Archive for April, 2013

Mexican Gov’t Tries to Buy $10M App, Coders Respond by Building It For Free

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

A few weeks ago, Grupo Reforma reported* the Mexican Chamber of Deputies had signed a contract with an external consulting firm, Pulso Legislativo, to develop a mobile application that would allow Representatives to monitor and publish up-to-date legislative information from their mobile devices for the outrageous sum of about $10 million dollars ($115 million pesos). Making matters worse, was the fact that the Chamber of Deputies wanted to develop this app despite the fact that they already have four main agencies that generate the app’s information, five research centers, and three offices in charge of documentation.

How did the members of the Mexican tech community respond? They created a week-long hackathon and got coders to build an open-source version of the app, for free. The group Codeando Mexico responded to this ludicrous news by setting up the #app115 challenge to which over 160 coders signed up to participate. Tomorrow, Codeando Mexico will present five app submissions at the Legislative Palace of San Lázaro, the same building where the Deputies hold their sessions. For information on tomorrow’s event click here.

Other than ridiculing the Chamber of Deputies who thinks it can get away with trying to buy a $10 million dollar app (not sure if that was actually their intention), Codeando México is trying to highlight the importance of civic participation. It is unfortunate that the government has not yet realized the importance of engaging its citizenry, an effort which might help bridge the gap between the citizens and their representatives (and potentially save a lot of money). Hopefully initiatives like Codeando Mexico will gather more attention in the near future. I would love to see more coders getting together on a Saturday night and coding “over some tequilas”.

 *Linked to different article, Grupo Reform has a paywall.

Update: To read more about this, Eric Tecayehuatl, has covered this on Gizmodo (In Spanish).