2023 Septmeber
Hong Kong Goes All Out to Upgrade Smart City Development for Unlimited Potential

With smart city development now a global trend, the HKSAR Government is determined to develop Hong Kong into a world-class smart city. Going forward, how should the Government, business community and residents work together to drive Hong Kong’s smart city development to a higher level?


Eric Yeung

Hong Kong’s Smart City Development Depends on All

Sectors of Society to Drive Forward

The Smart City Blueprint for Hong Kong and Blueprint 2.0, which provide clear guidelines for Hong Kong’s smart city development, have presented a total of over 130 measures to develop Hong Kong into a world-class smart city. Eric Yeung, Founder and Honorary President of Smart City Consortium and Co-Founder of Skyzer VC Group, said that the great efforts of the former and current Chief Executives in pushing forward smart city development, coupled with full support from the Innovation, Technology and Industry Bureau (ITIB), have drawn recognition from all sectors of society and generated good vibes.


One-stop digital services platform

Yeung said that Hong Kong has made remarkable progress in two areas in recent years. The first is infrastructure, which can be seen in the iAM Smart app launched by the ITIB to provide Hong Kong residents with a free one-stop personalised digital services platform. “Through the platform, Hong Kong residents can use biometrics such as face recognition and fingerprint identification to confirm their identity at any time and enjoy various e-services.  For example, they can file tax returns in the app after receiving their tax bills and connect to various government departments to use services, etc., thus making their lives more convenient.”


Another area of greater progress is data security. Yeung said that Hong Kongers are paying increasing attention to privacy, but smart city development ties in closely with sharing of big data, so how to strike a balance between information openness and privacy protection is particularly important. Thanks to public education in recent years, he believes that residents have gradually understood that open data can help improve the efficiency of public services.


Promote departmental information exchange

Various departments of the HKSAR Government are currently unable to exchange residents’ information under the traditional legal framework, so residents often need to submit information to different departments repeatedly, which hinders the development of smart government. Yeung said that the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer will soon enable residents to choose to authorise government departments in the iAM Smart app, thus saving them from repeatedly submitting information, which should improve efficiency.


Committed to retaining local talents

Referring to the biggest challenge for Hong Kong to become a world-class smart city, Yeung said frankly that hardware facilities and technology upgrades are important, but talents are also an indispensable key link. “Although Hong Kong has many world-class institutions of higher learning that nurture outstanding talents, many promising talents may not stay in Hong Kong for development, but choose to go overseas or to the Mainland to engage in the technological innovation profession. Therefore, the HKSAR Government and business community must find ways to entice them to stay and develop in Hong Kong in order to drive smart city development to a higher level.”


At the same time, smart city development must go full steam ahead. He suggested that the ITIB should more adopt a public-private partnership model to continue improving the smart city infrastructure and encourage more companies to invest in creativity and resources, from which to find suitable business models to drive forward, and in conjunction with public education, let residents understand that smart city can improve quality of life and convenience so that they will naturally support it.


Liu Binxing

Use Smart Digital Technology to Help Hong Kong

Build Smart Living

Hong Kong is actively pushing forward smart city development. Liu Binxing, General Manager of Alibaba Cloud Intelligence for Hong Kong and Macau Region and the Philippines, said that relevant measures have made significant progress. Alibaba Cloud is also committed to assisting the digital transformation of various industries in Hong Kong and improving the public service system through its smart digital technology.


Smart transportation is an indispensable key to a smart city. In Liu’s view, the development of smart transportation is inseparable from the support and input of various stakeholders. Over the years, Alibaba Cloud has actively encouraged Hong Kong’s public and private organizations to accelerate digitalization and improve urban infrastructure and operating standards.


Various sectors work together to nurture technology talents

“For example, the MTR Corporation recently collaborated with us to develop a smart train planning platform that applies cloud technology and artificial intelligence to adjust and optimise train deployment schedules and maintenance work in a timely manner.” Liu explained that the platform can help train operators cope with changing operational requirements to meet the increasing service needs.


Liu said that how to identify and nurture technology talents is one of the biggest challenges. “Alibaba Cloud is always committed to supporting the nurturing of local technology talents. Late last year, it announced the launch of a talent enabling scheme, providing more than 300 free training courses to over 2,000 students. Currently, nine local universities and educational institutions are participating in the scheme.”


He added that in April this year, Alibaba Cloud and HKU Business School jointly launched the first credit course “Cloud Computing: Essential and Application in Entrepreneurship” for undergraduate students. Alibaba Cloud is the first enterprise partner of HKU Business School to participate in credit course design and teaching.


Learn from successful experiences to promote sustainability 

How to make a city greener, cleaner, more liveable and more sustainable through innovative technology is the key. Liu said that Hong Kong can learn from the practices of other cities and even important international cases in promoting carbon reduction and sustainable development.


“Analysing carbon emissions is one example. Alibaba Cloud recently used Energy Expert, its AI sustainability platform for the first Olympic Esports Week held in Singapore for the first time to help measure and analyse the carbon emissions of temporary venues for the event and assess the environmental impact they bring.” He added that the use of the tool enables the local organising committee of the Olympic Committee to efficiently compare the environmental impact of many different materials and equipment.


Make use of emerging technology opportunities amid increasing demand for cloud services

Liu also mentioned that the green and low-carbon park built by Alibaba has taken the lead in applying various innovative green and low-carbon technologies. Meanwhile, it has been widely praised for providing employees with a comfortable, pleasant and dynamic working environment. Hence, it is gradually being promoted to other office environments in the Mainland. “Among them, the smart control algorithm provided by Energy Expert can predict and control air-conditioning and lighting solutions, as well as identify idle energy consumption and abnormal power consumption, which help significantly reduce energy consumption.”


Looking ahead to future development, Liu cited a survey saying that among Hong Kong respondents, more than half believed that Hong Kong companies’ expansion of business in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (Greater Bay Area) will increase demand for cloud services. In addition, over 80% said that Hong Kong is on par with other Asian cities or even ahead of other cities in adopting cloud technology. “Hong Kong should consolidate its existing advantages and take advantage of opportunities to enhance applications such as smart-city Internet of Things and Internet of Vehicles to promote transformation and upgrading. Alibaba Cloud will also apply more of the best technology practices and extensive experiences in the Greater Bay Area to assist enterprises in digital transformation and promote smart city development in the region.”