In the continuous pursuit of improving the quality of statistical and geospatial information in Colombia, as well as, the openness of this data, the AddressForAll Institute and the National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE) have maintained a strong and fruitful collaboration. This agreement, in effect since June 13, 2023, has opened the door to a series of significant advancements in data openness. In this article, we will explore how this partnership began, its key objectives, and how it is benefiting Colombian society.
Collaboration from its Roots:
The history of this collaboration dates back to mid-2021 when the AddressForAll Institute Ambassador for Colombia, Fredy Rivera, established contact with DANE. At that time, it was discovered that DANE had compiled a database of georeferenced addresses during the last censuses, valuable information with the potential to benefit all Colombian society.
However, a significant challenge arose. The interpretation of the statistical secrecy law, a common worldwide regulation applicable to statistical bodies, prevented the disclosure of this data, considering it private information. This interpretation posed a dilemma: how to transform this address data into public and accessible information?
Addresses as Public Data:
The answer to this dilemma lay in the argument that address data is inherently public. Anyone can go to an address, note its number, street name, and obtain GPS coordinates to disclose that information. This perspective, advocated by the AddressForAll Institute, triggered a series of collaborative efforts with DANE’s team to promote this idea within the organization.
A pivotal meeting between the President of the AddressForAll Institute, and the President of DANE, along with their technical teams, marked a turning point. In that meeting, the relevance of the address database for society was understood, and it was agreed to work internally to enable its publication.
The Fruit of Collaboration:
In August 2022, DANE’s Statistical Reserve Committee held an internal meeting that recognized that address data was, in fact, inherently public information. As a result of these joint efforts, the first address database, containing 22 million data points, was made public in September 2022, marking a milestone in the availability of geospatial information in Colombia.
Today, the AddressForAll Institute and DANE continue their collaboration through the signing of a memorandum of understanding. This memorandum prioritizes specific objectives aimed at further improving the quality and accessibility of address data in Colombia.
Key Objectives of the Memorandum:
Memorandum of Understanding №04 of 2023 between DANE and A4A in Colombia establishes several specific objectives, including:
Improvement and Update of Address Nomenclature: This objective seeks to refine and update the address nomenclature in the National Address Framework (Marco Nacional de Direciones — MND).
Expansion of MND Coverage: Work is underway to expand MND coverage to encompass rural and remote areas, ensuring more comprehensive data collection.
Measurement of MND Quality Indicators: The goal is to measure and evaluate the quality of statistical data collected through MND.
Use of Open Data and Open Source Software in MND: Promoting the use of open data and open-source software in MND will contribute to greater transparency and access to statistical information in Colombia.
Benefits for Colombian Society:
This collaboration has the potential to generate significant benefits for Colombian society:
Improvement in the Quality of Statistical Information: Collaboration enables the collection, analysis, and presentation of higher-quality statistical data, supporting more informed decision-making.
Greater Transparency and Access to Information: Colombian society will have broader and more transparent access to information, empowering citizens and organizations.
AFA.codes: Contributing to the National Address Framework:
In this path of continuous improvement, the inclusion of AFA.codes is being considered as an additional attribute in the National Address Framework. This would open up new possibilities and perspectives for address management in Colombia, further simplifying the lives of citizens and optimizing public resources. AFA.codes is a geocode technology developed by the AddressForAll Institute and adapted for Colombia in collaboration with DANE and the OpenStreetMap Foundation of Colombia. It allows locating areas of a few square meters with a short and easily memorable geocode for an individual.
The collaboration between the AddressForAll Institute and DANE represents an example of how technology and innovation can transform data management for the benefit of the society as a whole. Through specific objectives and a shared vision, this partnership promises to continue strengthening the quality of statistical information in Colombia and provide a more transparent and technologically advanced future.
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