Imagine creating a real-time app showing how many bikes are available nearby, only to be censored by the government?
There was a smartphone app in Hangzhou that basically gave you real time data of how many bikes are available per bike-sharing station in Hangzhou. This is important for people who are trying to go to a bikesharing station, but need to make sure that they go to a station that actually has bikes.
This app was designed by IT Engineer Zhang Guangyu, who does not work for the Hangzhou Bikesharing company, but managed to get some of the data and turn it into an app. At (2:30), he states that if the company releases the API, it would really help make the data collection a lot easier (he says that other countries release their API).
At 2:41, a representative from the Hangzhou Bikesharing Company states: “How did this citizen obtain our data? Right now, we still don’t know. If he used normal means to access our data, then it is okay. However, if he was able to access our backend data, we feel that his behavior is not appropriate.”
Apparently, despite its popularity, the app started not working several months later. Zhang reported in Sina Weibo (China’s twitter) that the platform data on the app stopped updating.
He believes at (4:05) that his IP was blacklisted, and as a result, the app stopped functioning.
I wasn’t really able to translate the rest after 4:05, but it doesn’t seem like the Bikesharing Company wants to open up its data to developers.
Smart cities and open data cities is a relatively new concept; this sort of concept is dependent on whether Chinese local governments are open to being transparent with this sort of data.
There is a big market in using data and finding ways to visualize data to solve simple problems such as trying to get to work on time; you need the right information to do that.
I think if Chinese cities want to promote sustainability, it has to develop some level of trust with developers and people; meaning, if you want to make it easier for others to use bikes, create the infrastructure, the services that help encourage it. By hiding its data, it only creates an environment of distrust, and mystery; you are essentially barring out a larger market, demographic that could have benefited from bike-sharing, but don’t know how. Data, transparency creates dialogue, momentum to solve problems.
Original title: 杭州公共自行车信息开发之争[九点半]
Source of video: Zhejiang TV