Serving up smart city in Hong Kong by 2020

Panelists discuss smart city applications ideasAs the publication date of the Hong Kong government's Smart City Blueprint draws near, discussions around smart city application heated up among the IT community.

According to Government CIO Allen Yeung at an earlier Internet Economy Summit 2017 conference, the Office of Government Chief Information Officer's (OGCIO) Smart City Blueprint will be made available in mid-2017.

At the "Smart City: Looking into 2020" conference organized by the Hong Kong Computer Society as part of the IT Fest 2017 conference series last month, representatives from government bodies and industry professionals served up ideas about smart city application.

"The Government will make use of innovation and technology to address urban challenges in city management and to improve the [citizens'] quality of living," said Davey Chung, deputy GCIO (Policy and Industry Development), OGCIO. "The Smart City Blueprint will just be the beginning of our smart city journey not the end. Also, the Government cannot do this alone. It needs the whole community to join this important journey."

Science Park smart region

To lead by example, the Hong Kong and Science and Technology Parks (Science Park) is dedicated to transform itself into a smart region.

"We will turn the Science Park into a smart campus," said Albert Wong, CEO of the Science Park. "We want the Science Park to become totally cashless in two years' time, using technologies like Upay and blockchain."

"And if there is to be driverless cars running on the streets in Hong Kong, it has to happen in Science Park first." He added that the Science Park has joined forces with The Chinese University of Hong Kong, the Productivity Council and the MTR Corporation in this driverless car initiative, which is expected to bear fruit within a 24-36 timeframe. "We will push the boundary to make this happen," he said.

Another smart city initiative is the open data platform initiative. The Science Park has established an Open Data Studio that allows members to pool data into it and to use API to test out new ideas. Occupying 2,000 square feet space, the Open Data Studio provides a physical space that allows software developer companies and NGOs to engage each other within a 90-day timeframe, work out pain points and business issues, develop proof of concepts, and then develop solutions for NGOs. "Through this set up, we can provide a secure environment for startups and non-government organizations (NGOs) to operate data on," said Peter Yeung, head of ICT, Smart City and Green Technology, HKSTP.

The Science Park is also rolling out a 5G application test bed, which will provide 1,000x mobile data volume. "5G is not there yet, but we are preparing for it," Yeung said. At present, the Science Parks is working with universities, telecoms providers and ASTRI in developing the 5G application test bed.

Don't conduct pilots

"I wouldn't say we are anywhere in smart city -- though we have best infrastructure in the world," said Matthew Smith, global head of IOT, market development, Cisco Systems. He advised that the Hong Kong government need not conduct pilots on smart city initiatives that have already been rolled out by other governments, such as smart lighting or smart car park. "Just drive the implementation, do them at scale, and do it quickly," he said. "If we spend too long writing white papers and do consultation, we would be waiting for too long."