Open data has many different societal benefits, and in Asia some may be a little nervous pushing it as a tool for transparency and political change, but for Meet.29 we threw caution to the wind and tackled that very topic. We had some great visiting and local speakers, helping contrast how activist groups in some parts the world are using open data to strive for political change, with the nascent (and maybe more conservative?) situation here in Hong Kong and China.
We were pleased to have Amanda Meng from the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs as our visiting guest speaker. Amanda is a PhD candidate at the Georgia Institute of Technology where she studies technology and democracy. Her dissertation focuses on the social impact of open government data. Throughout her career as a practitioner and academic she has spent time in the Dominican Republic, India, Ghana, and Nigeria studying or implementing projects in ICT for development or democracy.
Amanda is in Hong Kong conducting a case study on the reuse of open government data. Her investigation includes a qualitative process trace of datasets from government agencies, through civic spaces, and back to public officials as social groups attempt to achieve social or political change. This case study is the first of three to be compared to Chile and the Dominican Republic, and we look forward to hearing her accounts of open data activism. You can get a taster on her research on her recent paper in JeDEM on “Investigating the Roots of Open Data’s Social Impact”. You can see her slides here.
Bringing It All Back Home: FOI and AccessInfo.hk
After the international perspective, we brought things back to Hong Kong with the second part of the meet focusing on tools we can use here to bring light on the political process, specifically access to information requests and the newly live accessinfo.hk portal. Guy Freeman gave us a quick overview of his handiwork setting up the new platform. With Guy we also had Dr Clement Chen from HKU, a researcher on information rights in China (check out his FOI in China page and see his thesis here), who was on hand for discussion and helped answer questions on the topic of the FOI situation in Hong Kong and Mainland China.
Check out the portal and feed it with questions:
Tuesday 12th May 2015
Delaney’s Wan Chai, One Capital Place, 18 Luard Road Wan Chai.
灣仔盧押道18號海德中心地下及1字樓, Wan Chai.
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UPDATE 9/10/2020 The outputs of Amanda’s fieldwork in Hong Kong were published in this paper.