I was lucky enough to get a guided tour of Hong Kong’s forthcoming Digital 21 Strategy when I popped in to the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer on Monday and chatted with Daniel Lai, Hong Kong’s GCIO.
I’ll save going in to all the details for the full interview article next week (all I’ll say now is there’ll be more data, more sharing, more cloud, more personalisation, and more apps), but as this is now the third iteration of Hong Kong’s ICT masterplan that I’ve covered (there have been five in total) it is heartening to see Hong Kong’s continuing appetite for reinvention.
In a nut shell, Hong Kong Government’s first strategy focused in putting in place the infrastructure of e-government (1998), the second on e-business (2001), the third on ramping up e-government services (2004), the fourth on widening access to government services (2008). Now, with the foundations in place, there is an emphasis on leveraging ICT to drive innovation - in process, in services, and in the wider economy.
I found it encouraging that the approach being taken by OGCIO found an echo in the comments from officials across the breadth of Hong Kong’s public sector as I moderated discussions at the 5th annual FutureGov Forum there on Tuesday.
Hearing feedback from the Land Department, the Hong Kong Police, the Efficiency Unit, the Education Bureau, the Hospital Authority, as well as from technology companies that work with Hong Kong’s public sector, I’m hopeful that once the 2014 Digital Strategy is finalised and resourced in time for the new financial year (April) that it will reflect a genuine pan-government consensus.
Everyone now understands that Cloud, Big Data and Open Government are converging in a way that is going to accelerate change in how government operates. Increases in the scalability and agility of the underlying government platform, combined with definitions of data that now transcend individual agencies, and a commitment to opening up this treasure trove of Public Sector Information to the wider community - there is a sense that government is going through a genuinely transformative moment in time.
The challenge for the region’s governments is that awareness of these intersecting trends is pretty lumpy - the central IT agencies typically have a good weather eye for the way things are headed, but the larger monolithic spending agencies often take an age to modify their direction of travel. But perhaps as a result of Hong Kong’s unique politics - one country, two systems etc. - I got a sense of a lot of nervous energy, even anxiety, in the conversations I had with officials. Something needs to be done, they seemed to be saying - and as we near the end of the public consultation phase for the 2014 Digital 21 Strategy, it looks like Hong Kong will have a fitting document to put this energy to good use.
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