Chicas Poderosas on the Beach [EN]

[youtube=] I am so fascinated by this film editing from © Fiorella Coto Segnini!


I am so fascinated by this film editing from © Fiorella Coto Segnini!

“Play Is The Highest Form Of Research”

Albert Einstein

In Chicas Poderosas we not only want to produce some highly tailored interactive content using data to sort out a problem that is poorly known, as we want to meet new people, with different skills from ours and try to combine those to achieve a tangible result.

We believe that among the best creative activities, brainstorming is one of them, and there is where we start any project. This process, ultimately aiming for results, can be an enjoyable and highly productive form of play. When we’re playing, we are far more open to all possibilities. Assumptions about our limitations fall away.

Play in the form of brainstorming teaches us to think synergistically, feeling relaxed and without any pressure. How you do at brainstorming most likely has everything to do with how playful you allow yourself to be.

Chicas Poderosas are trying to improve the situation of data journalism in Latin America by empowering more women to be involved in technology in their newsrooms, we are improving our events every time we deliver a new one. This time we took 3 intensive days of work, combined with accommodation at the beach. We went to Nicoya with the incredible help and support from Hivos and the Harmony Institute that besides taking care of the same issues that we are dedicated to, they want to make the change happen. So Chicas Poderosas are absolutely grateful for the incredible support and for believing in us. Thank you!

Three days of great creativity, to share experiences and most of everything, allow ourselves to be relaxed in this paradise that is Costa Rica. We wanted to generate data applications about water and its situations in Guanacaste not only to create awareness but to hopefully create an impact in the politics and management of resources.

This time Chicas Poderosas on the Beach – Nicoya, the fifth meeting in Latin America and the second in Costa Rica, counted with the presence of some pros on data visualization: Brian Boyer from National Public Radio, Washington D.C., Chris Cross from the guardian interactive team, London, Martin Pellecer former Plaza Publica director, Guatemala, Gustavo Faleiros form, Sao Paulo, our queen Giannina Segnini leader of the investigative team of La Nacion, Costa Rica, David Bodinger, editor-in-chief of Tico Times and Brian Abelson former Open News Fellow at The New York Times, and myself Mariana Santos, as ICFJ Knight Fellow, working with Giannina at La Nacion.

The event took place between 11, 12 and 13 December in Guanacaste, a province where there are many failures and some of the poorest distribution of drinkable water in the world. This issue caught the attention of Chicas Poderosas thanks to an invitation from John S. Johnson, Founder and Executive Director of the Harmony Institute. We invited some of whom we think know a lot about data visualization to and intensive team work with journalists from Voice of Guanacaste, La Nacion and Tico Times, to focus on developing stories with the analysis of data on potability, use, consumption, distribution, amount of water treated and chlorinated. Here again, La Nacion proved to be an excellent team player in the Costa Rican’s journalistic scene inviting all newsrooms for a familiar get together with the foreigner guests where they exposed their work explaining how they came to conclude some of their most successful projects. All talks will soon be available at .

Then we drove to Nosara, at the north of Guanacaste Peninsule, around 4 hours from San Jose to really deep into paradise and immerse ourselves with freedom of creation and some awesome seaside moments to break this winter routine.

At the Universidade Nacional in Nosara we worked with the data bases Giannina and her group of geographers from La Nacion and HIDROCEC experts have been gathering for a long time before the event took place. Each of the attendees shared and met different methodologies of project development, the use of tools to visualize data interactively and attractively. For example, at the end of each group meeting prototypes generated maps to show for the first time the Costa Rican water data in a precise manner by provinces, counties and districts. These products, which are still under construction, are graficaciones that allow a better understanding of the information that was stored in Excel spreadsheets and other formats that were obtained by Giannina and his group of geographers from The Nation and HIDROCEC experts.


La Nacion team gathered a lot of information during previous days on the supply, distribution and use of water, in addition to other databases such as the census, which allowed to make interesting crosses. Thus the three groups in which attendees divided themselves, the discussions ran from different angles. In the first application we worked deeper on water availability per canton. The application The water supply and demand of Costa Rica shows the rate of production and consumption of water per person, per month, what percentage has piping system and how many people use septic tank.

The second application, Guanacaste con sed de agua potable, shows the quality of water consumed by the population now, depending on where they live in the province of Guanacaste, how many people are supplied with water, how much water they use and what is the total population.

The shared knowledge between programming and design transformed data from statistical graphs that inform how many homes are part of witch water sources: fuentes de abastecimiento (Water and Sewerage, ASADA, Municipal Aqueduct Aqueduct Private company, Pozo and others) and also a description of each source of water supply.

The georeferencing of the data allowed the creation of the application How’s the water in Guanacaste? – ¿Cómo está el agua en Guanacaste?, Where you can know the amount of people that have a water pipe according to the district they inhabit and production. This information is crossed with demographic data from the census and other sources. On the map the user can also observe what is the source where the water comes from (river, stream, well …) In addition comes the application of a platform for community contribution or crowdsourcing to allow users to post comments on your provider and have access to contact information for each.

Open and shared data

Streaming coverage conducted by Periodismo de Hoy published the lectures on personal projects Brian Boyer, Chris Cross, Gustavo Martín Rodríguez Pellecer Faleiros speakers and guests at Chicas Poderosas on the Beach of Nicoya, and the process and results in the three day event.

Similarly, the third day participants summarized their participation, their learning and how they made applications. These videos and interviews by the team during the event Powerful Girls are an important record to share the learnings of Chicas Poderosas on the Beach-Nicoya.

Beach, sea and creativity

The workshops were held at the National University, home Nicoya, a campus surrounded by mountains and native vegetation to 40 minutes from the beaches of Samara. This environment was essential to work in a relaxed and inspiring environment to keep all participants in a room full of creativity.

“When a job is done with a bit of fun, creativity is very present, here I can confirm that working in a very friendly atmosphere can create something very significant. “

Gustavo Faleiros, ICFJ Knight Fellow (first time at  Chicas Poderosas)

3 multidisciplinary teams: Journalists, programmers, designers, geographers and water experts gathered in teamwork.

Guests from different mediums: The event count with the presence of  La Nación, El Financiero, Tico Times y la Voz de Guanacaste.

Links to aplicaciones:

Comments and Feedback from attendees:

Voice of Guanacaste:

Gustavo Faleiros, ICFJ Knight Fellow

“A meeting with a lot of energy, where you bring the best people for you to work with on a specific project, so there is a large exchange of knowledge, I think this is the importance of the strength of women to get together this people to work with much joy, that’s part of the event I think the energy that’s made ​​it much better.

What’s next?

Chicas Poderosas believes that tangible projects can really make a change when well done. In three days we have a lot of good ideas semi developed, but realistically, we could do with a little more time to fully develop what may be an element of policy change and not just a tool for the knowledge or information application.

We are planning to reunite this same group and create a Super Mega Project isolated with all 3 combined ideas and present not only in Costa Rica, with the hope of a change on water consumption and distribution.

So in March we plan to make it happen taking a couple of weeks of intense co-working, made ​​with all these talented people. A super news room;)

Kiss kiss bang bang, Chicas Poderosas

Mariana Santos, Lia Valero and Daniel Suarez

¡Ayúdanos a compartir esta historia!