HKSTP and CUHK unveil smart region pilots

HKSTP and CUHK unveil smart city pilots In the smart city blueprint consultancy study report published in June, six pilot areas have been proposed for Hong Kong. One of them is the setup of a “smart region living lab” led by Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks (HKSTP), which collaborates with the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and the tenants at Science Park to pilot smart city applications in both campuses.

HKSTP takes a “leading agent” role of the smart region initiative, turning Science Park into a smart campus. HKSTP believes the smart region could drive the adoption of new technologies, enhance collaboration and knowledge sharing, and even help startups commercialize their products and services.

Smart city test bed

“A lot of hurdles are faced by companies in Hong Kong especially SMEs today,” said Peter Yeung (pictured, right), HKSTP’s head of ICT, smart city & green tech at the APAC Innovation Summit 2017 in Hong Kong. “Some of their innovations are not being recognized by the local community nor able to get into the procurement systems of big corporations and government.”

HKSTP aims to help those companies to go to market in Hong Kong and overseas.

“This smart region initiative offers not just a test bed to showcase the adoption of technologies but also a source of research, innovations, PoC (proof of concept)all the way leading to commercial solutions,” he noted.

On the CUHK side, various faculties are involved in the smart region pilot projects such as the faculties of engineering, social science and arts, according to Yee Leung (pictured, left), director of institute of future cities at CUHK.

Areas of pilots

The first batch of pilot projects includes cashless society, autonomous self-driving vehicles and smart building and facility management.

Cashless payment will be trialed in Science Park. A fully automated 24-hour convenience store Take Easy was recently debuted by Incloud System, a technology company in the Science Park. The first of its kind in Hong Kong, the store is retrofitted from a container and is operated without any staff. Shoppers can scan a QR code to enter the store, and pay for RFID-tagged items via mobile payment.The store is expected to start operation within six to eight months.

Another HKSTP’s incubatee CamClaim has developed a mobile payment platform One2Paid, which is being trialed by two fast food shops in Science Park. The platform comes with a mobile POS that is certified by UnionPay. Other payment methods include Alipay, WeChatPay, Apple Pay, credit cards and ATM cards.

Besides mobile payment, the platform can also integrate cashier, e-accounting, member recruitment, coupons and other add-on functions via an open API.

On the autonomous vehicle front, both Leung and Yeung agreed that the collaboration between public and private sectors is essential for autonomous vehicle development.

HKSTP has established a smart mobility ecosystem bringing together tech startups in Science Park and automotive companies in the industry like Scania and Inchape to catalyze smart mobility initiatives such as autonomous self-driving vehicles.

“Technologically, sensors and artificial intelligence (AI) make autonomous cars progress. We also require regulatory support from the government,” said Leung. 

“To do a pilot run in Science Park, we have to go through a lot of regulatory processes,” said Yeung. “We hope an autonomous car route between Science Park and University railway station can be operated within two to three years.”

To run an autonomous vehicle pilot in HKSTP, a movement permit for vehicle is required by the Transport Department. The pilot run dates and details of routes have to be submitted to the Department for approval.

On the smart building and facility management side, Leung said that the strengths of CUHK and HKSTP will be capitalized in the pilots, and new technologies will be used.

“Green technology, AI and IoT will be used in the design of new buildings or the retrofitting of existing buildings,” he noted.

Future expansion

Both Yeung and Leung expect the first batch of pilot projects to be implemented within three years. HKSTP has plans to extend the pilot projects beyond Science Park and CUHK.

“We will be in discussions with the community in Shatin district like Hong Kong Jockey Club, Hong Kong Sports Institute and residential buildings to see how we can implement some of our solutions in their properties,” said Yeung.

“By implementing all these initiatives, over time we will be able to position Hong Kong as a capital of smart city solutions,” he concluded.

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