Open Data Journalism for Change

LA NACION Data was launched as an open data journalism initiative. Its strategy is to create impact and change in Argentina through the use and promotion of open data journalism. Our main focus is to develop and facilitate data platforms based in public information and open data to serve in investigative journalism as well as in daily reporting and automated content.

Every day we update our data series indicators that are linked to visualizations that we embed in the articles of the day. All of this interactive infographics have a download button for the user to reuse the information or simply to give access to the historical database in an open format. and source. We have aproximately more than 200 databases that we frequently update and open to the public.

In a difficult context in Argentina, we are coherent and consistent with enhancing openness and transparency. Since we launched in 2011, we base our success not only in products, but in helping our community use and demand more open data as well.

A classic example of this is our project Open Statements of Assets which was launched in 2013 and updated every year because its a tool that helps us and the citizens detect cases of corruption regarding public spending and companies owned by official’s relatives or friends. Its a collaboration project that produces open data from hand-written copies of Statements of Assets (Affidavits) that were requested using our FOIA law. We constantly request the information to the three powers: Executive, Legislative and Judicial. Each year we organize hackathons in alliance with NGOs: Poder Ciudadano, ACIJ and Directorio Legislativo to upload all the information into an open source administrator we created for such purpose.

We are heavy users of Open Data and access to public information (FOIA) in Argentina, in order to help citizen participation and open government because we believe this improves the quality of democracy. The first step to make datasets famous is to become open data USERS. And if there is no open data, we become PRODUCERS and transform closed formats to open data. We have to find and convert public information, so we file FOIA requests, we use more than 10 OCR engines combined with processes that automatize the feed from closed PDFs to a database adding rows in a database per month or daily, and we even type manually information from handwritten data files.

One new example in 2018 of this is The Driver’s Notebooks of Corruption. This investigation formally began on January 8, 2018, when Diego Cabot, an investigative journalist from La Nación was given eight notebooks that exposed Argentina´s greatest corruption scandal ever. We built a structured dataset from this handwritten notebooks,  we transcribed all the information into an Excel database and began analyzing each one of the records. Then, we verified and checked the information by crossing it with other multiple sources such as official gazettes and company records and public contracts. This verification process was used to carry out a strict process of standardization and structuring of data in which currency and descriptions were unified and names and addresses were standardized.


So far, 73 individuals have been prosecuted in this case (40 have been imprisoned and several continue and another 90 businessmen are waiting for prosecution), including a former President, the entire office of the Ministry of Planning and the main public contractors of the country. About 40 that were inprisoned already confessed their crimes and US$ 600 million were already seized.

Also, we are very proud of being a media initiative producing and evangelising about open data to key players of the knowledge ecosystem (Governments, Universities, NGOS, Academia, multilateral organizations, citizenship). We spread knowledge about the importance of building together structured machine readable data from reliable sources in which every player can benefit as User and Producer of new information combining datasets. We are active participants of the national, latin american and international open data community conferences, meetups and, EVEN, Whatsapp and Telegram Groups. In our blog, site and social networks we publish and promote open data projects from Argentina and worldwide as well as open government portals launched

 

A member of our team at Open Data Day


A recent example is a legislative training we delivered in alliance with an NGO called Nuevas Generaciones about the importance of creating an open legislative power. We travelled to four provinces: Salta, Mendoza, Corrientes and Córdoba and spoked with the province legislators about our experience as data users and producers with the province legislators to motivate them an generate a possitive change in the local governments.

A member of our team in the legislative power of Cordoba province

The vision we have is that each set of data that is digitalized and published means that more knowledge is released. Although it is true that we use data as input for journalism, our work goes far beyond including statistics in news articles.

 

A member of our team at the house of the City of Buenos Aires Government

An example of this is our project At What Price? (A que precio). Together with Chequeado, a Fact checker unit, and Acij, a transparency NGO, we researched, compiled and opened all public contracts and data from medicine purchase processes of the State. It is an observatory of health-related purchases depending on the National Government and the City of Buenos Aires. Particularly, HIV medicines, contraceptives and vaccines.

We developed a scraper to get all the documents from multiple State portals, contrast them with the data obtained through requests for access to information, structure the base and carry out an in-depth analysis. This led to two exclusive findings we published: a) only 25% of the investment for drug purchases corresponds to public tenders; b) the Government reduced the delivery of contraceptives.


Another example is the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires investigation were we manually monitored all purchases, contracts and infrastructure of the event from open data portals and a FOIA request from the City of Buenos Aires. After analyzing this contracts we were able to reconstruct the total cost of the event that exceeded 8 billion pesos and explain specifically the purposes for such an expense. Until then, the government had repeatedly refused to inform this figure and did not have the systematized information open to citizens.

In search of innovation in data collection, analysis and presentation this year, in August, we began to develop and  produce automated content from scratch and in house. In other words, 1,300 automatic articles are monthly created on several topics like: sports, prices and inflation, currency exchange rates and more. The idea is to save work and make in-depth content creation more efficient to journalists and better serve with more topics on time based on data-to text stories, for our readers.

For example, as regards the monetary exchange rate, an automatic extraction of real-time data is made concerning the value of the Dollar and the Euro informed on Central Bank website and the subsequent publication of articles with more than 1000 combinations of journalistic articles. All these articles are accompanied by a visualization that is also updated through an automatic process.

Finally, keeping our team and newsroom updated, we are now focused in learning how data science can help society and journalism for good, As this happens we support or co-organized the Global Women in Data Science (WIDS) Conference in Buenos Aires 2018 and 2019. In this event journalists, data scientists, engineers and programmers meet in order to promote the inclusion of women as speakers in Data Science in different areas, industries and services in Argentina in order to inspire more women in STEM and in technology.

 

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La Nacion Data’s team portfolio from Buenos Aires, Argentina 2019

La Nación Data is the data journalism unit from LA NACION in Argentina. We do Open Data Journalism for change, in order to better serve our audiences using data to discover and tell stories. We promote the use of open data and access to information in Argentina as evidence to keep governments accountable, enhance transparency and allow citizen´s collaboration in the process of journalism.

