A Better Environment for (and with) Open Data

seminarThis month government, academics, and citizens (and Open Data Hong Kong!) joined the HK Government Efficiency Unit to share insights on the potential of better reporting and sharing of Air Quality monitoring data. Entitled “Open Data and Citizen Science Reporting Potential for Air Quality Monitoring”, the seminar was an exploratory event to see what could happens if we share what people are doing with air quality data, the challenges we face, and the potential ahead for pilot projects and more. Weather and pollution data are no brainer areas to open up to an Open Data approach, as they are topics of interest for concerned and engaged citizens, and the Hong Kong Observatory already makes much of this data available to the public through the AQHI (Air Quality Health Index) website. Connecting the producers of this data with downstream users, from government, academic and non-academic backgrounds, should help maximize the value of this precious data. Open Data Hong Kong are experienced and well placed to advocate as a collective voice for more data sets and better quality data on the environment and air quality, and we’d like to thank Kim Salkeld, the head of the efficiency unit, for inviting us.
Mart has already posted his quite detailed notes on the talks, but to summarize, the first part of the afternoon featured representatives from many of the relevant government departments like the Environmental Protection, Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation, the HK Observatory, and the Efficiency Unit “1823” enquiries and complaints hotline. Ivy So from the BioDiversity Division of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department presented on some of the interesting apps they’ve developed like “tree walks”, but most interesting from a citizen science perspective has been moves to allow the public to post pictures and register animal sitting on their HK biodiversity database and Eco map portal. They’ve also promised to release much of this data as XLS files, so watch this space to see the result. It would be great to have hackathons, visualisations and apps built using this data, and there is a shortage of useful biodiversity data in the global biodiversity GBIF databases, so anything to boost this is much needed. John Chan from the HK Observatory also covered some of the Citizen Science side, presenting on their engagement with schools and interested individuals through their Community Weather Observing Scheme.
bastienThe second part of the afternoon presented to point of view of the public. This is where Open Data Hong Kong stepped in, Bastien from ODHK setting the scene with a short overview on the benefits of openness and transparency, and showing a few case studies on how open pollution data has been successful in countries such as the UK (see his slides here). Representing Code4HK Vincent Lau and Harry Ng gave civic hacker perspective, showing examples of what they and others are doing with this data (e.g. their real time visualizations of the AQHI data thrown together in one hour), and highlighting the shortcomings and difficulties working with the data in its current form. Andrew Leyden was the last speaker in the ODHK section, and also highlighted the potential and problems experienced by hands on users of HK Observatory data when building the “Hong Kong Air Pollution” App.
What was clear from this section reiterates the main issue with publicly accessible datasets in Hong Kong. They have great potential, but are presented wrongly, and under unhelpful restrictive licenses, so much time and effort is spent unnecessarily scraping, cleaning and processing this data, these datasets are legally and not practically interoperable with others, all of which reasons put off many potential users. Bastien showed Hong Kong’s ranking in the global open data index, where we are placed 13th in the world for open emissions data, and the main thing preventing our (70%) score from topping the table was the lack of true open licensing. This would be a very easy issue to fix, costing nothing, and massively increasing the potential utility and reuse of our data.
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The final section of the workshop brought on some of the formal experts from the Environmental Protection Department and local academics working on this area. Zhi Ning from CityU and Alexis Lau from HKUST both presented data from mobile pollution detectors, CityU doing more grass roots and medium scale sensing work using open hardware arduinos and working with local schools. HKUST have been working with larger scale detection units built into trams, and they in particular have huge amounts of air quality and modelling data collected around the pearl river delta and beyond that would be fascinating to open up and let others work with. Currently hosting 400TB of data that is available for academic if not other purposes, it would be great to liberate and see what could be done with this data if it was made more widely available from public repositories.
There are plans to meet again, so watch this space. With the Efficiency Unit’s support, they can rally government departments around the table, and it would be great to set up a working group at ODHK to continue this work. Any interested individuals should contact us if they were interested in participating and helping us to advocate for open data to help understand and improve the local air quality.

