23 March 2018
To achieve the full potential of smart Hong Kong, connecting the 'Internet of Things' should be a priority. Photo:
To achieve the full potential of smart Hong Kong, connecting the 'Internet of Things' should be a priority. Photo:

Why we need stronger wireless networks to build a smart HK

Hong Kong is known throughout the region as a great place to do business that would require good telecommunications connectivity. Our internet speeds are high, our smartphone penetration averages higher than one device per person, and we’re trusted to do business securely and with compliance. That said, we need to grab an opportunity and take to the next level the way we as a society use technology. I’m talking about the need to turn Hong Kong into a smart city.

The good news is Hong Kong’s business and government leaders are already aware of this opportunity and are planning ways to make the city smarter.

Smart cities connect, interact and drive data effectively through comprehensive deployment of information and communication technologies. In order to achieve the full potential of smart Hong Kong, beyond focusing on providing public Wi-Fi for personal devices, connecting the “Internet of Things” should be a priority.

These applications are where a smart city’s power lies, and require a foundation of stronger wireless connectivity than Hong Kong currently has in place. Now, which possibilities should Hong Kong specifically tap into, based on our city’s needs, all of which require strong wireless?

Smart Healthcare

In Singapore, sensors deployed in some elderly people’s publicly managed homes will alert family members if they stop moving, and attempt to monitor general health by recording toilet visits. This marriage of smart home and healthcare requires not only strong in-building Wi-Fi but fast speeds to send the data to family members. Given that Hong Kong’s population over age 64 is projected to increase from 11 percent in 2003 to 27 percent in 2033, we should similarly consider how our smart city can aid our most elderly residents.

Smart Transportation

Hamburg, Germany has implemented smart technology for its port, the center of its economy. Because commercial ships coming into port require information on water and wind conditions, Hamburg collects this data and communicates it to ship crews in real time. Hamburg’s leadership serves as an inspiration for how Hong Kong can make sure our bustling port industry can remain competitive and efficient as international trade becomes increasingly smart and technology-driven.

Looking at transportation, Hong Kong has a comprehensive transit system, but riders cannot currently holistically assess the fastest route for them. By collecting and analyzing IoT data and making it constantly available to app developers, Hong Kong could give passengers the option of using a smartphone app or smart signposts to figure out the best way to go at any given time.

Smart Buildings

As we know, real estate is essential to Hong Kong’s day-to-day foot traffic, let alone economy. What if a property company could use data on foot and car traffic entering and exiting one of their existing buildings to design its next building for optimal traffic flow?


As you can see in the examples above, smart cities require more effective data management and faster connectivity than ever before. Most wireless infrastructure today, including Hong Kong’s, is inadequate for the scale of a smart city, both in the amount of devices supported and the speed of data transfer.

The solution is to make upgraded wireless connectivity the foundation of smart Hong Kong, including mobile edge computing (MEC). Mobile edge computing addresses issues with capacity, congestion and latency by managing mobile traffic intelligently at the network edge. These capabilities enable service providers to deliver an instant and seamless mobile broadband experience necessary for a smart city, where speed and volume of IoT data are essential.

The most exciting possibility about transforming our city will not be personal device use but rather societal improvements that require IoT data. For this reason, when we as a city proceed with smart city planning, we should make IoT powered by strong wireless connectivity an integral, not optional part of our aspirations.

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President of Comba Telecom International

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