Much of our work and effort is invested in building datasets from scratch, cleaning, structuring and normalizing to make them accessible for our newsroom and our users in Argentina. But our objective is also to produce long-term investigations that encompass a multiplicity of topics of interest with the intention of producing a political and social impact. Here is a selection of this year´s work and strategy:

1.  The Driver’s Notebooks of Corruption. This investigation formally began on January 8, 2018, when Diego Cabot, an investigative journalist from La Nación was given eight notebooks that exposed Argentina´s greatest corruption scandal ever. We built a structured dataset from this handwritten notebooks,  we transcribed all the information into an Excel database and began analyzing each one of the records. Then, we verified and checked the information by crossing it with other multiple sources such as official and company records, corporate information, public works contracts. This verification process was used to carry out a strict process of standardization and structuring of data in which currency and descriptions were unified and names and addresses were standardized.

So far, 73 individuals have been prosecuted in this case (40 have been imprisoned and several continue and another 90 businessmen are waiting for prosecution), including a former President, the entire office of the Ministry of Planning and the main public works contractors of the country. About 40 persons repented and confessed their crimes. US$ 600 million were seized.

 

2. 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires investigation we manually monitor all purchases, contracts and infrastructure of the event. After analyzing the historical budget, the electronic purchase portal and requesting twice an access to public information, we were able to reconstruct the total cost of the event that exceeds 8 billion pesos and explain specifically the purposes for such an expense. Until then, the government had repeatedly refused to inform this figure and did not have the systematized information open to citizens.

 

All processed information and original sources are made available to the public for download and reuse.

3. Project At What Price?. Together with Chequeado, a Fact checker unit, and Acij, a transparency NGO, we researched, compiled and opened all public contracts and data from drug purchase processes in State. It is an observatory of health-related purchases depending on the National Government and the City of Buenos Aires. Particularly, HIV medicines, contraceptives and vaccines.

We developed a scraper to get all the documents from multiple State portals, contrast them with the data obtained through requests for access to information, depurate them and accurately structure the base and carry out an in-depth analysis. This led to two unpublished investigations: a) only 25% of the investment for drug purchases corresponds to public tenders; b) the Government reduced the delivery of contraceptives.

 


 

4. Congresoscopio : legislative transparency 2010-2019.  To promote government accountability and use data as part of citizen control and surveillance we monitor the use of public resources and institutions.

A clear example is the Congresoscopio application that we use every time a new bill is voted in Congress and where we download the forms from the official sites of the Senate and House of Representatives. Through an OCR process, we convert them to Excel format and upload them then to our admin. It is a platform developed in house where the citizens access all the legislation considered in Congress from 2010 to the present and delve into how each legislator voted. In addition, it allows the user to see how many bills each legislator submitted and the number of absences. Obviously, legislation is made available to the user.

 

On the other hand, we believe that all citizens should participate by activating the demand for public information as a democratic principle and human right. That is why we are dedicated to teach civil society and build community. We strengthen our relationship with NGOs and universities through hackathons, meetups and workshops.

5. Argentina’s Senate rejected the bill to legalize abortionCitizens followed the presentations of Senators as closely as if they were watching a suspense movie, to be on the spot was very important. La Nación reused code to build a visualization that could follow that rhythm of the vote; it was important to know the final result of the vote and the vote of each one of the Senators on real time as well. The first interactive shows the faces of those persons representing us at the Senate, some of them are unknown for the audience in general. Moreover, the interactive adds the possibility of crossing variables to understand whether his/her age, religious belief, politic orientation or university background were related to their vote.

The second interactive, published early in the morning the day after, followed the same logic as the first one, but this time it analyzed and compared the votes between both House of Representatives and the Senate (257 Representatives/72 Senators), trying to find a pattern that answered the questions that many of us asked ourselves: did senior legislators vote against the bill and the younger ones, in favor?; do the Catholic ones supported the 2 lives? Are lawyers against it? You can find the answers in the visualization

6. Open Collaboration with NGOs and Universities: the Open Statements of Assets

An example of this is the open Statement of Assets (Affidavits) website of the main officers of government. Every year we access hundreds of affidavits through FOIA requests. The problem is that most of the data is handwritten on a sheet of paper, so we organized hackathons in alliance with NGOs: Poder Ciudadano, ACIJ and Directorio Legislativo to upload all the information into an open source administrator we created for such purpose.

 

These are meetings held for several days where students and volunteers participate to build this dataset together. In total, there are already more than 4,000 published affidavits typed in our unique web site,  that are constantly reused to investigate cases of corruption or to provide information on each new Government officer. This data is presented in open formats as well.

 


7. Data Science and Journalism: keeping our team and newsroom updated, we are now focused in learning how data science can help society and journalism for good, As this happens we support or co-organized the Global Women in Data Science (WIDS) Conference in Buenos Aires 2018 and 2019. In this event journalists, data scientists, engineers and programmers meet in order to promote the inclusion of women as speakers in Data Science in different areas, industries and services in Argentina in oder to inspire more women in STEM and in technology.

 

8. Open Data and Open Government:  we actively participate in movements of open information and act as users of open data from open governmens, we share learnings and give talks in several universities: Universidad Austral, Universidad Católica Argentina, Universidad Don Torcuato Di Tella, Universidad de La Matanza, Universidad de Lomas de Zamora, and others in Latin America as well.

 

Open Data Day

Every year, we are speakers at Argentina Abierta (Open Argentina) , a federal meeting on openness and innovation to design better public services. It is attended by public officers, entrepreneurs, civil society organizations, students and journalists willing to share achievements and experiences throughout the country and beyond to continue promoting a more open and collaborative world.

Team member at La Sabana University in Bogotá Colombia

At the same time, we were media partners of the 5th International Open Data Conference (IODC) in the City of Buenos Aires. It is a meeting aimed at developing transversal thoughts on openness, transparency and citizen participation. Our team was moderator of the panel on journalism and open data and organized a media conference at the editorial office of LA NACIÓN.

 


9. Automated content, from scratch in LA NACION: in search of innovation in data collection, analysis and presentation this year, in August, we began to develop and  produce automated content from scratch and in house. In other words, 1,300 automatic articles are monthly created on several topics like: sports, prices and inflation, currency exchange rates and more. The idea is to save work and make in-depth content creation more efficient to journalists and better serve with more topics on time based on data-to text stories, for our readers.

