The numbers of the post-conflict is a Colombian collaborative journalistic project that opens up the data to tell what has been done with the money destined to post-conflict in Colombia. Its team includes data journalists and developers, regional traditional and independent media, fact-checkers, political sciences researchers, and experts in conflict and peace.
The goal was creating and delivering a complete tool for civil society in order to promote a permanent, and well informed, citizen oversight of the money destined to finance several programs established by the government, such as National Program of Substitution of the Illegal Crops (PNIS); the 170 Development Plans with Territorial Focus, (PDET), for the 170 municipalities prioritized in the 2016 Colombian Peace Agreement; the following of 215 million dollars of international cooperation, and 1,2 billion of Colombian pesos destined by the nation to finance peace.
The first stage of the project was researching, collecting, systematizing, and visualizing the data related to contracts signed for the programs mentioned before. More than 1300 contracts were found and checked. At the same time, social science experts made research on the regions were the contracts were signed to follow the traces. The result was the creation of an open data tool that visualizes Colombia’s map, and the 170 prioritized municipalities, each one with its contracts, agreements, dates of start and end, amounts, type of contracts, number to localize them, and type of fund.
This tool opens up the data to journalists for them to start digging deeper and start setting this important topic on the national media agenda.
The second stage of the project is on the running now. Here, six Colombian allied regional media (traditional and independent) are working with the data of the tool mentioned before, investigating deeper and writing weekly articles about the money on each region (Caribe, Bajo Cauca, Nordeste Antioqueño, Nariño, Catatumbo, Norte de Santander, Caldas, Norte del Cauca, Alto Patía).
At the moment the open data tool has made possible 30 articles. The goal of the project is 72 articles, and 6 big data investigations on each region.
This project is funded by Open Society Foundations (OSF). Consejo de Redacción, and it media Colombiacheck, are the leaders of the project, and works in hand with the independent conflict media VerdadAbierta.com. The allies are Rutas del Conflicto team, for the data work; La Patria de Manizales, La Opinión de Cúcuta, El Pilón de Valledupar, Agencia Prensa Rural, El Turbión, y Co.Marca, for the investigative journalistic work on each region of the country.
The project has no monetization plan. It is an Open Data tool, and web journalistic multimedia special with no lucrative purposes. The money comes from an OSF scholarship which objective is promoting transparency in Peace Agreement implementation, and the enhance the collaborative and investigative work of Colombian media.
What makes this project innovative?
Colombian 2016 Peace Agreement implementation has brought big challenges for the media, not just to tell the stories of the Colombia in post-conflict; but, to investigate the numbers, the institutions, the names, the families, the politicians, the NGOs, and international cooperants, that are involved in the processes of selection, hiring, signing, and running the money. The national information system of contracts data, SECOP, is becoming obsolete to make possible the right exercise of oversight and tracing. Not only because the information is incomplete in some cases, but because the access is difficult, not easy for citizens and regional journalists that, in most cases, don’t have expertise on data bases, advanced search data methods, and information systems. The numbers of post-conflict is an innovative project because it was born from the imperative need of the public information about Peace Agreement implementation to be open and free. Information that all citizens, and journalist should have access to, but due to complexity and bureaucratic governmental obstacles, do not have access to. Media in Colombia tell stories, but did not have a tool with data to consult before. Contracts were lost and kept secret by politicians, governors, and administrative bureau. Now, 170 municipalities in Colombia have open data, web accessible information for everyone interested in investigating more, in public education, health, infrastructure, illicit crops, and agrarian policies. In addition, never before six regional media, traditional, independent, with different political views had allied to investigate this open data on each region, to explain better to citizenship the findings of the data bases. The project does not only count with journalists, the team includes data experts, engineers, political scientists, fact- checkers, from ages since 20 to 60, that come from all Colombia, and which work is based on conflict areas. The Numbers of Post-conflict is innovative in its investigative techniques, the variety of its team, the diversity of political views, the use of narrative languages, and the conjunctural relevance for the country.
What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?
