Like many of our members, I have the opportunity to travel a lot – for work and for leisure. And I am not alone in noticing that in the past few years it seems that Hong Kong has been slipping behind when it comes to smart city development. This is a great concern to the local business community, as the last thing we need is for Hong Kong to lose its competitive edge.
Smart city developments have been pretty visible in cities around the world for some time. Around a decade ago, residents in London and Taipei already had live information displays at bus stops. Travellers in Seoul, meanwhile, have long been able to pay for taxis, as well as other transportation, with the tap of a smart card. In Mainland China, of course, we all know that you can use your mobile phone to arrange and pay for just about everything – no cash required.
And yet none of these scenarios are the norm in Hong Kong. It seems that we are already far behind. The question is why? And can we catch up?
Happily, there is good news to report on that front. In our cover story and report from our Smart City Seminar, you can read the views of a number of experts who are in agreement that Hong Kong has now turned the corner.
The Government’s Smart City Blueprint, released in December 2017, is a major contributor to Hong Kong’s recent progress. Since its release, a great deal of discussion has taken place. Now, concrete initiatives and projects are being rolled out.
This is all extremely heartening. But one problem, as I see it, is that these developments are not yet obvious to the man in the street. Experts agree that successful smart city development must be citizen-centric. And the more that citizens become familiar with new initiatives, the more likely they are to be positive about actually using them.
The Faster Payment System, for example, which facilitates money transfers across banking networks in Hong Kong, is a very welcome development. But the system could certainly be more widely used, by businesses as well as citizens.
To help Hong Kong move forward, we need more active support among citizens. To this end, we would like to see some of the successful pilot schemes in areas such as Kwun Tong being rolled out on a bigger scale. This would help citizens be more aware of the developments, and – hopefully – more enthusiastic about their adoption. The faster this happens, the faster we can catch up with our rivals in the ranks of truly world-class smart cities.