 

For example, as regards the monetary exchange rate, an automatic extraction of real-time data is made concerning the value of the Dollar and the Euro informed on Central Bank website and the subsequent publication of articles with more than 1000 combinations of journalistic articles. All these articles are accompanied by a visualization that is also updated through an automatic process.

10. Playing with data: regarding the innovative and creative presentation of data, the aim of all our interactive pieces is to challenge the user to understand, interact and explore the topic to be covered.

 

A clear example is the coverage of the 2018 World Cup in Russia where a series of visualizations focused on the real time of the event were planned. More than 12 large productions were created related to penalties in the knockout round, a balance of the first round, live statistics, an interactive key to beat the knockout round, players’ scores, fixtures and many more. All of them were created for direct interaction with the user: draw simulator, select your players, make your World Cup forecast.

 

11. Data visualization in news stories:  the first anniversary of the disappearance of the Ara San Juan Submarine. A year of uncertainty had passed since contact with the 44 crew members was lost. Data was collected from the last messages sent by the crew members to their families and the last reports sent by ARA SAN JUAN were presented.

In addition, the route was visualized, and a 3D render was made to graph the ventilation system through which the water that damaged the batteries entered and that ended the lives of all the crew members. At the same time, special emphasis was placed on real time searching and tracking with the use of tools such as marinetraffic.com from which all the stories with data were told and all the rescue ships followed and simulated in our graphs.

Another year learning new tools, producing data journalism and enjoying every challenge with our data team.

TEAM MEMBERS:

Momi Peralta Ramos: Data Journalism Project Manager and Multimedia Development Manager

Ricardo Brom: Data engineer for investigative reporting – Data intelligence unit

Florencia Coelho: Research and training in digital media trends

Gabriela Bouret: Data analyst and data miner

Romina Colman: Data journalist and freedom of information specialist

Bianca Pallaro: Data journalist and data producer

Gabriela Miño: Librarian and Archivist

Florencia Rodríguez Altube: Data journalist and data producer

Nicolás Bases: Back and front end developer

Cristian Bertelegni: Back and front-end developer

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Driver’s notebooks exposed Argentina’s greatest corruption scandal ever: ten years and millions of cash bribes in bags

INVESTIGATION

ALL THE ARTICLES PUBLISHED IN LA NACION ABOUT THE SUBJECT

This investigation was published on august 2018 after 7 months of secrecy. So far, 73 individuals have been prosecuted including a former President, 40 have been imprisoned, other 40 already confessed their crimes and are waiting for oral judging and US$ 600 million had been seized.

More than 200 newspapers from the all over the world covered the news that broke in LA NACION, globally known as “The notebooks of bribes” (“Los cuadernos de las coimas”).

On january 2018, Diego Cabot, an investigative journalist from La Nación, was contacted by one of his sources. At the meeting, he was given eight notebooks that have been written by the driver of Roberto Baratta, the Secretary of Energy, an officer of the former Federal Planning Agency that included Energy, Transportation and Infrastructure. The Minister in charge was Julio De Vido, one of the most important officers during the 12 years of the Kirchner administration (from 2003 to 2015).

The notebooks contained a detailed record of each one of the routes the driver made for 10 years, taking Roberto Baratta and other officers to collect money in bags of cash representing bribes of several large companies of Argentina that have been awarded with public contracts.

From the beginning of the investigation, Diego Cabot, who has been a pioneer in data journalism since 2011, and a small team who accompanied him in the whole process, made two fundamental decisions. First, given the number of state officers and important businessmen involved, they decided not to publish anything until they could prove and verify most of the facts, No person, except for the team members and LA NACION´s Managing editor, knew anything about the investigation that was being carried out.

 

Second key decision: build a dataset from this handwritten notebooks. The 8 notebooks were transcribed to an Excel database. The team began working on each one of the records with all the objective elements that could be verified. The following columns were listed:

- Names and positions

- Adresses and destination of the routes

- Data from car plates

- Name of companies

- Places for the delivery

- Personal information of the individuals identified at the moment a bribe was paid.

- Amount of each one of the bribes

During the checking and verification process they consulted:

- Official gazette datasets and company records

- A large number of addresses using google maps

- The corporate information of the companies involved was gathered

- The amounts paid were compared to the Government accounting details

- The payment of bribes were cross checked with the information related to tenders and public contracts and the percentage of execution of each one to verify any relation to the amounts of money from bribes.

After checking and knowing that the whole matter was true, the team understood that they were working with the biggest corruption scheme ever revealed in Argentina. 

The content of this corruption scheme was formalized in a document and in March 2018, the journalist began a formal negotiation with a Federal Prosecutor (Carlos Stornelli). On April 10, a formal complaint was filed before justice.

There was a commitment between the Prosecutor’s office, the federal court and LA NACION: nobody could know anything about the cause and silence had to be absolute. “If the investigation was leaked, it would have been very dangerous and risky,” said the Prosecutor of the case some months later.

On the early morning of August 1st, seven months after Diego Cabot received the evidence, the case became known to the public and the Justice ordered 17 arrests and 36 search warrants.

 

The title of the case file had the name of the former President of the Nation: “Fernandez Cristina Elizabet and others for illicit association” (9608/2018). The Judge considered that the data provided proved the existence of a criminal organization made up of public officers who, using official means (including automobiles, employees, cell phone equipment, etc.) and commanded by the heads of the National Executive Branch (Néstor Carlos Kirchner and Cristina Elisabet Fernández) and the Federal Planning Ministry (Julio Miguel De Vido), between 2003 and 2015, obtained illegitimate amounts of money from several individuals, many of them businessmen who were contractors of public spending for infrastructure from the national government.

That same day, the Data team in LA NACION decided to compile all the spreadsheets that they had been previously worked on to deepen the analysis and processing of the notebook records. First, a check was made on the transcripts to verify that the amounts described, the individuals, the place of origin and destination that appeared handwritten in the notebooks were correct. This verification process was used to carry out a strict process of standardization and structuring of data in which currency and descriptions were unified and names and addresses were normalized. The exact date and time of the routes were also added.

