Open data

Powered by :

Hong Kong’s and Singapore’s data protection authorities today furthered their warm relations by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to strengthen cooperation in personal data protection in the two jurisdictions.

The MOU was signed by Mr Stephen Kai-yi Wong, Hong Kong’s Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data and Mr Yeong Zee Kin, Deputy Commissioner of Singapore’s Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) in Tokyo at the side-lines of the 51st Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities (APPA) Forum.

Partnership promotes collaborative initiatives and information exchange in personal data protection

Under the MOU, the Hong Kong SAR’s Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data (PCPD) and Singapore’s PDPC1 will engage in the cross-sharing of experiences, exchange of best practices, joint research projects and information exchange involving potential or ongoing data breach investigations.

Mr Stephen Kai-yi Wong, Privacy Commissioner of the PCPD said, “The MOU marks the joint efforts of Hong Kong and Singapore in strengthening the cooperation between the two jurisdictions and provides a solid framework for promoting collaborative initiatives and information exchange in personal data protection. It also clearly demonstrates the PCPD’s strong commitment to stepping up cross-jurisdictional collaboration in exchange of expertise and information so as to better prepare Hong Kong to enter into the new ‘post-digital’ era.”

Mr Tan Kiat How, Commissioner of the PDPC said, “A strong collaborative effort with our counterparts in Hong Kong and other jurisdictions is needed to advance personal data protection and prepare for a Digital Economy. We look forward to strengthening our working relations to enable all parties to collectively benefit from best practices, research and the sharing of information.”

Hong Kong and Singapore continue to enjoy good working relations in global personal data protection, with both regulatory authorities being active members of international organisations such as APPA and the Global Privacy Enforcement Network. The MOU was the outcome of an initial discussion between the two authorities in September 2018, to explore opportunities to strengthen the partnership and develop bilateral platforms for the advancement of personal data protection.

Hong Kong and Singapore jointly develop guide to Data Protection

As part of the enhanced cooperation, Hong Kong and Singapore are also releasing a jointly developed Guide to Data Protection by Design (DPbD) for ICT Systems. This encourages organisations to pro-actively incorporate data protection considerations when developing ICT systems from the onset. The Guide assists organisations in applying DPbD principles through practical guidance for all phases of software development and good data protection practices for ICT systems.

After a gym in Singapore was found out to have CCTV cameras active in a ladies changing area, it sparked huge debate on privacy laws and personal data protection nationwide.

This week in Parliament, the Minister for Communications and Information was asked whether the Ministry has plans to better regulate the installation and access to CCTVs installed in public and private premises in the wake of the recent outcry of CCTVs in a private gym.

Minister for Communications and Information Mr Iswaran replied that The Police Licensing and Regulatory Department requires any person who provides CCTV installation or maintenance as a service to have a Security Service Provider licence under the Private Security Industry Act. These licensees must undergo security screening to ensure they are fit and proper persons to provide security services.

Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) includes personal data and details captured on CCTV

He also highlighted that under the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA), organisations are required to notify individuals of the purpose and obtain their consent to collect, use or disclose their personal data, including those captured by CCTV recordings. Also, organisations are required to protect personal data in their possession or control by making reasonable security arrangements.

The Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) has issued advisory guidelines to help organisations deploying CCTVs comply with the PDPA. The advisory guidelines provide examples of good practices, such as placing notices at points of entry to a building or prominent locations in a venue, where individuals are able to read the notices prior to the collection of their personal data by CCTVs.

Organisations that fail to notify or obtain consent on data collection will face penalties

Organisations that install CCTVs but fail to notify or obtain consent from an individual for the collection of personal data, or fail to protect such personal data, are liable for breaching the PDPA. The PDPC will investigate and take enforcement action for breaches, which include issuing directions and imposing financial penalties.

The Australian Federal Government has created a National Data Advisory Council in order to manage data better and to drive innovation and economic growth.

The advisory council was created based on a recommendation of the Productivity Commission’s 2017 review of Australia’s data sharing and release arrangements. It also recommended a new Data Sharing and Release Act to replace the complex web of rules and regulations that have restricted data sharing between government agencies.

Advisory Board to focus on ethical data usage and data best practice

“Work on this legislation is already well advanced and will enshrine the principles of privacy and security, while also ensuring that Australia can continue to capitalise on the enormous benefits that data can deliver when used correctly,” said Minister for human services and digital transformation Michael Keenan.

The purpose of the council is to guide the Office of the National Data Commissioner on ethical data usage,  and technical best practice. This follows the Government’s plan to develop a new framework for sharing and managing public sector data announced last year in July.

