“With our big data sets in China, we not only act as a data provider but also use algorithms and data mining technologies to help the government plan the whole transport system such as optimizing traffic light systems,” said Li Lin, regional director at Didi Chuxing.
Didi’s ride sharing services cover taxis, private cars, buses, minibuses and freight in China whereas only a taxi hailing service is available in Hong Kong.
Call for more open data & better analytics
The panelists agreed that the Hong Kong government is slow in opening up transport data for public use. The local authority should be open-minded on data sharing. Some of them urged the government to put pressure on transport operators to share their transport data.
“The government could push transport operators to share more data. At the same time, users should also be open to data sharing. This will enable a two-way channel to make local public transport system smarter,” said Vivant of Hong Kong Tramways.
Sharing the same sentiment, the panel moderator Charles Mok, who is also the Legislative Councillor for IT sector, remarked that the local government does not put much pressure on transport operators.
“The government could consider making transport data sharing a requirement for bus operator franchise renewal,” Mok said.
The government’s open data portal data.gov.hk currently contains transport data from Hong Kong Tramways and MTR Corporation. Bus operators like Citybus, KMB and New World First Bus have not opened up their transport data API to the public.
Apart from open data sharing, the panelists also hope the government will utilize big data to develop a smart transport system for Hong Kong.
“Take the existing three cross harbor tunnels as an example, the government is still using historical tools to assess traffic flow and set toll fees for each tunnel. It has to use big data analytics to make better policy decisions to optimize the use of all the tunnels,” said Mok.
“I hope the government can value big data as it has macro impact for the good of a society,” said Citymapper’s Soo.
Didi looks forward to collaborating with the Hong Kong government on utilizing big data in today’s shared economy.
“It is important to consider what you are going to do with data and how you can leverage the best technology to make the most out of it,” said Didi’s Lin. “We are working with the Chinese government on that front, and are happy to work with the local government to add value to society.”