As cities become ever more sprawling and congested, the idea of being able to live, work, buy goods and enjoy green spaces all within the same walkable area is an enticing one. The concept is being embraced by cities worldwide, but there are hurdles to implementing it in Hong Kong.
The shrinking of the youth workforce, income stagnation and the suicide rate among young people are all cause for concern. As part of its youth development strategy, Hong Kong must focus on mental health, enhancing intelligence and social inclusion.
Geospatial technology that maps our environment can be used for everything from finding the best route for an ambulance to designing a new MTR line. It can also build modern, liveable cities and power a digital economy, but we need people with the right skills to develop it.
From convincing Chinese tech giants to move their headquarters to Hong Kong to capitalising on the Northern Metropolis’ strategic location, there is much the city can do as part of the Greater Bay Area. Hong Kong must also reckon with young people’s changed career expectations and ensure they have the skills to access opportunities.
Ensuring Xi Jinping’s proposals become reality will require tech-driven innovation. Steps include improving data-sharing for more informed policymaking, expanding our world-class universities to create new opportunities for work and study, and beginning work in earnest on the Northern Metropolis.
Singapore’s smart city credentials include its use of big data for urban planning and resource management, its favourable regulatory environment for finance and tech start-ups, and successful roll-out of a digital ID for citizens. Yet, with the right government policies, Hong Kong need not be left behind.
Public transport use has fallen in Hong Kong, while the number of private cars on our roads has increased, fuelling congestion and pollution. With plans for a Northern Metropolis under way, developers must seize the opportunity to put pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users first.
Consolidating correctional facilities would help improve efficiency and ease persistent staff shortages. Wider society would also benefit from having more land freed up for housing while enhanced rehabilitation can cut costs associated with criminal cases.
Hong Kong needs bold, innovative planning that puts people first and promotes social inclusiveness and collaboration from the bottom up to make the Qianhai plan a success.
Hong Kong does not lag behind its neighbours in becoming a smart city, especially in infrastructure construction. The city’s fatal flaw is that many projects are not related to each other, making it difficult to produce the needed synergy.
While the government’s push to revitalise manufacturing has waned, Covid-19 has shown the importance of diversification. More spending on research, commercialising its findings, and a clear policy direction that takes the Greater Bay Area into account, would help.
There are now 1.4 billion mobile devices in use in China, which means there is a lot of data that can be used to manage an outbreak of infectious disease. Around the world, the use of big data is also becoming common in crisis relief, but fears of misuse remain.
With big data holding the key to global prosperity, Hong Kong’s smart city blueprint can be best realised by a data-sharing platform for the government, public and private entities, and mobile apps.