Ride-sharing could help Hong Kong realise its full potential as smart city

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 06 August, 2017, 9:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 06 August, 2017, 10:29pm

Hong Kong is a high-density city, and that prevents us from moving efficiently across town.

As much as I try not to cross the harbour because of our infamous and horrendous deadlock right by the entrance of our harbour tunnels, it’s something I cannot escape from doing as a city person.

Whenever I am caught in traffic at the tunnel, I look aimlessly at the never-ending queue of cars trying to get through to the other side. I ask myself why I have to be stuck here for 15 to 30 minutes when it is really only a five- minute ride to get to the other side of the city.

Is it ever possible for Hong Kong to turn into a congestion-free city?

Then I think about how we could potentially reduce the number of cars on the road with the magic of ride-sharing. Ride-sharing apps and platforms such as Uber leverage on technology to redistribute unused or underutilised cars to people who are willing to pay for the services, therefore putting more people in fewer cars and increasing their economic efficiency. Now that is smart, isn’t it?

A smart city is not a dream. PricewaterhouseCoopers published a Consultancy Study on Smart City Blueprint report for Hong Kong in June. It sheds light on how Hong Kong could be more innovative, thanks to a wider digital application of data and mobility in transport.

Hong Kong’s determination to be a leading smart city is evident because last week, our Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor made her first official visit to Singapore, a city that understands the importance of data with a solid infrastructure that is flexible enough to accommodate new technologies. Mrs Lam visited GovTech Hive, the innovation lab for digital services in the Lion City.

Ride-sharing is an effective way to respond to the changing needs of a smart city like Hong Kong. In fact, the technology that makes ride-sharing a meaningful part of the transportation solution for Hong Kong is also the foundation for realising the full potential of our smart city. One where technology helps every resident outsmart traffic, ease congestion and pollution and reduce precious time lost in traffic.

By moving towards the future of urban mobility, our city will breathe and grow again.

Kenneth She, general manager, Uber Hong Kong