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HK leverages ICT to become smart city

October 30, 2014


Secretary for Commerce & Economic Development Gregory So

A compact and densely populated city like Hong Kong would need to effectively manage many things: resources, people and traffic flows, underground utilities and logistics. This in turn allows us to maintain efficiency for businesses and a high standard of living for all.


It is timely for us to explore how we can do that: to leverage technological advances to build infrastructure of a smart city, manage our city in a smarter way, and deliver better services to meet public needs.


Hong Kong has well-developed ICT infrastructure with excellent Internet connectivity. Our broadband network covers nearly all commercial and residential buildings in the territory. With over 28,000 Wi-Fi hotspots offered by the Government and the private sector, Hong Kong has one of the highest concentrations of Wi-Fi hotspots in the world.


The reliable, fast and competitive mobile services offered by various telecommunication operators have made Hong Kong one of the most Internet-ubiquitous cities.


We boast an impressive mobile penetration rate of 237%. Such connectivity has provided us with a sound foundation to adopt emerging technologies, like Internet of Things, sensors, cloud computing and big data analytics, which are all expected to make our city smarter.


Speedy payment

Hong Kong is a pioneer in making use of ICT to facilitate city dwellers to travel around efficiently. Octopus and AutoToll are good examples of using the smart cards and RFID technologies to enable speedy payment by citizens for using public transport services and tolled tunnels and bridges.


To help reduce traffic congestion, our Transport Department has been deploying smart sensors to collect real-time traffic data to intelligently and dynamically control the traffic lights for smoother traffic at some busy roads. This will also provide journey time estimation at major roads to help drivers make better decisions in planning their routes.


In terms of utility management, our Water Supplies Department uses smart sensors to detect water pipe leakages. By analysing the difference in sound of water flow in water pipes using these smart sensors, tiny leakage on water pipes can be detected early for prompt remedial actions so as to minimise the adverse impact.


Smart building

Energy saving and management are issues that every city has to grapple with. Hong Kong is no exception. In building new housing estates, we have leveraged on technology to implement the concept of smart building for better energy saving and more efficient energy management.


The Housing Authority has implemented a number of green features in its new housing estates. We install photovoltaic panels on the roofs to tap solar energy for communal facilities. We also put in place an automatic two-level lighting control system, which allows additional lighting when there are passers-by. Otherwise it will just maintain a basic level of illumination for safety.


The estate is also equipped with smart meters which monitor electricity and water consumption regularly. These data are publicly displayed to raise residents' awareness.


Greater convenience

Opportunities for smart city initiatives are boundless. By leveraging ICT and fully exploiting the potential of the latest technologies, the Government forges ahead to make Hong Kong a smarter city. Our residents will enjoy greater convenience and a higher standard of living. By this, our resources will be managed and utilised more effectively.


To end, I'll leave you with this quote from Jane Jacobs, an author known for her influence on urban studies: "Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody."


The race is on to make our city fit for purpose, and we are in this race together. With a concerted effort, let us make Hong Kong smarter, our people more empowered, and our lives more prosperous.


Secretary for Commerce & Economic Development Gregory So gave these remarks at the opening ceremony of the Hong Kong International Computer Conference 2014.