The Future of the Data Economy

Open Data

2018 / November

Lynn Su /photos courtesy of Lin Min-hsuan /tr. by Scott Williams

With the digital revolution still in full swing, technologies such as ultra-wideband, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, e-commerce, big data, and the Internet of Things are changing our lives.

Artificial intelligence is one key to this revolution, but information and data are even more important facets of this ongoing technological transformation.



Taiwan began officially promoting “open data” in 2012. That effort has been very successful: the National Development Council’s open-data portal ( has made more than 36,000 documents available to date, and the Open Knowledge Foundation (OKFN) ranked Taiwan first in the world in its 2015‡2016 Global Open Data Index. More recently, Taiwan held its first Presidential Hackathon in 2018. The applications developed there spread like wildfire.

Public assets, returned to the public

Even before the shift to fully open data, the Freedom of Government Information Law required the government to make public the structure, address, telephone number, budget, and purchasing contracts of organizations at all levels of government. The law stated explicitly that its purpose was to “protect people’s right to know.” But open data has a much larger scope.

Government data covers a broad range of subjects and fields, everything from the climate, earthquakes, and tourism, to GDP, taxes, government spending, road traffic, healthcare for the elderly, and even ­document collections. Open data operates on the principle that most data originates with the public, and is therefore a public asset. As such, the portions of it that do not involve national security or reveal personal information should be freely available to businesses, NGOs and academia.

By moving beyond passive information transparency to actively publishing raw data, the government is making its vast data resources usable. 

Public‡private cooperation

Information is crucial to private corporations’ pursuit of growth. But the government was often slow to release information that only a single company had asked for because there was no legal basis for doing so. That changed when Premier ­Chang San-­cheng called upon ministries and departments to inventory their data and develop strategies to promote open data. He also formed an advisory panel on the issue. Taiwan has made great strides in opening up its data in the years since, placing its initial focus on the quantity of information made available.

Outstanding cooperation between the public and private sectors has been key to the rapid results that have been achieved since then.

TMS Technologies is an intelligent transportation systems and telematics service provider. Company president Tim Chen recalls when the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) and the Police Broadcasting Service (PBS) began working together on traffic data a decade ago.

In the past, the fact that different departments oversaw different roads meant that the traffic information available in real time and the formatting of this information varied. Chen’s company helped gather this traffic data and organize it according to international standards. It also helped the MOTC’s Institute of Transportation build the radio ­data system traffic message channel (RDS-TMC) that has since driven the opening up of traffic data.

The Organization for Data-driven Applications (ODA) established by the Taipei Computer Association in 2013 has given the private sector a voice on open data issues. ODA secretary-general Carrie ­Chang says that the early stages of the government’s open data project inevitably revealed erroneous and scrambled information that frustrated data users. The ODA has worked with the government to improve the quality of its data by providing feedback on it, and to create synergies by pushing for the release of additional information that companies need. 

A proposal for the digital era

The use of open data revolves around three hubs—security, convenience and innovation—and the deep application of such data highlights its intangible value. “The deep application of data results in more than insights; it can change users’ decisions and behaviors,” says ­Chung Lan-kun, the founder of data science company Singularity & Infinity.

With the spread of smartphones, apps that use open data to offer creative value-added services now provide the public with a great way to experience its benefits.

Take mass transit, for example. Since the public buses in Taiwan’s six major cities all carry GPS systems, companies have been able to use open data about buses’ locations to develop public transportation apps for each city. Other business have used valuable open data on the status of parking spaces, something rarely seen outside of Taiwan, to create apps that enable drivers to con­veni­ently check the current availability and cost of parking spaces at their destination.

A great leap forward

Open data is also closely connected to the further development of city governance. The Industrial Development Bureau of the Ministry of Economic Affairs worked with local governments to jointly promote seven projects in 2018, continuing to pave the way towards smart cities. 

For example, open data is helping with traffic management. Cities often require police to direct traffic at peak hours. But engineers can use historical traffic data that includes the volume and types of vehicles, and travel times, to build regional transportation models, then plug in real-time traffic flow data to predict traffic conditions ten to 60 minutes in the future. This allows traffic managers to improve their signal control strategies, thereby reducing traffic congestion and manpower expenses.

Taichung’s Daya Interchange connects several major transportation corridors. A very important intersection for city residents, it frequently becomes congested during the evening rush hour, weekends, and holidays.

By building a regional traffic model incorporating CCTV, electronic toll collection (ETC), GPS, and changeable message sign (CMS) data; installing inductive-loop traffic detectors at intersections and freeway ramps to collect real-time traffic flow data; and then integrating the real-time data into the long-term model, engineers can produce accurate traffic forecasts. Armed with these forecasts, traffic-control systems can automatically adjust the length of traffic signals, reducing travel times by 10% without the need for human ­management.

The application of this data benefits both the general public and the government.

