In Argentina, if you ask people to identify universal services, everyone will mention health and education. However, the spaces where these services are delivered aren’t homogenous and there are major disparages in public policy creation, resource allocation, and service quality. How can citizens’ data paint a picture of this ecosystem?
Dimensiones is a non-profit organisation established in 2012 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Their purpose is to strengthen and spread awareness around the protection of human rights. They bring together professionals from all backgrounds who want to bring human rights into everyday matters across populations, working primarily on access to services that guarantee these rights.
Dimensiones has worked in access to health projects in the past, especially through the generation of spaces where patients can exchange information about their experiences, or receive follow up after certain situations. This made them reflect about participative analysis where individuals report their experiences with the health services to which they have access everyday. Did they get the attention they needed? Did they notice overspending?
In light of this, Dimensiones decided to look into data on comprehensive health services from 2014. The institution within the government didn’t have reliable information on this issue, so citizen-generated data became incredibly relevant.
They gathered 500 responses to their questionnaire, and found that 90% of respondents didn’t have access to sewers, 43% were without access to drinking water, and 86% said treatment from staff was inadequate. They wanted to scale this exercise to demand better access to health.
They understood technology could be powerful in advocacy, but had never done it. They could see their own limitations and a potential solution involving technology, but they didn’t know how to get there.
The goal of Dimensiones was to develop and monitor a tool to systematise citizen-generated data on health services. On this tool, participants would be expected to find their health centre and take action on it (evaluate it, share their doubts, see the gathered data), find out about their rights and also about where and how to demand them.
Together with Wingu, they came up with a prototype for the online platform and worked on communications strategies to raise awareness and adoption of the tool, as people they could possibly reach did not even know things could be better. They also found it difficult to allow enough space for the technology work, but they understood the potential and made the necessary internal adjustments.
In February 2016, the prototype went live. They are finding more resources to ensure that the project continuously adapts and improves, while sharing results with health centres.
Having been alienated from all things technology and now participating in a citizen-generated data initiative, Dimensiones can see the value in this experience and will encourage other organisations to not fear technology, but instead see it as a valuable tool.
“All of us work with data in some capacity, so we should be more proactive about it. Data is not just to be collected, but also opened and used as evidence.”
“In terms of technology for social change, organisations need to make the ground level – by going up, not by going down.”