The Hong Kong government is set to open up more of its data resources to the public, creating an opportunity for private firms and individuals to utilize the information and build smart-city solutions.
In a statement Thursday, the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) said more than 650 new datasets will be released in 2019 via the Public Sector Information (PSI) Portal (data.gov.hk) for free viewing and use by the public.
The move comes after more than 80 government bureaus and departments published their first annual open data plans last year, bearing in mind Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s efforts to transform the city into a hub for innovation and technology.
The newly added datasets will cover different areas, including those related to the economy and livelihood, real-time meteorological data, geospatial data, digital maps that can facilitate smart-city development, and data that can enhance city management, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Lam, in her first policy address in 2017, outlined eight major areas for innovation and technology development, with one of them being opening up government data to provide raw materials for technology research, innovation and smart city development.
Under the new policy, all government bureaus and departments should endeavor to release their data for free public use on the PSI Portal, unless there are justifiable reasons such as involvement of personal privacy, Government Chief Information Officer Victor Lam Wai-kiu said.
The additions this year will bring the total number of the government’s datasets open to the general public to nearly 4,000 from around 3,300 at the moment, marking an increase of about 20 percent, according to Victor Lam.
People can browse, download, distribute, reproduce, print and hyperlink all of those datasets free of charge for both commercial and non-commercial uses, such as mobile application programming and policy analysis.
The Transport Department (TD) is set to make public in June the real-time number of space available at the 11 government park lots, while data of metered parking space will also be open by March next year.
It is hoped that more operators of private car parks can join the government’s efforts to release their data, Victor Lam said, pointing out that such initiative can benefit the firms’ business.
Discussions between the TD and bus operators over the latter’s real-time bus arrival information are also underway, with the TD planning use the HK$31 million fund it has received to launch a trial run on some routes in the next two or three years.
Meanwhile, the OGCIO said all datasets on the PSI Portal follow international practices and are released in machine-readable formats commonly used by the industry, such as JSON, XML and CSV, to enhance the usability of data.
For the general public that do not have access to data in such formats, Victor Lam noted that his office will roll out a City Dashboard for their use by displaying data in maps, graphs and diagrams.
Gene Soo, general manager of Citymapper Hong Kong, which aims to develop the ultimate transport app for the city, called on the government, from the senior levels to lower levels, to listen to the industry’s needs regarding the demand for publicly accessible data.
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