Regulated sharing of public-interest data can lubricate and hasten economic recovery in the region and beyond, says this expert.

To say that this pandemic has supercharged the move to digitize the economy and accelerate the adoption of new technologies in our social and working lives would be an understatement. As Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella put it: “We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.”

As people from all walks of life adapt to new ways of working and problem solving, a critical enabler of this acceleration of technology is open data.

Open data is more vital to cooperation and collaboration across borders than we imagined. Increasingly, discussions around open data and its creation are bringing in not only government stakeholders but also non-governmental organizations and in some case private sector players­­—both small and large companies.

Data sharing for the common good

Making specific data sets available to everyone can benefit recovery efforts. For example, the Korean government has released various datasets such as public mask sales data and national and international confirmed cases as open an application programming interface. This open sharing of data has allowed IT engineers and the public to utilize the data in further development of public interest data.

Beyond sharing vital information to keep individuals in communities informed and enabling quick response, open data is also helping to accelerate economic recovery at scale.

For example, in the transportation sector, leaders are witnessing extensive savings as a result of utilizing open data. Recent efforts by London’s transport authority to release consistent, up-to-date information is estimated to yield savings of up to GBP130 million per year for customers, road users, London and the authority itself—and an added GBP120 million to GBP15 million in gross value per year for firms.

These numbers from the UK are opening up conversations for the potential to capture savings across our own by leveraging open data. As more data becomes available to organizations, easing the development of advanced algorithms, players are able to gain deeper insights to complex societal problems and untapped opportunities to accelerate our recovery across sectors.

Open data in Asia

The concept of open data continues to gain momentum in the region. Indeed, governments have been pushing to maximize the impact of open data even before the outbreak of COVID-19. These conversations are now again at the forefront.

  • In Singapore, the government unveiled the Trusted Data Sharing Framework in 2019, which aims to address challenges organizations face when sharing data assets. The framework provides explanations on rights to share data, sector-specific regulations, and technical approaches for sharing data between organizations.
  • In Korea, the Ministry of the Interior and Safety (MOOS) presented the Digital Government Innovation Plan on 29 October 2019 in addition to the Open Data Promotion Plan. The plan consists of six specific projects that include, among other things, the establishment of an OSS-based open digital information cloud platform and the setting up of a proper ecosystem for open data and services.
  • Likewise for Indonesia, the government has issued a regulation in 2019 to push forward One Data Indonesia, an initiative to realize better, more structured and integrated data governance. Open dialogue between governments and industries on the progress made in these initiatives, as well as how to tackle remaining barriers, is an important next step.

As communities focus on recovery, it is important to keep the open data momentum going in Asia.

The potential benefits for organizations of all sizes—entrepreneurs, SMEs, and the broader community—are significant if we work together in progressing efforts around secure open data.

The good news is that there are many best practices on this subject already in place that we can build on.