Hong Kong’s overall record in making data public has slightly improved due to improvements in the transport and weather categories, the latest Hong Kong Open Data Index report has shown.

The city’s overall score increased from last year’s 69.9 to 72.4, according to the report released by the Internet Society Hong Kong Chapter on Thursday. It assesses and monitors the progress made in releasing public data in Hong Kong against international standards.

Researcher of “Hong Kong Open Data Index” Benjamin Zhou (Left), Director of ISOC HK Ben Cheng (Center) and Convener of ISOC HK’s Open Data Committee Wong Ho-wa (Right). Photo: Internet Society Hong Kong Chapter.

But there was no improvement in the five lowest ranking categories: business registration, land, justice and safety, housing, and government operations.

Researcher Benjamin Zhou said the provision of the estimated time of arrival of fixed-route minibuses and Kowloon Motor Buses on the government’s Public Service Information (PSI) portal was the main reason for the increase in scores for the transport category, which rose by ten per cent from 76.9 to 85.

“Along with the estimated time of arrival information from bus operators, including New World First Bus, Citybus, New Lantao Bus, and MTR released last year, at this moment most of the public transport operators, following the calls from society and the industry, have released their estimated time of arrival data in the form of open data,” said Zhou.

The city also scored higher in the weather category, which increased by 16 per cent from 70 to 81.3, as the Hong Kong Observatory released more real-time datasets on the PSI portal in the last two years.

Data governance

The index also cited the Global Data Barometer (GDB), which examined data governance, capability, availability, and use and impact of 109 countries and regions in the world. The GDB report showed that data governance was Hong Kong’s weakest area among the four criteria.

Comparison of data categories from the 2019/20 report and 2021/22 report of the Hong Kong Open Data Index. Photo: Internet Society Hong Kong Chapter.

In response to the GDB report, the Internet Society Hong Kong Chapter urged the government to form a high-level committee to “tackle institutional obstacles,” “make a clear vision and goals” for data governance, “build up a data ecosystem” that encourages public engagement, and improve data literacy among the public and in the public sector.

The convener of the chapter’s Open Data Committee Wong Ho-wa said the absence of some Covid-19 data showed the problem of data governance in the city.

“These prove that with the lack of good data governance, when data can be lost anytime or not published, to some extent this violates the public’s right to be consulted and the public interest,” said Wong.

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Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.