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  • 1. Research Institute Gino Germany, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Buenos Aires, and LINKS, Civil Association for the Development of Information Society Intergovernmental Council for the Information for All Programme IFAP Special Event: Information and Knowledge for All, Emerging Trends and Challenges UNESCO House, Paris, 27 February 2013
  • 2. The WSIS Plan of Action (2003) states, at point 10: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. ICTs allow people, anywhere in the world, to access information and knowledge almost instantaneously. Individuals, organizations and communities should benefit from access to knowledge and information. Develop policy guidelines for the development and promotion of public domain information as an important international instrument promoting public access to information. Governments are encouraged to provide adequate access through various communication resources, notably the Internet, to public official information. Establishing legislation on access to information and the preservation of public data, notably in the area of the new technologies, is encouraged. (…) Promote research and development to facilitate accessibility of ICTs for all, including disadvantaged, marginalized and vulnerable groups. (…) Encourage research on the Information Society, including on innovative forms of networking, adaptation of ICT infrastructure, tools and applications that facilitate accessibility of ICTs for all, and disadvantaged groups in particular. Encourage initiatives to facilitate access, including free and affordable access to open access journals and books, and open archives for scientific information.
  • 3. This paper focuses on two innovative areas of information for development:  Open Government (OG)  E-citizen science (eCS) Reasons:  Both are claimed by citizens’ organizations and by some sectors of the media as a tool for development and citizens’ empowerment  Both make an intensive and increasing use of ITCs and mobile technologies  Both facilitate access to information for development We have considered particularly the case of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) countries
  • 4.    OG: a governing guideline which considers that citizens have the right to access the documents and proceedings of the government to allow for effective public oversight ICTs facilitate citizens´ access to governmental information Open source governance applies the ideas of the open source and open content movements to democratic principles in order to enable any concerned citizen to contribute to the creation of policy, as with a wiki document
  • 5.  OG admits further development in at least 7 fields: 1. detailed information about public expenses; 2. searching for information about State contracts in public data bases; 3. information on lobbyists; 4. information about financial contributions to political campaigns; 5. information about public hearings; 6. information about legislative processes
  • 6.      eCS is the collection of data by volunteer citizens to contribute to scientific projects, deduce theories and determine policies. Most recent advances are due to new scientific approaches plus the use of ICTs Community involvement and empowerment are central to the notion of scientific democracy eCS covers a wide variety of applications: from agriculture to urban planning, astrobiology to software and informatics services, health care to oceanography, social sciences to rocketry In eCS, citizens become science prosumers E-science is part of the WSIS Action Line C7, “ICT applications: benefits in all aspects of life”. This line points to E-Science, focusing mainly on improvement of knowledge exchange between scientists, and between scientists and citizens
  • 7.     With more than 500 million people or 86 per cent of Latin America’s total population residing in OGP (Open Government Partnership) participating countries already LAC is becoming a world leader in open government, with rich experiences to share both within and beyond the region (OGP, 2013) Transparency is a crucial public policy tool for stimulating greater efficiency in the use and distribution of public resources and improving public services In Brazil the internal monitoring agencies use targeted transparency to identify irregularities (Comptroller General (Controladoria-Geral da União, or CGU, transparency portal) Colombia’s government has initiated a series of actions: the modernization of public administration, access and availability of government information, transparency, the development of new technologies and innovation, accountability, and the creation of tools to promote civil society participation (Prosperity Agreements, the economic transparency site (, and the open data portal (
  • 8.       In LAC countries targeted transparency policies are not always instigated nor enforced by the legislative branch or public sector agencies National Action Plans for Open Government are inconsistent and uncoordinated between them Lack of regional coordination Texts are complex. Will they be understandable to laymen and common citizens? The variety of plans may make difficult the comparative monitoring efforts in the future The plans show the weakness of previous consultation processes, the absence of innovation in regards to countries’ ongoing activities, the ambiguity of general commitments, and the need for concrete targets
  • 9.       Citizen cyberscientists are at present mainly concentrated in Europe and North America The initiatives and funds regarding eCS in developing countries are also generated there There is a direct correlation between explicit public policies regarding the development of science, technology and ICTs, and the number of eCS projects However, eCS projects are emerging in LAC countries: El Salvador project to rescue ancient words, Brazil@home, Birds World in Uruguay, Reporta in Mexico Most National Digital Agendas in LAC countries include S&T policies as key factors to build local Knowledge Societies The new Plan of action on the Information society for LAC (eLAC2015) asserts that ICTs are instruments of economic development and social inclusion.
  • 10.  Common grounds between the implementation of OG and eCS initiatives in LAC: ◦ Neither of them fully includes citizens as main actors ◦ In both, citizens are mainly data providers, or they can have relative access to governmental or scientific data, but they scarcely participate in the whole process     OG is a process that goes beyond merely digitalizing bureaucracy and opening information sources; it should be a platform for rethinking the role of the state from a pro-citizen perspective that can open up opportunities for participation and collaboration between the public sector, civil society, and the private sector It is necessary that OG policies focus on the democratization of governance, which is crucial to build increasingly democratic societies in LAC countries Community involvement and empowerment are key to the notion of scientific democracy. Citizen’s participation in scientific projects, whatever their size and scope, contributes to empower citizens and communities It would be necessary to Open Government and citizens participation in Science & technology + Innovation, to IFAP´s Information for Development criteria
  • 11. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Recommend governments to use targeted transparency as a public policy tool It is necessary for governments to implement wide consultation processes with civil servants and citizens before the implementation of OG policies, in order to identify needs from citizens and organizations Governmental information should be expressed in accessible language Surveys, monitoring and evaluations are key elements in OG policies Establish internationally compatible sets of indicators to measure, follow up and evaluate OG public policies and their outcomes
  • 12. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Promote thematic conferences to discuss policies and strategies aimed at the development of eCS, as part of the WSIS 2015 process Constructing sets of indicators to measure the scope and impacts of eCS projects, in order to propose action lines for WSIS + 10. Enlarge the use of ICT and particularly mobile technologies in the development of eCS projects, so that ITCs devices are available to all participants Promote public scientific policies worldwide in order to fund eCS programs and processes, train scientists and experts to participate in them, and disseminate the results of such research projects among governments, the scientific community, and society in general Fostering and funding eCS programs and projects that may be included within the enterprises´ programs of social responsibility European Union, Mercosur, Unasur and others regional organizations could be invited to identify priority areas to use eCS for regional integration Both the scientific sector and communities should promote discussion of explicit policies and strategies aimed at the development of Ecitizen Science