Open Data Hong Kong news roundup (22 April)

Roundup of Open Data Hong Kong news – 22 April, 2014

Next ODHK events:

This evening! Open LegCo & Open Data @ 7pm in Wan Chai!

with LegCo Secretary General Kenneth Chen (Meet.19) – Tuesday, April 22


Event linkFacebook event link

Our speaker will be Kenneth Chen, Secretary General of the LegCo Secretariat will present “Open Legco”, Hong Kong’s Legislative Council’s foray into the Open Data space, as well as speak about the opportunities of open data for civic engagement, politics and legislation in Hong Kong, and the challenges for government to get with Open Data.

More info here: http://blog.opendatahk.com/events/meet-19

ODHK HacKnight! (Meet.20) – in two weeks (7 May)

The second in a series of monthly hack nights for members to get together and work on their open data projects. If you have an idea, already working on a project, or just want to lend a hand and find out more about open data, come on out. People will pitch and present their projects for others to decide or start their own. No technical skills required – everyone has something they can contribute. Bring your laptop!

More info here: http://blog.opendatahk.com/events/meet-20

Want more events?

Here you go! See calendar of Open Data – relevant events here: http://blog.opendatahk.com/events/

Happy to add your open data-related events.



  • Congratulations! Open Data projects and groups are winning awards!
    • Data-HK wins the coveted ICT Students Award! Congrats Ron Tam, Ding Lam, Solomon Yan, Alfred Lai for getting gold! Props to Sctt Brady D and Cyrus Wong for mentoring this fantastic team. Discuss on Facebook
    • Kites wins gold in the Entrepreneurial Innovation category – congrats Alan Tsui, Alger Hoi, Edwin Shao and team! Discuss on Facebook


Links we’re talking about


Other upcoming events:


Photos from our first Hack night!

If you haven’t been to one of our 18 meets, come on out and join the community.

What else we’re reading

Curated links from the awesome people Open Data Weekly

The future of open data is local 
Government Computing – The last three months have been the busiest three months of my life. In December we started to create Leeds Data Mill – the open data platform for the city. Traditionally cities use their data platform to release city council data, however we wanted to be more ambitious than that in Leeds and have worked to gain data not just from the city council (an amazing resource in itself), but from private sector and third sector.

How Open Data and Higher Ed Networks Can Decrease Poverty 
Government Computing – This century, we face a much larger challenge than bringing 100 gigabyte connectivity to college campuses. We have to figure out how to feed 9 billion people and decrease poverty.

The Impact of Open Data 
White House | Office of science and technology Policy – Freely available data from the U.S. Government is an important national resource, serving as fuel for entrepreneurship, innovation, scientific discovery, and other public benefits. According to a recent report, open data can generate more than $3 trillion a year in additional value in key sectors of the global economy, including education, health, transportation, and electricity.

Open Data as Culture: science, arts and technologies to co-create possible futures
Art is open source – We will find out in Trento, at the ICT Days event, together with Trento rise, the Bruno Kessler Foundation and the Department of Engineering and Information Science of the University of Trento.

How open data is changing the business of real estate 
Inman news – Whether it’s info on schools and crime, mortgage data, zoning permits, smog, traffic, noise, flood data or weather, “If there’s data out there associated with the home, we want it,” says Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff…

Free the Data: The Debate Over APIs and Open Government 
Tech President
The White House’s digital government strategy explicitly focuses on APIs, directing agencies to stand up application programming interfaces to enable government staff and the public to dynamically access government data. Vendors like Socrata support APIs as the default method for publishing opendata, certainly in part because they can charge for them.


The Economic Potential of Open Data 
O’reilly strata conference 

Capitol Code – An Open Data Jam 
Minnesota Secretary of State 

Open Data Hong Kong news roundup (7 Apr)

Roundup of Open Data Hong Kong news – 7 April, 2014

Next ODHK events:

ODHK HacKnight! (Meet.18) – this Thursday, April 10

ODHK is starting a series of monthly hack nights for members to get together and work on their open data projects. If you have an idea, already working on a project, or just want to lend a hand and find out more about open data, come on out. People will pitch and present their projects for others to decide or start their own. No technical skills required – everyone has something they can contribute. Bring your laptop!

More info here: http://blog.opendatahk.com/events/meet-18

Open LegCo & Open Data with LegCo Secretary General Kenneth Chen (Meet.19) – Tuesday, April 22


Event link, Facebook event link

Our speaker will be Kenneth Chen, Secretary General of the LegCo Secretariat will present “Open Legco”, Hong Kong’s Legislative Council’s foray into the Open Data space, as well as speak about the opportunities of open data for civic engagement, politics and legislation in Hong Kong, and the challenges for government to get with Open Data.

