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Previewing OGCIO's smart city blueprint

GCIO Allen Yeung As local IT professionals and business leaders anticipate the OGCIO’s upcoming smart city blueprint, discussion around Hong Kong’s smart city initiatives has been the main theme at this year’s annual International IT Fest. At the Internet Economy Summit last week, GCIO Allen Yeung shared a sneak preview of the consultancy study, which is expected to be announced in mid-2017.

According to Yeung, the study covers six major areas: policy objectives and strategy, development plans, government arrangements, digital infrastructure, legal framework and public-private collaboration. During the presentation, he shared a short summary in each of them, leaving most detail to be revealed in the formal announcement.

Regarding the smart city policy objectives and strategy, he noted that the major objective is to take advantage of technology development to address Hong Kong’s urban challenges. These challenges include an aging population, driving economic growth and committing to be a global corporate citizen by developing a sustainable city.

“In a traditional approach, it may not be easy to address these challenges, but new technologies and innovations give rise to new models to handle these urban challenges,” said Yeung.

Six smarty city elements

To put these objectives into development plans, Yeung said the OGCIO is adopting the Boyd Cohen’s smarty city wheel—a framework used to rank cities since 2012. The smart city wheel measures cities in six key elements, namely smart economy, smart environment, smart government, smart living, smart mobility and smart people.

To create new economic development areas for a smarter economy, Yeung said the government plans to focus in areas like Fintech, smart manufacturing, startup ecosystem and blockchain-based services.

“These are new emerging areas in the past few years,” he said. “Hong Kong has been participating in the development of these areas and seeing promising growth.”

Yeung quoted the example of Octopus card, which demonstrated the success of applying imported technologies locally, and transferred it globally.

“As an urban city, it [the concept of Octopus] can be used in many other cities, just like MTR [Corporation] taking its services worldwide,” he said. “When building a smart city, we should keep in mind about applying technologies in Hong Kong as a showcase and radiate that to the rest of the world.”

To drive the development of smart environment, Yeung noted the smart city blueprint is expected to align with the Environmental Bureau’s Climate Change Action Plan 2030+ initiative.

Announced in January, this initiative aims to reduce carbon intensity by 65-70% by 2030.  He noted a lot of the related technology developments like green building, LED light, solar and wind power can be connected with the smart city initiatives to bring a holistic plan for smart environment.

Hong Kong SAR Government has been criticized for its sluggish e-government services. Yeung noted that smart government will be the third major area in the development plan and stated the need to change government-citizen relationships.

“Instead of having citizens to visit government counters for services, these services could be pushed automatically to the citizens that are in-need,” he said.

To achieve this goal, Yeung said creating a common standard is critical. He said a standard platform for information exchange does not only enable government departments to talk with each other, but also fosters the public and private sectors to develop public services together.

One of these standards is the upcoming Spatial Data Infrastructure—a geo-platform for the integration, exchange and sharing of geographic spatial data. It is expected to be established by the Development Bureau, following the Policy Address announcement early this year.