Finding a parking space is a persistent hassle in Hong Kong—but things could become a lot easier this year as the Transport Department looks set to make real-time parking vacancy data accessible to the public on official mobile phone applications.
After transport sector lawmaker Yick Chi-ming raised concerns on the impact of inadequate parking facilities at the Legislative Council, he received the following written reply from Secretary for Transport and Housing Anthony Cheung Bing-leung:
“According to the Transport Department (TD)’s preliminary assessments […] only slight adjustments to its existing traffic information system is needed such that real-time information on parking vacancies can be disseminated to the public through websites and mobile applications. The implementation of this arrangement will probably not require a huge amount of resources.”
Most Hong Kong car parks are privately owned, and Cheung said that the TD has contacted operators to encourage them to release vacancy information and upload the data to the government’s “Data.Gov.HK” website for use by local motorists.
“At present, the TD has received positive initial feedback from some car park operators, expressing their willingness or considering to provide such data to the ‘Data.Gov.HK’ website,” Cheung said. “The TD expects that the adjustments to its traffic information system can be completed within this year.”
“By then, the real-time parking vacancies data in ‘Data.Gov.HK’ can be uploaded to the system for dissemination to the public through websites and mobile applications.”
Cheung added that the government will also consider making the release of real-time vacancy information a requirement in new commercial public car park developments.
‘Too many restrictions’
Members of Hong Kong’s open data community, however, have further questions on the TD’s parking data plan.
“The data on data.gov.hk is not open data until there are no limitations the use of the data. Currently the terms and conditions specify ‘you shall not use the Data in any inappropriate, defamatory, obscene or unlawful manner’,” Open Data Hong Kong founder Bastien Douglas told HKFP.
“What if we determine from the data that there is ineffective use of parking spaces, possibilities for improvement, indications of poor policy implementation? It’s good and fine to know parking spaces exist, it’s another to ask why there aren’t more, and the government’s ‘public sector information portal’ has too many restrictions on the data to be open and of benefit for Hong Kong.”
“Currently the public cannot upload data to data.gov.hk. I’m curious how this will work when the Secretary for Transport and Housing encourages car park operators to upload data to the site.”
In December last year, the government announced that it will increase illegal parking fine amounts by 50 percent in 2017.