MOBILE TECHNOLOGY
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LIFE

More apps on the way with opening up of government data

New portal offers 3,000 sets of raw government data covering all aspects of its work, up from the two sets initially made public in 2011

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 March, 2015, 6:20am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 March, 2015, 6:20am

Will Kwok Yu-ho co-developed an app that has been a boon to car drivers. His app, Spoken News, shows current conditions on Hong Knog roads and the nearest service station and car park with free spaces.

Spoken News is among 70 internet applications developed using government data since the administration began releasing data for public use in 2011. More such apps will now be hitting app stores with the launch today of a new government portal, data.gov.hk, providing more than 3,000 sets of raw data covering all policy areas.

When the government began providing data for public use, there were only two sets of raw data - images taken by CCTVs installed by the Transport Department all over Hong Kong to show real-time road conditions and the waiting time to use the three cross-harbour tunnels. That’s why Joey Lam Kam-ping, deputy government chief information officer, says the new portal is a big improvement on its previous work.

“Financial secretary John Tsang Chun-wah announced the roll-out of data.gov.hk in his recent budget speech. So all government departments have to toe the line and put data onto the platform.”

The government has long been criticised for lacking accountability and transparency by withholding information from the public. But Lam says that’s not the case.

The data is there ready for public release. It is just that some departments don’t know they have such data themselves.
Joey Lam

“Hong Kong is a very transparent society. The data is there ready for public release. It is just that some departments don’t know they have such data themselves. Some data is only for internal use and not suitable for public release.

“We will encourage the departments to release more data.  In the past, government departments needed to give data to us for uploading. But now, with the launch of the new platform, they can go to the platform themselves to release data. We organised seminars and released guidelines and circulars to them on how to use the new portal.”

Dr Ray Cheung Chak-chung,  director of the City University of Hong Kong's Apps Lab, welcomed the move.

“App developers need more government data to develop apps. It can help Hong Kong become a smart city. For example, the government can release data on the usage of parking meters around Hong Kong. With an app based on that data, drivers can know where to find a parking space.”