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An Open City: Residents cocreating to transform Buenos Aires

Three years ago, the residents of Buenos Aires gave me the great responsibility to work together with them to transform their city. Since then, I have met with them on the streets, at bars, and on my morning runs. We also host open meetings in their neighborhoods.

This closeness allows us to listen to and understand citizens’ needs, know their concerns and dreams first hand, and attend to their requirements, because they know better than anybody what they need to make their lives better. It also helps us to engage them in our decision-making processes, as they often have the best ideas on how to solve everyday issues.

We are actively listening, and we want the initiatives that make up the city’s Open Government Ecosystem to effectively help improve the quality of public services.

A few months ago, we launched BA Obras, a platform where residents can monitor over eight hundred ongoing public works; read about expected start and end dates, costs, and who is in charge of projects; and see pictures and videos of progress. They can now track when the new neighborhood school will open, or the progress of public works.

We also created BA Elige, a platform that allows citizens to propose and vote on projects to be executed by the government. In its first year, this initiative registered 26,000 proposals and over 10,000 votes. Today, 239 of those projects are now being implemented. Through BA Elige, we are using new technology to co-create at scale and solve the city’s most pressing issues in a legitimate and effective way.

We are constantly working to develop mechanisms for residents to participate. Through the application’s collaborative management of requests, citizens can upload requests and subscribe to others put forward by their neighbors. By doing this, we can prioritize and better attend to citizen requests.

Another exciting project we are working on is the Youth Olympic Games, which will take place later this year in Buenos Aires. We will show the residents the huge legacy this event will leave behind, and that public resources can be invested to transform the city.

In 2017, we implemented the first pilot Open Government Action Plan, taking to heart the idea that co-creation is key to creating long-lasting change. Together with civil society organizations and various government agencies, we established 5 commitments, such as an integrated information portal, a platform to monitor sexual and reproductive health, and openness in transportation data, key to residents’ mobility.

Through these commitments, we made progress in the provision of public services and improved transparency in all three branches of the government.

This year, we are working on developing the second Action Plan and, for that, we want to build on the lessons we have learned so far to conduct a more participatory, open, and innovative process.

The partnership between government and civil society is the main driver of these projects. When we listen, residents engage. Opening up and disclosing information about ongoing processes allows us to build trust among citizens. Creating dialogue and co-creation channels allows us to develop more legitimate policies that are better able to respond to citizens’ needs.