A member of the at-large advisory committee on open data, Tim Chen says that the government used to have a very limited view of how to apply its data. One of the advisory panel’s recommendations was that the Tourism Bureau create a simple questionnaire to gather information on the questions travelers ask at airports’ tourism information counters. The data gathered from this survey over the course of just one year yielded surprising results.

For example, the survey found that 37% of the 5,000 people per day who visited at the information counters at Tao­yuan International Airport wanted to know where to find a bathroom. Given that the counters have to deal with an average of one inquiry every three minutes, this suggests that placing clearly visible signs in the airport’s arrivals areas could greatly reduce the workload of information-counter staff.

The next step

With the volume and quality of the government’s open data rising, Taiwan’s next step is “digital governance.”

Chung Lan-kun explains that while digital governance uses large amounts of data as a foundation, it focuses on long-term strategy and the establishment of clear objectives. It also requires that people, technology, and the law all work hand in hand. “Governance and management don’t operate on the same level. Governance is about doing the right thing. Management operates under the framework of governance, and involves properly executing those things.”

A number of current issues show that Taiwan still has a long way to go in applying open data. During our nuclear power controversy, environmental groups and the government simply talked past one another. If power data had been made available, the two sides would have had a shared basis for debate. The idle buildings we see everywhere reflect a similar problem: we have lacked the big data that would have allowed us to evaluate their potential benefit and impact in advance.

The ODA has actively pushed for international ties. It cofounded the Asia Open Data Partnership in conjunction with 11 nations and 16 organizations. The AODP aims to strengthen exchanges on issues, and holds an annual Asia Open Data hackathon that provides a platform for open competition. 

Tim Chen, who regularly judges the hackathon, mentions that not only has the quality of the products created by the competing teams of programmers improved, but the number of university-student teams has also risen, demonstrating the powerful capabilities of young people.

Taiwan is a computer-industry hub with inexpensive IT hardware and world-class technology. Open data offers our tech industry vast scope for development. Putting this data to use will unlock enormous value and help propel our nation into the future.                            

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繁體 日本語



文‧蘇俐穎 圖‧林旻萱





2012年,台灣政府正式推動「開放資料」(open data),如今國發會上的「政府資料開放平台」(資料集數量,已經超過36,000筆;2015-16年,台灣連續獲開放知識基金會(Open Knowledge Foundation,OKFN)評比為開放資料指標(Open Data Index)第一名,今(2018)年首次舉辦總統盃社會創新黑客松,各項研發應用亦如火如荼地展開。









由資訊(information)的公開透明,走到原始資料(raw data)的主動開放,意味著由「知」到「用」的大幅躍進。




景翊科技公司以提供智慧型交通運輸系統(intelligent transportation system,ITS)與車載資訊系統(telematics service provider,TSP)等相關服務為主,總經理陳奕廷回憶約十年前開始,與交通部、警廣合作建立交通資料的歷程。


2013年,Open Data聯盟(ODA)成立,有效凝聚產業界的聲音。台北市電腦商業同業公會之Open Data聯盟秘書處總監張雅婷特別談到,政府推動開放資料初期,勢必會發現不少錯誤或亂碼,多少會感到不堪其擾。聯盟站在主動回饋的角度,與公部門一同協作,提升資料品質,同時也彙整企業需求,主動敲門,要求開放,造就雙贏之局。






















也由於Open Data聯盟積極連結國際,與11個國家與16個組織共同組成亞洲開放資料合作夥伴(Asia Open Data Partnership),加強議題上的交流,每年也舉辦「亞洲跨國黑客松」,提供公開競技的舞台。




文・蘇俐穎 写真・林旻萱 翻訳・笹岡 敦子









奇点無限(Singularity & Infinity)創設者の衷嵐焜は核心は3つあるという。まずその精神は「ライセンスフリー」である。民間団体や企業が用途にかかわらず利用できる。ライセンスフリーは、民間の自由な複製・拡散を可能にし、公務員の責任を可能な限り免除し、データ利用者の責任とする。さらに「アクセスしやすい」ことが求められる。インターネットでダウンロードでき、容易に取得できるようにすべきである。最後に、データは共通フォーマットとする。

情報の透明化から生データ(raw data)の自発的な公開に至ったことは、「知」から「用」への大きな躍進を意味する。




景翊科技公司(TMS Technologies)は高度道路交通システム(ITS)やテレマティクス・サービス・プロバイダー(TSP)等のサービスを扱う。総経理の陳奕廷は、十年前に交通部や警察ラジオと共同で交通情報を構築した経緯を振り返る。各地の道路の担当機関は統一されず、情報は内容も形式も異なっていた。同社は国際基準に則り、全国のリアルタイム道路交通情報の整理に協力し、交通部運輸研究所のRDS-TMC (Radio Data System-Traffic Messate Channel)設置を支援し、交通情報公開の推進力となった。




















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