Asia responds to London Mayors PSI initiative

Source: futureGOV, Alphabet Media Pte Ltd, Singapore and Hong Kong

Asian governments eye gains from setting data free

Singapore: 13 January 2010

The futureGOV magazine and online information service has published an article titled: Asian govts eye gains from setting data free. The article refers to public sector information initiatives within Australia, Hongkong, Korea and Singapore.

The article states:

“More of the huge reserves of information locked away in the basements of government buildings should be made available to the public. So say government modernisers in Hong Kong, South Korea and Australia following the news that the Mayor of London has sparked an “information revolution” in the British capital by putting data online for public consumption for the first time, free of charge.

Australia

“Daniel Scott, who heads up ICT Strategy & Architecture for Landgate, the Western Australian Land Information Authority, called the London Datastore (to see a prototype go to data.london.gov.uk), a “bold move” that governments in Asia are likely to embrace.

“It is a familiar scenario in government - lots of data languishing in paper format for decades, its value unrealised. Too often we don’t how useful this data could be, or even if this data exists,” he told FutureGov. “But the more information goes online, the closer we will move towards citizen-centric government.”

Landgate has a familial link with Ordnance Survey, the UK government’s national mapping agency, which recently announced that it would make map data available to the public as part of Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s Data.gov.uk open government information policy announced late last year.

The Shared Land Information Platform (SLIP) is one way the Western Australian government has been using and sharing public data, noted Scott. “Government, developers and business users now have online access to over 350 datasets that were previously only available directly through the individual agencies, if at all.” Landgate is now looking into new ways of making public spatial data more accessible.

Meanwhile, the federal initiative Government 2.0, launched by the Australian Government Information Management Office’s (AGIMO) last year, echoes the British data.uk.gov policy by focusing on improved access, collaboration and governance rather than technology per se, Scott added.

Hong Kong

“The government of Hong Kong is also looking at ways to benefit from more open public data. Building on pioneering initiatives that saw local TV companies use data from the Transport Department’s video cameras for traffic reports, the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) is working with the Lands Department and the TD on a pilot scheme to open up transport and geospatial data for wider public dissemination and re-use.

“We recognise the potential economic benefits to be gained from the opening up of public sector information (PSI) for public access,” Bassanio So, Deputy Government Chief Information Officer (Policy and Customer Service), told FutureGov. “We hope that the pilot program will assure us that opening up PSI will spur creativity and innovation.”

It is still early days for open public data in Hong Kong, as it is for most governments in Asia. The Digital 21 Strategy Advisory Committee, the highest-level government advisory body on IT matters in the territory, met last month to discuss how demographic, economic, geographical, meteorological and historical data could be effectively accessed and re-used.

Korea

“In Korea, Dr Jeongwon Yoon, Director of the country’s IT Policy Division at the National Information Society Agency, told FutureGov that while he is all for open government data in principle, it is important that governments decide what type of data they feasibly – and legally - make available.

“Government data consists of statistics, practices and processes, to name a few examples. Personal data cannot be a consideration due to privacy issues, I would assume. But some of this data might be hugely useful, if made publically available. Whether or not this information is organised enough to be useful is another matter,” he said.

Weather information may translate into lucrative revenue streams for software developers and service providers that are in the business of customised weather services, Dr Yoon suggested.”