From its digital and data innovation to frictionless travel for festival attendees, Uruguay has much to offer (and inspire) the data for development community.

Here’s a look at why the country was the ideal home for our second data festival.

A leader on data and digital connectivity

Uruguay has a long history of using data and technology to drive progress, create better services and develop a highly skilled, digitally-savvy population. In the 1960s, Uruguay became the first country in the region to introduce a computer sciences degree, just two years after MIT. In 2007, the country launched its transformational Plan Ceibal to build digital skills and inclusion, with a mission to give every child in primary and secondary education a laptop.

Today, Uruguay is fast gaining a reputation as an entrepreneurial hub, with a growing number of data-powered technologies, start-ups, and fintechs creating new opportunities for citizens.

The country’s investment in infrastructure has resulted in widespread connectivity across the nation, with a telecommunications network that is 100 percent digital, a fiber-optic network that reaches 85 percent of homes, and one of the highest internet adoption rates in Latin America. This helped Uruguay to launch a fully digitized census earlier this year, enabling more efficient, accurate, and sustainable data collection. More than 51 percent of households had completed the census online before the traditional process of face-to-face interviews began, marking one of the highest digital response rates in the region.

This leap forward will significantly improve the data that underpins decision-making, helping to inform policy over the next decade.

A beautiful and progressive country

Uruguay is a long-standing democracy, known for its stability as much as its strides towards digital inclusion, and has been a member of the group of most digitally advanced countries, the Digital Nations, since 2018. The Government of Uruguay is providing exclusive visa-less access to our delegates and has pledged to include youth and representatives from all counties at the event.

The Festival de Datos will take place in Punta del Este, a beautiful coastal town and popular tourist destination, famous for its seafood, art, and culture. The convention center is around a two-hour drive east of the capital, Montevideo a historic, walkable city you won’t want to miss, with plenty of cafés and squares to explore.

The festival wraps up on Thursday, November 9, allowing ample opportunity to explore the region further for those wishing to extend their trip for the long weekend.

From promise to action

The Festival de Datos is one of a number of exciting events and initiatives taking place for the data community across Uruguay and South America in the coming months.

Our festival follows the Statistical Conference of the Americas (SCA) in Santiago, Chile on September 26-28, offering a chance to continue key discussions with the wider data community, such as how to unlock non-traditional data sources for the good of society.

In Uruguay, Abre Latam, an annual regional event focused on open data, will be held in Montevideo from October 31 to November 3. Our events will run back-to-back, helping to put the value of data in the spotlight across the nation.

Those looking to stay a little longer can also join us for the UN datathon in Montevideo from November 3-6 in the lead up to the festival. This is an exciting opportunity to contribute solutions to the challenges of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Festival de Datos itself is focused on participation, with plenty of opportunities to get involved and share your ideas through lightning talks, simulations, and networking. Attendees will also have the chance to view the shortlisted entries from our data visualization contest in the conference center lobby.

Building on the launch of our High Impact Initiative on the Power of Data at the UN Headquarters in New York earlier this month where we announced several national data partnerships, we want to keep the momentum going and foster collaboration through action, not just words. We’re looking forward to convening organizations across the region and beyond who are champions of Data Values and the Inclusive Data Charter, and of course our amazing partner network.

We’ll also be announcing the host country of our next data festival in Africa at the closing ceremony. Stay tuned for the details!

Want to know more about what a data festival looks like?

Watch the video from our first Data for Development Festival, which took place in Bristol in the UK in 2018.

The Festival de Datos will take place in Punta del Este, Uruguay on 7-9 November, 2023. Find out more about the festival experience and get your tickets here. This event is organized by the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data and hosted by the Government of Uruguay, spearheaded by the national statistical office, Instituto Nacional de Estadística (INE).