Socios.red is a tool that exposes, in a simple and clear way, relationships that exist between different Argentine companies or NGOs, people who have or held positions as authorities in any of them; and various state agencies and political parties.
Socios.red combines information from a million registered companies in the City of Buenos Aires, 3 million people associated with them, and they are associated with thousands of contributions from citizens and companies to political parties, purchases from the national state and from the city of Buenos Aires and generates an agile way to understand the relationships between all these data.
Since it was launched, socios.red was used by dozens of journalists that could understand different relationships and identify which ones deserve to be investigated more thoroughly. Socios.red was developed to facilitate and democratize the access and visualization of these data and that anyone interested without technical knowledge can use them.
Well known national media used our data tool to very important works, for example this investigation that was on TV and then on the page of Página 12 and publiched by a lot of other media, as Minutouno. Also Chequeado.com, fact checking leader, uses our tool to support their investigations.
The main impact is that everyone can acces information than otherwise would be imposible to understand.
We can divide our work in 3 main steps:
- We get the data from Open Data portals. The first step is to be aware of what data is available and how can we combine it. Then we have to process it, clean it and make it “match”, because every source not always identify people or companies in the same way. For this work, we use most of all Jupyter Notebooks.
- Then, we have to build the graph, and we use ArangoDB to connect node.
- After that, it comes the web interface. It is built on vue.js and Python.
We also talk a lot with journalists, to make our tool better.
What was the hardest part of this project?
If think every step of our work has it difficult part. If I have to chose one, I would say that it is a hughe work to organize and clean all the date to make it match. Every dependency publish data with different standards and formats, and every month may be changes.
Then, there is the whole programing stuff to make it available online for everyone. It is a lot of work also. And it is very important to focus on users needs.
Besides, one of the most difficult task is to carry on all this project. At the beggining, we won a prize of human rosources to accelerate our idea in an event organized by the Open Government Partnership, and a few months later, Google News Labs gave as credit to use on Cloud services. But besides that, more than 10 people participated in socios.red project.
What can others learn from this project?
I think that people could learn on how to use technological resources to make open data available for everyone. Build tools like socios.red is important because there are millons of stories to be descovered and published by journalists of different backgrounds an ideologies. Also, others can learn that governments may publish data, but to achieve accountability, sometimes we need to move one step forward as civil society and media.