22 October 2016
Electronic signboards in the busiest districts of Singapore show real-time information about available parking spaces in nearby car parks. Photos: HKEJ
Electronic signboards in the busiest districts of Singapore show real-time information about available parking spaces in nearby car parks. Photos: HKEJ

Singapore smart-city features show HK has long way to go

The Hong Kong government plans to develop Kowloon East into a smart city.

Its ideas include adding sensors to the traffic light system to save time for pedestrians.

While officials have done little more than pay lip service to the project, Singapore already has solid achievements to show after its government decided two years ago to develop the city state into a smart city.

Priscilla Chan, founder of Speakers Connect, which provides a database of speakers, wrote in the Hong Kong Economic Journal’s StartupBeat about how far Hong Kong lags behind.

Chan is impressed by how the Singapore government is using technology to improve daily life.

Since 2008, there have been electronic signboards beside Orchard Road, the main shopping strip, showing real-time information about available parking spaces in nearby car parks.

Studies in the United States have shown that about 30 percent of cars on the road during peak hours are roaming around looking for parking spaces.

The information the parking signboards provide helps reduce traffic jams.

The parking data is also conveniently accessible via smartphone apps.

Now, we all know how annoying it is to wait for the next bus, not knowing when it’s going to arrive.

To give its citizens the opportunity to better manage their time, the Singapore government applied the global positioning system (GPS) and mobile internet technologies to the public transport system.

The Land Transport Authority and the city’s bus companies have launched a service called Intelligent Route Information System.

Commuters can check when the next bus will arrive by checking the electronic signboards at bus stations.

Singapore’s smart city project covers the elderly, as well.

The scandal of how a home for the elderly gave some of its residents an inadequate standard of care became a hot topic in Hong Kong last month.

While Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying merely blamed the city’s tight land supply for poor service in care homes for the elderly, Singapore’s government has tried to provide a better and safer living environment for its elderly population by using advanced technologies.

SoundEye is a detection system that alerts care providers to falls suffered by the elderly.

The device is equipped with sensors to monitor falls by measuring the distance of a person from the ceiling.

The system is said to boost the efficiency of healthcare workers by 30 percent.

SmartMat is another product that has been introduced to nursing homes.

The mattress can monitor and record the heart rate and breathing pattern of the elderly and send the real-time data to nurses.

The product aims to reduce the need for regular ward checks, leaving more manpower for other important duties.

Recently, Singapore’s Housing and Development Board (HDB) launched its first smart public housing estate.

The HDB has deployed the latest technologies for energy saving and waste management in the estate, the government says in an advertisement.

The most important fact is that the price of each of these presale three-room flats is below a million Hong Kong dollars.

How can Hongkongers be blamed for feeling a touch of envy?

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