ITB reveals smart city blueprint for HK

The Hong Kong SAR Government unveiled the long-waited official smart city blueprint last week, just months after the release of the consultation blueprint in late-June and the policy address in October.

The 36-page report maps out six major areas for Hong Kong’s smart city development plan in the next five years. The six major areas include smart mobility, smart living, smart environment, smart people, smart government and smart economy.

“Smart city can be both technology-agnostic and technology-driven, taking the good fundamentals of our city management to the next level,” said Nicholas Yang, secretary for innovation and technology at the press event last Friday. “Joining me today are undersecretaries from six bureaus, showing the government’s determination and collaboration in smart city development.”

Commenting on the blueprint, LegCo Member Charles Mok noted he was glad to see the innovation and use of technologies in this mid-to-long term smart city blueprint. But he raised concerned with the efficiency to implement and measure results in this smart city blueprint, as the government made similar commitment through the Digital 21 strategy in previous years.

eID and smart lampost

Yang highlighted a few major development plans from the blueprint.

One of them is the introduction of eID for citizens. Expected to be available to all citizen by 2020, the eID aims to ensure secure access of online transactions and services provided by public and private organizations using a single digital identity and authentication.

In addition, the government plans to introduce a pilot multi-functional smart lampposts scheme starting 2019 to facilitate the collection of real-time city data and to support public services provision. Yang said 400 smart lampposts will be installed at urban locations, including Causeway Bay, Wan Chai, Central, Admiralty, Tsim Sha Tsui and Kwun Tong.

"Equipped with sensors, data networks and related digital facilities, the smart lampposts can enhance city management through collection of real-time city data like weather, environment, transportation and crowd flow,” he said. "They can also provide information and services such as Wi-Fi, future 5G networks and district information."

Smarter government

To develop a smarter government operation, Yang said the government will revamp its cloud infrastructure platform, update the technology and the related standards and structures.

A government big data analytics platform is expected to introduce in 2020 to enhance operation efficiency and deliver e-Government services.

As part of the government’s open data policy, OGCIO also relaunched its data sharing platform, DATA.GOV.HK last week. The newly introduced data platform provides geo-spatial data. GCIO Allan Yeung noted that more data sets are expected to be geo-tagged next year.

Mok added that the sharing of data between the public and private sector remain limited. He added the strategy focus on encouraging private sector to share, but lack the incentive and strategy to drive the sharing of data, particularly from the bus operators. Smart City Consortium co-founder Winnie Tang agreed. She noted the lack of private sector involvement in the government's open data policy. 

Transportation apps and mobile payment platform

Other major development plans include an all-in-one e-transportation mobile app. Scheduled to launch in 2018, this app is expected to integrate the existing transportation data and apps to help citizen facilitate journey planning.

To facilitate mobile payment options, the Under Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Joseph Chan said a faster payment system is expected to be developed by September 2018. This system aims to support multiple e-payment services through standardized QR codes.

“Smart city is people centric and it strives to develop Hong Kong into an even more advanced and livable smart city, benefiting all walks of lives. It requires cooperation and collaboration cross all departments,” said Yang.

A Smart City Office is also expected to set up in the ITB to take charge of the overall co-ordination and monitoring of the progress and effectiveness of smart city projects. Yang added that the government will consider appropriate implementation models, including public-private partnership, for smart city projects.

He noted that the smart city blueprint is an evolving proposal, in which “the government will also review from time to time the effectiveness of work and introduce new measures to bring in more I&T applications to Hong Kong.”

full report of the Smart City Blueprint for Hong Kong is available online.