Among the world’s top five most densely populated cities, Hong Kong faces considerable challenges in meeting new environmental regulations and reducing the impact of climate change. Hong Kong is home to thriving commercial and technological sectors which positions it to take advantage of the sustainability benefits afforded by an increased focus on smart technologies. With the aid of today’s growing array of digital and communication technologies, Hong Kong has joined the wave of cities around the world seeking to transform themselves into true smart cities.

Hong Kong signaled its ambitions in regard to smart cities, as early as its 2014 Digital 21 Strategy, envisioning an increased use of sensors, the Internet of Things, and big data analytics to improve public services and ensure sustainable social and economic growth. The city’s Chief Executive Cy Leung affirmed this strategy in the City’s 2015 Policy Address by announcing the Kowloon East area as a pilot area for smart city development. This commitment gained further momentum with the 2016 Policy Address, which assigned the newly established Innovation and Technology Bureau with formulating a digital framework and standards for the development of a smart city. Finally, the City selected professional services firm Arup and leading communications technology and service provider Ericsson to spearhead the Smart & Sustainable City project in Kowloon East.

Hong Kong’s smart city initiatives were the focus of the 2016 ICT Conference, themed “Constructing a Competitive Smart City”, held in Hong Kong on April 12th, 2016. At the conference, Hong Kong’s legislative councilor for IT Charles Mok observed that the greatest challenges facing the smart city initiative were not technological, but cultural. Noting that, while Hong Kong is certainly not lacking in the technology necessary to realize this transformation, it has yet to achieve a unified sense of purpose across both public and private sectors which would unify the two and encourage the spirit of open-mindedness and risk-taking necessary to further these ambitions.

In moving from the phase of establishing infrastructure into applying the data created by this infrastructure in creating new solutions, Mok stressed the need for open data, noting that the current reality continues to see great amounts of data barred from public access.

As cities across Europe seek to realize similarly ambitious targets, these issues regarding the accessibility of data will continue to slow development if those in charge of these initiatives do not establish a sense of unified purpose and shared trust among their multi-party collations. Following the development of Hong Kong’s Smart & Sustainable City pilot in Kowloon East stands to bring an additional perspective on the formation of such knowledge alliances and their central function in the development of advanced, sustainable cities.

Read more about the “Constructing a Competitive Smart City” conference and see the full program.

For more on the City Chief Executive’s stated plans for smart city development and their application.

Ericsson’s press release announcing the Smart & Sustainable City project.

Follow along with the development of the Kowloon East pilot.

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Reframing City Districts (ReCiDi)

A research project conducted by the Universities of Turku and Tampere which aims to form a new conceptual framework which will help shape the collective identity and common vision necessary to realize the future low-carbon and sustainability targets.

Systemic Architectures for Sustainable Urban Innovation (SASUI)

An action learning and research project conducted by Aalto University and the University of Tampere which aimed to form a better understanding of the architectural requirements for successful innovation projects.