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 world’ was 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 data.gov.sg. 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.
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.