To measure the impact on an Open Data tool such as ‘The Numbers of Post-conflict’ in a short period of time is very hard. The Data Base was released 2 months ago. Journalistic and citizenship impact By now, 30 journalistic articles have been produced as a result of this database, and by June, the total sum will be 72. These pieces are multimedia reports with infographics, videos, images, maps, etc. They all are uploaded in the same web site. We are also working on a printed magazine that will have on it the 6 big reports of each region, that are being worked with the data provided by the tool. The magazine will be given to the people of every region in Colombia where we have media allied, Colombian citizens. That means the work will not only stay on the internet, but also, people from the regions will have access to. Social media On social media the response has been progressive. Since this is a collaborative project we do not only count with Consejo de Redacción and Colombiacheck (the media of the Consejo de Redacción) social media, but with the social media of another 6 Colombian media, and VerdadAbierta.com. Every article, the database, the website has been shared by all of them. In all the regions of Colombia mentioned before. In google searching motors happens the same. We all are working for the same cause, and this makes the project known, not only in the capital of Colombia, but in the region, in the municipalities where allied journalists work, in other countries that can access to the web site, to the government bureau, international supporters, other investigative journalists, NGO, and everyone interested on following the trace of Peace Agreement money.
Source and methodology
We will describe the methodology to make the digital tool that contains the data of the money destined to 2016 Peace Agreement funding. This tool is the input for the rest of the project to happens, and it is the Open Data platform that will remain open and public for everyone who wants to have access to this numbers, serials, names, amounts, dates, and funds. Methodology 1. Research The team started by identifying the institutions, organizations, and international supporters were on the map of the implementation of the Colombian Peace Agreement. Based on this map, the team set interviews with Hight Postconflict Counseling (Alta Consejería para el Posconflicto) National Department of Planning (Departamento Nacional de Planeación), United Nations (UN, OIM). 2. Collection The interviews resulted on a map that showed us a route to follow to access to the data. And we started a massive public estate information request. We sent 200 ‘petition rights’ (a Colombian legal resource to access to public information) to every municipality prioritized on the Peace Agreement, and to every institution involved on the managing of the money to fund peace. Many processes were opened, due to rejections of the public workers on the regions to deliver that public data. We sent guardianship actions (another legal tool to require information) and finally we got the contracts and agreements of the municipalities we were tracing. 3. Analysis, systematization, and visualization The numbers of the contracts were checked and traced on the Estate Hiring Platform (SECOP) which has low transparency rate, and bad navigability, and more than 1300 contracts and agreements were checked and upload by 25 students to the system on 3 Data Jams organized on a Journalism Faculty, by the team of the project. After the data was on Excel. Open Refine was used to clean up the data bases. The information was organized and systematized with excel filters to create a Drupal open access tool, a platform whit all the contracts, municipalities, and funds related to peace. 4. Verification of data VerdadAbierta.com journalistic team made the fact-checking of the Data Base before it was published. This tool is been used for the six regional media in Colombia to produce 72 articles on Peace Agreement money, and 6 big reports on each region.
For this project, as described before, we used a mixture of classic investigative methods with digital tools. We search for data on several open databases on the internet We used Excel and Open Refine to work with the data collected We used HTML to build the tool and Hypertext Preprocessor. The platform was made on DRUPAL.
Consejo de Redacción and Colombiacheck team managing the project Editor: Ginna Morelo Project manager: Laura Gracia Developer: Juan Diego Mesa President: Dora Montero Director: Johana Moreno Rutas del Conflicto - team for the database: Director: Óscar Parra Journalist: David Riaño Journalis: Daniela Aguirre Developer: Alejandro Ballesteros VerdadAbierta.com- team for fact-checking Director: Juan Diego Restrepo Allied Media for the articles La Patria de Manizales La Opinión de Cúcuta El Pilón de Valledupar Agencia Prensa Rural El Turbión Co.Marca, Laboratorio de Medios de La Universidad del Cauca Social scientists (Laura Ligarreto, Jairo Gonzáles, Blanca Álvarez) Financed by Open Society Foundations