“Data held by Government is a hugely valuable national resource that, when used correctly, can drive innovation and economic growth, help to better inform public policy, and deliver breakthroughs for researchers and scientists,” Minister Keenan said.

Advisory council representative of all Australia

There are nine representatives in the council, including are associate professor Nicholas Biddle whose research includes examining how to deliver economic and social benefits to Australia’s Indigenous population. Ellen Broad, an independent consultant in open data, data sharing and artificial intelligence ethics.

Paul McCarney, the co-founder of Data Governance Australia with more than 20 years of experience in data, technology and digital business. Joshua Meltzer, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC who has examined the significance of the internet and cross-border data flows for international trade.

Also in the council is Lauren Solomon, CEO of the Consumer Policy Research Centre, an independent, non‑profit, consumer research organisation; and professor Fiona Stanley, 2003 Australian of the Year and research professor of paediatrics and child health at the University of Western Australia.

The Government members of the council are Australian Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk, Australia’s Chief Scientist, Alan Finkel, and Australian Statistician David Kalisch.

“But maintaining public trust is crucial in order to unlock the full potential that our data holds. That is why I’m pleased to have a council advising us that represents the full range of community views, including those of civil society advocates, researchers and industry” Minister Kennan added.

In recent times stakeholders from various sectors have started becoming proactively involved in identifying ways to improve justice. However, issues that hampered this mission include a lack of good governance thereby hindering the institution of an efficient, fair, transparent, and accountable system.

These issues can only be rectified through continued effort, necessitating cooperation from all sides.

Thus, a recent article reported on how Open Data and AI Technology can play an important role in rectifying the issues prevalent in the Thai justice system.

The adoption of such technology by many governments and agencies has reinforced direct representative democracy since it allows democratic engagement and empowers people in new ways.

Recently, the Thailand Institute of Justice (TIJ) in collaboration with ChangeFusion and several partners held the 2nd Roundtable on Technology for Justice Series (Project j: jX Justice Experiment) under the topic “Open Data and AI for Participatory Justice”.

Open data is a set of machine-readable information that can be freely used, shared and built-on by anyone, anywhere. Artificial intelligence and machine learning tools can be used to find insights and anomalies within such open datasets. For instance, AI can be used to enhance, deepen and accelerate routine data analysis so people can be free to monitor suspicious contracts or payments in depth. This can increase the rate of corruption prosecutions.

The Executive Director of the Thailand Institute of Justice stated that good governance has a direct impact on law and order. It requires a climate of respect for the rule of law, the existence of check and balances, transparency and accountability. A reform of the justice system in this sense asks for measures to ensure efficient and transparent procedures are performed in line with ethical standards.

He noted that Open Data is a key part of this reform as it encourages citizens active participation, by allowing them to look into government data and oversight its procedures.

In Thailand, Open Data and AI are being used in several sectors. For example, in an AI-powered customer support platform analyses data through AI. The data is then made public and people can help monitor real-time incidents, share information and offer suggestions to the government.

Moreover, AI can prevent road accidents by detecting blind spots crossing statistic data from Department of Highways, volunteers and insurance companies. Similarly, the KiiD project creates an ecosystem where people share information and contribute to the economic development, health and safety of an Innovation District.

Other platforms include, developed by the Digital Government Development Agency; AI police for women by Royal Thai Police, a project geared to protect vulnerable groups namely, women and children victims of family violence.

It is essential to appreciate how valuable accurate data collection and sharing is in order to maximise modern technology.

Data that is collected and shared has the potential enable governments to operate more effectively; it is government’s responsibility to make information – like information on procurement, budget disbursement, government expenditures including taxes and justice related information – accessible to the public.

The Director a Thai News Agency argued that when the public sector refuses to share information, it might have a hidden agenda or the interests of those in power are at stake.

On the other hand, Open Data and AI technologies have limitations including machine bias, privacy issues and a lack of human empathy and emotions.

However, as these tools become more sophisticated as time goes on and they have the potential to alleviate the bias and inefficiencies facing the justice system while improving fairness and safety.

The reform of a fair justice system is indeed a challenging undertaking which calls for all stakeholders’ cooperation. Thus, Thailand’s government needs a concerted effort on the part of key stakeholders – policymakers, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, and researchers – to promote a culture that embraces innovation and leads to more effective, transparent and responsive civil services and criminal justice systems.

In a previous report on, we learnt about an upcoming data visualisation competition for students from universities, polytechnics, junior colleges and institutes of technical education across Singapore.

