When we review Hong Kong’s history in the future, 2018 and 2019 will stand out for promoting governance transparency, innovation and development.
First, the Lands Department launched a new website, Hong Kong Map Service 2.0 (HKMS 2.0), and an updated version of GeoInfo Map in August and December last year, respectively. These provide a wealth of real-time information such as weather, air quality and traffic conditions. Public endorsement is overwhelming with the average hit rate of five million per week.
In early January this year, the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer announced the first annual open data plan of over 80 government bureaux and departments. It also announced that more than 650 datasets will be opened free for the public to browse and use on the website (data.gov.hk) this year. Such a move fulfils the promise of the Chief Executive in the policy address last year to open data.
In fact, the government has a huge amount of information. The priority of opening data depends on their use for solving the current problems. Therefore, the government could set up three different tiers of data sharing platforms to fulfill various needs:
The government could establish an open and easy-to-use information platform. The one-stop common spatial data infrastructure (CSDI) provides data in machine-readable format or application programming interface (APl), which is required by the application developers and startups. The API format allows them to develop mobile applications. The Singapore government has already set the goal of making at least 90% government data available in API by 2023.
This platform is to address accidents and large-scale events. In case of emergency, the central platform or a Common Operational Picture (COP) can immediately become a command-and-coordination center, allowing commanders to instantly master the overall situation of an incident so as to allocate resources and issue commands. The Chicago Marathon in the United States is an example. If we had a COP during the Super Typhoon Mangkhut last year, or when there was failure in four lines of the underground railways (MTR), the COP could have integrated various pieces of data in real time, and linked the information on bus and MTR for a full analysis on a map.
The biggest pleasant surprise in the Government’s latest announcement was the setting up of a city dashboard by the end of the year. The most impressive dashboard that I have come across is the Mayor’s Dashboard in Los Angeles, United States, presented by Mayor Eric Garcetti in 2013. This dashboard updates the information that is of interest to the general public, including housing, transportation, economy and public security, etc. in a frequent manner. It also compares the expected standards with the most up-to-date situation, enabling the public to monitor the government’s performance at a glance.
This third-tier platform translates the data analysis into wisdom for better urban management, enhancing the city’s governance vitality.
In today’s fast-changing world, use of data not only stimulates urban innovation and leads to rational discussion, but also promotes better governance. Establishing the infrastructure of the above three-tier data platforms could help transform Hong Kong into a future-ready smart city.