Data boost to spotlight green minibuses and parking

Local | Jane Cheung 4 Jan 2019

The government is opening up access to more data and encouraging IT firms to make use of the information and develop mobile applications to improve people's daily lives.

It will also introduce a new application that provides real-time information on the operation of more than 3,300 green minibuses.

Acting Assistant Commissioner for Transport Tony Yau Kwok-ting said there are about 160 operators of green minibus routes and it would be a challenge for them to share information on a centralized mobile app.

"We've obtained HK$31 million to set up a platform that gives out real-time data on the minibuses, and we hope to launch a pilot system on some routes this year," he said.

The app will show information on fares, the locations of stops and arrival times of minibuses.

Yau said the Transport Department will also publicize the real-time data at 11 government parking lots in June and will show the number of available parking spaces that are updated the moment a user checks it.

It will provide information on real-time available metered parking spaces in March next year.

The data will be publicized on the government's new site data.gov.hk, where bureaus and departments will open up their data-sets to the public for free access and distribution.

The Government Chief Information Officer, Victor Lam Wai-kiu, said the first annual open data plans were uploaded on the site last month and is set to add another 650 data-sets this year.

The plan for open data is part of Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng yuet-ngor's Smart City Blueprint announced in 2017.

The data comprises dozens of categories, including city management, climate, commerce, education, employment, food and health.

"Some data-sets are analyses of the city's demographics in terms of gender, income, education background, which the media and researchers would find useful," he said.

Hong Kong Automobile Association spokesman James Kong Yat-hug welcomed the information on parking spaces and hopes the government would take a more proactive approach to encouraging developers to open up data of their private car parks.

However, he said, drivers cannot always check their mobile phones while driving and the government should explore ways to provide real-time road conditions on other platforms.

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