Date
28 July 2017
Barriers to data sharing and the risk of cyberattacks are some of the restraints holding back the development of the Internet of Things in Hong Kong. Photo: internet
Barriers to data sharing and the risk of cyberattacks are some of the restraints holding back the development of the Internet of Things in Hong Kong. Photo: internet

The bottleneck in the development of the Internet of Things

The administration has recently preached the idea of the “reindustrialization” of Hong Kong, which refers to the promotion of high-value-added industries in our city.

Among them, the development of the Internet of Things (IOT) is at the top of the agenda.

The IOT refers to a network of physical devices, such as smartphones and home appliances, in which electronic sensors are embedded.

Such sensors enable these objects to collect and exchange data and to be controlled remotely through the internet, thereby achieving direct integration of the physical world with computer-based systems and resulting in improved efficiency and greater convenience.

So how exactly can the IOT change our daily lives?

A US tech company recently launched a new door-answering system that operates through the IOT.

It includes a camera and a communication device connected with the internet through Wi-Fi.

With that system, users can answer the door or receive mail, deliveries and parcels even when they are away from home.

There is no doubt that the IOT is a huge game-changer and will be at the forefront of information technology development in the years ahead.

However, there are several factors that may pose a hindrance to the development of the IOT in Hong Kong, and the government must address them promptly.

For example, there is the problem of data sharing.

Since these IOT devices are often developed by different companies, they might not want to share their data with other product developers.

In the case of the door-answering system mentioned above, if a company wants to develop an IOT smart-home system that can connect all the home appliances and electronic devices in a house, including that door-answering system, it might need to purchase the data from the company that developed it.

Unless the government can coordinate the development of the IOT and break down barriers in data sharing, it will be difficult for this technology to become truly popular among the public.

Then there is the issue of vulnerability to cyberattacks.

For example, a recent study conducted by the US Department of Homeland Security suggested that some smart cardiac pacemakers are susceptible to cyberattacks.

Hackers can take control of the pacemaker remotely through the internet and send a deadly electric current to kill the person who has that device implanted.

The IOT, like any other new technology, poses opportunities and challenges to society.

Governments around the world are now working aggressively along with the tech industry to perfect this technology, and we must make sure Hong Kong doesn’t lag behind in this regard.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on June 3.

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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