Toward an information society

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Toward an information society

We welcome the government’s decision to make administrative information public. Take this situation: There are approximately 50,000 registered residents in Nonhyun-dong, Gangnam District in southern Seoul. But if you look at the numbers for tap water and electricity use by the Office of Waterworks of the Seoul Metropolitan Government and the Korea Electric Power Corporation, a population double the number could be presumed to live in the posh neighborhood. When more information is available to the public, policies can be better tailored for the welfare of citizens, not to mention for the benefit of businesses.

The administrative information provided earlier by Seoul government can be used in many different ways. For example, businessmen interested in opening shops for senior citizens can easily find an appropriate spot by taking into account the number of free subway riders at a particular exit of a subway station. Though the data may look like trivial statistics to the city government itself, they can be a valuable asset for a businessman trying to avoid unnecessary risks.

President Park Geun-hye vowed to make public as many as 100 million pieces of information a year yesterday when declaring her vision of Government 3.0 based on opening up, sharing, communication and cooperation. That marks an amazing rise from 310,000 pieces of public information made public last year. The president also pledged to provide tailor-made services for citizens by making government information available to them.

If the government can continue to follow this trend, it can lead to a remarkable shift of administrative paradigms as well as more jobs. Gartner, the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company, has defined data as “the oil of the 21st century.” In other words, a nation’s competitiveness is determined by the ability to analyze and capitalize on information.

Our government has been reluctant to make administrative information available to the public. But advanced countries like the United States and Japan make it obligatory for the public and private sectors to build databases on particular issues and force them to make the information public. The idea is that quality information is a prerequisite to the blossoming of an era of unimpeded information.

We hope the government drastically cuts red tape and makes crucial information public. Only then can the move serve as a catalyst for a real information-oriented society. At the same time, it must ensure individual privacy is fully protected in the process.
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