With projects like “Open LegCo“, the Legislative Council attaches great importance to the promotion of openness and public access to information about the work of the Legislature. Check it out!

More info here: http://blog.opendatahk.com/events/meet-19

Want more events?

Here you go! See calendar of Open Data – relevant events here:

Happy to add your open data-related events.


Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 12.01.33 PMOpen Data + ODHK featured in TimeOut Magazine

A growing movement of data enthusiasts are hoping to use government information in apps and products in a way that could change our daily lives. Anna Cummins meets the volunteers behind ODHK

Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 1.26.09 PM

ODHK is now on Meetup.com

ODHK is now on Meetup.com. Check us out: http://www.meetup.com/OpenDataHK


Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 1.35.16 PM“Wired Hong Kong doesn’t understand the true value of information”

(SCMP) ODHK member Waltraut Ritter says lack of access to public data hurts competitiveness public data hurts competitiveness. (Link)

“Access to information in HK falls behind other countries, says Ombudsman”

(SCMP) “[Government staffers] misunderstood how the [access to information] code was to be followed, especially when turning down public requests for data. One complainant said the Environmental Protection Department had refused to provide information on the exhaust systems of two problematic restaurants because it was “third-party information” and therefore protected by privacy rules. (link)

More news!

Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 1.54.53 PMCanada sets up “Open Data Insititute”

(NextGov) How Canada plans to fuel its Economy with Data! The Canadian govt funded $3M to set up an Open Data Institute “charged with finding, compiling and standardizing government and private sector data that companies, entrepreneurs and academics can use as the raw material for new products and services.”. If Hong Kong wants to become a “smart city”, an institute set up here would help the engine to run it. (link)

Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 1.55.57 PMHow to decide which data sets to release?

(Sunlight Foundation) Data.One doesn’t properly weigh which datasets to release first. They look for ‘low-hanging fruit’, which means big datasets and publicly ‘easy to understand’ data. HKG needs to instil a culture of open. This means that all departments take data that is already broken down into formats like Excel and CSV and simply post it. And they need to do this whether they understand its usefulness or not. It’s public sector information. As long as it does not contain personal information, it should be shared (D Christ) (Link)

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Add your HK Open Data project to the ODHK project list!

Please enter in your Open Data project here! We want to try and get a listing of all Open Data projects relevant to Hong Kong. You can enter any project. It doesn’t have to be your project. We will make these projects accessible on the ODHK website. Thank you! (link)

Open Data-related Upcoming Events

Our 1-year anniversary (Meet.17)

ODHK passed its 1-year mark a little while ago. We had cake!
A summary of the past year is available here.

A few photos from ODHK.meet.17

Never been to an ODHK.meet event? Come on out!

Open Data Hong Kong news roundup (18 Mar)

Roundup of Open Data Hong Kong news – week of 18 March 2014

Next event: Meet.17 (upcoming Tuesday!)

Tuesday 25 March, 2014

Meet 17 logo

Join us for our one year anniversary! That’s right! ODHK was started almost a year ago! Come celebrate. There will be drinks, cake, music, fun, and lots of open data!


  • Looking back – a review of the past year, ODHK Executive Committee voting, ODHK Excom Purpose, Roles, Who’s running, looking forward, upcoming series of HacKnight events, Next ODHK hackathon, Preview of the Hong Kong Open Source Conference and more! There will be cake and music! BYOB: Bring your own beer / alcohol!
  • Happening at the Good Lab in Prince Edward!

More info herehttp://blog.opendatahk.com/events/meet-17

ODHK Excom vote at Meet.17

We have received applications for the Executive Committee (Excom). Thank you for your interest. It’s time now to proceed with voting! Voting will happen next week at Meet.17. To find out more about Excom and the slate of names, please read here (link).


RTHK looks at Open Data (in Cantonese)

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ODHK’s famous Team IVE featured in the RTHK documentary! The first Cantonese TV show about open data, aired on TVB and RTHK. (link)




LegCo releases Legislative History of Bills

We have just released the beta version of an API to access our Database on the Legislative History of Bills. This database contains key dates and the amendment history of some 6 000 Bills considered by the Council since 1906. The Database keeps track of the passage of a Bill such as its gazette date, dates of the three readings, formation and report of the corresponding Bills Committee, if any, and its discussions in Council meetings. Comments are welcome! (link)

CSV data with Data.Two Download

Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 11.03.06 pmWithin moments of notifying us on the Facebook group, already CSV data was made available by the community. Check it out! (link)

Add your HK Open Data project to the list!

