The Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018 had as an objective to be organized in an open and transparent manner. As a result, the Olympic Legacy initiative was created to ensure relevant and timely access to information to all local stakeholders in regards to the event and its organization. This platform brought open government tools at the heart of the development of a global sports event. It had a significant impact in terms of promoting open data, higher quality data standards, improved communication around the games and was a useful tool to answer citizen queries.
Global sport events attract thousands of fans and attention worldwide. They are an opportunity to celebrate passion and sport values with athletes from around the globe. However, they also undertake massive budgets. We realized from the beginning of the organization of the Youth Olympics Games Buenos Aires 2018 that big sporting events raised many concerns about corruption and misuse of public funds. This have led to lack of trust from the people to their governments.
As this were the first games fully funded by a public entity, it was highly important to ensure the transparency and accountability of the whole organization process. For this reason, the organization of the Games took a commitment to follow an open and transparent process, as the Youth Olympic Games required the construction of many different infrastructure, like stadium, pools, tracks, apartments, courts.
Olympic Legacy initiative was created to ensure all the neighbors had adequate access to information on all aspects regarding the organization of the Games. The site shows in a simple way, through visualizations and infographics, how many public works were made for the Games infrastructure, all the sports equipment that was acquired for the 32 disciplines that were played and all the social and sport activities.
Legacy is an important part of the Games. On the website, you can find what will happen after the Games with all the public works and the equipment, that is, the social, urban and sport legacy the Games leave for the neighbours of Buenos Aires and specially for the south of the city.
Participative processes were applied on tenders and international standards were adopted for purchases and tenders. The site shows that 90% of the bidding processes were open: they were carried out under the modality of public tender, framework agreement or open minor contracting.
This platform not only brought open government tools to the development of a sport global event, but it was also the first time that a State makes available all the information in open data. The initiative contributed to improve the data quality as it was put on open formats and was centralized on one website. Also, the adoption of international standards ensured the success of the infrastructure development, which was delivered on time.
The impact of this platform was significant inside and outside the government. Having this high-level sporting event organized in an integral and transparent way, and being able to access open data about this organization in a simple and free way, benefits all the residents of Buenos Aires. Through focus groups and qualitative analysis of the media in the period before and after the Games, it was possible to confirm that the public's perception was of a competence of an exemplary organization and without questioning its transparency.
Within the government, it set standards in terms of governance of the infrastructure and in purchases and contracts that can be replicated for the organization of other global events to be developed in the City of Buenos Aires.
While it is true that the development of this initiative was made for a specific event, such as the Olympic Youth Games, this experience can serve as inspiration and a model case in the organization of global events to use open government tools. In future editions of global sporting events or of any kind, a platform as Open Legacy shows that opening information in open formats contributes to the accountability, transparency and integrity of the organization.
What Makes Your Project Innovative?
Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018 were the first games promoting gender equality, the first time they were entirely organized by a government entity and the first time the games were open to the public. Olympic Legacy reaffirms Buenos Aires' commitment to open government and raises international standards regarding transparency in the organization of major sporting events.
To contribute to make the games transparent and accountable the initiative focused on centering all the information to build a institutional memory, and to make it open for anyone to access. In addition, developed a communication product to make the access to relevant data easier, through data visualization and graphic resources so that thousands of data could be easily understandable on an interactive website.
Collaborations & Partnerships
Within the government, the General Secretariat and International Affairs worked with the Ministry of Urban Development and Transportation, the Unit of Special Projects Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018 (UPEJOL) and the City Housing Institute in the development of the website and the political and communicational strategy of the project.
Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
All Buenos Aires citizens were benefited, since they have access to all the information about the event and can keep their government accountable. It is also a useful tool for social organizations and journalists because they have quality information to assess the transparency and integrity of the games organization. Host cities or countries of upcoming global events can benefit from this experience and its results to making a transparent and accountable event.
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
The impact of this platform was significant inside and outside the government. Through focus groups and qualitative analysis of the media in the period before and after the Games, it was possible to confirm that the public's perception was of a competence of an exemplary organization and without questioning its transparency. Within the government, it set standards in terms of governance of the investment infrastructure, public procurement and contracts that can be replicated for other global events.
Challenges and Failures
The challenges encountered are related to the collection and unification of all data of the event. Although there was a government agency in charge of the entire organization, there were other agencies that also carried out works, purchases or developed activities related to games, such as sports and school programs.
Conditions for Success
One of the main conditions that the City of Buenos Aires had to develop was its extensive history with the opening of information and open data, being a pioneer in the region in this subject with the sanction of the Law of Access to Information in 1998.
The city has an open government policy that encourages innovation, openness, collaboration and participation to seek innovative solutions, strengthening alliances between governments and other sectors.
In addition, there was a commitment on the part of the Head of Government to carry forward a successful edition of the Youth Olympic Games that did not present doubts about the transparency and integrity of its organization.
The innovation has not been replicated yet. However, it is a good example for host cities of other global events or upcoming sporting events to take as a model on how to make information about the organization transparent to its citizens. Likewise, open government tools are very useful to ensure a successful organization.
During the 2018 Paris Peace Forum a dataton took place, where one of the topics was the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics. We had the chance to bring Buenos Aires Youth Games experience as a foundation to come up with strategies to think how to make Paris Games´ organization more transparent.
The Youth Olympic Games ended. The athletes returned to their homes and the temporary facilities were dismantled. This is the time when everyone wonders: what was left in the city? To give an answer we created Olympic Legacy, an open government initiative to open the data about the organization to every neighbor of Buenos Aires.
We learn that, in addition to opening data in a file, the effectiveness of creating a platform to facilitate access to that information in a more interactive and creative ways for users. Games have a historical importance when they leave a legacy, when the infrastructure and materials are left for the neighbors and the benefit of the community. The importance of telling stories with the data to empower them with the neighbors of Buenos Aires.
Public information is a fundamental value of democracy, but also the opening of data, it is important to try to bring data to neighbors through the products that facilitate access to information and accountability.
17 May 2018