Connecting Hong Kong: call for further development of technology and innovation

Hong Kong needs to continue to drive a technology and innovation culture in order to compete with other smart cities, according to a new survey by AustCham Platinum Patron KPMG.

The report, titled Connecting Hong Kong – Perspectives on our future as a smart city, is published in association with CLP Holdings, JOS, Siemens and the Smart City Consortium. It features findings from a survey, conducted by YouGov, of more than 500 business executives and 1,000 citizens in Hong Kong on their perceptions of its smart city strengths and weaknesses.

Nearly all business executives indicated technology and innovation culture, together with ‘education’ and ‘talent’, are critical for Hong Kong to remain successful, the survey finds. However, 73 percent of executives and 45 percent of citizens are of the view that Hong Kong falls behind other developed cities in terms of fostering a technology and innovation culture, while around a quarter indicated that Hong Kong is leading in education and talent.

The desire to improve Hong Kong’s technology and innovation culture and its overall liveability are linked to the survey respondents’ views on the key qualities of a smart city – ‘digitalised, well-connected public services’ and ‘advanced technology’ are among the top three characteristics identified by respondents. They also ranked ‘healthcare’, ‘education’ and the ‘living environment’ as their top three keys to success. 

“This indicates a need for a future population equipped with the right skills and innovative drive to meet the needs of an increasingly complex, fast-changing environment,” says Julian Vella, ASPAC Regional Head – Global Infrastructure Advisory, KPMG China. “In order to develop Hong Kong as a real smart city, it is necessary to create an innovative and technology-focused environment supported by the education system, which should also encourage more students to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics programmes.”  


This is reflected in the findings, as 83 percent of business executives indicated that ‘encouraging creativity in the education system’ is crucial to accelerate the development of research/education. Additionally, two-thirds of citizens and three-quarters of executives see ‘engineering & applied science’ as key disciplines.  


In terms of advantages, the survey notes that more than four-in-five surveyed executives and 60 percent of citizens view Hong Kong’s connectivity with mainland China and its transportation system as outperforming other developed cities.

Meanwhile, 65 percent of executives and 54 percent of citizen respondents highlighted Hong Kong’s strengths as a financial services centre. 


A majority (80 percent) of surveyed executives rate the Greater Bay Area initiative as important for Hong Kong’s future prosperity, while 74 percent of them are of the same view in terms of its connectivity to ASEAN and the Belt and Road Initiative. Meanwhile, citizen respondents indicated ties with ASEAN to be most important (by 61 percent), followed by the Belt and Road Initiative (55 percent), and the Greater Bay Area (49 percent).  


“The key to being a smart city is connectivity – not just locally, but globally, so we can bring ideas from outside to Hong Kong and share those from Hong Kong with others,” says Eric Yeung, President, Smart City Consortium. “A smart city is one that is able to harness technology to realise greater goals – that of a sustainable city, with enduring economic advantages, and above all, an enhanced quality of life for all its citizens.”  


Consistent with this, Hong Kong’s Smart City Blueprint, released in December 2017, lays out a number of projects and strategic initiatives to drive the development – many of which are in line with the views and expectations put forward by the surveyed business executives and citizens in this report.  


Separately, the private sector has expressed a strong desire to be more involved in Hong Kong’s smart city development – more than four out of five of the surveyed executives indicate that it is likely that their company will contribute. Citizens too share the same sentiment, with a majority expecting private companies to contribute to the city’s development.  


This echoes the survey findings - a majority of executives (67 percent) say that collaboration between the private and public sectors is needed to better develop Hong Kong’s healthcare system. ‘More use of health-related technology’ and the ‘provision of more elderly-care services’ were identified by over two-thirds of executives as key priorities needed to accelerate Hong Kong’s healthcare development.  


In terms of energy and resources development, ‘waste treatment’, ‘use of renewable energy’ and ‘energy efficiency’ are top of the agenda for both citizens and executives. The need to ‘invest in energy-efficient technology’ and ‘encourage energy-saving practices’ are of particular importance, as a growing population and the proliferation of technology place increasing demands on Hong Kong’s energy system. Increased connectivity between energy, technology and transportation will be crucial to Hong Kong’s development.  


Vella concludes: “For a city to be smart, it needs to be conscious of the needs and wishes of its population, the economic interconnectedness of its businesses with surrounding regions, and the potential impact of technological developments. Above all, smart cities are about people. By placing its citizens at the core of decision-making, focusing on education and harnessing the city’s talent, Hong Kong can enable its population to innovate, drive growth and improve their quality of life.” 


Full report: https://assets.kpmg.com/content/dam/kpmg/cn/pdf/en/2018/01/connecting-hong-kong.pdf

For more details on the Government’s Smart City Blueprint, please visit: https://www.smartcity.gov.hk/

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