From SimCity to smart city

January 18, 2019 18:10
Like in the popular video-game SimCity, one can build a smart city by harnessing the powers of data science, which enables designs to be tested through computer simulation. Photo:

SimCity, a popular city-building video game, will mark its 30th anniversary this year.

In the game, players scramble to build their ideal cities, but no matter how much effort you put into designing a virtual city, chances are it might not be popular at all.

The good news is, with the advance of data science, we now can test smart city designs through simulation. By employing big data, it’s possible to factor in potential user experience.

Last week the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) said that more than 650 new datasets will be released in 2019 via the Public Sector Information (PSI)

The number of datasets on the PSI Portal will be increased from around 3,300 to close to 4,000. That would be good news for smart city development.

When the PSI Portal was launched in 2011, it was widely criticized for its poor quality and outdated data. Some data are offered on Excel or PDF formats, which do not allow easy processing.

Not surprisingly, Hong Kong was ranked as 24th in the 2017 Global Open Data Index released by the Open Knowledge Foundation, trailing behind Taiwan, Japan and Singapore.

But Hong Kong still has a chance to catch up.

Big data is never concentrated in one organization. If all parties are mobilized to join the move, the whole database will be optimized.

The government should offer subsidies to non-profit organizations or grant funds to the private sector to promote the exploration of new ways of data usage.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan 18

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Hong Kong Information Technology Federation Chairman