The workshop on “Transparency and Open Data in local government: Challenges and Opportunities”, organized by the ESADE Center for Innovation in Cities brought together more than a hundred people last monday at ESADEForum.
One of the highlights of the event was the presence of Kevin Merritt, founder and CEO of Socrata a pioneer company in open data in the United States. In his speech, Merritt noted the initiative taken by the city in all matters related to open data and added that “governments are outperforming the private sector in innovation.”
As part of this workshop at ESADE, the municipalities of Rubí and Gavà expressed its commitment to transparency and innovation by presenting its new web portals with open data technology, developed by Socrata. They are the first costumers in Spain for Merritt’s company, a leader in the industry that has already developed similar projects for municipalities in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, and other institutions, such as the White House or the United Nations. On the field of open data, Kevin Merritt recalled that “95% of the road is to be done” and noted the need to spread what he considers “a philosophy and an approach that is taken forever.”
The heads of Gavà, already applying the open data philosophy on their website, and Ruby, who are developing it, confirmed the need to innovate and focus on open data to improve transparency and enhance economic development. “Society has evolved and public administrations have not done their homework,” said Carmen Garcia, mayor of Rubí. In the same direction, Raquel Sanchez, mayor of Gavà, stressed that the challenge of the web Gava Obert is not just “to become a tool of transparency and democratic control, but also add value.”
The debate continued with the experiences of those responsible for implementing the open data projects in both municipalities. Michael Donaldson, Presidency Coordinator of Ruby, and Eduard Gil, manager of the City of Gavà, noted the need to engage the entire municipal administration in the project, and discussed the different approaches that had been adopted and the first results obtained.
Finally, Mila Gascó, associate director of the Centre for Innovation in Cities, closed the event after offering academic perspective on the subject. For the points made by other speakers, Gascó added that “a government is transparent when reporting that allow citizens to make decisions,” noting how publishing all details of the administration would improve their accountability.