On the other hand, a methodology was applied to classify each route, which was divided according to: a) if the bag of money was delivered to the head of the criminal bribery plan; b) whether it consisted of collecting the money given by the companies as a bribe. In addition, a series of tags were included to identify the relevance of each record.

 

Based on the classification, we created several dictionaries of equivalences because the notebooks contained various terms for the same concept. Example: “bag” = “suitcase” = “briefcase”. We did the same with personal names and addresses.

All the journalistic investigation work was accompanied by various applications and exclusive visualizations that allowed the user to browse in a digital and interactive way all the notebooks and current news on the subject. This included the full text searchable notebooks and the grouped by brives destiny visualizations . 

 

IMPACT

So far, 73 individuals have been prosecuted (40 have been imprisoned and several continue and another 90 businessmen are waiting for prosecution), including a former President, the entire office of the Ministry of Planning and the main public works contractors of the country. About 40 persons repented and confessed their crimes. US$ 600 million were seized.

Researchers from CONICET (a group of State scientists) calculated that the bribe money paid during those years of corruption was US$ 38,000 million.

More than 200 newspapers from the all over the world covered the news which was globally known as “The notebooks of bribes” (“Los cuadernos de las coimas”).

 The case file accumulated 35 bodies of proceedings in federal court in one month, in addition to voluminous documents and annexes. There were 70 search warrants, 36 in the City of Buenos Aires, 24 in the Province of Buenos Aires, 7 in Misiones, 2 in Santa Cruz and 1 in Mendoza. Moreover, the Senate considered the request of the Judge to search the private addresses of former President Cristina Kirchner, currently a Senator and holder of Parliamentary privileges and immunities. The vote in the legislative body ended 66 votes in favor and none against and the procedure was authorized.

More than two hundred and fifty (250) paintings were seized in possession of two accused for approximately thirty-seven million pesos ($37,000,000) and four million five hundred thousand pesos ($4,500,000). In addition, as a consequence of this, more than six million three hundred and fifty thousand pesos ($6,350,000), more than one million two hundred and forty-five thousand US Dollars (U$S 1,245,000), and two hundred and thirty-five thousand Euros (€ 235,000.00) were seized, as well as other currency: Chilean and Uruguayan Pesos and Brazilian Real, nine (9) firearms, mobile and electronic telephone equipment and finally, a large number of cars of different brands and models, many of them luxury cars.

 

Repercussion in the international press

- Bags of Cash in Argentina: Driver’s Notes Propel Corruption Inquiry – The New York Times

 Argentina notebook scandal: Driver details ‘decade of brives’ – BBC

Secret papers trigger argentine scandal: What you need to know – Bloomberg

Driver’s diaries of transporting bags of cash help Argentina score historic victory against corruption – Miami Herald

How a chauffeur could bring down Argentina’s political elite – Bloomberg

 

Diego Cabot and his team in LA NACION , thanks to their work in “The notebooks of brives” or “The notebooks of corruption” already won:

-The National Investigative Journalism Prize at the Argentinean Journalism Forum (FOPEA)

-The International Prize King of Spain (Rey de España)

-Society for News Design 

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Argentina’s Senate rejected the bill to legalize abortion

ONE BY ONE, HOW DID EACH SENATOR VOTE FOR THE BILL ON VOLUNTARY INTERRUPTION OF PREGNANCY

ABORTION: THE VOTES BETWEEN BOTH HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND THE SENATE, ACCORDING TO PROFESSION, AGE AND GENDER

CONTEXT

On August 8, the Senate voted the Bill on voluntary interruption of pregnancy after a preliminary approval at the House of Representatives a few weeks before. The bill established the possibility of having an abortion during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy at public hospitals. The bill was not approved that day and Argentine legislation only allows abortion in case of rape or in a life risk situation of the mother.

The day the abortion bill was defeated in the Senate

That bill divided Argentine society and the debate moves to the media, politics and society and it involves deeper feelings of each individual, since it questions the origins of human life, the position of a woman and her capacity to decide on her own body, among other subjects. There appeared “green scarfs” as a symbol of the fight of those women who were in favor of the decriminalization of abortion and, as opposed, there also appeared “light blue scarfs” showing another position against this legislative proposal and in favor of saving both lives (mother and child).

The day the abortion bill was defeated in the Senate

Women of all ages stayed long hours at the surroundings of the Congress waiting for a resolution

As days went by, the city of Buenos Aires was painted in both colors and, on the day the bill was voted in detail at the Senate, women of all ages stayed long hours at the surroundings of the Congress waiting for the legislative session. It was a cold day of August and the session lasted ten long hours. It rained, but nothing stopped those persons. The mere fact of being debating a taboo subject like this one was a historical milestone in our country. One could be in favor or against it, but it was impossible to be on the sidelines.

The whole country observed and listened to each Senator as he/she presented the reasons for his/her vote. The country was divided: half was green, and the other half was light blue. That day we saw how audiences grew in their interest on this topic and we decided to react and present on real time two projects to the audience: the online following up of the debate and a comparison between the vote at the House of Representatives and the Senate.

The day the abortion bill was defeated in the Senate

Argentina’s Senate rejected the bill to legalize abortion 

INNOVATION

Citizens followed the presentations of Senators as closely as we were watching a suspense movie, to be on the spot was very important. That is why, La Nación reused code to build a visualization that could follow that rhythm; it was important to know the final result of the vote and the vote of each one of the Senators on real time as well. The first interactive shows the faces of those persons representing us at the Senate, some of them are unknown for the audience in general. Moreover, the interactive adds the possibility of crossing variables to understand whether his/her age, religious belief, politic orientation or university background were related to their vote.

ONE BY ONE, HOW DID EACH SENATOR VOTE FOR DE BILL ON VOLUNTARY INTERRUPTION OF PREGNANCY

The second interactive, published early in the morning the day after, followed the same logic as the first one, but this time it analyzed and compared the votes between both House of Representatives and the Senate (257 Representatives/72 Senators), trying to find a pattern that answered the questions that many of us asked ourselves: did senior legislators vote against the bill and the younger ones, in favor?; do the Catholic ones support the 2 lives? Are lawyers against it? These and many more questions find their answers in both visualizations.