Please enter in your Open Data project here! We want to try and get a listing of all Open Data projects relevant to Hong Kong. You can enter any project. It doesn’t have to be your project. We will make these projects accessible on the ODHK website. Thank you! (link)

Prototype of HK Open Data projects showcase

Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 10.56.11 pmAlready Francis has made a prototype to showcase Hong Kong open data projects. It will update based on the data from the spreadsheet above. Check it out! (link)

App: MTRdelay

Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 10.37.14 pmOne of the interesting apps/sites demoed at the ODHK.Meet.16 was “MTRdelay”. Check it out! (link).
The source code is available here: https://github.com/siuying/mtrupdate_analyze




Upcoming Events

HK Open Source Conference 

Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 10.47.43 pmMore than 10 overseas speakers will join us at the Hong Kong Open Source Conference, to share on various open source and open technology topics. From the Data.One project of OGCIO to the releases of voting record of the Legislative Council in machine-readable format, a number of open data initiatives have been kickstarted by various groups in Hong Kong. g0v.tw is a open source and open data community in Taiwan aimed to improve the society, it is one of the most outstanding open data community in Asia. We invited the co-founder of g0v.tw the famous open source developer in Taiwan – Chia-liang Kao, to describe how g0v.tw make use of open source model and technology to develop a number of open data applications.

World Internet Developer Summit 2014 @ 27-28 Mar 2014

Get ready for Hong Kong’s signature World Internet Developer Summit!
Hosted by Internet Society Hong KongCyberport and Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation, the action-packed two-day summit is the annual and signature cross-platform developer summit in the region.


Article: Wealthy countries share data

Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 10.51.53 pm

The Oxford Internet Institute this week posted a nice visualization of the state of open data in 70 countries around the world, reflecting the willingness of national governments to release everything from transportation timetables to election results to machine-readable national maps. The tool is based on the Open Knowledge Foundation’s Open Data Index, an admittedly incomplete but telling assessment of who willingly publishes updated, accurate national information on, say, pollutants and who does not.

Read it: (link)
Note: HK is among the last 10.

Open Gov’t: Call for submissions by Gov’t of Indonesia

Call for submissions by the Government of Indonesia on innovative approaches to open government that will be showcased at the OGP Asia Pacific Regional Conference in Bali, Indonesia on May 6 – 7.

Seven ideas will be selected for Lightning Talks at the upcoming regional meeting. You may submit your own innovative idea or nominate someone else’s. The deadline for submitting your entry is March 23, 2014. To take part, simply fill in the nomination form at http://goo.gl/6ieEfJ and describe your inspiring innovation.


Photos from Meet.16 (R & Open Energy Data)

Never been to an ODHK.meet event? Come on out! A few photos from ODHK.meet.16

More news!

Curated from Open Data Weekly

Introducing Streamtools: A graphical tool for working with streams of data 

(OpenNews) We see a moment coming when the collection of endless streams of data is commonplace. As this transition accelerates it is becoming increasingly apparent that our existing toolset for dealing with streams of data is lacking.

How Open Data Policies Unlock Innovation 

(Socrata) The World Wide Web just celebrated its twenty-fifth birthday. In the years since its inception, an entire generation has grown up with the web, and helped to shape it. For these people, Facebook, Amazon, and Google are the norm for connecting with friends and family, browsing a universe of goods, and searching the world’s information.

Sixteen ways councils can better use data 

(The Guardian) We asked experts to give their tips on making the most of data in local government. Here’s what they had to say.

“Open-washing” – The difference between opening your data and simply making them available 

(OKFN) Last week, the Danish it-magazine Computerworld, in an article entitled “Check-list for digital innovation: These are the things you must know“, emphasised how more and more companies are discovering that giving your users access to your data is a good business strategy.

Watch: The Power of open data by Sir Nigel Shadbolt (CeBit)

Open Data Hong Kong news roundup (28 Feb)

Roundup of Open Data Hong Kong news – week of Feb 28.