On 3 February, the Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech) launched a nationwide competition, called the National Data Visualisation Video Challenge. It is a part of the Singapore government’s efforts to spur an open data movement and catalyse ground-up civic innovation.

Open data sharing is one of the key priorities in Singapore’s Smart Nation journey.  Opening up datasets and APIs (Application programming interface) can encourage citizens to make better informed decisions in their daily lives and drive innovation.

There have been several innovations, leveraging open data to make a difference to the daily lives of Singaporeans, including a real-time taxi availability heat map and zika and dengue hotspots.

The theme of the Challenge is “How Open Data makes a difference for you and me”. It is open to students from Singapore-based Institutes of Higher Learning (i.e. Universities, Polytechnics, and Institutes of Technical Education or ITEs) and Junior Colleges (JCs). Students can participate individually or form teams of up to 4 persons within the same institution.

Students will need to use and analyse government datasets from Singapore’s open data portal, & other publicly available data sources to create an impactful visualisation video. All submitted entries must include a minimum of three datasets from to be eligible for consideration.

There will be two rounds of Judging – the Qualifying and Challenge Rounds. The Qualifying Round will be the submission of storyboards for the first round of evaluation. It ends on Friday, 28 April. Selected teams for the Qualifying Round will advance to the Challenge Round, where they will create the visualisation video of 60 to 90 seconds in length. The video can be in the form of animation, motion graphics, stop motion, and any other relevant video styles, which would best convey the story the participants are telling through data. The best three videos for the Challenge will be selected winners.

The judging will be based on 3 criteria: 1) Application and analytics of data– 40% weightage (How creative is the use of data? How effectively have these datasets been applied or cross-analysed?; 2) Quality and creativity of storyline for Qualifying Round and video production for Challenge Round – 40% weightage (Is the story idea easy to comprehend for the general public? How effective is it in telling the story? Is it creative enough to attract public attention and go viral?); 3) Impact and Insights generated– 20% weightage (Significance and benefits to the society? Ability to make the public realise the benefits of open data? How relevant is the story idea in relation to the theme of the Challenge?)

The criteria reflects the focus on making data meaningful and understable for regular citizens of Singapore. The Challenge would require cross-disciplinary collaboration between the computer science/analytics and visual media students.

The Challenge has received strong interest from the schools. It ties in with Singapore’s focus on cultivating data analytics and application capabilities among the youth, as it will be one of the core skillsets for jobs of the future.

The industry partners for the Challenge, Google, Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, Cloudera, and The Straits Times, will be providing support in terms of data analytics platforms and tools, prizes and judging. It is yet another example of partnership between government, academia and industry.

A briefing will be conducted at GovTech Hive on 17 February 2017, 1800-2100hrs (Sandcrawler Building, Level 8, 1 Fusionopolis View, Singapore 138577). Participants are required to register their interest (Name, Email Address, Number of pax attending) for the briefing by 13 February 2017 through

Above image: Singapore-specific findings (from pages 21 and 22 of Open Government Data: Assessing demand around the world)

A report titled ‘Open Government Data: Assessing demand around the worldwas released recently, based on research sponsored by the Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech) and conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). The international study was launched in April this year to understand how citizens are using Open Government Data (OGD) and the benefits they expect it to bring to society.

The report notes that OGD is a relatively recent phenomenon but it’s availability and use has grown significantly in recent years. For example, citizens in many countries now regularly access information related to transportation, environment and security through apps and other platforms built on OGD. To be used at its full potential, however, OGD services must align with the interests and requirements of users.

This research programme compared OGD uptake and usage across 10 countries: US, UK, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Finland, Mexico, Australia, France and India. The countries were selected based on the EIU’s desk research and one or more of the follow criteria: (a) recognized leader in OGD, (b) presence of interesting OGD initiatives, (c) geographic location to capture cultural differences.

The findings are based on a survey of 1,000 citizens —100 from each of the target countries. To ensure the validity of opinions all survey respondents were screened for whether they are familiar with, or have used, OGD in the last 12 months.

OGD in Singapore

The Singapore Government shares open government data through Singapore has the high proportion of citizens who use OGD on a daily basis at 10%. Singaporeans generally trust their government to keep their data safe and anonymous.

For Singaporeans, quality of data and real-time APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) are the most important features of OGD initiatives. Citizens in Singapore are more likely to say that governments open up their data to create more business opportunities and to make citizens more self-reliant and more happy.

The research found that Singaporeans think that lack of awareness about OGD and its uses is a big barrier to greater use, though Singapore is a relatively tech-savvy nation. Around 30% of citizens in Singapore think in general Singaporeans lack technical skills to use OGD, which is higher than the average in other surveyed countries (25%). 25% of respondents from Singapore also picked datasets made as raw as possible as an important feature of OGD initiatives.

