It’s not enough for governments to just open up their data, what is equally important is that the authorities should encourage people to use the data resources.
Hong Kong has encountered different types of problems on the issue of open data, but these problems are hardly new. The US and UK, which embarked on the big data journey about a decade a ago, offer lots of valuable experience we can learn from.
The US government views big data as a key element to enhance its competitiveness. Big data research has already been elevated to national strategy level. The data.gov portal has fully opened 400,000 federal government datasets since 2009.
Using an open source government platform to manage the data, codes are accessible to developers from all over the world.
The Obama administration decided to spend US$200 million in 2012 to kick off the Big Data Research and Development Initiative, which is led by the Office of Science and Technology Policy. The program works together with private companies and universities in various big data research and development initiatives.
Numerous US government departments have been mining data for high-value information, as well as shortening the time it takes from collecting to analyzing the data.
Big data is already widely used in healthcare, retail, manufacturing and other sectors in the US, creating huge economic benefits.
As for the UK, the British government unveiled a strategy in 2011 to research open data and to explore the potential for business innovations and stimulating growth.
UK built the world’s first non-profit data facility — Open Data Institute (ODI) — in May 2012.
The government injected 189 million pounds and 260 million pounds into big data technology in 2013 and 2014 respectively, in order to enhance the application of big data technology in government departments.
It’s estimated that the data has generated up to 66 billion pounds in direct and indirect income for the country over the years.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan 23
Translation by Julie Zhu
[Chinese version 中文版]
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