Open Data versus the Coronavirus

Unfortunately due to the uncertainty surrounding the Wuhan novel coronavirus outbreak in Hong Kong, it has been decided to call off the International Open Data Day 2020 event and hackathon being planned in Hong Kong. This is a particular pity because Open Data is needed more than ever to get the outbreak under control, fill the information vacuum leading to conspiracy theories and shops running out of food. Life-and-death situations are particularly susceptible to wild speculation and panic filling the vacuum, and closed risks lives.

While it’s frustrating that most public meetups and gatherings for the next few months have been cancelled in Hong Kong, for people that want to do something to help or at least get themselves more informed, with modern digital technologies we fortunately don’t have to leave the house. To the rescue there are some virtual events specifically focused on understanding and tackling the outbreak using open data and data science being organised.

Coronavirus open dataAll this makes the coronavirus crisis a perfect opportunity to harness the benefits and showcase the utility of open, data driven approaches. Firstly, our friends at Open Source Hong Kong are running a project collecting data on the outbreak from the news, press release and social networks, and releasing it under an open license on GitHub. Even the Hong Kong Government seems to be following more data literate approaches, setting up a real-time Hong Kong Coronavirus dashboard very similar to the global Johns Hopkins University CSSE one (and likely leveraging their connections with ESRI).

Finally, ODHK are pleased to participate in an interactive, online event organised by DSHK: the data science community of Hong Kong, on Sunday 9th February from noon to 1.30pm Hong Kong time. Following in the tradition of the “Hack the Zika Virus” hackathon we participated in back in 2016, we hope this can empower citizens with the knowledge and tools to better equip themselves to understand and join the fight against the outbreak. Dr. Guy Freeman from DSHK, Dr. Scott Edmunds from ODHK and GigaScience, and Professor Ben Cowling from HKU will present a 90-minute workshop on how to understand and analyse the Wuhan coronavirus, from gathering relevant data to analysing and visualizing its spread. Sign up and subscribe to the youtube channel to watch and ask questions online, or catch up and watch the archived live stream later.

Rundown on Sunday 9th February from 12 noon HKT (UTC +8):
12:00 HKT: Dr. Guy Freeman from DSHK will kick things off by giving a data science perspective on gathering online data for one’s own purposes, e.g. the number of cases over time, or search volumes of certain terms.

From 12:30pm ODHK’s Scott Edmunds will talk about the open sequencing data, what is available and how to analyse and understand it, e.g., via open and interactive tools like nextstrain.

From 1pm Professor Ben Cowling will talk about the data and calculations behind measuring the transmission dynamics of 2019-nCoV that were used to write his NEJM paper.

As an online hangout hopefully there will be an opportunity to ask questions online and via social media.

Follow along on youtube here:

Beyond Open: Find out about FAIR Data

Hong Kong’s eight research universities are producing world-class research, however, as with our government data, the data supporting our publicly funded research is not easily accessible. Considering this comes from Hong Kong taxpayers, how can we make better use of this to maximise the bang for our research funding buck?
Susanna_GSCIn the rest of the world, the global science community is looking beyond just opening up research data, and are looking to make it FAIR: Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Re-usable. With FAIR data being embraced by the EU open science programs, the GO-FAIR initiative and the US NIH Big Data 2 Knowledge program – what does Hong Kong need to do to keep up with these global policy movements? As Hong Kong is still talking about “public sector information” rather than open data, with even the G20 stating they ‘support appropriate efforts to promote open science and facilitate appropriate access to publicly funded research results on findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable (FAIR) principles.‘ are we getting further and further behind here in Hong Kong, and what can we do to catch up? As a participant of many of these EU and US programs, Prof. Susanna Assunta Sansone, the Associate Director of FAIR Data Science at Oxford University is passing through Hong Kong (see her previous related trip here) and will give hands on experience of these, and hopefully demonstrate the potential of FAIR research data for innovation. Sign up for this policy driven workshop that Open Data Hong Kong is co-organising with Knowledge Dialogues. Places are limited so please sign up here as soon as you can:
Places are free, but donations are welcome, and if you can’t make it please cancel the tickets so others can make in your place.
Monday 20 November 2017
5:00 PM – 7:00 PM HKT
Hong Kong Innocentre
72 Tat Chee Avenue
Hong Kong, Kowloon
Hong Kong

Meet.37: Research Data; Policy, Practice & Platforms

Wednesday, November 23rd at 7pm at Campfire CoWorking Space in Kennedy Town
4/F Cheung Hing Industrial Building, 12P Smithfield, Kennedy Town
Research data: the government data people forget about.
Meet.37 is on research data policy and practice in Hong Kong. Not just relevant to ivory tower academics, like government data it is taxpayer funded and benefits society. In most of the developed world academic research data is increasingly being mandated to be shared via academic research networks and repositories. Hong Kong has been far behind in the matter, but despite this lack of leadership from government (sound familiar?) the individual universities are taking matters into their own hands and are now building platforms for sharing academic papers and data. Much of this is summarized in a paper some of ODHK have recently put together (see the pre-print version in SocArXiv here:

