Brief History of Open Initiatives in Brazil

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Overview

A Brief History of Open Initiatives in Brazil

By OLIVIER ALAIS :

"In 1997, the National Educational Technology Program (ProInfo), an educational program, was created to promote the educational use of ICT in public schools. E-Proinfo has trained 50,000 students.

In April 2000, the government launched the Electronic Government Program with the creation of a working group to propose policies, guidelines and standards related to eGov services.

In May 2000, the first Free Software International Forum was organized at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Su. It is an interesting example of a mainstream event focused on open source, which is now in its 17th edition. This national event brings together universities, entrepreneurs, public authorities, users, groups, hackers, NGOs and activists for freedom of knowledge.

In 2003 the government of Brazil urged ministries and other agencies to use open source software.

In November 2004, the Information Technology Institute (ITI) and the Korean IT Industry Promotion Agency (KIPA) signed an agreement to exchange open source software experiences.

In 2005, the Brazilian Guide of Use of Open Source Software was available online.

In June 2006, the government set up 485 culture points to train citizens in the production and exchange of digital multimedia using FOSS. The objective of this program was to promote social and economic development of the communities, reducing social exclusion and creating digital inclusion opportunities to citizens.

In 2007, the Ministry of Planning, Budget and Management created an Open Source Software portal, which offers open source software developed by government bodies.

In 2008, Brazil's Technical Committee for the Implementation of Free Software was created. Institutions such as the Ministry of Finance turned open source, and the idea of an open source policy was discussed.

Also in 2008, Brazil started its owned Open Educational Resources (OER) initiative based on a community made of educators, scientists, engineers, ICT professionals, lawyers and OER enthusiasts.

In 2011, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation implemented the Aquarius platform, a Web-based Government Business Intelligence System to enable public transparency on public funding for research and development.

Since 2013, the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics has offered several datasets in open formats.

Since May 2016, the Ministry of Transparency, Monitoring and Control looks to improve transparency and fight corruption in public authorities.

Today, Brazil is ranked #12 in the 2015 Global Open Data Index. 1,124 datasets are available on the Brazilian open data portal concerning education, health, transportation, election results and public budget. Brazil is part of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) since its creation in September 2011. Brazil is committed to implement 52 measures of transparency and open government in its second action plan focusing on increasing public integrity, improving public services, increasing corporate accountability, creating safer communities and managing public resources more efficiently. The startup scene is present and dynamic in Brazil to develop adapted services. Some associations are grouping entrepreneurs like ABStartups in Rio de Janeiro.

Currently, the free and open source economic model sounds to be less supported by the Brazilian government. Why should a government import technology and ship billions of dollars outside their economy rather than creating software and jobs locally? Reasons are unclear but could be linked to simple government inefficiency, unwillingness to empower other social bodies or improper alignment with foreign companies’ interests." (https://jia.sipa.columbia.edu/online-articles/turning-brazil-open-knowledge-society)


Discussion

Building an Open Knowledge Society in Brazil

Olivier Alais:

In the last decade, Brazil has seen numerous open initiatives, but few of them have been sustainable. Indeed no proper strategy has been developed to conduct institutional reforms in order to build functional capabilities and to spread knowledge in order to build an open knowledge society.

Brazilians needs to reimagine the role of their state in building a society enabled by digital commons, created with public funds to stimulate social goods and benefits. Thus, Brazilians should reinvent a democratic model based on distribution, cooperation, civic relationships and directing governance and economy to social profits.

The government of Brazil should be a leading partner in this transition framework to improve access to technology, empower social organizations, and mutualize or create social infrastructures. Brazil should empower its citizens to build technology adapted to their needs by using global knowledge through the creation of local solutions.

In an open knowledge society, values are created by citizens and enabled by a government, which creates the right balance between stakeholders. The government essence changes to become a platform to coordinate and regulate stakeholders. The government turns out to be accountable to its citizens to facilitate information flows between governmental, civil society and market bodies. Thus, the state guarantees proper public knowledge dissemination in the society.

The Marco civil da Internet is the civil rights framework for the use of the Internet in Brazil, through principles, guarantees, rights and obligations to those who use the network as well as guidelines for state actions. The Marco civil was design in a collaborative manner. The first draft received about 800 substantive contributions to protect privacy rights, net neutrality, freedom of expression and safe-harbors for service providers. This policy also promotes eGovernance, universal access and innovation.

Thus, Brazil already has a clear civil rights framework, an OGP action plan and several digital initiatives, but a methodology is missing to reorganize the current digital ecosystem into an open knowledge society to benefit more from digital commons.

A well-tailored strategy could guide public authorities to build functional capabilities, spread knowledge and empower its population. This national initiative would boost the economy, spread transparency, extend participative democracy and bring each Brazilian to a better standard of living. To reach this point, Brazil should exceed the clan-based interests. Brazilians should support new leaders, who could implement a vision more aligned with democratic principles that could better serve the development of society as a whole." (https://jia.sipa.columbia.edu/online-articles/turning-brazil-open-knowledge-society)