SCED's speech at Hong Kong Electronics Symposium 2015
Following is the speech by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, at the Hong Kong Electronics Symposium 2015 today (April 17):
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Good morning. It gives me great pleasure to join you all at this Hong Kong Electronics Symposium 2015. I would like to thank the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers for organising this event under the International IT Fest 2015. This Symposium is an excellent platform for engineers, professionals, executives and students to exchange views on the latest technologies and developments on Internet of Things (IoT). It is also an ideal platform to explore how we may achieve our vision of a smarter Hong Kong.
We are now living in a smart world full of connections of devices and systems which "talk" to each other. IoT enables communication of different devices across the Internet to produce useful data which help make our life better. According to a recent survey, there will be 25 billion connected things by 2020, and sensor data will make up 40 per cent of all data created.
Indeed, IoT applications are burgeoning everywhere. For example, tiny nano-sensors that are part of smart dust can be sprayed on a surface to measure chemicals in the soil, we have sensors on buildings that can optimise the usage of energy, and we have sensors that disperse throughout the city to make it smart and interactive. From smart dust to smart city, everything is becoming smarter and communicating to one another. That is the power of IoT.
You may ask, what is a smart city? A smart city uses ICT technologies to enhance performance and the well-being of citizens.
Hong Kong has a good foundation for smart city, with our advanced ICT infrastructure and innovative telecommunications services at affordable prices. The ICT infrastructure is IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6) ready to accommodate growth of IP addresses with the development of IoT. Our mobile penetration of 239 per cent is among the highest in the world. The average peak Internet connection speed of 87.7 megabits per second is the fastest worldwide. Our Wi-Fi coverage also reaches 30 000 hotspots, enabling us to stay connected anywhere and anytime.
A smart city stands on four pillars, namely smart economy, smart environment, smart governance and smart society. IoT underpins each pillar. Let me elaborate with some examples of IoT applications.
The first pillar is smart economy. As a smart city, we adopt IoT applications to enhance the economic development in Hong Kong, from logistics and commerce to many other facets of our daily life.
Hong Kong has widely adopted sensors and IoT technology for supply chain, warehouse management, luggage handling, trade and logistics and livestock control. The Hong Kong International Airport is the global pioneer for adoption of RFID (radio-frequency identification)-enabled baggage handling systems. Every day, around 70 000 pieces of baggage from over 60 airlines use RFID tags or labels, and more than 26 million RFID tags are used each year. It is an efficient way to streamline airport operation. It shortens the waiting time for baggage and improves the accuracy of baggage handling, thus improving customer satisfaction.
Moreover, our Customs and Excise Department adopted the E-Lock system to streamline the clearance of air-land and sea-land transhipments. Once the container is locked with an E-Lock, it can be monitored by GPS (global positioning system) and minimise the need for repeated customs examination when it enters and leaves Hong Kong. Customs clearance time can be reduced from two or three hours to five minutes. The E-Lock system enables an efficient, secure and traceable customs clearance process between Hong Kong and the Mainland.
The data collected from sensors is a valuable asset. The Government encourages the use of government data for innovative applications, such as developing online services and mobile apps. In 2011, we launched a public sector information portal which provides government data in machine-readable formats. Starting this year, we will release all government information in digital formats, with a view to further promoting innovative applications and business opportunities. In order to provide a larger and more flexible platform for departments to release data, we have just revamped the portal and renamed it data.gov.hk. The portal provides more than 3 000 datasets in 18 broad categories such as climate and weather, food, health, population and transport.
The second pillar is smart environment. In a smart city, we work towards sustainability objectives, one of which is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and promote energy conservation.
In this connection, our power companies embarked on a number of energy conservation initiatives. For instance, CLP Power Hong Kong Limited launched the myEnergy pilot in 2013. It is the first smart metering platform using IPv6 network in Hong Kong. The scheme enables customers to control their own electricity consumption by providing real-time information on energy usage. Meanwhile, with sensors detecting voltage, power and consumption, the power company can get useful insights into the system, and seek to improve the efficiency of its electricity system and infrastructure.
