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What is People Data Labs? – Challenge, Theory, Proposal, and More

by The Digital Trendz
people data labs

People Data Labs

People Data Labs in the late 1960s, the Freedom of Information Act was publishing in the United States, one of the first legal steps.

In 2002, the Federal Law on Transparency and Access to Public Government Information was approved in Mexico, which marked a watershed in the national discussion on citizens’ access to public information.

There is international information on the characteristics and principles that open data must comply by. Specifically. The People Data Labs CDMX data agenda has been guiding by the precedents established by the Free Software Foundation.

As well as the Open Knowledge Foundation. Beyond the conversation around data, the open government paradigm has reached significant milestones as a result of the Alliance for Open Government initiative.


  • Although at the international level, there were essential precedents and acceptable practices around the opening of government information, the establishment of these formats and mechanisms in the CDMX offices presented a particular challenge.
  • Starting from a non-existent conversation, the promotion of the publication of information as open data had both cultural challenges.
  • However, in the perception that officials in legal possession of the story had of the opening – and institutional (legal powers and necessary permits to disseminate the information).
  • The People Data Labs Mayor’s Office, through the General Directorate for the Governance of Information Technologies. Is the one who has the powers of law to establish standard formats. For all government agencies and dictates approved requirements that all must comply with.
  • In this sense, making use of the legal powers of the Laboratory to prototype and demonstrate the potential local implementation of acceptable international practices.
  • The Data Laboratory arises as a first attempt to centralize and standardize the open government data of the CDMX, to innovate on issues of government interoperability.
  • And also, to promote economic development in the civic entrepreneurship sector through the accessibility of open government data that is meaningful and useful.

Theory of change

  • Since there is no data opening policy, it is unknown whether there is demand from specialized audiences.
  • Having a web platform that houses open government data in a practical, orderly and accessible way facilitates its use by expert citizens (academics, developers, consultants, etc.). However, helping them to generate public value.
  • By being able to access this public information without having to go through bureaucratic procedures, a culture of transparency.
  • Openness within the government and citizen demand for their right to adequate and proactive information is fostering. It can generate,
  • simultaneously, the foundations for public policy based on data or evidence, which until now has not been a pillar of governments in Mexico.


  • The Data Laboratory was designing as a web platform that was intending to be the prototype of a government repository dedicated to exploration and experimentation around open data, as well as the adequate provision of government data for citizens.
  • The lessons of the Data Laboratory in its two phases were sharing with the DGGTIC. Who officially have the attributions of coordinating open data efforts. And also, who is in charge of the formally available data platform of the CDMX Government.
  • At the beginning of this exploration, being a completely new conversation for the government. We found that the legal frameworks or inter-institutional coordination, resources or skills. Necessary for the opening of data under strict international standards did not exist.
  • As there were no open data or APIs developed with government information, neither the demanding nor the utility of allocating resourcing to a data available strategizing was known.
  • Through the Data Laboratory, the LabCDMX promoted a data opening process that consists of different steps the normalization of information. The simplification for the updating and integration of new data, digitization, cleaning of the data set and anonymization.


  • 73 datasets that meet open data quality standards
  • However, 6 tutorials on using registered datasets
  • 8 thematic APIs (mobility, general services, air quality, georeferenced)
  • 33 participating government agencies
  • 30 thousand 51 visits to the website
  • 3 thousand 56 visits to datasets
  • 9,800 API calls


  • The evolution of government transparency processes is aiming at making information, in addition to being made public, reusable, accessible, and analyzable through the establishment of structured and open formats. The state of the information in each agency is highly variable, it is not generated or protected with this openness in mind. And therefore it needs a robust technical work to be able to have quality data.
  • The most critical challenge is to make all the available information comprehensive. Make sense in the bigger picture. The opening of isolated data sets is not enough if they do not have mechanisms for their constant updating and verification. By third parties, which guarantee their validity and usefulness.
  • Creating interest and habit for the consumption of information from the citizens implies. However, we get using to the fact that the information we need to make our day-to-day decisions is available “on-demand”.
  • Although the Data Laboratory functioned as a prototype, the task of creating a single repository of open data.
  • As well as standardizing all the opening criteria and standard formats of government information is a challenge. That must fall on a unit with coordinating capacity with all other government offices of the CDMX.
  • The opening of data only generates value if there are communities inside and outside the government that consume said data.
  • The relevance of these data becomes an essential factor to consider when developing an opening strategy.


  • Create a single repository of open government data, in charge of the Senior Officials Office to coordinate.
  • The governance of the different technological tools used by the agencies, as well as the formats and standards in which they disseminate their information.
  • The organization of events and projects whose central axis is the exploitation and use of open data.
  • Generate excellent incentives for the consolidation of nascent or dispersed ecosystems. Such was the case of the experiments carrying out from the Laboratory as CDMX Code,
  • HackCDMX, or the Open Government Meetings.
  • And also, expand the number of datasets and thematic APIs.
  • Have a discussion group that fosters a culture of learning and dialogue regarding open data.
  • And also, convene multidisciplinary meetings to create new ways of using and reflecting. On the use and disposal of open data.

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