• It’s what we customarily do here. Basically, we’ll make an English transcript. Everybody here gets to edit for 10 days collaboratively, and then we publish it to the broad Internet. I do this even for internal meetings that I hold as a chair.

  • I think it’s a good discipline to have. It might encourage more democracy, people listen to it.

  • (laughter)

  • Also, people can get a feel of being a digital minister. I get email all the time, like, "I read your transcript a week ago. I think you did something wrong," [laughs] things like that. It enables more context in policymaking.

  • The transcript is a full transcript?

  • It’s a full transcript.

  • I can show you how it looks like. You can see since I’ve become the digital minister, I talked to exactly 3,671 people, excluding me...

  • (laughter)

  • ...in this many speeches. It includes lobbying and interviews and whatever. For example, when Uber, David Plouffe at a time working for Uber came. We had a full talk. It’s from doorbell [laughs] to the exit and something like that.

  • The great thing about it is that everything has its own URL. When you Google something, it’s very easy to, for one particular quote to appear because it has its own URL. Then, it’s still within the context.

  • You can see where the dialogue did this conversation happen. It enables what we call a policy accountability trail in the sense that you can look back at the policy and exactly what happened.

  • Has anybody refused to be recorded?

  • No, because in the 10 days, the trick is that you can take away anything that you said and redact yourself basically and/or providing supplementary material.

  • I can see overall it’s very useful so long as people don’t suddenly refuse to do it. [laughs]

  • No, the thing is that the public service before this mechanism, the minister take all the credit. If things go wrong, then they take the blame. It’s not very conductive to innovation, but now with this mechanism, they always get the credit because the journalist can see who exactly came up with this decision and I take all the blame if things goes wrong.

  • (laughter)

  • It enables a lot more innovation.

  • The transparency, I think it’s very good.

  • Thank you. For how long are you here this time?

  • I’m here till Thursday night in Taipei. We’ve got about an hour today. Is that right?

  • Any new and exciting loans?

  • The fact was that we wanted to support the Smart Cities event, which, to me, is important, so bringing 22 business and five city authorities is good. I think the desire is to learn from each other. Can we see something which is new here that we can learn from? Can we collaborate in different ways? Some who were here a year ago have come back, so there are some follow ups as well.

  • We’ve had some interesting discussions planned this week around 5G. I wouldn’t mind saying a little bit about that, just to understand that. I wouldn’t mind having a bit of a discussion about data and how data is opening up certainly in Europe and wouldn’t mind understanding what’s happening here about data.

  • That’s a quick summary.

  • Let’s dive in. [laughs] We’re now calling it data collaboratives. It’s a term that the GovLab people...I’m working with them to reframe the various different data exchange things that we’ve been doing, data pooling, price and challenges, partnerships, products, APIs, interested intermediary, which was previously in very different things.

  • The only umbrella brand to bring them together is Smart City, but it doesn’t quite have a data emphasis.

  • [laughs] We’re working on this new term, data collaboratives, to try to put the emphasis on the actual worked relationships around data, what we call data stewardship, rather than focus on individual data elements like the previous open data movement. That is to say, to shift focus away from data sets to the social values and the collaboratives that steward the data together.

  • This year, we’re working with the Open Contracting Partnership as well as the TM Forum on what we call the Presidential Hackathon. The Presidential Hackathon, which we run in pilot form last year and enabled very good data collaborative efforts. I think I mentioned the New Zealand water leakage detection case. That was just one case last year.

  • This year we made it a regulation in the sense that the president’s office will keep running it every year for three months per year. This year, the theme is called Enabling Sustainable Infrastructure. While we don’t say directly that data is one of the themes, data is actually underlying all of these themes.

  • I’ll just take a couple minutes to explain how the process works. The president’s office runs it. The prize is not monetary. The prize is that any of the five winning teams every year gets the presidential promise to integrate their ideas into the public service by the next year, including all the regulatory budget or anything that make it happen kind of promise.

  • It’s not just a hackathon of a weekend, but rather a series of co creative events over three months. Every year, we start getting the applications by March, which goes on for a month or so. Last year, we got maybe more than 100 cases.

  • In many cases, they’re the data stewards themselves asking for people to improve the usability and applicability. We also have journalists and private sector people that says, "If you can give out data in this statistics format instead of the old, bad way of statistics, we can make it so much better," so we also have the data requesters initiating the proposals.

  • What we have witnessed is that there’s a lot of lower level or mid level public servants actually working with the data partners to provide such proposals. Because A, there’s no risk for them if it doesn’t work out. They actually get, because of the presidential promise, a better working pipeline if it does work out. There’s no downside and all upside for them.

  • This year, we’re using quadratic voting. That is a new voting method invented by the blockchain people, VitalikButerin and friends. When we have that hundreds or so cases, and each one will get a number of votes, but the votes is quadratic in the sense that if you vote three votes, you have to spend nine points. When you have 100 points, you can devote 10 of them into a vote.

  • People are highly encouraged to swap votes so that you can get 7 votes on both cases with 2 points to spare because 100 divided by 2 is 50 50, then that means 7 and 7 on two cases. What we’re doing here is rewarding people to trade their votes and to suss out the potential partnerships across those petitions.

  • Then we work with them and curate them into a team of 20 and start filling in what we call trilingual relationships, that is to say people from the data science domain, people from the domain experts, and people working with regulatory environments so that we can get it actually implemented. Each team need to have at least three people in the three roles.

  • We curate them for another month or two, then we select 10 out of the 20, and finally 5 out of the 10, and give the award and ceremony and the presidential promise. This year, I think the TM forum and OCP will both send one judge to the panel. We’re also accepting international teams to come to Taiwan.

  • Who’s helping you from the TM Forum? Is it Nik Willetts?

  • I actually don’t have the name of the primary contact. I’m just sending out the invitation letter, but we get the confirmation that they will participate in such a way.

  • If you get stuck there, let me know. I know Nik Willetts runs the TM Forum.