General findings

Above image: Key findings (from page 8 of Open Government Data: Assessing demand around the world)

Trust and transparency

Around 70% of respondents say the key reason why governments open up their data is to create greater trust between the government and citizens. 37% of respondents think OGD makes governments more transparent. This sentiment is particularly strong in Mexico (52%), Taiwan (51%) and Finland (47%).

But there is also high awareness of the cyber and data protection risks. Indians (76%) and Singaporeans (65%) are most trusting that their government will keep OGD safe. Mexicans and Australians trust their governments the least in this regard.

Better quality of life and economic opportunities

Nearly 78% say that OGD plays an important role in improving lives of citizens. The largest number of people who consider OGD to have an important role in improving their lives are from India (93%), followed by Taiwan (84%), Singapore (83%) and Mexico (80%).

In terms of daily usage, Singapore is followed by South Koreans and the French (9%).  In terms of weekly usage, 31% of Indians use OGD on a weekly basis, followed by citizens in the US (20%) and the UK (19%).

61% say OGD is an opportunity to generate greater economic value through social innovation, while 20% of respondents say they use OGD to generate new business projects: Indians (28%), South Koreans (28%), Americans (27%) and Singaporeans (25%) find it most useful for new business ventures—Finnish (11%) and British (12%) the least useful.

Around 60% of Singaporeans and Indians say that apps developed using OGD have a positive impact on their lives, but the number in Mexico is only 35%.

Most frequently used types of OGD are transportation (39%), education (30%), economy and environment (both 26%). 53% of citizens in Singapore and 48% in Taiwan use transportation related OGD.

What can governments do

When using OGD, citizens value user experience features such as the ease of access and easy data visualisations, in addition to more obvious requirements such as the availability of datasets (37%) and quality of data (35%). 31% of respondents say they lack access to usable data that is relevant to their needs and 22% think it is difficult to download OGD because the authorisation process is too complicated.

Half of respondents say there is not enough awareness in their country about OGD initiatives and their benefits or potential uses. This is seen as the biggest barrier to more OGD use, particularly by citizens in India (66%) and Mexico (61%).

25% of respondents think citizens in their country lack sufficient technical skills to use OGD. Citizens in the US (32%), Finland and the UK (both 31%) are most concerned that their technical skills are poor and constitute a barrier to taking full advantage of open government data.

The Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech) is conducting an international study (survey link) on Open Data with the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). This is part of a (Singapore government’s open data repository) campaign that GovTech is running.

The study seeks to compare open government data initiatives across ten countries (US, UK, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Finland, Mexico, Australia, France and India) to assess the usage and perception of open data in each country.

In response to a query from OpenGov on the selection of the countries, GovTech stated that the 10 countries have been proposed by EIU, based on EIU’s desk research. The selection was based on the countries meeting one or more of the following criteria: recognised leader in open government data, presence of interesting open government data initiatives or geographic location to capture cultural differences.

The study is being conducted through a 5-minute online survey. Regarding the intended audience, GovTech clarified that the survey is targeting people who have some awareness of OGD.

Governments have been collecting and holding huge volumes of some of the most valuable data in the world. The pace has surged with technological developments during the last 10-15 years. Opening up data, so that it can be accessed, analysed and distributed by anyone, within or outside government is essential to unlocking the potential of data. And governments around the world and in the region are working towards opening datasets and boosting their usage.

OGD is helping citizens make more informed decisions in their daily lives. It is allowing developers to make free use of Open Government Data (OGD) to create services and applications to improve the lives of citizens. It can help commuters plan their trips on public transport more easily, monitor the environment, and track performance of educational institutions.

The survey will provide valuable information on the patterns and purposes of data usage, the barriers hindering access and use and what more could governments do to encourage usage of OGD.

Screenshots of sample questions from the survey

For purposes of the survey, OGD is defined as non-classified and non-personal data and content that can be freely used, modified, and shared by anyone for any purpose.

“Apps” refers to any software applications, either for computers or mobile devices, that use OGD to provide information and services to users.

Please click on the link below to participate:

The survey is open until the 20th of April. All respondents will receive a free copy of the survey results from EIU.

Featured image: Tungilik/ CC0 1.0

OpenGov TV Speaker Panel – Data Sharing

Part 1 of our OpenGov TV Speaker Panel series with OneConnect. Listen to this panel of experts from the financial services industry to get insights into data sharing!