Massive data has become one of the most powerful tools for the development of public and private organizations. Companies such as Google, Amazon, Facebook, among others, have taken over the most valuable companies positions in the world by dethroning competitors through the use of massive data in both their strategic decisions and product supply.

If massive data were able to produce such large impacts on the private sector, we believe that they can produce even greater impacts on public administration. This is because the scale gains they can produce in better management of resources (financial, hydro, electric, mobility, among others) can directly impacts the quality of life of millions of people.

But in addition to the benefits of better administrative decisions and public services, we take into account that the adoption of massive data use by public administration can bring extra benefits to the private sector, such as making public management more transparent, open and democratic.

However, public administration also differs from the private sector with respect to privacy and data abuses, so attention needs to be redoubled. If the adoption of private services using massive data is optional and voluntary for people, the same does not occur in the public administration.

For this reason, every massive data-use project of these institutions needs to be given even more care and attention to the purposes for which it is intended, and must always be based on strong ethical, institutional, and regulatory limits that ensure in favor of society, in a transparent and inclusive manner.


The Big Data for Sustainable Urban Development project is the result of Technical Cooperation between the Inter-American Development Bank - IDB and the Fundação Getulio Vargas. This project counts on the partnership of five cities, through its Prefectures, in countries across Latin America: Miraflores (Peru), Montevideo (Uruguay), Quito (Ecuador), São Paulo (Brazil) and Xalapa (Mexico).

In FGV, this project is led by the Development and Technology Center - CTD and developed in partnership with the Public Sector Policy and Economics Center - CEPESP (Institutional Aspects), the Rio de Janeiro Law School (Regulatory Aspects) and the School of Applied Mathematics - EMAp (Data Science).

The five partner cities were invited from a selection that aimed to be as comprehensive as possible, in order to identify different challenges for cities of different sizes. For this reason, we count as partners cities with different population sizes. To the same extent, we have more developed cities in terms of the use of data for public policies and those still in the initial processes of that use. The participation of such different cities, despite bringing much greater challenges to the project, aims to develop proposals that are robust and comprehensive for the most diverse realities in Latin America.

At the end of its execution, it is expected that partner cities and the IDB will have a reference for replication of models of massive data uses by municipal public administrations that will assist in sustainable urban development.

In this context, this project is based on three pillars:


  1. Institutional Aspects / Public Policies: aims to evaluate and design proposals for governments to be prepared to use massive data in a broad way, and with impacts on society in the form of efficient public policies. We will evaluate and design, along with partner cities, what the internal requirements should be, so that massive data use projects are successful, and the design and monitoring of public policies generate the expected positive impacts.

    “What does public administration need to be able to design and implement mass-use data projects that impact and change our cities?" This is probably the main question to be answered in institutional.


  1. Regulatory Aspects: One of the great challenges of public administration, in order to be able to develop and implement mass-use data projects, lies in the regulatory aspects. In order to be able to make massive use of data efficiently, management must be able to hire state-of-the-art technology; have qualified people on your team; and establish partnerships with companies, academic and organized civil society entities. But this, in general, runs into the limitations of local procurement laws and other regulations that are not appropriate for this type of hiring.

    In this sense, cities need to have a more adequate regulatory framework, in order to efficiently allow the development of projects that effectively use massive data efficiently. In order to do so, it needs to be developed with great caution and responsibility, considering that the public administration can easily transgress barriers that jeopardize the privacy of citizens.

    “How should the public administration be regulated, so that the use of massive data is possible and, at the same time, making administration more transparent and open to society, in addition to being more responsible and cautious about respect for citizens' privacy?" This can be considered the main question of the regulatory aspect.


  1. Technological Aspects / Data Science: Finally, we know that public administrations are, as a rule, large data holders that would be very useful for citizens, but this potential is not developed due to the lack of adequate infrastructure. And by infrastructure, understanding goes beyond just computers and physical equipment, but also algorithms, trained people, and necessary software or services.

    From the previous experience of the project team and from the initial conversations with partner cities, it is possible to ensure that even the cost models for the development of large data projects are not well considered. It is very common to observe companies offering services at very high costs to process huge volumes of data without having the correct size of the necessary resources.

    In this case, the question that may best define what is intended to respond in technological aspects is: "What physical, human, and service structure is required for management to well develop mass-use data projects, generating positive impacts on society , and how much would it cost? ”.



As products for this project, at the end of three years of development, we seek to have mapped proposals of institutional, regulatory and technological models to enable the use of massive data by the municipal administrations of Latin America.

Such proposals should be well-defined in relation to the types of services that can benefit from the use of such data, in order to project what impacts and costs are expected, and ways of increasing transparency and democratic strengthening with respect to citizens' privacy.