  • Awesome. I think TM Forum is also keen to add the at least pre 5G elements to this competition. The only thing is that we can’t really reliably demo 5G in the president’s office this year. [laughs] We’re saying maybe next year.

  • I think 5G will also be part of this fabric of bringing more data gathering from the civil society. In Taiwan, we talk about open data. People don’t actually jump and think open government data. They think citizen science and open data from the private and social sectors, and the government is more of an integrating role for data collaboratives.

  • What would look good on demo data on the 21st of July? What would sound really good as a result?

  • Last year, we have our five winning cases, all featured here. I’m just checking whether they’re translated. Oh, here we go. In 2018, what looked really good is there’s a domestic violence prevention where the New Taipei City and Taipei City share their violence and domestic abuse databases so that it empowers the social workers to have a kind of heat map as well as the top risks identified to do the one stop service at the social work level instead of at the violence prevention level.

  • There is one who used geospatial data to redistribute the legal aid and insurance centers so that...It used to be measured by kind of metric distance but it ignores that people have to walk and take public transportation and so on. This is more dynamically rooted to where people actually are.

  • This is a really good one because we had a 2014 gas explosion accident in Kaohsiung City. The mayor at that time is now Secretary General in the president’s office, Chen Chu. This is basically a replay of the 2014 case in identifying the points where there could be better communication and use the state of the art protocols such as fire and things like that to make sure that if this happens again, there is a well integrated one stop service.

  • That actually makes a lot of use of 4G deployment and would be actually a very good 5G demo case because then on the ambulance and so on, you can get all this data. This is the New Zealand partnership that we talked about is using machine learning to plug water leaks.

  • Finally, Government Zero works with the air referral with medical care so that when people fly helicopters to bring rural island patients to the main island, there was a communication breakdown but now we use the new telemedicine laws to make sure that they can get quality telediagnostics and order, you know real time reporting of the patients and so on. It’s actually one of the first to be integrated into the Orchid Island and Green Island. It’s actually online now.

  • I think all five is being deployed this year. We made good on the promise last year. This year, there’s more goodwill to attend. There’s no foreign teams here. We’re fixing that this year.

  • Orchid Island and Green Island are islands off the coast of Taiwan. Relatively remote communities.

  • In this case, we had to integrate a lot of electronic signature signing, medical record data sharing, a lot of data sharing because...This is a very strong social motivation because there was a helicopter crash because it was forced to fly in bad weather and things like that. There’s a lot of social outcry to prevent something like that from happening again.

  • All those data and regulatory hoops that we need to jump through, we indeed jumped through last year. That’s what I mean by putting the collaboratives first and data as a necessity because then the forces, the tensions will force the data operators to figure out something that could work instead of putting data first and before the social tension.

  • I could see a lot of benefits of doing that, but what facilities and data do you give them in advance?

  • Basically, when they provide the petitions, they can outline the resources that they don’t have yet. For this particular thing is, the agency is not exchanging medical data records because of the privacy law and things like that, and so they will identify the challenges in the current data pipeline.

  • It’s not them asking for data per se, but imagining a case where the data collaborative relationship worked, and we work toward making that happen. It could use any of these strategies.

  • Once the winners are announced, is there a scale up opportunity, so you can take it from one area to another?

  • Very much so. For example, the water leak detection of course went to New Zealand. It starts again prototyping on one of the islands bar is now bringing to Keelung, which is one of the places in the main island that suffers from water shortage.

  • This reaches all the five branches of the government, and all the local mayors are aware of this as well, so it also is a great showcase. Because of the presidential blessing, they’re very easy to integrate into the other cities and municipalities as well.

  • Have you had a five out of five success rate in actually rolling this out?

  • Yeah, that’s right. That’s our promise. [laughs]

  • Sometimes, with the best will in the world, it’s not possible to fulfill promises.

  • That’s why our focus on the trilingual teams, because sometime the domain and data experts will agree it’s the best thing, but it’s illegal. [laughs] Sometimes the regulatory people think it’s great, the data people think this is great, but it’s actually missing. It’s answering the wrong question from the domain experts’ perspective.

  • In that case, it will prove to have a negative social value. It will look really bad, actually, how do we actually integrate it? The trilingual partnership model I think is the key to get five out of five.

  • On the awards day, clearly there’ll be publicity and so on.

  • Sure. It’s a demo before the president and all the investors.

  • It doesn’t end there, does it?

  • No, it doesn’t. That’s when the work begins, three months of partner sourcing and nine months of integration.

  • The nine month of integration pays off because on the next year’s Presidential Hackathon we’ll feature the five cases of the last year. That’s the kind of data collaborative initiative we’re working on.

  • For example, do city authorities get encouraged to put data into central stores that are then accessible generally in advance?

  • Yes. We have this data.gov.tw, and there’s a machine to machine case. As you can see, all the ministries and pretty much all the cities are currently on board in terms of the data set transformation. I think we’re not missing anyone here, so that’s literally all the municipalities and all the cities.

  • They regularly -- well, the Keelung city, maybe not that regularly -- but mostly regularly synchronize their data portals into the nationally applicable.

  • I would have thought that also is a spur between cities to get them to swap notes and compare and contrast a little bit.

  • Very much so, and we give out also data quality awards. If it’s structured, it’s well documented, it use open API, and so on, then they get a gold award and things like that.

  • The data has to be manually inputted?

  • No, we do this as part of procurement. The procurement basically rates the open API structured data as one of the accessibility guidelines.

  • Just like if the government procures something and people with disabilities cannot use it, then the vendor could be disqualified out of unprofessionalism because the vendors are expected to provide accessible to people with blindness, when they procure new or revamped services. We reused that clause and said machines are a kind of people too.

  • Basically, if the vendor says, "This is for human only but we cannot provide API for all its data functions," then the vendor can be disqualified for being unprofessional. If they say, "I have to charge you five times because of that," they could also be disqualified as unprofessional. We, basically, solve that on a procurement level.

  • Can some of these data stools ingest data from the private sector or is it public data only?

  • They do. One of the primary examples we have here is the civil IoT system. The civil IoT system is notable because when we talk about civil IoT, it’s really data from everywhere -- industry, the general public, the academic institution.

  • This is earthquake but there’s also emergency because during an emergency, again, the underground people are not always employed by the government. Again, we need a pipeline here as well. Also, for air quality. The air quality community, basically, have their own g0v, G 0 V, website.

  • This is very interesting because they have a good map of the current air quality but there is a disclaimer because one legislator said because it’s citizen science. One time or another, there will be a sensor that goes awry and looks like a spike but it’s actually a malfunction of the citizen scientist and the legislator said that it could cause panic in the general population.

  • In response, the g0v community put out a disclaimer that you have to understand...

  • Understand. I’m not panicking.

  • Exactly. It basically said don’t panic. This button says, "I understand. I am not panicking."

  • (laughter)

  • This button says, "I don’t understand, and I feel panicked."

  • (laughter)

  • If you click this, it brings you to the official air quality measurement but if you don’t panic, then you can see the actual data. We’re integrating this not panicky citizen science data through a distributed ledger so that the people can rest assured that the government is not changing their contributed data the day before the election. Not that we would do that, but people get reassured.

  • We also set up our own air quality sensing spots based on the shortage of such reporting. You can see some blank places here. Sometimes, it’s because it’s an industrial area, industrial park. People cannot go there and install their citizen science equipment, so they ask the EPA to do this. The EPA said, "We’ll install it on the lamps because we own the lamps."

  • We complement the citizen scientist’s work. They sometimes say, "We want a sensor here because we want to tell the domestic versus non domestic air pollution," but there’s no way they can set up something here. We’re setting up wind turbines power plants anyway. We changed the contracts, so the vendors have to carry air boxes.

  • On the new wind farms?

  • On the new wind farms. They’re convenient.

  • For example, would the data sets for environmental measurement follow a similar geographic pattern?

  • Could you overlay transport maps on this to see if cars were causing the pollution?

  • That’s right. We totally are doing that. There’s a competition right after the Presidential Hackathon. If any of the Presidential Hackathon teams, top five or not, work on the environmental data, then they get a lot of monetary prize. I think it’s NT$3 million, which is pretty good if they can create something of social value.

  • The winner, last year, of the Civil IoT competition, is a bot that posts on PTT — the Taiwan version of Reddit — a conversation about air quality and goes to reply, using Reddit speak, the actual true information about the air quality. The main contribution is not just a visualization, but also machine translation model that turns press releases into netizen speak, which I think is really original, and it works well with these air-quality microsensors.

  • It’s also great for education as well.

  • It is. In the places with the most number of, like Taipei City and New Taipei, that’s because the primary schools use that as an environmental education tool. They install it for free because it’s sponsored by the city government.

  • It also makes people think about sources of data, visualization of data... Just the data sources.

  • It teaches data stewardship. Instead of thinking of data like oil, like can only be extracted very expensively by large private organizations that causes environmental harm, this actually teaches the schoolchildren that they, too, can be data stewards.

  • What do the ministries and the local governments really feel about this?

  • The legislators are not really happy about this. One particular legislator is very vocal about this being possibly misleading [laughs] but I think the local governments are now taking up to this idea really well because, first, it can establish its own legitimacy layer. It’s not at mercy of the central Environmental Protection Agency to detect their air patterns, but rather, they could be part of their service and fabric to their citizens.

  • It shifts the political tension, you see, from the city government for not observing the environmental protection laws well, into something that, "Hey, if you feel that something is not being observed well, you can contribute by adding a sensor somewhere near the spot that you care about," and so on.

  • It offloads some of the responsibility to the citizens. I think the local city governments are generally in favor of it, hence the Minister of Education partnership, and on the central government level. I think because this particular instance I’m approaching is run by Academia Sinica, which is a academic place that reports directly to the president’s office.

  • The Minister of Education doesn’t have any control to this budget. They’re like, "OK. If Academia Sinica wants it, that means the president wants it and why not?"

  • I think they’re reluctant at first, but they are now gradually buying into the idea that if we work with the community, and set up places where they care about but they cannot go, then we’re seen as complementary instead of detrimental to the Citizen Scientist. They’re slowly coming around.

  • Also, there might be some tension around innovation. It could be the ministerial department has always done it a certain way, and then somebody comes up with a new way, and they say, "Woah, woah."

  • The new micro sensor that the EPA deploys is exactly the same as at Citizen Science. Actually, we say that we are supporting them in manufacturing even lower cost chips and equipments, with humidity adjustments. What I’m saying is that the old way of very trustworthy but very expensive measurements is a backbone, but we’re now embracing what the community has to offer.

  • How many individuals are participating in this particular...?

  • Thousands. I think the latest number is maybe 3,000 or something spots, like sensors, individual sensors. Each one, if it’s a class project, of course, touches hundreds of people.

  • I can’t imagine it’s a big budget either to do this. To me, what’s the harm? I can’t see the harm in doing it all. It’s good.

  • The civil IoT is actually a lot of budget, but the budget is mostly allocated to clean the data, to converge, to harmonize it to the sensor things of global API, and to provide supercomputing center facilities to run competitions. They’re value added services on top of the data. The data itself is not expensive to get. Each one is like $100. It’s really cheap.

  • If you went forward two or three years, what would look really good by say 2020 or 2022? Would you see some change in the way people do things? Would there be something which was exported? What would sound really good in two or three years’ time?

  • This year, the National Development Council here in central government launched TESAS. And TESAS is essentially like civil IoT, but except even more granular. You can look into one particular district in one particular city, and see not just environmental but also population, tourism, land, housing, industry, transportation, and so on.

  • This fact based evidence network is being used to what we call the Regional Revitalization plan or the RR plan. The plan basically says any county, especially counties that are suffering from declining population...which is not every city. This is a bad example to pick.

  • (laughter)

  • A lot of counties and populations are suffering really from a declining population and aging population. If in any of those cases, they can figure out a common vision, maybe in five years, maybe in six years, they will reverse this trend by doing such and such interventions.

  • Arguing based on the TESAS data, and involving all the different sectors in a society, then we’re committed to not asking them to file for any particular reimbursement or investment plan from the central government.

  • Rather turn this around and say, "Anytime you file a project, we fill out the puzzle by asking people from central government to work in that locality through a teleworking scheme, and allocating up to 10 percent of all the different ministries, regional development budget, into whatever division that local people have agreed on."

  • We’re increasing that 10 percent into maybe 15. It’s a form of participatory budgeting, but on a national level. That uses district or township as the main unit.

  • What will look really good maybe five years down the road, is that a lot of budgets that we allocate for regional development is no longer a top down competitive way, but rather a co creative based on actual data way from each district and township. That’s a really big change for public administration.

  • How much business buy in, is that it’s so much a business is helping you? Are they sponsoring schemes?

  • Yeah, very much so. Truth to be told, really, the social and private sector really lead to this. We’re really just ratifying what they have always been doing. The background is that because, in Taiwan, the Marshall Law was lifted in the late ’80s by the presidential election of ’96.

  • There’s a decade where the social and private sector gets to accumulate legitimacy before the first presidential election. For now, for cases like this, if there’s a disaster, or if there’s an earthquake or whatever, if city, publish a number and the government published another one, people tend to believe the Citizens Association’s number. [laughs]

  • They have higher legitimacy, you see. We’re basically just taking the CSRs, the social sectors, and whatever they’re doing and saying, "For even more remote places where you’re not quite there, now we’re providing the same service there." The backbone is always the CSRs.

  • They’re now, also using structured data to publish their work, like their SDG reporting mechanism, the GRI and other indicators. Now all the companies’ CSRs are required to be re slotted into the SDG. We’re developing a lot of registries based on this data, and also the University Social Responsibility, the USR programs are also using the same index.

  • Whereas people originally just centered around particular leaders in the private and social sector, now they’re re collaborating around particular goals. That enables them to discover one another.

  • Are you comparing Taiwan to other places as well now through the SDGs?

  • Yes. We do file the voluntary national reviews, but that’s mostly public sector public sector comparison like self chosen goals and things like that. Starting this year, we’re also, through the CSR framework, comparing the SDG accountability trails domestically. That’s mostly the private sectors where like PwC and KPMG are leading the effort. We’re just participating in their effort.

  • I’m not convinced the UK is using this SDG structure enough, really. That’s why asked the question about international comparisons.

  • What’s really useful so far is that we’re seeing that people using, particularly 12.6. I’m now at a point where I basically speak through the duo decimal.

  • (laughter)

  • 12.6, yes. There are whole websites setup just to track 12.6 alone. What they call data partnerships in the 12.6 tracking mechanisms is the main source. We rate, for example, our labor pension fund investment, is based on whether the ESG is reported based on 12.6, and so far always beats the large markets. Why not?

  • It does provide a lot of incentive for publicly traded companies, because they then get additional what we call patience funding or patience finance.

  • Is this an open website? I think it is, isn’t it?

  • Yeah, it is on GitHub. Global goals.

  • If I talk to the UK people in the Office of National Statistics, they will do lots of statistics and publish them regularly, but are not sure they’re looking at the goals in relation to the statistics. Or if you talk to city mayors, there aren’t many city mayors who actually have that tabulation.

  • Yeah. I think that the data partnership effort, it’s really across sectors. In the private sector, there is, of course, the GRI database and there is the live tracker where we can see how many UK companies are participating. I think it’s not too bad, no?

  • On the company level, that’s true. I think it’s on the government level it’s just not...

  • 200 reports. Taiwan is 464 reports.

  • (laughter)

  • Do you know who is ahead of you in terms of 464? Is there somebody who has a bigger number?

  • You probably need to divide it by registered companies...

  • Japan is 205. India, 300. I think we’re doing exceptionally well. I haven’t seen a number larger than 400 actually.

  • Has your number gone up a lot in the last...?

  • Yes. I just attended a conference with BSI. These are now, of the CSR publishing companies in Taiwan, over half is following this standard now. That means we have another like 45 percent to go, but I think it’s by far a commonly agreed thing. The people who don’t do it, it’s because it’s a resource, but we’ll get to it next year.

  • I think we need to revisit this.

  • Starting from the CSR database is a good start. They have to do the reporting anyway, so why not convert to SDGs?

  • I agreed at that discussion last year.

  • Are those companies doing that voluntarily.

  • Right, because if they’re public listed, doing this qualifies them to the pension fund and to various other...

  • Key investors who are keen on this.

  • Yeah, that’s right.

  • It also affects their reputation.

  • Very much so. That’s why over half are doing that. It negatively affects the reputation of people who are not doing this.

  • It’s not driven by government. It’s driven by other things.

  • And reaching smaller companies?

  • Yes. We asked smaller companies to voluntarily disclose. They’re not under any legal obligation. They’re not publicly traded anyway, but if they do do so, then we prefer them in our public contracting.

  • Also, if they’re in the supply chain of larger companies that do have to disclose such social or environmental procurements, and they reach maybe NT$3 million, I think this year, I personally go out and give an award. They’re also listed on the free online catalogue, and so on.

  • We’ll help them to promote, to match make them with CSR partnerships, and also encourage the social environmental buying through the Buying Power awards. That’s all in the MSME, the Small and Medium Enterprise Agency. They too are converted to the SDGs. They actually are wearing this T shirt all the time.

  • (laughter)

  • There’s rephrasing. You see AIoT -- AI plus IoT -- all the time here. Now they’re saying enabling social impact with AIoT, AIoT for public good, and things like that, and always with this shape. This used to be extremely capitalistic website by the MSME, but now they’ve totally rebranded.

  • I imagine there’s some resistance among the traditional small and medium sized companies.

  • Yeah, very much so. That’s why we make it completely opt in. We are not giving tax incentives, otherwise there will be a revolt. We’re not giving tax incentives. We’re only doing match making, cross promotion, and recognition. When the President gives an award, it’s not a monetary prize.

  • It’s basically trying to foster a new norm, but there’s no penalty comparatively to people who are not opting in yet.

  • It will be a tiny proportion...

  • It’s a respectable proportion, if you look at new corporations; B corps is a popular choice. It’s relatively good, for them, to align with the niche that they have to prove that they are different from existing market players. For well established MSMEs, that’s true. I think we’re in like two percent or something.

  • Which goals are you doing really well on? Which ones do you need some help on?

  • You mean sustainable goals?

  • Of the 17, I think we’re doing really well in the 17s and the 16s, just by providing the accountability infrastructure to make things happen. Our carbon footprint is really bad, so for climate action, we really need some awareness campaign.

  • People usually, they think in terms of the 12, like plastic bags, recycling, glass recycling. That they can do really well here, but people are not generally thinking as working against climate change, but just rather a good habit to have.

  • For climate change, I think we need to take even more drastic and intentional actions rather than just good habits overall.

  • I think awareness here of climate change is really quite low.

  • That’s right. It’s almost non existent.

  • I’d be interested in a future conversation perhaps to talk about how we could support increasing that awareness.

  • That’s right. There’s a lot of talk about carbon tax, for example, but I think because of lack of awareness, conversely it’s not high on political agenda for many legislators and regulators, just because the people are not clamoring for it.

  • That’s what’s made a big difference in the UK, is that people started putting pressure on their politicians and companies started putting pressure.

  • Taiwan doesn’t have a lot of pressure groups specifically for climate change. There’s a lot for environmental protection. Like for the other three, the 6, 14, and 15, they’re extremely vocal, but not so much for the 13s.

  • The most vocal carbon reduction group at the moment is the nuclear power group.

  • (laughter)

  • We cannot just rely on them alone.

  • Yes, but they’re proposing a referendum.

  • Do you have some strong ministerial support for the goals?

  • Yes, across several ministries.

  • They’ll help drive some of these through to encourage...

  • That’s right. We aligned the ministry of education through the USR of economy through the CSR and SE reporting. These two are really key. This year, the new development is that the MOFA is fully on board. MOFA has always said leave no one behind, including Taiwanese people.

  • Now if you look at MOFA’s Twitter, our president’s Twitter, you see Taiwan can help, and specific SDG numbering on each of the president’s tweets. That really helped creating the awareness.

  • What about the regulators, the people who regulate key sectors like telecoms and so on? Are the regulators behind you as much as ministers?

  • Yeah. There’s a two level answer to this. If you look at, for example, the Presidential Hackathon, you’ll see that it’s actually run not by the president’s office but by the main stakeholder councils and ministries.

  • That means that they do have a stake in getting the SDG message out, or at least sustainable infrastructure message out. That’s two levels. One is that, because in Taiwan we’re choosing this as a brand, in the sense that this open innovation is not a colonizing innovation.

  • It’s a co creative relationship with whatever foreign markets and so on. It serves as good bilateral for social good and not exploitative marking, which is what every ministry is behind also.

  • Also, it recruits more people into the ministry’s mission. The young people here, when they partake in something, they ask for the meaning in this. They’re not just doing...

  • Why should I do this?

  • Right, exactly. Sometimes, the ministers are hard pressed to give that answer to that.

  • (laughter)

  • By using crowdsourcing, and quadratic voting, and so on, they can point to it and say the people are offered this. If you contribute to your community, you get a lot of respect and kudos from the local community, in addition to the profits that you’re going to make. That’s why all the ministries -- not all, but one third of the ministries -- are sponsoring this.

  • You’ve got a lot of backing. Well done.

  • Thank you. Diplomatically speaking, this is a really good message for Taiwan.

  • She loves to bring science and technology to life as well. I think it’s got meaning, whereas it’s sometimes seen as people in white coats do the science, whereas this brings it to life.

  • When we do our AI training, based on the not abstract cargo things, but rather on actual problems proposed by our MSMEs, like the water detection or whatever, the students know that first, they can find employment really quickly, but also they see this experiment as really relevant to their daily work.

  • Also, I think you’ve got an industry here in Taiwan which is really strong on measurement and computing, measurements, sensors, that sort of thing. To me, it’s a natural adjunct to industry’s needs as well.

  • Very much so. The regulatory sandbox, which we talked briefly when I visited, is getting quite a few high profile cases now. People generally now see that it’s not just experiments, but also consulting entries.

  • We get a lot of people deploying AI banking, or deploying self driving vehicles, or whatever. They now just go to this one stop website and say if we’re just doing self driving tricycle, maybe we don’t need a sandbox law.

  • It’s a well trusted source so that people can know exactly which regulations are in the way and then work with us to resolve them. The published cases really help. Previously, these are individual interpretations, but now because it’s all published and made into pretty comics and whatever, then it makes the regulators closer to people, is what we’re saying.

  • The results on the President’s Awards day, because it’s all on the Web and visible, English version as well as Taiwanese?

  • Yeah, of course. That’s true of last year’s as well.

  • I just wonder whether some have got some international meaning, and not just statistics. Good solutions that work here, could work somewhere else, couldn’t they?

  • That’s right. We do invite all the investors and representatives to the Demo Day. For this year, of course, we’re also looking for international participation. Maybe I’ll talk with TM Forum to see. We do sponsor the travelling from whatever the originating countries they are to Taiwan.

  • Has anybody ever told you about [email protected]? Have you heard a little about that or no?

  • The Duke of York is one of the sons of the Queen of England. Prince Andrew has been running [email protected] for something like 10 years. It’s not really had an SDGs theme to it yet. It’s had an innovation theme to it.

  • Typically it picks out some 60 startups a year. He started to do some [email protected] activity overseas.

  • For example, I know he is thinking about doing some other [email protected] events outside the UK. What might be interesting to think about is whether some of your winners go and present at [email protected] in London or something like that as part of an award, particularly if they have international potential.

  • That would be great.

  • Which season? Is it every year?

  • Typically by November, so it would fit in your July announcement very well. I’ve been involved in some of the judging for it on his behalf before now. I could just ask a few questions and see would they be willing to have some overseas, international presenters. I think they would probably say yes.

  • It would be a softer prize if you like for some of the things that you’re already doing. Unless you see any downside to that, I could test it a bit and see what interest there would be.

  • For New Zealand, what they did is, they call it Lightning Lab GovTech. What they do is basically repackage what the Taiwan team is doing into the local relevance, and work for three months to make sure that it’s co created and that local people can actually understand the Taiwanese technology. They’re not just highlighting Taiwan. They’re highlighting a partnership.

  • It seems to me some of the better ideas you are filtering out might have some international potential if they got on the international stage, so why not give them a stage?

  • Thank you. That’s great.

  • I’ll check that out and see what options there are there to see if they are doable. Recently, he did a [email protected] across some parts of Africa -- South Africa, Kenya, I believe. That seemed to work quite well. I’m not sure it can go on tour everywhere in Asia, but if your winners could go to the UK or something like that as part of the prize, that would seem as a sensible thing to do.

  • We haven’t talked about telecommunications at all.

  • Can I mention that?

  • To what extent are you bringing the telecommunication side to support the SDGs or to support the president’s prize?

  • We are very fortunate in one of the leading telecoms, Chunghwa Telecoms, is behind pretty much everything we do. They are, I don’t know, 40 percent owned by...

  • Owned by the government, you mean?

  • Correct. Of course there is cable, but in any case, they’re complimentary. For example, every year, we hold this Asia Pacific Social Enterprise Summit, and we give out an award called APSIPA. I think it’s still open for registration if you’re interested.

  • What we’re doing is highlighting just like the GSMA partnership you mentioned. Always, the Chunghwa Telecoms is a great partner and a sponsor in making this happen. I’m not as much in touch with FarEasTone. I don’t think we have any partnership with FarEasTone yet.

  • Taiwan Mobile Foundation was supporter of the g0v grants initiative too. They’re more working on the civil society side, but as you can see, the civil society side is powered by both Chunghwa Telecom and Taiwan Mobile. These two are the large ones...

  • You can’t force them all, can you?

  • (laughter)

  • Things like 5G development. Clearly, it’s in the stage at the moment, as opposed to launch.

  • Yes, and also local experiments. We’re opening up experimental bands.

  • Are you encouraging that from your area, or is that led by other parts of government?

  • It’s coordinated as always at the Board of Science and Technology, the BOST. My role is mostly to feature one of the early cases of experimentation, telling people that unlike 4G, now we’re saying if you’re a not for profit, you can keep the experiments running indefinitely. Even if you’re for profit, you can allocate half a year to prove both the proof of business as well as the technology.

  • The sandbox idea is mostly the one I’m championing, but as for the spectrum allocation and so on, the BOST handles that.

  • That’s understandable.

  • We are due to see NCC later on as well with regard to some of those policy areas. How is this Asia Pacific Social Innovation Partnership working?

  • This is basically we’re saying we’re combining the awards that were previously about specific contributions to environment of inclusive business like a B Corp award and social solidarity into one award. That would be like three categories, three awards each and the special jury prize.

  • They’re all SDG-indexed. We invite the judges from over the Asia Pacific, so they are the largest intermediaries in each countries. We form collectively a jury that gives award to partnerships, not organizations.

  • To enter this, you need to have at least two organizations, otherwise it’s not a partnership. [laughs] Then, we’re recognizing anything that is outside of BAU, the business as usual. The more unlikely the partnership is, the higher score it gets.

  • It’s a new trial, we haven’t seen any awards specifically targeting unlikely partnerships. But we’re thinking that it would give, first, better press coverage. The media usually love those true stories. Also, it will foster more meaningful relationships between the R&Ds, because otherwise, it feels too much like individual competition within a sector.

  • But this basically by default brings the cross sector partnerships because if you can make one unlikely partnership, you are of course happy to make another unlikely partnership with someone on that target sector.

  • We’ll give out award of May 11th in Kaohsiung when we had a yearly summit.

  • This is Asia Pacific, so how are you involving countries around Asia Pacific?

  • Right, so we’re, as I said, inviting like New Zealand, Australia, and APEC countries to name their intermediaries. Their intermediary send both the judge and also, because they’re intermediary, they know the potential partnerships in their own country. Basically, it’s a comparison between what transpired the previous year in all those different jurisdictions.

  • Did it have many entries last year?

  • This is the inaugural one, this year. We’re inviting all these people over and I’ll head the jury committee. Basically make acquaintance to all these people at once and talk about, maybe some of them will bring 5 or 10 or 11 cases from their respective jurisdictions.

  • It’s a new design, may or may not work. It’s exciting.

  • Innovative. It’s the first year. You don’t know, do you? Do you say the awards are in May?

  • Yeah. That’s right.

  • Have any entries come in already?

  • Yeah. I haven’t read through them all. I think in a week or two, we’re doing a preliminary screening. I think they’re still open for application. It’s not really ended yet. I think there’s exactly 24 hours...

  • (laughter)

  • ...till the application process. We’re prohibited from seeing the entrants.

  • Would those be announced at an event which is a conference, or?

  • Right. APSES, Asia Pacific Social Enterprises Summit. This year, the focus is on...recently I’m seeing inclusion. We’re seeing Tania, and the Malala foundation co-founder.

  • There’s lots of that.

  • Yes, the usual suspects. Many of them are actually judges in the APSIPA. While they are coming for the final selection anyway, why not just go on stage and speak something? That’s the plan. This year it’s in Kaohsiung. It has an ocean sustainability theme, and where we also hope to raise more awareness on climate change.

  • If it’s in Taipei with a view of climate change, the problem is this. [laughs] It’s not feeling as pressing. There’s no agricultural representation there.

  • Is this location in the south you mean?

  • Yeah. It’s in the south.

  • It’s a big city. It’s the third city.

  • Excuse my lack of geography.

  • It’s fine. [laughs]

  • Is there anything else we could help you with, that you would find useful?

  • I think just spreading the message of the Presidential Hackathon, of the APSES.asia. If you think of some partnership cases that you have encountered in APAC before, maybe use those final 24 hours to let us know, and just generally spreading the word about the new SDG-indexing efforts that we’re doing.

  • I think you’ve gone a long way with the SDG-indexing. It seems to me, since the time we’ve met, your number for Taiwan was phenomenal.

  • The fact that you’ve got other ministers backing you as well as it being an educational tool, that to me is a real sign of progress.

  • Can I ask about continuity into the future?

  • You’ve got an election...

  • Sustainability, yes.

  • (laughter)

  • You’ve got an election coming. Who knows quite what’s going to happen in the next 12 months. Do you have a plan to ensure sustainability?

  • Which is why we stress that Presidential Hackathon, the social innovation plan, or the open government PO network that we’re building, we’ve got regulations for all of this. It’s part of the system. It’s not a mechanism because I’m here. That’s the short answer to that.

  • Having a regulation is enough for something to really continue?

  • Yeah, because if the public service feel that it really helps their work, usually they will tell the ministers that, "This has gotta be kept this way, improved, but not shredded." As opposed to if I impose this on political will to the detriment of the ministry’s public servants, then, of course, it will be canceled as soon as I’m not here.

  • Do you think some of your initiatives are more vulnerable than others, that you’ve got more sustainable buy in in some areas?

  • No. That’s the way we create our programs. In my office, I don’t give orders to my colleagues. They’re literally one person from each ministry, not all ministries, but from each ministry. What I mean is that, because I don’t score or rank or give evaluations to my colleagues, they have to come up with the programs, convince the other ministries’ dispatches to this office.

  • Just by doing so in a open, collaborative way, it means that, by default, it’s Pareto improvement. It’s not a sacrifice of other ministries. Because of this co creative environment, our programs are sometimes criticized as slow. Unless we have buy in from each relevant ministries, we don’t roll out anything. Once we roll out something, it’s to the benefit, not detriment, to other related ministries.

  • I think SDGs, because they’re UN run as well, will continue irrespective of who’s in power.

  • All the way to 2030.

  • Though the conviction and the level of energy going to things can vary.

  • Sure, that might change. I think if there’s community interest as well as political interest, that community interest will continue unless something’s pulled away and you suddenly stop reporting.

  • Definitely. The outside game really is the main game, which is why I always say we’re just ratifying what the community has proved to be working. Then the backing will be there, which is why we haven’t really done anything that’s top down climate change because there’s essentially no outside game.

  • Getting the message out about how well Taiwan is doing on SDG indexing, have a view of that. You’ve obviously had some personal recognition with exceptional...

  • Yeah, we write columns all the time. I just wrote one on economist.com. [laughs]

  • There’s another article in the same series from our friends at GovLab in New York, also talking about Taiwan’s social innovation efforts. I think these are really good in the sense that it provides both a context of where Taiwan is located in an international stage, but it also convince the domestic people that we’re not doing this for domestic politics and will continue to do so.

  • Maybe just through the president’s Twitter, the MOFA’s Twitter. The Minister of Culture has a really strong Twitter presence as well.

  • And to your offices around the world.

  • Your representative officers, are they out there selling...

  • Yes. We challenged them to eat something soft and post on Twitter. [laughs] That’s a recent Twitter challenge, and it’s working really well.

  • I was visiting Tokyo when they launched the challenge. I just randomly picked up a persimmon from the Tokyo supermarket from Fukushima and just ate it for Twitter, and said, "Gekiuma -- it tastes great."

  • (laughter)

  • This is an issue between Taiwan and Japan. Taiwan doesn’t import products from the Fukushima area.

  • That’s right. The Japanese people, of course, loved it, and I recommended to them some more persimmons from HsinChu, so it’s bilateral you see.

  • (laughter)

  • I think the Sustainable Development Goals are a great leveler between many nations. If you can do other things to communicate issues about Japanese foods, even better.

  • Very much so. It takes away the usual tension around developing and developed nations because it’s now common goals.

  • It’s useful in Taiwan because we’re just reimagine ourself from developing to developed. SDG is the kind of natural progression. Which side you’re on doesn’t really matter. It’s a common goal.

  • That’s great. We’ve got lots of companies who are with us this week, and we need to go and support them the rest of this week. They’re here to actually learn from what happens here in Taiwan as well, but you’ve described lots of things we could learn from today about SDGs and how you’re using them.

  • Some of the companies who are here this week obviously want to collaborate as well, and we’ll see how that goes. Some of them are in that field of Internet of Things. Some of them are in the field of data. Some of them are in the field of big data analytics, for example. Sometimes, people don’t understand each other until they talk about it.

  • How much more are you doing on social media now as a government? Have you really stepped that up?

  • Very much so. Our premier basically is making cute videos literally every day now, [laughs] and very interesting. They’re designed for mobile phone users who are set on mute, so every frame as the really large fonts that jumps to your face. [laughs] The thing is it’s really good.

  • I had to redo my style of communication because of the premier’s example. My Twitter posts now look like this, and you don’t have to turn on sound to see what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the fifth anniversary of Sunflower Movement. All the archives are being put into National Museum of History. We’re doing a show on post war social movement in Taiwan commemorating this.

  • It’s really stepped up, and we’re also making very intentional response videos to popular issues and trending issues. What we’ve discovered is that if we respond within an hour, using such convincing video thing, then disinformation doesn’t have that much room to grow. This is more viral than disinformation.

  • Your premier is putting stuff out on Facebook?

  • Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LINE. It’s multimodal, you see. [laughs] I think the president’s YouTube channel gets really popular now because she’s collaborating with popular You Tubers, like YouTube personalities. There’s a really close relationship to the most prominent YouTubers, easily in the millions of views.

  • I really hope that Twitter takes off in Taiwan. Despite Audrey’s excellent efforts, unfortunately, it’s all about Facebook here.

  • Right. Domestically, it’s all about Facebook and LINE.

  • Twitter’s not so good for ideographic characters?

  • Well, I think Twitter is still very useful in the MoFA system because all the different TECO and TECROs are conducting the Twitter diplomacy now. It will set an example. I think, gradually, people will come over the Twitter. For domestic communication, of course, Facebook is 90 percent, and LINE is maybe 9 percent.

  • Instagram is popular now.

  • Right, Instagram, too, yeah, but they’re Facebook so...

  • Yeah, you could use Instagram in the UK. Well, I’m not in my 20s [laughs] but certainly, a lot of 20 year olds I speak to, they don’t really go on Facebook. It’s all Instagram and maybe Twitter. Twitter in the UK is a bit more work and Instagram is a bit more personal.

  • Facebook in the UK is more f the oldies, in their 30s.

  • Yeah, it’s the same here.

  • That’s right. Yeah, I think it’s because of the cross pollination of the multimodel, you know, communication. We’re not all shooting like square videos and things like that because, really, it doesn’t...It has a real advantage in that whether it’s portrait or landscape mode, it reads equally well. We’re amping up the social media.

  • Well, look advanced to me...I think...

  • Oh, I think it’s increased a lot in the last...

  • Since the election.

  • Yes, the last six months.

  • Since the election.

  • The government’s use of social media. The sense was the message wasn’t getting out there enough.

  • Right, and also I think that one part of the reason is not just the election but also the response cycle. Previously, we count in terms of working days, like, one working day or two working day, and when the new premiere came, he said, "No, it’s calendar days. It’s actually calendar hours."

  • Each ministry is pressured to respond and counts the calendar hours that sends a kind of major misinformation phenomenon versus this kind of video. Now they start at six hours but the better ministries are now at three hours or two hours.

  • Have you had to do anything about fake news?

  • That’s part of our response.

  • Right. Responding more quickly, you’re killing fake news in some ways.

  • Right. Before it even reaches the news media when it’s still disinformation, we just respond when it’s still this disinformation. There’s also a lot of g0v projects around that. There’s a co fact. It’s not gender biased because if you refresh, it’s a different person every time. [laughs]

  • Basically, it’s like WhatsApp. It’s a bot on the Alliance system. If you add it as your friend and you see misinformation or disinformation, you can just forward it to the bot, and the bot gets back to you whether it’s fake or not. As part of the reporting, just like flagging spam, it basically gets all the information on a publically trending database so we can see the most trending misinformation or disinformation campaigns even before they reach public media.

  • That really is good because otherwise, people will see it when it gets mutated into a really viral form. Now, we get to see it whenever they’re in a not so viral, just misinformation form. When this happens, then we can basically work with Taiwan fact checking TFCC, which is, again, another independent really not government sponsored center.

  • They look at the most viral ones, and then basically make sure that...What’s small lobsters? It’s not a lobster, whatever. [laughs] OK. Yeah, then they put a this is wrong stamp and share the investigative reporting they make on this particular misinformation. Once they do that, I think in June, Facebook will announce that anything that’s classified as wrong here will get less visibility on the Facebook feed.

  • They will still show it if you only have that one friend. If you have other friends, they prefer to show news from other friends. That’s like sorting spam into the junk mail folder. It’s not technically censorship. If you have too much time, you can still see it but by default, you don’t see it. If you see it, just like spam that’s indicated as spam, potentially junk mail, Facebook will also show information that this has been checked by the TFCC. It’s probably false. Click here to know more.

  • That’s kind of a full circle back into the social media where it gets from.

  • How is the TFCC funded to do this?

  • By individual crowd funding. They refuse to accept large donations from pretty much anything and no donation at all from parties or politicians, crowd funded.

  • So it’s crowd funded by rich individuals or with rich individuals?

  • Yeah, that’s right.

  • You say that the government’s pushback on misinformation is faster and more effective now.

  • This is something that has been happening for a very few, well, a couple of months or so. It’s a bit early to say perhaps. Can you say that you’ve faced a really testing example of this information...

  • Yeah, the Pomelos case for sure. Just prior to the legislator election a few weeks ago, there was a particular case about fruits being dumped into water.

  • I think there really were because the Council of Agriculture literally responded within one hour, so the rumor was discredited within the same news cycle. I think that...Because they’ve been testing this message not through popular media but on social media already, people are already aware that something like this is likely to happen. When that message gets to the public media on the television, the COA already has all the data and packages that they’re ready to make it public.

  • The Council of Agriculture.

  • The COA by that time already assembled a team of communication experts, of people who write short sound bites and things like that. They were able to put together something really convincing really quickly. It doesn’t actually affect the election, at least not in a negative way. In any case, yeah, it makes this disinformation backfire.

  • It surely shouldn’t be a party political issue.

  • It’s not a party political issue per se but usually, people make such misinformation claims to discredit the current Council of Agriculture.

  • That’s a very popular target for misinformation campaigns.

  • Does this mean government departments are getting bigger budgets for common specialists and digital specialists because it costs money to...

  • Yes, and the COA has one of the largest -- if not the largest -- budget across the ministries. Some people are now criticizing they allocate too much taxpayer money to professional communication teams. To me, it’s necessary.

  • Yes, unfortunately, it is. If you lived in a world where there wasn’t misinformation washing around, then we wouldn’t need to spend so much on getting the right information out with such speed.

  • In a timely fashion, yeah, that’s right.

  • Do we know where the Pomelos story came from?

  • Yes. It’s an interview from Chung T’ien Television on a local farmer, and the local farmer basically just made this up. Of course, all the supporting pictures, materials, and whatever, it’s not necessarily from that farmer alone, but it was triggered by that interview.

  • It was obviously a big event. [laughs]

  • Pomelos are very, very big here.

  • Yes, I do think we need to wrap up as well.

  • Yeah, we do need to do wrap up.

  • We thank you very much for a very interesting overview. That’s fantastic. I’ve also seen a lot of progress since we last met so well done.

  • I’m going to look to see what I can do about feedback from the [email protected] to see if something can be done rewards wise. Let’s see how the SDGs reporting is progressed, because I need to see UK up here. Certainly you’ve given some interesting thoughts around social media though, prompt me to do little work when I get home.

  • Indeed, machine translation from press release to Reddit speak is also something that’s worth looking into.