LCQ10: Common Spatial Data Infrastructure

Following is a question by the Hon Starry Lee and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mr Michael Wong, in the Legislative Council today (July 15):
To promote the development of Hong Kong into a smart city, the Government is developing the Common Spatial Data Infrastructure (CSDI), a digital infrastructure facility, to facilitate the consolidation, exchange, sharing and innovative application of geospatial data among government departments and public and private organisations. The Government has set up, for coordination of the related work, a working group which is jointly led by the Development Bureau and the Innovation and Technology Bureau, and has a membership comprising representatives from those policy bureaux/government departments which are major holders of relatively larger amount of spatial data. The Government expects that the CSDI portal can be rolled out by the end of 2022 for public use. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
 (1) of the details of the work carried out by various policy bureaux/government departments in respect of developing CSDI, and the situation on the usage of the funding of $300 million earmarked in the last financial year by the Government for this initiative; and
 (2) of the specific measures and additional resources to ensure that policy bureaux/government departments will actively provide CSDI with the geospatial data in their possession?
The Common Spatial Data Infrastructure (CSDI) portal is one of the key digital infrastructures underpinning the smart city development in Hong Kong. It aims to enhance the use, management, discovery and sharing of spatial data for robust policy-making, driving innovation and value creation of society. With Legislative Council's approval of $300 million (to be shared equally between the development of the CSDI portal and production of 3D maps) and another $60 million (for setting up a Geospatial Lab) in May 2020, the Development Bureau (DEVB), with the support of the Innovation and Technology Bureau (ITB), the Survey and Mapping Office (SMO) of the Lands Department and other bureaux/departments (B/Ds), have been working in full swing to expedite the development of the CSDI portal.

My reply to the different parts of the question is as follows:
(1) Through the Common Spatial Data Steering Committee (CSDSC) co-chaired by the DEVB and the ITB, we have been working closely with the SMO and other B/Ds to ready the CSDI portal for full operation by end 2022, with a minimum of 240 datasets covering the DEVB's family of departments and some other B/Ds including the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, the Census and Statistics Department, the Education Bureau, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, etc. for free download and use by the public. These datasets to be released through the CSDI portal are required to meet the CSDI standards, which include geotagging of non-spatial data, documentation of data specifications and metadata, conversion of spatial data to an open and machine-readable format, as well as establishment of Application Programming Interface (API). The DEVB is continuing discussion with B/Ds with a view to releasing more datasets through the CSDI portal by end 2022.
Between 2020 and 2021, the DEVB together with the SMO will also launch four quick win projects, including Map API, Geotagging Tool, District-based Spatial Information Dashboard and Address Data Infrastructure to facilitate users from the public and private sectors realising early the benefits of using spatial data for various innovative applications and secure their buy-in and participation in the future CSDI portal. We are encouraged by the positive response since the launch of the pilot version of the Map API in October 2019 - over 2.9 million requests for the tool have been received in the past eight months.

Moreover, the DEVB is making preparation to set up the first Geospatial Lab tentatively in early 2021. The Geospatial Lab provides a platform for the Government to reach out to the wider community in particular the younger generation and start-ups including application developers for promoting use of spatial data in developing useful mobile applications.

The DEVB and the LandsD will set up the Common Spatial Data Advisory Committee to engage the non-government sector including professional institutes, academia and other stakeholder groups and tap their expertise and advice on how best to develop the CSDI portal that can suit the needs of society and economy.

In addition, we will conduct a number of activities to promote wider use of spatial data, including the launching of a CSDI website, in 2020-21.

The $300 million earmarked for the CSDI portal and 3D maps is expected to be spent over four years between 2020-21 and 2023-24.

(2) The policy direction is that, unless there are valid legal or operational concerns, B/Ds should make their best endeavours to release their spatial datasets through the CSDI portal for free download and use by the public. In this connection, one of the key functions of the CSDSC is to identify and resolve systemic issues that may hinder B/Ds from releasing their spatial datasets. Specific measures formulated and overseen by the CSDSC and its three working groups to encourage data release by B/Ds include the following:
(a) apart from building the architecture for the CSDI portal, studies have been and will be engaged by the SMO to establish common data standards for compliance by B/Ds releasing data onto the CSDI portal. Relevant B/Ds have been participating actively in the course of these studies so that technical solutions to be eventually adopted for the CSDI portal can take into account their operational concerns amongst other things;
(b) of the $150 million for the development of the CSDI portal, a dedicated $30 million has been set aside for B/Ds to ready their spatial datasets to meet the CSDI standards formulated through studies in (a) above. We are aiming to invite B/Ds to apply for this funding in the next few months for data conversion and other related projects;
(c) since July 2020, the DEVB and the SMO have provided in phases spatial data tools to facilitate B/Ds to improve their data readiness. To this end, training will also be organised to familiarise B/Ds with the use of such tools. For example, some B/Ds have started attending training programmes on the location geo-referencing tool in June to learn how to geotag non-spatial datasets with a web-based geotagging tool; and
(d) the DEVB is finalising internal circulars to promulgate the policy and operational arrangements for the CSDI portal so as to provide an overall strategic framework to guide B/Ds' contribution to the CSDI portal.

Ends/Wednesday, July 15, 2020
Issued at HKT 16:00