Date
25 March 2017
The authorities should try to find a way to regulate the Uber car-hailing service to achieve a win-win situation instead of overprotecting vested interests. Photo: Bloomberg
The authorities should try to find a way to regulate the Uber car-hailing service to achieve a win-win situation instead of overprotecting vested interests. Photo: Bloomberg

Hong Kong should make laws to cover these new technologies

It’s a new year. I think the Hong Kong government should start making laws to regulate several new technologies.

First, the hoverboard.

Most of the hoverboards we see in Hong Kong were made by mainland Chinese manufacturers who usually don’t own the patent or adhere to any unified safety standards.

It could be very dangerous if the factory used cheap battery components.

Explosions of hoverboard batteries have been reported in Hong Kong, the United States and Europe.

The Transport Department said such devices can be regarded as automobiles, which are prohibited from being driven on sidewalks.

Second, carpooling or car sharing.

Uber is not yet properly regulated in Hong Kong. I hope the authorities can discuss how to achieve a win-win situation, instead of overprotecting vested interests.

It is traditional industries that should change, while we are better off keeping an open mind with regard to new technologies and business models.

Third, internet finance.

It uses creative methods to improve efficiency and liquidity.

The mainland authorities have started to regulate peer-to-peer lending and online payment, so as to protect consumers and to prevent money laundering.

While the mainland has been building a vibrant internet finance industry, Hong Kong has done nothing.

The city has the advantages of low taxes and abundant financial services, so it should have done better.

Fourth is self-driving cars.

The Transport Department has so far refused to accept self-driving cars or related applications in Hong Kong.

Actually, self-driving vehicles are suitable for Hong Kong, because the roads are narrow and always jammed.

The technology will reduce human errors such as running red lights or speeding.

Autopilots have been used in planes for many years, so self-driving cars should not be unacceptable.

Finally, I’d like to say a word about smart city policies.

We should improve in several aspects: install various sensors, linking the data gathered on the whole network to a smart city information management system, use big data tools to analyze and distribute useful information to different authorities, companies and the public.

Hong Kong still lacks smart city policies or international standards.

The government should set a goal for smart city initiatives.

The Innovation and Technology Bureau could set up a special office to find out the public’s needs, to set standards, to facilitate companies’ cooperation and to provide the smart city services the citizens want.

Government should also provide the necessary training for officials at all levels to help them have a deeper understanding of innovative technologies and have the vision to create effective future-oriented policies.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan. 5.

Translation by Myssie You

[Chinese version 中文版]

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MY/DY/FL

Member of HKUST’s MBA Alumni Association

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