Code for Development is the IDB Group’s effort to catalog open-source software that meets the needs of governments and citizens. As we celebrate the accomplishments of its third year, the world is now a very different place. Facing a worldwide pandemic has emphasized the magnitude of many development challenges, and highlights the urgency of the changes necessary to meet them. We are physically distanced, while at the same time, our virtual connections with each other are increasingly evident and continue to strengthen.
Creating inclusive and sustainable solutions to these challenges can benefit from collaborative methods and processes, open tools, and shared learning. From Code for Development, we have established and provided a platform to identify, share and reuse these solutions in a collaborative and multi-perspective way.
In this article, we share examples of the achievements made possible by our diverse regional network, as we continue to strengthen our collective vision to build more open solutions for the future. The complexity of the challenges – the pandemic, climate change, mass migration and the pace of technological change – calls us to seek new methods to respond to them. We hope that these examples can provide inspiration and evidence of what we can achieve by working together as a region, leveraging open knowledge to support governments, to serve citizens, and to improve lives.
1. From identifying open tools to promoting the reuse of open solutions
If the challenges don’t have borders, why should the solutions have them?
As we continue to identify and centralize a catalog of relevant open source solutions to serve governments and citizens, we have found that once tool is open, its initial impact has only just begun to branch out. As we work to directly facilitate and promote the reuse of open source tools, we also celebrate when any case of reuse of these solutions has generated a positive impact, as has happened in multiple cases in Latin America and the Caribbean.
In the past three years, we have documented the scope of these tools with the goal of sharing not only how they have been reused, but also to extract the lessons and practices that allow for effective, efficient reuse, and broadening the scope of the original investment.
Examples of these successes include:
- Replication of BA Obras, an open platform to monitor the progress of public works from Buenos Aires to multiple municipal areas including San Pedro Garza Garcia, Mexico and Veracruz, Mexico. Here you can find more detailed information about the hours and team required to make the replication possible in Veracruz.
- The reuse of MapMap, an application developed in Xalapa, Mexico to generate new data about public transportation in order to map routes for the first time in Santiago de Caballeros, Dominican Republic.
- Replication of Consul, a platform for enabling citizen participation, first developed in Madrid and later implemented in Montevideo, as well as other cities.
Reusing a solution from its source to a new destination is one way to extend impact by working with open source, yet there are more.
2. From software to toolboxes: open solutions designed and integrated in collaboration
To address certain challenges, public servants and decision makers can benefit from having access to sets of tools that work together in a complementary way, allowing for a broader cycle of approaches and related activities, from diagnosis, planning, delivery and monitoring of results.
With this reality in mind, many of the new additions to the Code for Development catalog in the last year moved from stand-alone tools to toolboxes, suites which bring together multiple components developed in tandem, sometimes across multiple teams, organizations, and countries.
Recent examples include:
- Open Urban Planning Toolbox, a collection of open source tools which leverage machine-learning and crowd-sourced data to advance urban development in Latin America and the Caribbean.
- The Modernization of Municipal Tributary Administration Systems (Technical Cooperation RG-T3099) which culminated in the opening and publication of four components of the system. Governments and organizations from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia y Mexico each collaborated by integrating different tools to the project (SATM; Urban Land Valuation; Real estate data collector; and Multi-country Catastral Management respectively).
- Coronavirus Impact dashboard toolbox, the components of a dashboard which bring together different sources of data relevant for decision makers.
The grouping of related tools can not only facilitate certain work tasks, but also reminds us of the need to tend connections between people and communities in order to continue to scaling responses capable of reaching and including more people.
3. From capacity development to capacity connection: recognizing and valuing various contributions to the open technology ecosystem in the region
The IDB Group focuses on reducing poverty and inequality in Latin America and the Caribbean, in order to improve lives. A very important effort in this line is the creation and participation in different communities in the region to exchange ideas and strengthen capacities, recognizing the value of the diversity of experiences and perspectives that comprise them.
These efforts to share knowledge and strengthen capacities include:
- Promote and recognize technological talent from diverse groups. We recently celebrated a new cohort of a collaboration with Laboratoria to practice skills related to knowledge and open source technology together with professional women from the region, while also expanding the quality control process of our tool catalog through their input.
- Bridge-building with the entrepreneurial community, by connecting our catalog of tools with collaborative spaces for the co-creation of solutions. In this spirit, we have participated in events with Foromic, WeXchange, and the Hackathon Kuña Mbaretech with Koga Impact Laboratory.
Where we are headed: continued solidarity beyond borders
Given the ongoing pandemic and the related, additional challenges, the importance of working together is more crucial than ever, and thus collaborating in open source is ever more relevant. By streamlining the reuse of solutions that work, bundling diverse tools to leverage complementary expertise, and fostering shared work and learning, we can work toward products, processes, and services that are increasingly inclusive, agile, and resilient to serve governments and citizens and improve lives. It is our solidarity beyond borders that will guide us together through moments of uncertainty.