The Government has also implemented the concept of smart building for better energy management. For example, when constructing our new Central Government Offices and the Legislative Council Complex at Tamar a few years ago, a computerised building energy management system was installed to monitor and analyse the energy consumption of these buildings. The system operates 24 hours a day, and electricity consumption data is collected for ongoing review and improvement of energy-saving measures, such as rescheduling of operating hours of lighting, lift and air-conditioning systems at office floors and communal areas. With the system, we managed to cut electricity consumption by over 15 per cent on average.
The third pillar is smart governance. To enable efficient municipal management, especially for a densely populated city like Hong Kong, we need to optimise resources so that we may achieve a better standard of living.
For utility management, our Water Supplies Department will implement a Water Intelligent Network strategy. Local water supply networks will be installed with sensors to provide data for prompt actions to curtail water leakage. Our Civil Engineering and Development Department has used various types of sensors for landslide monitoring, thus protecting the public from possible hazards. Our Drainage Services Department uses intelligent ultrasonic sensors to detect the water level in manholes of selected storm-water drains and sewers, and log the data continuously in its computer system. The collected data will be analysed for prioritising maintenance and cleaning works, so as to minimise the risk of flooding and overflowing of sewage.
Smart city is also characterised by easy mobility. Intelligent transportation brings convenience to drivers and commuters. The Government deploys sensors and IoT applications at busy roads to collect real-time transport data. We can then dynamically and intelligently manage our traffic flow and traffic lights. The sensors can also detect the speed of vehicles installed with smart AutoToll tags, and use the data to provide journey time estimation at major roads for drivers to better plan their routes. With more extensive use of IoT and big data analytics, we can further optimise traffic flow based on weather and traffic data.
The fourth pillar is smart society. Smart city provides people with smarter living and more convenient life.
In 1997, Hong Kong came up with one of the world's most extensively used payment smart cards, called Octopus. Originally a payment means for public transport, it has now extended its use to every facet of daily life, and can be used for payments at parking meters and in convenience stores, supermarkets, fast food restaurants and various kinds of retail outlets. It can also be used as an access card for commercial and residential buildings, and even by schools for attendance-taking. About 98 per cent of Hong Kong people aged between 16 to 65 own Octopus. Over 27 million Octopus cards are in circulation, and the system processes over 13 million transactions a day. Octopus is an efficient, reliable, flexible and secure payment means.
A smart society also helps us take care of the health of our citizens. The Government has set the target to launch an electronic health record (eHR) sharing system this year. It provides an information infrastructure and an efficient platform for hospitals and clinics, in both the public and private health-care sectors, to upload and share the eHR with the consent of the patient. For the patients, the eHR maintains a comprehensive online record and provides timely and accurate information for care, and reduces duplication of tests and treatment. For the clinicians, it enables efficient and quality assured clinical practice. For society, it improves disease surveillance and monitoring of public health. It also helps to gather more comprehensive statistics for formulating public health policy.
We can see that IoT brings great opportunities for building smart cities. It addresses real-time needs, minimises risks and maximises potential. It not only improves process optimisation and enables more effective forecasts, it also enhances customer service and personalisation. IoT improves our quality of life and enhances resource management, and facilitates the development of connected people in a connected city and connected world.
In the Policy Address this year, the Government has announced the smart city pilot at Kowloon East. The areas of the former Kai Tak Airport, Kwun Tong and Kowloon Bay business areas will be transformed into a business centre. The areas will be characterised by walkability, environmental friendliness and improved traffic flows. Kowloon East will become a better place to live and work.
As the great philosopher Plato said, "The city is what it is because our citizens are what they are." IoT applications should be developed with their potential benefits to people in mind. In closing, I wish the Symposium a great success and you all an enjoyable and fruitful sharing.
Ends/Friday, April 17, 2015