Room to improve on open govt data, report says

While governments in China have jumped on the bandwagon to offer information online to the public, a lack of regular updates and more timely responses to users’ comments show there is room for improvement, a report said on Monday.

The 2019 China Open Data Index, compiled by Fudan University, said that as of March, 82 local governments on the mainland have built online platforms providing public access to government data, a sharp increase from 18 in 2017.

Shanghai, which was the first to set up such a platform in 2012, tops the list of provincial-level governments for the third year, followed by Zhejiang and Guizhou. Guizhou’s capital city, Guiyang, has led all the prefecture-level cities since 2017.

The amount of data sets, or collections, available for download rocketed from less than 8,400 in 2017 to nearly 63,000 over the same period, covering areas such as judicial verdicts, business registrations, food and drug examinations and air quality. The total volume of the data surpassed 11.9 billion entries.

Despite the rapid growth of open data services provided by governments, the report also noted that most of the platforms were established as if they were one-time projects, rather than ongoing services. Less than 10 percent of them have had data updated in the last two years and few responded to users’ comments and inquiries.

As data is valuable only when it is used, the report suggests more input from governments is imperative to boost public use of government data and maximize the open data service.

With 70 experts from different government agencies, companies and universities on its advisory committee, the annual report of China Open Data Index, which was launched in 2017, evaluates each government’s open data policies, the user-friendliness of the data platform, the quality and quantity of the data, and its utilization.

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