Our special guest this month is David Palmer (see picture of him recently presenting this work in Beijing) who has had a long history in Hong Kong as a Research Data & Records Development Librarian. He has worked at The University of Hong Kong Libraries (HKUL) since 1990, as Systems Librarian, Technical Services Support Team Leader, and Scholarly Communications Team Leader. He is a founding member of the Hong Kong Open Access Committee, and was instrumental in having HKU become signatory to the Berlin Declaration on Open Access in November 2009. He has led in many path-breaking projects, such as the first university in Asia to have all of its thesis collection (25,000) online in fulltext, the first institution worldwide to do an institutional upload of publication data for each researcher into the ResearcherID database, and the creation of author profiles in The Hub for each of HKU’s authors.
Setting the scene, Scott and Waltraut from ODHK will present some of the findings of their “open science” policy paper, before David presents a rare concrete victory for open in Hong Kong – the first CRIS (Current Research Information System) data portal here built upon the HKU Scholars Hub institutional repository. We will then end with a Q&A on what needs to happen next, and how can these lessons be applied to the wider open data ecosystem in Hong Kong.
Program for Meet.37:
Scott Edmunds (ODHK/GigaScience): Open science policies and practices in HK, introducing the ODHK case study studying these practice
Waltraut Ritter (ODHK/Knowledge Dialogues): Innovation potential of open research data.
David Palmer (HKU): From IR to CRIS. Open e-Research from the HKU Scholars Hub.
Q&A: What needs to happen next for Hong Kong research data, and what lessons can be learned for the wider open data ecosystem?
Please come with questions and participate in the Q&A at the end.
23rd November 2016, 7.00pm
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NOTE: Do not follow Google Maps! Only 5 minutes from Kennedy Town MTR exit A, go UPHILL
Google Maps link:
Thank you to Campfire Collaborative Space for hosting us.
Sign up on our Facebook event.

Meet.36: Legco visit

Tuesday, November, 22 at 1:45pm.
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Wanted a chance to visit Legco but never had the chance or didn’t know when’s the best time to go? Here’s your chance!
Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (Legco) is Hong Kong’s center seat for political debate and law-making. To stay informed about what is happening, we refer to the information Legco can provide to us. Increasingly, we rely on the data, to know what happened, what’s going on, and what’s coming up, because we want to review the votes of lawmakers, keep up with the current debate, and analyse upcoming legislation.

Tentative agenda
  • 2pm: Meet with OGCIO team
  • 3:30pm: Tour of Legco
  • 4:30 Meet with Legco IT
  • 6:00 Meet with Charles Mok, Legco councillor for the IT functional constituency

Some engaged citizens have built tools to better analyse legco proceedings, to better keep track of law-makers’ votes, chart the debate, and follow the legislative agenda. Cutting through the information and data isn’t easy, and providing this data is no easy task. Join this event to know better how Legco works, to connect with Legco’s technical staff, to understand their challenges, share your interests, and share some expertise. Confirm your seat early!
You will need to bring your HKID for sign-in, and I will need the name on your HKID in advance. Please email this to me at

(This event may expand to include meetings with other government departments)

Meet.35: Data Data Data

Wednesday, November 2 at 7pm at Campfire CoWorking Space in Kennedy Town
4/F Cheung Hing Industrial Building, 12P Smithfield, Kennedy Town

We’re going to work with data, and start building a repository for common public data. Data about land, public transportation, public safety, political districts, weather, pollution, shark fins, the ivory trade, anything. Even “better data” – the data we want to see on and don’t see it. We’ll bring it all together, and make it shareable. We’ll discuss what we want to access, how we can get it, and liberate it for all to access and use.

You do NOT need to be technical to join this! Bring your minds and curiosity. Ask your questions, and start on a journey of getting the information you want.
We anticipate getting our hands dirty with data, so please bring your laptop if you can.

Add this event to your Google Calendar

NOTE: Do not follow Google Maps! Only 5 minutes from Kennedy Town MTR exit A, go UPHILL
Google Maps link:

Thank you to Campfire Collaborative Space for hosting us.

Meet.34: Open Data Tools


Let’s showcase some tools we are working on to support open data in Hong Kong:

  • A data warehouse for open data for the public;
  • A projects database listing of open data projects;
  • A(nother) Legco watch site, and more.

If you also have a project, come show it to us.
If you want to learn more and be part of the action, come out and get involved.
Confirm attendance on Facebook.
NOTE: Do not follow Google Maps! Only 3 minutes from Kennedy Town MTR’s only exit A, go UPHILL.
Google Maps link:
Thank you to Campfire Collaborative Space for hosting us.

Date: Tomorrow, Wednesday October 12, 2016, 7pm

Location: Campfire Collaborative Space, 4/F, Cheung Hing Industrial Building, 12P Smithfield.
Directions: Only 3 minutes from Kennedy Town MTR’s only exit A, go UPHILL.
Google Map link