The big open data news in Hong Kong this month is the launch of the new Hong Kong Open Data Index from the Internet Society Hong Kong. Since our launch in 2013 we have watched the progression of Open Data in Hong Kong, and while there has been progress from the Government, it has been patchy. While the launch of HK’s PSI data.gov.hk public sector platform has been welcome, and the announcement in 2019 of Annual Open Data Plans has helped make the way ahead clearer, there is still a shortage of reusable open data from many many government departments. There is a need to prioritize the release of what is needed by users rather than what is easy to share from data producers, and also there needs to be better means of feedback to the departments sharing the data to help them improve the quality of their outputs.
Helping address this on a global level have been the Open Data Barometer and the OKFN (of which we are a network member) Global Open Data Index (GODI), which both provided independent input and assessment on open data. The Open Data Barometer looks at the 30 governments that have adopted the International Open Data Charter and those that, as G20 members, that have committed to G20 Anti-Corruption Open Data Principles. While the GODI crowdsourced the assessment of a much larger number of countries and jurisdictions using volunteer gathered data. We had a lot of experience working with the OKFN and GODI, contributing data for a number of years (see our write up of the 2015 process), but unfortunately from 2016/2017 they stopped carrying out these global comparisons.
Resurrecting these efforts, and giving the issue a more Hong Kong focused and relevant view, last week the Internet Society Hong Kong (the Hong Kong chapter of the Internet Society) announced their initiative to develop an assessment tool: the Hong Kong Open Data Index. The Index was established through a review of and reference to 19 international and regional assessment tools and standards (including the Open Data Barometer and GODI), as well as consultation with local stakeholders such as Open Data Hong Kong. In this they have identified 16 critical categories of data sets in Hong Kong, which are to be measured by 12 indicators to reflect the openness of the data in each data set category.
You can watch the (mostly Cantonese) press conference on their facebook livestream, and read the findings of their 2019/2020 report here, and also see a summary of their key findings and recommendations here. Providing expert recommendations are a key part of this effort to help improve Open Data in Hong Kong. Of the main findings, the first was quantifying how much of the governments data is not in data.gov.hk but dumped as inconsistently displayed and presented files on not-fit-for-purpose Hong Kong government homepages. These had inconsistent presentation and organisation (in many cases claiming copyright), and even on the main data.gov.hk homepage the licensing and standards followed lacked standardization and consistency. Which has been a bugbear that we have been pushing on since at least 2014. This lack of understanding of creative commons and legal interoperability is a big hindrance that puts off serious data users from touching this legally ambiguous data.
We hope this neutral and quantitative feedback will help spur targeted improvements going forward. The project aims to continue each year to act as a policy tools to hold government accountable by quantifying change, as well as educate and encourage international best practices. Such policy tools and practice is very rare in Hong Kong, although the UN UPR (Universal Periodic Review) coalition is another recent example that we have also endorsed and supported. As a longitudinal and ongoing project we will be helping to promote and amplify these efforts (already facilitating a presentation at this weeks OKFN community call), and watch this space for workshops and educational events planned in the coming months.
Follow these ongoing efforts on their new website (opendata.isoc.hk) and their facebook feed.