ABORTION: THE VOTES BETWEEN BOTH HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND THE SENATE, ACCORDING TO PROFESSION, AGE AND GENDER

 

IMPACT

The project concerning how each Senator voted based on each Senator’s different demographic indicators became the most read article of the day. In social media, gender-filtered visualization was shared because it was clear that 60% of all male Senators voted against abortion, while the percentage among women is 50%. It was remarkable for the female audience since it was a fundamental public policy for women and they claimed that it had not been approved because it had been left in the hands of the men in the House (who are in the majority).

At the same time, the filter of age and political orientation was also shared repetitively. The only women under 40 years old voted in favor, while among the rest of the senior Senators, there was much disparity in the vote. And as regards the orientation and political parties, it was very clear that the pro-government party has the majority of its Senators against the bill.

The day the abortion bill was defeated in the Senate

Moreover, the visualization regarding the vote of the Senators compared to that of the members of the House of Representatives allowed to give a wider visibility to the subject, since it included the whole Congress as well as the possibility that the user understands in a visual way how each legislator voted, who were absent and whether the socio-demographic factors had any impact on each chamber.

SOURCE AND METHODOLOGY

Google Spreadsheet and Google Spreadsheet API was used to upload each one of the votes in real time. The session lasted until 3 o’clock in the morning and data were completed as each speaker gave his/her opinion and we verified it with the minutes published by each House.

As regards socio-demographic data: age, gender, political orientation, province, university degree and termination of office, a database made for the opening day of sessions at the Congress on March 1st was reused.

It was a comprehensive survey, a data journalist telephoned the 257 members of the House of Representatives and 72 Senators, a total of 329 individuals. This was manually performed for two months, since many had been elected a few months ago.

TECHNOLOGIES

The first interactive was made using HTML5 and CSS3. It was also used a JavaScript library named VUE which enables a faster uploading and its fragmentation. Thus, during the vote at the Senate, part of the interactive was highlighted on the home of La Nación website (bars and counting), and the complete interactive (filters and faces) could be seen inside the article. The second interactive was made on Tableau and both visualizations used the Google datasheet. One person uploaded the votes on real time and both visualizations were automatically updated (Google Spreadsheet and API).

The day the abortion bill was defeated in the Senate

 

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A year after the disappearance of the submarine ARA San Juan

Unpublished details of the disappearance

CONTEXT

To commemorate the first anniversary of the tragedy of the ARA San Juan Submarine, a scrollytelling was made to present all the details and data about the sinking of the submarine. It was one of the most tragic events of the past few years as it involved the death of 44 crewmen that were on board.

The purpose was to develop a visual piece with new data from the year-long official investigation to shed light on some of the uncertainties and controversies of the case. The story-telling was concieved for a wide audience without segmentation as the subject emotionally involved the whole of society. 

INNOVATION

The intention was to bring together all in the same development, a multiplicity of multimedia resources and to make available exclusive data on the subject. Its a vertical story-telling that only requires the user a minimum effort of interaction: scrolling. It includes data from official naval reports, videos of the crewmen families-specially produced and created for the occasion-, audios of the official naval announcements, 3D animations of the sumbarine made with two programs called Carrara and Blender, and satellite geolocated data of the search operations collected with Marine Traffic vessel plataform.

Everything was designed in a way that the story-telling surprises the user with the succesive appearance of these elements as the story goes on.

Sources and methodology 

To create contents for the project, official reports of the investigation were searched and provided. This allowed us to create and inform what had happened as faithfully as possible (something that had not been done until now). On the other hand, the transcriptions of the communications between the submarine and the operation base were obtained. This enabled us to georeference key moments of the voyage and subsequent sinking of the submarine.

Moreover, the data service of marinetraffic.com was used to recreate the search of the submarine. The tool is a global pioneer in vessel tracking that we got to know in a data journalism course at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia, ItalyWe. Furthermore, we also contacted the families of the victims from whom we collected data as they provided testimonial evidence of the last Whatsapp messages delivered and recieved from their children before the fatal outcome.

Technology

The main purpose was to create and deliver different types of content through the scrolling. When a new section of the scrolling enters the scene, something should happen that draws the attention.

For such purpose, we used a Javascript library called “Scrollama.js” that helped us to detect which part of the interactive was on screen and trigger different events. The challenge was also to be able to control the videos with the scroll and to do so, we manage to preloaded them before the user gets to watch them on screen. For this last part we used our JS Player video hosting platform.

Another important part of the interactive was to be able to show a 3D sequence of the sinking of the submarine, given the need to visualize it in high quality, we divided the video in image sequences with Python software (so the user could download the image sequence by scrolling). In that way, we made sure that the image could be seen correctly and the sequence could be consistently controlled.

Another useful JavaScript library was Anime.js which helped us to do the animation using the scroll for the final part of the voyage of the submarine on a SVG line.

IMPACT

The development had a very good performance in metrics, the time spent on the page was 4.26 m rather above the average and a very good number of unique users: 76.762. It was also among the three most visited articles of the day.

 

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Youth Olympic Games 2018 Investigation

THE CITY WILL SPEND MORE THAN 8 BILLION PESOS ON THE YOUTH OLYMPIC GAMES

The investigation lasted three months. In June we began to gather all the contracts related to the Youth Olympic Games that were registered in the electronic system of Government’s purchases named Buenos Aires Compras (BAC). This was complemented with three databases published on the City of Buenos Aires Open Data site: Framework Agreements, closed Purchase Orders and Open Purchase Orders.

However, the information had repeated records between the databases, the executing unit was poorly described, the information was incomplete and outdated, the monetary unit was not unified and there was no trace of those purchases that were held outside the Purchasing and Contracting Unit of the Youth Olympic Games (UPEJOL) and that were used for the event.

After a long normalization effort, we decided to contrast the total amounts with the sanctioned and executed budget of UPEJOL. We downloaded the Government Budget database from Buenos Aires Data site and filtered the information according to the executing unit until we obtained the figures from 2014 to 2018. There, we saw that the total amount of money declared for purchases and contracts was far below the budget which meant that the information that we had worked so hard to collect was incomplete.

