Five data journalism projects win funding from Latin American startup accelerator HacksLabs

Jul 212014
  • Photo courtesy of Ramiro Chanes.

Five data-driven projects produced during the regional hackathon La Ruta de Dinero (The Money Trail) will receive support from HacksLabs, the first accelerator of data journalism projects in Latin America.

The projects focus on improving transparency and accountability in Colombia, Chile and Argentina. The regional hackathon, which I coordinated as part of my ICFJ Knight International Journalism Fellowship, took place in 12 Latin American cities and one U.S. city. More than 320 people, including journalists, developers and designers involved in citizen engagement and data journalism innovation, participated.

The hackathon, whose ultimate goal was to increase citizen engagement and journalists participation in transparency, accountability and efficiency in public spending, is an initiative of the International Center for Journalists, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the World Bank Institute and Knight-Mozilla OpenNews program.

The projects will receive small grants (four of US$2,000 and one of US$1,000) as well as mentoring from Knight-Mozilla OpenNews Fellows. All of the projects were produced during meetings of local Hacks/Hackers chapters in Asuncion, Paraguay; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Bogota, Colombia; Guatemala City, Guatemala; La Paz, Bolivia; Lima, Peru; Mendoza, Argentina; Mexico City, Mexico, Montevideo, Uruguay; Rosario, Argentina; Santiago, Chile; and San Pablo, Brazil. The Miami, Florida Hacks/Hackers chapter also participated in the regional hackathon.

The winning projects are:

Yo Intervengo, an online system to visually represent and follow public works and the route of funds destined for public investment in Colombia.

Dinero Verde, a web-based tool to produce and analyze metrics on how Colombian public money is spent in contracts and bids. It will produce alerts about inefficiency, possible corruption and overspending.

Destapados, a tool based in an Argentinian popular online game to provide and exchange data about public money spending.

Financiamiento de campañas electorales, a tool to analyze and geo-localize data on funding and spending of electoral campaigns in Argentina.

El abuso del Multirut, a visualization tool to track the creation of proxy companies that evade taxes and weaken unions and workers’ negotiation capacities in Chile.

A total of 105 proposals were submitted to the regional hackathon, and 38 of them were developed. You can see the entire series of projects in the HackDash, a collaborative tool to track data-driven projects globally. The event also served to stimulate participation and increase the number of Hack/Hackers chapters in Latin America.

The winning projects were selected by an international panel whose members conducted a careful evaluation of the potential citizen engagement, scalability and the ability for the the project to be replicated. Each project will receive mentoring during two months, and they will compete for a bigger grant of US$10,000 to scale its potential.

The selection committee was composed of Burt Herman from Hacks/Hackers; Erika Owens from Knight-Mozilla Open News; Sandra Moscoso from the World Bank Institute (WBI); Jorge Luis Sierra, director of the Knight International Journalism Fellowships; and me.

The WBI also granted a US$1,000 award to two projects in La Paz, Bolivia: Enterate Ya, Tramites 2.0, and a special US $400 award to Elige Bien, a project produced during the Bolivia Data Bootcamp and focused in data about the candidates to the presidency of Bolivia.

ICFJ Knight International Journalism Fellow Mariano Blejman is creating the first news innovation contest in Latin America.

This post is also published on IJNet, which is produced by ICFJ.

The International Journalists' Network, IJNet, keeps professional and citizen journalists up to date on the latest media innovations, online journalism resources, training opportunities and expert advice. ICFJ produces IJNet in seven languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, Persian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. IJNet is supported by donors including the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.