Hong Kong’s future as a smart city depends on the internet of things

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The Hong Kong government, as part of its resolve on smart city initiatives, is collecting public submissions on its smart city blueprint. At the same time, the Energising Kowloon East Office is implementing a series of smart city proof-of-concept trials, including a project to encourage walking and a smart parking app.

The internet of things (IoT) is a foundational technology for any smart city. All the world’s most advanced smart cities rely on multi-tier IoT infrastructure to help government, businesses and community groups to collaborate.

In Hong Kong, we need the business community and the people to be empowered to help realise a smart future. IoT is already in use in the logistics and utilities sectors, in manufacturing, and in building systems, where elevator, climate and security systems are integrated for comfort, safety and efficiency. We also have a growing ecosystem of researchers, entrepreneurs and hi-tech companies working together to develop and apply IoT innovations. Creating the right conditions for this ecosystem to flourish – with technology, business and financial support – is crucial.

Businesses can also help the government actively engage residents in smart city initiatives. Drumming up enthusiasm for community IoT projects, like smart lighting and smart parking, is vital. Global experience shows people are keen to get behind initiatives that improve their quality of life.

From being involved in smart city deployments with local governments across Australia, we have also learnt that it is imperative to adopt open standards. Every smart city is an evolving entity, with new solutions continuously developed and rolled out. Multiple platforms from multiple solution providers will always be part of the community model.

It is wise to start small on a big project, such as IoT-enabled water meter reading, street lighting or smart waste management. But we must avoid silos and not take technology, like RFID (radio-frequency identification) and Wifi, beyond natural limits.

With government support and the right IoT infrastructure, we can expect to see more Hong Kong businesses developing high-value applications that engage the community and help make the city safer, cleaner and more energy efficient. These new applications will also encourage social interaction and offer new ways to care for the elderly and young.

As the momentum builds, this will help us to develop a smart economy. IoT can spur innovation and create job opportunities across industries and sectors, with a focus on technology and efficiency that will make Hong Kong even more globally competitive and transform the quality of life for communities.

Murray Hankinson is managing director of Thinxtra Asia

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