That is why we decided to make a FOIA request under the Buenos Aires law 104. We requested all the purchases and contracts of the Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018, disaggregated by lines of recruitment and divided by type of process, file number, description, object, company name, CUIT of the supplier and total price.

Within the period of time stated in the FOIA law, the director of UPEJOL, Florence Grigera requested us a face to face appointment at the headquarters of the agency to explain to her what was exactly the information we wanted to gather. Two weeks after that meeting, they ask us to pick up the information in the headquarters  of the Government (despite our repeated requests to send it via email). Finally, they handed to us 9 sheets of A3 paper. The information was not only in closed format but also it did not comply with the provisions of the access request. Faced with the refusal to deliver the correct information in xls or csv, we contacted María Gracia Andía, who leads the Legal Organization of FOIA rights. She intervened and gave us access to the information in PDFs.

Once we managed to transform those PDFs to Excel, we saw that the information we had collected from the BAC was totally different from the one we received. The same file had different amounts and descriptions. That is, the same purchase that appeared in both archives cost differently according to the documents and had been awarded to different companies. That is why we contacted the Undersecretary of Strategic Management and Institutional Quality of the Government. They had no previous knowledge of these disparities and problems so they contacted UPEJOL to solve them.

Furthermore, they decided to hold a meeting in the Argentine Olympic Committee with the finance team of the Youth Olympic Games and us. There we were able to identify the inconsistencies and errors in the systematization of the information and, consequently, they undertook the challenge to find out more about the errors and to correct the mistakes.

Within three weeks of that meeting, we received an email from the General Director of Institutional Quality with the information updated and in an open format. But the file only contained the purchases and contracts of UPEJOL and the Government Budget Execution 2014-2018. We still had to corroborate the contracts linked to the infrastructure: Olympic Village and Park. To do so, we decided to download the information from the BA Infrastructure data portal of the City Government that includes data of the most important projects of the City and of the awarded companies, description of the work and amounts.

This is how we managed to manually reconstruct the total cost of the Youth Olympic  Games that exceeds 8 billion pesos and to explain in detail on what specifically the Government spent the money on. Until then, the Government had repeatedly refused to report the money they had spent and they didn’t have a site with systematized and open information about it.

In addition, with the information published in the budget, we showed what other stuff you can build with 8 billion pesos. In other words, we explained what that money represents. That is, we showed that the expenditure required for the event organization exceeds the total investment needed to build the most expensive and largest work in the city, the Paseo del Bajo, which costs 6 billion pesos. Furthermore, we showed that 8 billion pesos represents four times the annual budget of a hospital like Ricardo Gutierrez and almost ten times more than the budget of the Moyano hospital.

Parte del documento oficial de la postulación que el Gobierno de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires presentó ante el COI

Finally, we also gained access to an official document where the Government stated on their initial application as candidates to host the Games that they estimated an expenditure of only 231 million dollars at a price of 4.50 pesos and an annual inflation of 5.7% for 2018

Finally, we also gained access to an official document where the Government stated on their initial application as candidates to host the Games that they estimated an expenditure of only 231 million dollars at a price of 4.50 pesos and an annual inflation of 5.7% for 2018.

Regarding the impact of the investigation, the City Government informed us that, based on our request, they were able to resolve the errors that existed between agencies and were able to systematize and concentrate the information. That’s why they decided to create a legacy site for the Youth Olympic Games with the information gathered and then become the first city to open to transparency site about the Olympic event. We managed to negotiate that the publication of the site had to be subsequent to our investigation. Although the page does not report the total amounts and the information is disseminated in different bases, at least they opened the information so that the citizens can access by themselves.

The research was presented in digital format, paper and television programs.

 

 

 

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At what price?, behind the scenes of the investigation

 AT WHAT PRICE? : A PUBLIC PROCUREMENT OBSERVATORY 

In this post we propose to gather the step by step of At what price?, a public procurement observatory created by LA NACION Data in alliance with CHEQUEADO and ACIJ, which compiles the purchases of HIV drugs, contraceptives and vaccines made by the Health Office of the argentine Government and the city of Buenos Aires.

In this first approach we focused the work on the purchases of 2016 and 2017.

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Cuadernos de la Corrupción: la investigación que cambió la historia política argentina

INVESTIGACIÓN

TOTAL DE NOTAS

El trabajo de investigación se inició formalmente el 8 de enero de 2018, cuando un periodista de La Nacion, Diego Cabot, tuvo un encuentro en el domicilio de una de sus fuentes. En la reunión, le entregaron ocho cuadernos confeccionados por un chofer de Roberto Baratta, uno de los funcionarios más importantes del exministerio de Planificación Federal que condujo Julio De Vido, el más relevante en los 12 años de gobiernos kirchneristas que fueron desde 2003 a 2015.

Los cuadernos contenían un registro detallado de cada uno de los recorridos de auto que realizó durante 10 años -sólo con algunas interrupciones- el chofer con Roberto Baratta y otros funcionarios para recolectar el dinero de retornos/coimas de grandes compañías de la Argentina a las que se le había adjudicado un contrato de Obra Pública.

Desde el inicio de la investigación, Diego Cabot y el pequeño grupo de trabajo que lo acompañó en todo el proceso, tomó una decisión fundamental. Dada la cantidad de exfuncionarios y de empresarios de primera línea involucrados, se determinó no publicar nada hasta no tener certezas de que lo que estaba escrito era verdad. Nadie por fuera de ese grupo supo de la investigación que se llevaba adelante.

 

En una primera etapa, se transcribieron los 8 cuadernos a una base de datos de Excel. Y se comenzó a trabajar en cada uno de los registros con todos los elementos objetivos que eran posibles de chequear. Se listaron:

-Nombres y cargos

-Domicilios de origen y destino de los recorridos

-Dominios de los autos

-Denominación de compañías

-Lugares de entregas

-Datos personales de las personas identificadas en los momentos en los que se pagaba la coima.

-Montos de los sobornos

 

En el proceso de chequeo y verificación se consultaron:

-Registros oficiales y societarios

-Se recorrieron gran cantidad de domicilios

-Se recolectó la información societaria de las empresas involucradas

-Los pagos que se hacían se cotejaron con los detalles de la contabilidad del Estado

-El pago de las coimas se cruzó con la información sobre las licitaciones y contratos de obras públicas y el porcentaje de ejecución de cada una de ellas para ver si había relación con los montos de dinero de las coimas.

