HKICTA 2019: Hong Kong Observatory wins Smart Business Grand Award

The Hong Kong Observatory was named the winner of both the Smart Business grand award and the Solution for Business and Public Sector Enterprise gold award (image HKCS)

The Hong Kong Observatory (HKO) has won the grand award of the Smart Business Award for the Hong Kong ICT Awards (HKICTA) 2019.

The HKO was conferred both the grand award and the gold award in the Solution for Business and Public Sector Enterprise stream for its severe weather nowcasting solution “From detection of rain to safeguarding of the community against hazardous weather”.

Severe weather nowcasting is made possible by the urban-scale nowcasting system SWIRLS developed by the HKO. SWIRLS (Short-range Warning of Intense Rainstorms in Localized Systems) uses observations from radars, lightning sensors, and rain gauges while adopting computer vision, deep learning and computer weather model innovatively. It provides timely and effective forecasts of location, timing and intensity of rainfall and lightning hours ahead through the HKO’s mobile app and website. 

“Computer image recognition has been used for over 10 years to analyze radar images in order to project the location of rain areas and rainfall intensity in the next few hours, said Wong Wai-kin, senior scientific officer at the HKO. 

Deep learning was added to its nowcasting services last year to further enhance accuracy and timeliness. “We started to collaborate with the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) in 2014 to develop a computer weather model for rainfall nowcast based on deep learning.”

The HKO provided seven years of radar images to the HKUST for development. Both parties spent a few years to develop and refine the deep learning model.

Apart from being used by the HKO, rainfall nowcasts are also provided to other government departments such as Civil Engineering and Development Department, Drainage Services Department, and Water Supplies Department to mitigate landslides, improve works efficiency, enhance ecology and preserve fresh water. 

Wong said lightning nowcast products are provided to public utilities and other companies with critical infrastructure such as CLP Power, Kau Sai Chau Public Golf Course, and Ngong Ping 360, enabling them to make timely responses prior to severe weather. 

The HKO also made SWIRLS available for research and meteorological services in other countries worldwide in the form of open data. 

The gold award in the Solution for SME stream went to HK Decoman Technology Ltd for its intelligent services such as client-contractor pairing system and online-to-offline services to cater to the individualized renovation needs of customers. 

Finally, the silver award—the highest and only award granted—in the Big Data and Open Data Applications stream was granted to ATAL Building Services Engineering Ltd for its cloud-based chiller plant energy management platform. 

“We use data analytics and machine learning models to analyze the actual operating data collected from chiller plants,” said Dave Chan, director of information, communications & building technologies at ATAL. “We then recommend the most suitable setting for customers to achieve optimum performance and energy savings. 

He noted more than 11% of energy consumption can be saved for a large commercial building. He has plans to leverage data analytics in preventive maintenance in the future. 

The Smart Business Award is one of the eight award categories for the HKICTA 2019, steered by the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO). The Smart Business Award is organized by the Hong Kong Computer Society


The full list of winners: 




Winning Product

Smart Business 


The Hong Kong Observatory 

From detection of rain to safeguarding of the community against hazardous weather 

Solution for Business and Public Sector Enterprise



The Hong Kong Observatory 

From detection of rain to safeguarding of the community against hazardous weather 


Hung Hing Printing Group Limited 

Smart Planning 


Airport Authority /
Creaxon Technologies Inc. Ltd. 

Arrival Baggage Reclaim Performance Monitoring System 



Airport Authority /
Chain Technology Development Co. Ltd. 

HKIA Digital Twin 


OceanX Technology Ltd. 

OceanX ECM 

Solution for SME 


HK Decoman Technology Ltd. 


HK Decoman Technology Ltd. 


Creote Studio Ltd. 




Quikec International Ltd. 


Smart Quality and Inspection Platform 

Big Data and Open Data Applications 


ATAL Building Services Engineering Ltd. 

ATAL's Cloud-based Chiller Plant Energy Management Platform (EM-Platform) 


Gekko Artificial Intelligence Ltd. 

Gekko Graph 


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