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Alvin Quiñones is the co-founder and director for the Center for Integrity and Public Policy (CIPP). CIPP promotes government transparency and civic engagement in Puerto Rico. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Late last summer, a graduate student friend of mine and I were discussing the need to bring a different dynamic to the discussion of policy and politics in Puerto Rico. Day after day, we would watch the news play out the same type of story lines, with representatives from each political party staking out opposite positions that seemed to be driven more by gang affiliation than actual analysis. The result? An audience distracted from any real discussion of the issues that affected their daily life. So we debated about how could we change this, and out of that summer conversation came a concern for the need to bring a different voice to the public.
As we attempted to gather some government data to be analyzed, we realized that information that should have been of easy access to the public was not readily available. That is how we came upon the idea of gathering the data ourselves and opening a data platform that could be used by journalists, academic institutions, government employees and the general public to further the access to valuable information. Open Puerto Rico was born.
Open Puerto Rico goes beyond being just a source of accurate and objective information: it is also a tool of empowerment. How do we achieve a responsive government if the people don’t know what’s going on? How can they decide which policies to support or how to vote if they have no access to relevant information? It is also an administrative tool for decision makers in government, nonprofits, and the private business in finding the information they need.
At Open PR, we aim to create easier access to government information. Our mission is not to tell people what to think about an issue or a political party, but rather to give them the tools to draw their own conclusions with objective and accurate evidence. We also want to promote a dialogue amongst the people, to be a catalyst for communication and, ultimately, civic engagement.Continue reading