Mexico enshrines open data into its federal regulation

The government of Mexico has today mandated that open data is the default for all public communication that it produces.

The news comes on the concluding day of the Open Data Leaders Network, held at the ODI headquarters in London. The event gathers senior civil servants from around the world who lead open data initiatives within their countries, supporting them with open data training and peer learning.

One of the participants is Enrique Zapata, Director of Open Data Policy for the National Digital Strategy of Mexico. Enrique has been campaigning for the Mexican government to commit to such a mandate since 2013, when the National Digital Strategy was established.

"This is the crown jewel of our open data work," Zapata told the ODI between sessions at the Leaders Network today. "It also begins the next steps for our work: implementation and delivery."

What will the broad impacts of this shift in open data policy be for Mexico? "On the one hand, hopefully this will change the way that government produces and manages information," Zapata explains. "On the other hand, we hope it will have economic impact and [stimulate] productive and economic growth in Mexico."

Speaking from years of experience in promoting open data in Mexico, Zapata added that certain challenges will arise in sustaining this new policy. "Changing the culture in government will be difficult," he says, as well as "producing the right capabilities for the use of open data in broad sectors of society."

Overcoming these challenges will require a "joint effort," Zapata concludes, with "input from government, academia, civil society organisations and institutions like the ODI and the World Bank in teaching and promoting the benefits of open data."

ODI International Development Manager Liz Carolan sees the announcement as "another sign of the leadership that the Mexican government has shown in driving open data domestically, regionally and globally."

"Policies such as these give assurances to potential users of open data that these initiatives are something that are going to last," Carolan adds. "People need these assurances in order to build businesses, services, applications that are built using data being published by the government."