Next event: Meet.16 (upcoming Wednesday!)

Wednesday March 5, 7pm. meet16_03_FB Cover Photo

Topics: R stats programming language
R is very useful for journalists and data scientists to crunch sets of data to find trends and run scenarios. Guy Freeman and Fuk Chan of the Hong Kong R User Group will be giving us a practical overview of the R programming language that’s been getting people buzzing finding trends in statistical data and big data. They’ll be brazenly honest about it too – no pitches, just the low-down – how to use it, what to use it for, the shortcomings, the aggravations, and the awesome potential.

Energy data
Waltraut, Guillaume and Eric are hacking energy data, and they’re getting it open. Find out what is the state of energy data – public and private – in Hong Kong. Energy data is critical for sustainable urban development, smart city planning and climate change mitigation. Both private and public organisations collect data related to energy generation and consumption, some of it, e.g. utility consumption data, is held by private companies.

More info here: http://blog.opendatahk.com/?p=244

Request for Comments: Legco Innovation and Technology Bureau

Legislative Councillor Charles Mok‘s office asked ODHK to comment on the preliminary proposal for the structure and role of the Innovation and Technology Bureau. The ITB will be very valuable for supporting Open Data and its benefits for innovation and analysis for citizens, as well as freedom of information, open science, technology innovation to position Hong Kong as a “smart city”. This preliminary document outlines (very broadly) how ITB can support Open Data, inside the HK Gov and with citizens and industry. Read our comments and add your own!

(Original Facebook post link)

ODHK Executive Committee (“ExCom”): Deadline tonight!

We are now moving to form an Executive Committee for Open Data Hong Kong. As a voluntary organisation we will always rely on the passion and goodwill of our members to lead projects, to take up positions and to contribute where they can. ODHK wants to act as a catalyst for Open Data projects, so that we can support great ideas and cultivate different approaches to infusing Open Data into the way Hong Kong is run.
Read more here about applying.

(Original Facebook post link).


HK Budget is out! Has support for Open Data

hkbudgetThe Hong Kong Budget 2014-2015 is out, and there’s support for Open Data! Sort of. Read Bastien’s round up here.

Some other Open Data projects include:


Open Data Hong Kong members are also quick to innovate on the budget. The Code4HK team have built a budget calculator (in Chinese) at http://budget.code4.hk/


A very popular page reporting on the budget (Chinese) from an ODHK member visualises the data.

Open Data China initiative launched

Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 5.52.42 pmCitizen’s in China are getting into Open Data! Check out their site (in Chinese). At least one ODHK member is involved!

(Original Facebook post link)

Gazetteer HK

Gazetteer Screen Shot

This exciting project started at the Open Data Hong Kong Make.02 event is getting a lot of buzz. 

Gazetteer “makes geographical data about Hong Kong’s diverse neighbourhoods accessible and easy to use…collecting and standardizing numerous datasets and making them available to everyone — journalists, researchers, developers, and anyone curious about the city around us.”

Check it out! http://gazetteer.hk/

(Original Facebook post link)

App updates!

Heritage on the go – now on Android

ODHK member and Open Data Day collaborator Connie Leung’s team just released this app for Android. It displays information markers of declared monuments on Google Maps, locates declared monuments that are within the chosen proximity of the current location and displays location, name, address, opening hour, description, homepage, phone, email, remarks and QR code of declared monument’s URL. Check it out!

(Original Facebook link)

Licencheck app – now on Android

The renowned IVE team are at it again. They’ve updated their notorious LicenCheck app for Android so you can look up if that restaurant is legit or not. Check it out!

(Original Facebook post link)

Interesting link:

Google “Making Sense of Data” online:

Data literacy is important, and its valuable to have useful tools to work with when using surveys, demographic informaion, evaluation data, test scores and observation data. Google has a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on making sense of Data. And no, this isn’t an advertisement. If you followed this, tell us what you think! Check it out: https://datasense.withgoogle.com/preview

Open Data Day

Last week was International Open Data Day! Organised with Sammy Fung and Haggen’s Hong Kong Creative Open Technology Association, we hosted a hackathon at Good Lab in Prince Edward. There were 8 open data hack projects and we webconferenced with our Open Data counterparts in Taiwan, Shanghai and Chengdu! Check out some photos: