Building Hong Kong as a leading smart city

Now with inno-tech plans outlined, the government should step up its efforts and allocate more resources to implement the plans so as to match developments in neighbouring cities.

(Photo credit: Esri China (HK)


This year’s policy address actively fosters innovation and technology development with eight specific proposals. It is gratifying to see that the Chief Executive has fulfilled her promise in the election campaign: to act as a “facilitator” and “promoter” in innovation and technology development.

The eight proposals are quite comprehensive, covering nurturing and attracting talent, increasing public and private sector research resources, opening government data, and revising outdated regulations that impede the development of innovation and technology. The Government will also increase investment in trying new services, while the Efficiency Unit will merge with the Innovation and Technology Bureau to form a stronger team to promote innovation and effective use of technology within the Government. It is even more encouraging that the Chief Executive will chair an internal Steering Committee on Innovation and Technology, to steer collaboration and participation across bureau and departments with effect from the most senior level on the smart city related policies.

Together, the proposals will lay a strong foundation for the future of Hong Kong. However, it is important to prioritise the investment of resources for the successful development of smart city. I believe the following three points need to be improved:

 

  1. Common Spatial Data Infrastructure (CSDI) –

Open data is critical for building a CSDI which forms the backbone and foundation of a smart city. The infrastructure facilitates linking the government with the general public. It is necessary to set specific action plan, together with sufficient resources, and prioritise implementation.

 

  1. Electronic Identity (eID) –

eID is an enabler of the operation of a smart city for various online activities. An eID can verify the identity of a citizen before he is entitled to use the smart city’s facilities. This also enables the government’s e-government services be implemented smoothly.

 

  1. Allocating sufficient budget for building the smart city infrastructure –

It is obvious that a budget of HK$700 million is not enough for our smart city development when compared with that of the neighboring cities. In Taipei, a budget of NT$5 billion (about HK$1.2 billion) has been allocated. Even for a smaller place like Macau, a budget of $500 million for a number of smart city services has been confirmed.

Smart city service hardware does not come cheap. A smart wifi rubbish bin installed on the Orchard Road in Singapore, for example, costs over HK$16,000 for a basic configuration, 20 times the cost of the rubbish bin currently used in Hong Kong. Therefore, the pilot scheme of Multi-functional Smart Lampposts which the Government is keen to implement requires a firm financial commitment, otherwise the effectiveness of the pilot could be jeopardised.

 

The slogan of this year’s policy address is We Connect for Hope and Happiness, it is exactly the spirit of Smart City 3.0. I sincerely hope that the Government can connect with all parties and stakeholders, and embrace technology to build Hong Kong as a leading smart city, so that we can enjoy the fruit that technology can deliver!

 

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Contributing Authors

Dr Winnie Tang

Honorary Professor, Department of Computer Science, The University of Hong Kong; Advisor of Our Hong Kong Foundation

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