MPhil in Public Policy Thesis Presentation - Integrating GIS and Big Data to Create Personalised Mobile Applications for Assessing Health Risks
With the rise of technologies such as big data and geographical information systems (GIS), real-time interactive data platforms are becoming increasingly popular for a plethora of policy issues. Designing effective tools for crises such as COVID-19 and climate change, where situations rapidly evolve and bring uncertainties that complicate policymaking, is crucial to protect citizens’ health and safety. Therefore, it is important to address the issues as identified by relevant stakeholders, especially citizens. One solution is to allow users to also be co-creators of knowledge by providing meaningful and salient data to data platforms. Through this interactive process, citizens could be empowered to make decisions to protect themselves and their communities, especially if their data could help to generate tailored crisis advice. With this in mind, this thesis serves to answer the question: what are the design and socio-political elements that would affect the willingness of Hong Kong citizens to use a mobile application for personalised COVID-19 advice? The thesis employs online surveys and phone interviews to understand stakeholders’ behaviours and perspectives in response to the data governance issues associated with digital tools for COVID-19 and air pollution. Findings reveal that citizens can respond to information provision tools for crises with either proactivity or indifference, and proactive citizens gain an increased understanding of the risks posed by a health threat and make informed decisions in response. Moreover, even at a time of high political uncertainty, Hong Kong citizens would not mind using a dashboard or mobile application created by a developer they disagree with politically as long as the supplied data is accurate, and the intentions for user data collection are clear. Finally, this thesis recommends government collaboration with citizen groups and research institutions to improve digital citizen engagement mechanisms for more salient policies and increased public trust in Hong Kong.