2016 | ISSUE 2 English繁體简体
Integrated Solutions eNewsletter
THEME STORY: Hong Kong Re-industrialization. Opportunity?

HK I.T. needs to CATCH UP!

Development of Internet of Things and Smart Hong Kong

When mentioning Smart City, you may have some idea about it, but to what extent do you understand the concept and practice of it? Smart City relates much to our life, and this concept was originated from the concept of “Smart Earth”. The so-called “Smart" applies through a new generation of information technology such as the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing to the fields like urban power systems, medical systems, transportation systems, public safety, building, industrial monitoring, office and home life. This allows people to have better work efficiency and quality of the living environment so as to promote a healthier and happier lifestyle. In view of this, Governments treat constructing a Smart City as an important indicator to enhance the city's competitiveness.

As for IoT, it is a global development trend as well as the basis for a Smart City. IoT can echo the smart connected equipment in accessing clear information, including identification of information, location, or even information about human condition. The biggest objective of IoT is to trace the background, make timely business decisions in a more effective manner, or improve interaction with customers. IoT is an important foundation to achieve a Smart City. It can be divided into three stages: The first is the overall perception; the second is reliable delivery through a variety of telecommunications network and internet integration which can accurately pass information in real-time; the third is smart processing. With IoT, human beings and objects are linked together. Human can manage production and live in a more refined and dynamic way in order to attain the "smart" condition and improve resource utilization and productivity levels which completely breaks free of the conventional thinking. According to Gartner, a U.S company specialising in information technology research and advisory analysis, there will be a total of 6.4 billion devices connected to the internet by the end of this year. Without doubt, there will be a dramatic change in people’s daily lives when the IoT era comes.

Why Smart City is put together with IoT? In fact, it is because Smart City is an important application field of IoT. At the same time, IoT is an important foundation for constructing a Smart City. At present, how keen is the industry to develop a Smart Hong Kong and IoT? Taking Hong Kong Science and Technology IoT Application Center for an example, it is a landmark building in Hong Kong with the first exhibition hall where people can experience radio frequency identification or IoT. The exhibition centre is further divided into six themed areas such as Smart Logistics, Intelligent Medical Care and Smart City, etc., demonstrating how IoT can be used to improve people's quality of life. HKSTP also organized a competition named “City Challenge” inviting all citizens and students in Hong Kong to come up with innovative ideas on technology to create a more energetic and liveable Hong Kong. Apart from that, another exhibition named “Smart Living@Science Park” featured more than 50 IoT products and solutions developed by companies in the Science Park and their partners. Members of the industry and the public can experience the unique technological innovation and have better understanding of IoT as well as how it is related to their daily life in the hope of expediting the industrialization of the innovative technologies. The Government is committed to take forward the relevant technology and infrastructure for a Smart City. Along with the prevalence of wireless and cross-platform technology, as well as the growing popularity of cloud computing, IoT and big data, the Financial Secretary announced the fourth update of the “Digital 21” strategy, with “Smarter Hong Kong, Smarter Living “as the theme and the launching of corresponding measures based on Hong Kong’s robust IT infrastructure.

In fact, the data show the market value. There is huge investment potential in Smart Hong Kong and IoT. As mentioned above, Gartner indicates that there are more than thousands of new devices connected to the internet daily, and the number of devices linked to the internet are expected to reach a total of 20.8 billion in 2020. Gartner believes that most of the IoT expenditure will be used for the "Professional Category", meaning that commercial companies will only work with suppliers on design, installation and operation instead of developing on their own. At the same time, Gartner points out that the provision of connectivity services will grow even faster. In this year, 4 billion devices are used on a personal level, and in 2020, there will be 13.5 billion. As for enterprise applications, they are divided into two types: the first one is in the apparatus used in various industries mainly for cost-saving such as light bulbs, ventilation and building management systems; the second one refers to the devices specialized in specific industries, such as hospital instruments. Analysis has pointed out that enterprises adopt more of the latter at the moment, but the former will have a substantial increase in proportion in 2020.

However, things do not always go as smoothly as expected. There are underlying problems such as privacy, reliability of equipment and investment cost in the development of Smart Hong Kong and IoT. There are complex and different standards among countries and various industries, resulting in high production costs. On the other hand, evaluation standard for a Smart City in various countries is still in the exploration stage. Due to the different needs in the various countries and different emphasis on the principle, standard and policy for a Smart City by the governing body of each city, if each of them implements the construction of the Smart City according to their own responsible area, it is difficult to determine what is the best. Worse still, problem of resource integration among different departments may arise.

Overall speaking, the future policy of Smart Hong Kong and the development of IoT should be people-oriented through innovative methods and technologies so as to provide the citizens with a more comfortable and convenient life. The Government can start with something more specific, more visual and easier to experience in daily life, such as education, health care, e-public services and intelligent transportation systems, etc. in order to help strengthening and promoting the existing and new measures as well as making the public realize the benefits of Smart City.