that lasted for seven years. During this time, the Colombian government fostered the creation of multiple public policies to improve the life quality of its people, and thus achieve the necessary qualification to be part of this organization.

What is Colombia’s Open Data Pathway?

The primary goal of Colombia’s Open Data Pathway is to promote government transparency and credibility by guaranteeing people's access to information from public institutions. With this in mind, authorities relied on an online platform called the Open Data Pathway (ODP), positioning Colombia as one of the regional leaders in “online government”.

The ODP is a platform administered by the Digital Government Office (Dirección de Gobierno Digital), where all public entities can create their own profile to upload and publish data related to their work, such as annual figures, graphs, statistics, databases, forms, maps, and certificates.

According to the Ministry of Information and Communication Technologies (Ministerio de Tecnologías de la Información y las Comunicaciones), by January of last year, more than 1,100 public entities across Colombia uploaded about 10,000 documents related to the matters of health, education, transport, and agriculture.

Any citizen, company, state agency, or constituent subdivision can use this data for research, control purposes, or any other commercial or non-commercial activity. The ODP also works as a collaborative platform where anyone can have access to just by creating a user account and providing a minimum of personal information.

Thanks to this initiative, people can have access to ‘raw data’ that, under normal circumstances, would have remained in the custody of public entities, but which can now be consulted without restrictions. Likewise, this information not only enables Colombians to be more aware of public processes, but also to generate and improve business services in the country.

Furthermore, the ODP represents a golden opportunity for those local or foreign entrepreneurs doing business in Colombia.

How can ODP help entrepreneurs and business owners?

With the ODP, entrepreneurs and business owners in Colombia can have access to valuable information that provides insights on customer preferences, perceptions, and purchasing behaviors. Thus, companies can use this raw data to create prediction strategies, improve communication channels, and strengthen marketing campaigns to achieve a positive impact.

Key benefits of Colombia’s ODP for entrepreneurs and business owners are:

  • It allows the creation of prediction models by having access to information sources to understand customer’s behaviors and habits.
  • Thanks to the ODP, businesses can have access to real-time demographic information that can be used to segment customers.
  • Raw data allow business owners to improve their products and prices according to the customer’s economic situation and needs.
  • Companies can customize and improve marketing strategies by knowing which communication channels are used the most by potential customers.
  • The ODP makes it possible to identify sales opportunities and trends related to the local market.

Likewise, Open data will allow businesses and future investors to make a diagnosis of the market, allowing them to make better-informed decisions. As an advantage to entrepreneurs, the ODP creates a more favorable environment for foreigners looking to expand their business in Colombia.

New Zealand government considering open data policy

Colombia was ranked third among 34 countries in the Open, Useful Re-usable Data (OURdata) Index, based on an analysis carried out by the OECD with the help of different governments to evaluate the accessibility and availability of several types of data such as patent, trademark, legal and business information, public tender databases, registers, and transport records.

As surprising as it might seem, the OECD ranked New Zealand thirteenth in the same index, below other countries such as Slovenia, Spain, Mexico, and Korea. New Zealand government has since set in place an Online Government Strategy, as it considers open data an innovative way to promote economic, cultural, and environmental growth.

With a very similar platform, the New Zealand government has fostered the Open Data Government Program, to guarantee free access to open-license, human-readable, machine-readable, and reusable data to citizens. New Zealand has now ranked 12 in the Useful Re-usable Data (OURdata) Index.

Open data promotes business opportunities

The OECD ranked Colombia in third place among 34 countries for having one of the best government open data programs, guaranteeing openness, usefulness, and re-usability. This is evidence that Colombia’s online government strategy and Online Data Pathway is a roadmap that could help countries to improve their raw data access mechanisms, as a way to promote transparency and business competitiveness.

The ODP can be developed in different countries, promoting government transparency, credibility, fundamental values for a citizen-driven administration. However, it can also benefit companies and investors so that they can access free and reliable information that allows them to understand the market they operate in, increasing the chances of success.

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