Collaboration is crucial for Hong Kong to join smart-city ranks

Hong Kong
Image credit: fuyu liu /

Hong Kong has the blueprint and the potential to become a smart city, but it will require open cross-sector, cross-department collaboration at all levels. 

Enquiring minds typically want to know: what’s the next big thing that will turn our lives upside down in the future? What about a city where your face is the credit card and payment can go through by facial recognition, the solar-powered bins can compact waste and send out wireless signal alerting workers to empty them, and you are greeted by 3D holograms that pop up in movies such as “Star Wars” and “Iron Man”?

The stuff of movies? Well, there is such a city. Technology has caught up to movie magic. Yinchuan in Northern China, the capital of Ningxia province with 1.5 million citizens, is living proof that smart cities exist. It is also the host of Asia’s leading smart city event – the TM Forum’s Smart City InFocus Conference. Yinchuan is just one of China’s 285 smart city projects. Both CNN and Forbes hail Yinchuan as the country’s, if not Asia’s, leading smart city project.

Asia is emerging as the global smart city leader of the future. India is on the bandwagon as well, developing an overwhelming 100 new smart cities, while converting 500 other urban areas into smart cities. Seoul is also among the leaders with an impressive 1,200 open data sets for public and business use. What is unique is the open and broad public participation in smart city developments. Its OASIS Online Policy Suggestion System to date has received an astonishing 5 million contributions from the public.

Asia seems to have a rosy outlook on smart cities. So how does Hong Kong stand? Our government’s Public Sector Information (PSI) portal boasts over 6,000 open data sets for public and business use. This big data treasure trove can potentially be translated into the next big smart city apps and services. This is just one example of the many key pieces of Hong Kong’s smart city puzzle. Hong Kong has the required infrastructure, the data governance, the talent and the technology in place, with IoT, AI and 5G – which promises blistering download speeds – coming soon. It’s time for a real push to turn smart city potential into reality in Hong Kong.

The government’s latest smart city blueprint has just been released, and this should be the catalyst to get the ball rolling. It is understandable that there are people who hold different opinions about the blueprint. If we don’t want to be left behind when the big wheel starts to turn, we should consider making the most of the great fundamentals we already have.

We urge all key parties to come together and start addressing the real opportunities for smart city development in Hong Kong today. A recent UPS report on smart cities recommends that cities must commit at their most senior levels to becoming smart – collaborating with stakeholders, agreeing on a consistent vision and hearing from community members. The only way progress will be made is via truly open cross-sector, cross-department collaboration at all levels.

SmarTone together with network partner Ericsson will soon launch an innovation hub to foster open collaboration between willing organizations and individuals in a dedicated ecosystem to drive innovation and smart applications that leverage current and future wireless technologies.

Smart City is not something that can be driven by one or even a few parties – it’s a collective endeavor that needs everyone’s support. This is not just about making Hong Kong smarter, but also making Hong Kong a better place to live.

What’s the next thing that will change our lives completely? As the famous saying goes, “The best way to predict the future is to create it” – do you agree?

Anna Yip SmarToneWritten by Anna Yip, CEO of SmarTone | Originally published on LinkedIn

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