 

Luego del chequeo y con la certeza de que era todo verdad, el grupo entendió que se trataba de la trama de corrupción más grande que jamás se haya develado en la Argentina.

 

El material que contenía la trama de corrupción era un documento privado y dado los antecedentes en la Argentina, la publicación en LA NACION podría generar que algunas pruebas desaparezcan. Es por esto que en marzo de 2018, el periodista inició una negociación informal con un fiscal federal (Carlos Stornelli) y el 10 de abril se presentó la denuncia formal ante la Justicia.

 

Tanto en la fiscalía, como en el Juzgado como en LA NACION hubo un compromiso: nadie podía saber de la causa y el silencio debía ser absoluto. “Si se filtraba la investigación corríamos riesgo de muerte”, dijo meses después el Fiscal del caso.

 

En la madrugada del 1 de agosto, siete meses después de que Diego Cabot se hizo de la prueba, la causa tomó estado público con una ola de 17 detenciones y 36 allanamientos.

 

El proceso se caratuló con el nombre de la expresidenta de la Nación:  “Fernandez Cristina Elizabet y otros s/ asociación ilícita” (9608/2018). El juez consideró que los datos aportados dan cuenta de la existencia de una organización delictiva conformada por funcionarios públicos, quienes valiéndose de medios oficiales (incluyendo vehículos, empleados, equipos de telefonía celular, etcétera) y comandados por quienes fueran titulares del Poder Ejecutivo Nacional (Néstor Carlos Kirchner y Cristina Elisabet Fernández) y del Ministerio de Planificación Federal (Julio Miguel De Vido), entre los años 2003 y 2015, procuraron la percepción de sumas de dinero ilegítimas, por parte de diversos particulares, muchos de ellos, empresarios contratistas de la obra pública del Estado Nacional.

Ese mismo día, el equipo de datos decidió recopilar todas las hojas de cálculo con las que se había trabajado en la primera etapa para empezar a profundizar en el análisis y procesamiento de los registros de los cuadernos. En primer lugar, se realizó un chequeo de las transcripciones para verificar que los montos descritos, las personas, el lugar de origen y destino que aparecían escritos a mano en los cuadernos eran los correctos. Y se aprovechó ese proceso de verificación para hacer un riguroso proceso de normalización y estructuración de los datos en los que se unificó la moneda y las descripciones y se estandarizaron los nombres y direcciones. También se agregó la fecha y hora exacta del recorrido.

Por otra parte, se construyó una metodología de clasificación de cada recorrido que se dividió según: a) si se trataba de una entrega del bolso de dinero a la cabeza del plan delictivo de coimas b) si consistía en la recaudación del dinero que le entregaban las empresas como retorno. Además, se incluyó una serie de tags para identificar la relevancia de cada registro.

A partir de toda la clasificación creamos múltiples diccionarios de equivalencias porque los cuadernos contenían múltiples términos para el mismo concepto. Ejemplo: “bolso” = “valija” = “maletín”. Lo mismo realizamos con nombres personales y domicilios.

Todo el trabajo de investigación periodística se acompañó con diversas aplicaciones y visualizaciones exclusivas que permitieron al usuario recorrer de forma digital e interactiva todos los cuadernos y las novedades de actualidad de la causa.

Entre algunas de las investigaciones aparecen:

IMPACTO

El expediente acumuló en un mes 35 cuerpos de actuaciones, además de la voluminosa documentación y anexos. Se practicaron 70 allanamientos, 36 en la Ciudad de Buenos Aires, 24 en la provincia de Buenos Aires, 7 en Misiones, 2 en Santa Cruz y 1 en Mendoza. Además, el Senado de la Nación trató en el recinto el pedido del magistrado para allanar los domicilios particulares de la expresidenta Cristina Kircher, actualmente senadora y poseedora de fueros. La votación en el cuerpo legislativo terminó 66 votos a favor y ninguno en contra y se autorizó el procedimiento.

 

En los allanamientos se secuestraron más de doscientos cincuenta (250) obras pictóricas en posesión de dos imputados por aproximadamente pesos treinta y siete millones ($37.000.000,00) y pesos cuatro millones quinientos mil ($ 4.500.000,00). Además, como consecuencia de ello se han secuestrado aproximadamente, más de seis millones trescientos cincuenta mil de pesos ($ 6.350.000,00), más de un millón doscientos cuarenta y cinco mil dólares estadounidenses (U$S 1.245.000,00), más de doscientos treinta y cinco mil euros (€ 235.000,00), como así también sumas de dinero expresadas en chilenos, uruguayos y reales, nueve (9) armas de fuego, equipos de telefonía móvil y electrónicos y finalmente, una gran cantidad de rodados de diferentes marcas y modelos, muchos de ellos de alta gama.

En total y hasta el momento se han procesado a 53 personas entre los que se cuentan un expresidente, todo el despacho del Ministerio de Planificación Federal y los principales contratistas de obra pública de la Argentina. Alrededor de 35 personas se han arrepentido y confesaron sus delitos. Se han trabado embargos por 540 millones de dólares.

Por la investigación de los Cuadernos de las Coimas, Diego Cabot y su equipo ganaron el Premio Nacional de Investigación del Foro de Periodismo Argentino y el Premio Internacional Rey de España.

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El detrás de escena de la investigación sobre los Juegos Olímpicos de la Juventud

INVESTIGACIÓN: La Ciudad desembolsará más de $8000 millones en los JJ.OO. de la Juventud

La investigación se realizó en el lapso de tres meses. En junio comenzamos a realizar un relevamiento de todas las contrataciones vinculadas a los Juegos Olímpicos de la Juventud que se registraban en el sistema electrónico de Buenos Aires Compras (BAC). Esto lo complementamos con las cuatro bases de datos publicadas en el portal Buenos Aires Data: Convenios Marco, Órdenes de Compra cerrada y Órdenes de Compra Abierta.

