Presentation - IDB Third Regional Policy Dialog

01/11/2016 by pablo.cerdeira@gmail.com

Here is a summary of the presentation at the IDB Third Regional Policy Dialog - Open Government In Latin America and the Caribbean, held in Bogota, Colombia, with Juan Manuel Santos, the President of Colombia and the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize.


“More important than to fight for an open government, is to fight for an open state. The best way to create a permanent peaceful state is to negotiate on a transparent basis with the entire society. We will not achieve peace without transparency”, said Juan Manuel Santos, the President of Colombia and the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize, during the opening ceremony of IDB Third Regional Policy Dialog - Open Government In Latin America and the Caribbean, held in Bogota, Colombia last month.

As the Rio de Janeiro’s Chief Data Officer, I have been supporting the same idea. Invited by Interamerican Development Bank - IDB to discuss and to make a speech at the same event, I argued that our current democratic model is facing hard times. I hold that governments should make better use of data and technology to move closer to the citizens.

The citizens do not want to be heard every four or so years. Besides that, we, the citizens, we are not prepared to develop a sophisticated analysis of our votes during elections. We are still - and we will be for a long time -, selfish when choosing a candidate. But the sum of selfish choices can produce bad decisions. How many times did we see groups regretting the results of their democratic elections in recent years? Brexit; the GOP members and the primaries results; the Brazilian presidential election and the subsequent impeachment. On the other hand, the fastest growing economies of this century are countries where the concept of democracy is feeble, as China and India. The citizens are not interested in to defend the democracy by its concept. They want to participate; they want to be heard; they want results. And this cannot be reduced to an election day.

Having this in mind, my presentation (you can find my presentation by the end of this text) at this Dialog was focused on how to use data to develop a more transparent, more effective and more democratic government:

  1. Data is not the new oil. Data is much more than this. Of course, they share some similarities, but data is much more robust. It is an asset; we do not consume it. Its value resides on being produced by humans and on describing humans behaviors. It can be used to design bottom-up public policies.
  1. Data, as a public good, can be used to create a new model of democracy. A model based on real-time interactions among government and society.

  2. I then demonstrate some real examples of data usage by the Government of the City of Rio de Janeiro to take decisions based on human behavior. Even when the citizens are not expressly talking to us.

3.1. Measuring traffic costs using Waze data;

3.2. ROI estimations based on traffic costs;

3.3. The planning of new dump sites for garbage collection using social requests (1746) and traffic data;

3.4. The ranking of flood spots using traffic, buses and pluviometry data;

3.5. Usage of Cell Phone Location data to design new and more detailed origin-destination matrices, and to create a road pressure index, two significant resources for a long term city planning;

3.6. The importance of the data to optimize our public resources, as road usage. This analysis will be especially relevant when talking about self-driving cars;

3.7. How the Olympics were used to reshape the public transportation fabric, and how it is going to change our city in the next decades;

3.8. The impact of an intelligent geocoding of dengue data, with a steady partnership among city agencies (PENSA, Health Agency, Education Agency, Urban Cleaning Company), to drastically reduce the number of dengue cases;

3.9. How we used buses data to identify lines overlaps and to suggest a removal of 30% of buses while maintaining the level of service;

3.10. The impact caused only by these examples: +50 MM USD.

3.11. The traffic impact after the Olympic Games. Rio’s traffic is now similar to the traffic of 10 to 20 years ago, or 12% to 27% less it was before the Games. The city administration has returned six days to each of our citizens per year.

This is how we are using data to reshape the way our government works. Listening to the citizens with real-time data, and taking its decisions with scientific support.

Here is the complete video version of the presentation:

Pablo Cerdeira is the Head of the Center of Technology and Society - CTS/FGV and the former Rio de Janeiro's Chief Data Office