Argentina has been ranked 20th in a Global Index on Open Data, which marks a big jump up from its 54th placement in 2015. The index was compiled by The Open Knowledge Foundation, an NGO focusing on open data and government transparency.
The organization uses 15 criteria to analyze a government’s policies, taking into account transparency as well as quality of the information available, and uses this to give the respective country a percentage score. This year, Argentina’s score came to 53%, scoring highly in government budget, statistics, weather forecasts, and company resisters. It didn’t do too well when it came to government spending, locations, election results, water quality and land ownership. The remaining categories are procurement, national laws, administrative boundaries, draft legislation, air quality, national maps.
There are three stages to producing the index; firstly, an initial investigation is carried out by a civil society in each country, the government then returns the study, and finally an international body of experts has the final look over.
Open data is defined as any information to which everyone has free and open access, to use, re-use and distribute. The Open Knowledge Foundation believe that “with key information openly available, power can be held to account, inequality challenged, and inefficiencies exposed.” Knowledge really is power, essentially, and everyone should be able to access and digest it easily.
A lack of open data isn’t simply down to a powerful institution covering up information to paint over their own failings, though. “Some governments lack the infrastructure and resources to modernise their information systems; other countries do not have information systems in place at all.” Meanwhile, though we all like tins to be condensed into visual representations such as maps and graphs – and they are certainly more relatable than a long list of numbers – this often makes the data easily to manipulate and very hard to reuse.
Now before we pop the champagne, the study only took in 94 countries this year, compared with 123 in 2015, making it slightly harder to compare. Argentina has more or less been climbing up the rankings; since 2013 it has been placed 60th, then 50th, then 54th and now 20th. However, it is important to note,as do the OKF, that methodology as changed a bit over time, as they try to improve the index, particularly so between 2015 and 2016, and so it is hard to directly compare the results across the years. What is positive, is that as the index gathers ground, governments and civil societies being to use the index’s advocacy tool to try to improve their performance.
Argentina shares the twentieth place with Sweden, and comes above countries such as Germany and Austria. The position is no doubt a positive, but the battle is far from over for Argentina; Modernization Minister Andrés Ibarra told La Nación that he wants Argentina to place “within the top ten.” The only country to make it into the top ten this year was Brazil, with 64%. Ibarra also noted that international organizations such as the OCDE consider transparency a core value, as “It can mean better sources of external financing and less risk for foreign investments.”
True to their word, the organization have produced a guide on how to read the results.