Captura del sistema electrónico Buenos Aires Compra

Sin embargo, la información tenía registros repetidos entre las bases, la unidad ejecutora estaba mal descrita, la información estaba incompleta y desactualizada, la unidad monetaria no estaba unificada y no había rastro de aquellas compras que figuraban por fuera de la Unidad de Compras y Contrataciones de los Juegos Olímpicos de la Juventud (UPEJOL) y que estaban destinadas al evento.

Los datos descargados y normalizados del portal Buenos Aires Data

Tras un largo esfuerzo de normalización, decidimos contrastar los montos totales con el presupuesto sancionado y ejecutado de UPEJOL. Descargamos la base presupuestaria de Buenos Aires Data y filtramos según la unidad ejecutora correspondiente hasta obtener las cifras desde 2014 hasta la actualidad. Ahí vimos que las cifras de las compras y contrataciones estaban muy por debajo de esos montos y que la información que tanto trabajo nos había llevado recopilar estaba incompleta.

Es por esto, que decidimos realizar una solicitud de acceso a la información pública en el marco de la ley porteña 104. Solicitamos todas las contrataciones destinadas a los Juegos Olímpicos de la Juventud Buenos Aires 2018, desagregadas por renglones de las contrataciones y divididas según tipo de proceso, pliego, número de expediente, descripción, objeto, razón social, CUIT del proveedor, y precio total.

La aprobación del Pedido de Acceso a la Información Pública

Dentro del plazo de la solicitud que comprende la ley, la titular de UPEJOL, Florencia Grigera nos solicitó una cita en la sede del organismo para confeccionar la estructura del pedido. A las dos semanas de ese encuentro, nos solicitan que por favor vayamos a retirar la información a la sede (pese a reiterados pedidos de que nos lo envíe vía mail). Finalmente en el lugar, nos entregaron 9 hojas papel de tamaño A3. La información no sólo estaba en formato cerrado sino que tampoco cumplía con lo establecido en el pedido de acceso. Ante las negativas de entregar la información correcta y en xls o csv, nos contactamos con María Gracia Andía, quien dirige el Organo Garante del Derecho de Acceso a la Información. Ella intervino y logramos tener acceso a PDFs.

Algunas hojas A3 entregadas por UPEJOL

Una vez que logramos convertir esos PDFs a Excel, vimos que la información que habíamos recolectado del BAC era totalmente diversa a la que nos habían entregado. Un mismo expediente tenía montos y descripciones distintas. Es decir, una misma compra que aparecía en ambos archivos costaba diferente según los documentos y había sido adjudicada a empresas distintas. De ahí que nos contactamos con la Subsecretaría de Gestión Estratégica y Calidad Institucional del Gobierno de la Ciudad. Ellos no tenían conocimiento de estas disparidades y su pusieron en contacto con UPEJOL para resolverlas.

De ahí que decidieron realizar una reunión en el Comité Olímpico Argentino con la gente de la Dirección General de Calidad Institucional, el equipo de finanzas de los Juegos Olímpicos de la Juventud y nosotros. Ahí pudimos identificarles las inconsistencias y los errores en la sistematización de la información y en consecuencia se comprometieron a averiguar y corregir las faltas.

La información que nos envío el Director General de Calidad Institucional en formato abierto

Al lapso de tres semanas después de ese encuentro, recibimos un mail del Director General de Calidad Institucional con la información actualizada en formato abierto. Pero el archivo sólo contenía las compras y contrataciones de UPEJOL y la Ejecución Presupuestaria 2014-2018. Aún nos quedaba por corroborar las contrataciones vinculadas a la infraestructura Villa y Parque Olímpico que dependen de otros órganos. Para eso, decidimos descargar la información del portal de BA Obras del Gobierno de la Ciudad que tiene geolocalizados todos los proyectos más importantes de la Ciudad y que incluye información sobre las empresas adjudicadas, descripción de la obra y montos.

Captura del portal BA OBRAS

Es así cómo logramos reconstruir de forma manual el costo total de los Juegos Olímpicos de la Juventud que supera los 8.000 millones de pesos y explicar de forma detallada a qué específicamente va a parar todo ese dinero. Hasta entonces el Gobierno se había negado de forma reiterada a informar esa cifra y no tenía la información sistematizada abierta para los ciudadanos.

Además, con la información publicada en el presupuesto comparamos lo que ese monto representa. Es decir, pudimos ver que el gasto que se requiere para la organización supera la inversión total que exige construir la obra más cara y grande de la ciudad, la del Paseo del Bajo, que costará $6000 millones. Además, $8000 millones son cuatro veces más que el presupuesto anual de un hospital como el Ricardo Gutierrez y casi diez veces más que el del Moyano.

Parte del documento oficial de la postulación que el Gobierno de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires presentó ante el COI

Por último, también accedimos a un documento sobre lo que ellos habían pautado como gasto total en su postulación inicial como candidato para ser anfitrión de los Juegos. Allí estimaron un gasto de tan sólo 231 millones de dólares a un cotización de $4,50 y una inflación anual de 5,7% de cara a 2018.

Portal de legado olímpico

Con respecto al impacto, el Gobierno de la Ciudad nos informó que a partir de nuestra solicitud lograron solucionar los errores existentes entre organismos y pudieron sistematizar y concentrar la información. Es por eso que decidieron crear un portal de legado de los Juegos Olímpicos de la Juventud con la información recolectada y así convertirse en la primera ciudad en abrir un portal de transparencia sobre un evento olímpico. Logramos negociar que la publicación del portal sea posterior a la de la investigación. Si bien en la página no se informan los montos totales y la información se encuentra diseminada en distintas bases, al menos abrieron la información para que los vecinos puedan acceder por sí mismos. 

La investigación fue presentada en formato digital, papel y el programa televisivo de Lo que el día se llevó de LN+ conducido por Francisco Olivera.

 

 

 

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LA NACION DATA Website

Meet the team!

>>> lanacion.com.ar/data <<<

Project Description

LA NACION DATA website is not just a website, it´s a strategy, a project and a team. The strategy has to do with the commitment of using data to tell stories and expand the use of data, preferably open data, to activate demand of public information, in a country that just passed a FOIA law.

The internal strategy is to work in teams with journalists, tv producers and infographers so we just facilitate the data and help in the investigation or analysis, but they are the ones who domain the topic and know how to tell the stories.  Seguir leyendo

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