In this year’s policy address, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor identified some key themes in the city’s innovation and technology development, with HK$700 million allocated to start turning Hong Kong into a smart city.
To discuss issues on smart city-related policies, StartUpBeat of the Hong Kong Economic Journal met Herbert Chia, a venture partner at Sequoia Capital China.
Here are edited excerpts from the interview:
HKEJ: Development plans on various aspects including “smart mobility”, “smart living”, “smart environment” and “smart government” are stated in the Report of Consultancy Study on Smart City Blueprint for Hong Kong issued this July. What is your thought on those plans?
Chia: There are concepts within it, as well as plans that can be implemented. Among those policies, ‘”smart mobility” is quite clear and distinct. It refers to initiatives to achieve faster, more convenient travel in the city.
HKEJ: Traffic congestion, railway service disruption… all these traffic problems have been creating a burden to citizens. How can it be solved?
Chia: First, we need to collect data systematically, so that we can assess the phenomenon and have a better prediction on how it would evolve. As a saying in the tech industry goes, “We improve what we can measure”, there must be a way to improve the situation when we have sufficient data.
To handle the issue, we need an all-inclusive overview of the whole situation. Inside the office of China’s tech giant Alibaba is a large screen on the wall showing the real-time figures of every business and operation of the group, a practice which mainland enterprises and government entities imitate.
Management’s access to information is limited. Therefore, a large screen encompassing information in every aspect benefits the decision-making by keeping everyone on the same page. City governments in mainland China have been using it to address their transport and related problems.
HKEJ: In actual practice, what can the government do to collect more data?
Chia: We should begin in a small way. It would be foolish to apply the smart city policies to the whole city. The government should pick an area as a pilot scheme to enhance data collection.
There is ample room for adding IoT (Internet of Things) devices in Kowloon East. For example, sensors can be inserted into the waterways and pipes, keeping track of pathogens such as viruses and bacteria, which is an effective initiative to promote citizen’s health.
HKEJ: Any other important issues in the smart city plan?
Chia: For Hong Kong, “smart shopping” and “smart tourism” are crucial to the city’s economy. The government can promote smart tourism by designing an app which helps tourists to plan tours and find visitor information, and it also serves as a way to analyse tourists’ preference.
Another is “smart education”. The massive figures and information collected from local primary and secondary schools can be used as a guide for curriculum design and resource allocation.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Nov. 3
Translation by Ben Ng
[Chinese version 中文版]
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