Reflections on DevCA 2012

The 2012 Caribbean Open Data Conference was the first regional, multi-country conference and software developer competition of its kind, focused on Open Data and Social development. The event was staged over the 2-day period, 26 – 27 January 2012 at locations in Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago and the Dominican Republic, with a virtual participating node in Barbados.

The Conference featured over 25 presentations and panel discussions from regional and  global experts on the open data movement, software development best practices, data visualization approaches and innovation policy.

The parallel 24-hr Codesprint (Hackathon) attracted over 140 software developers across the region competing for bragging rights. When the dust settled, the individual country winners were: 

Trinidad: UWI St. Augustine's Campus IT Services with "Fish Network " 
Dominican Republic: Team Beceritos with Crecerd
Jamaica: University of TEchnology's IT-Farm 
Trinidad's Fish Network came out on top in the regional competition.
 

DevCA2012 was an unqualified success on many levels:

  • The sensitization and awareness of the possibilities of Open Data among key stakeholders in the public / private sectors, academia and civil society generally
  • The endorsement and support of public sector institutions and agencies both in the contribution of open data as well as active participation in the events. 
  • The level of engagement and participation of the local technology communities (specifically software developers) in the event 
  • The quality of the ICT artifacts produced from the 24-hr codesprint demonstrated the local and regional capacity for technology innovation and entrepreneurship, and the potential for Open data to become a catalyst in this innovation process.

 

As the rapidly growing Open Data movement expands worldwide, spurred by the Open Government Partnership (OGP) initiative (http://www.opengovpartnership.org/), which has already seen over 50 countries as signatories, the Caribbean is expected to become an active part of this global community. The Caribbean Open Data conference as an annual event, will become the signature activity in the increasing momentum and importance of the Open Data movement in the Caribbean, as a driver of greater public sector transparency, improved service delivery and open participative innovation. The established affiliation with the “Developing Latin America” event (http://desarrollandoamerica.org/) is an important value-adding partnership that will help to bring a further level of synergy and scalability to the Open Data/Developing the Caribbean event.

View the closing videoconference session of DevCA 2012. 

A detailed report on the event can be found here - http://data.org.jm/DevelopingCaribbean_CountryReports.pdf.

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