- Hong Kong has released its "Smart City Blueprint" to guide its leaders in achieving their vision of becoming a world-class smart city. The blueprint maps out development plans for the next five years and beyond.
- The plan is based on a study the government commissioned that contains short-, medium- and long-term plans in six "smart" areas: mobility, living, environment, people, government and economy.
- The smart city plan is touted as being "people-centric" and the goal is to benefit residents and visitors with the smart innovations. The roadmap also aims to make Hong Kong more sustainable and economically attractive to global businesses and talent through its innovation.
China is a country known more for its highly-polluted cities and ghost cities than smart cities. Hong Kong is an autonomous territory in the southeast portion of China that has its own political and economic system, and the smart city designation is one that could help Hong Kong further demonstrate its economic distinctness from China.
Some cities' plans for reaching "smart" status are rather vague and lay out broader concepts, but the Hong Kong road map is quite detailed. It lists specific initiatives such as installing 1,200 traffic sensors by 2020, facilitating trials of autonomous vehicles, providing all residents with a free electronic ID by 2020 and installing sensors to monitor air pollution.
Some worry that the plan is too ambitious and will take too long to implement. Others contend that Hong Kong currently lacks the amount of human capital necessary to implement this plan, and the STEM education to teach future generations how to apply the knowledge, which is just as important as the technology itself. One skill in particular that STEM education proponents would like to see more of in Hong Kong schools is coding. Supporters of the roadmap note that it does, in fact, contain an entire section entitled "Nurturing Young Talent" that lays out measures for bringing stronger STEM education into the schools and after-school programs.
The plan has so many goals and is so specific in many of its initiatives that huge portions are entirely achievable. Eliminating the ambiguity sometimes found in other cities' smart plans will allow leaders to jump right in to start implementing various projects instead of first hashing out the roadmap's language and intent.
There is valid skepticism about Hong Kong's government actually implementing the measures in a timely fashion, given its conservatism and calls for more consulting on a number of the listed initiatives. Skeptics worry that having a 2020 or later timeline for many of the measures could make them outdated by the time they're actually in place. But if the government starts immediately on the initiatives, especially the high-profile ones, the roadmap could indeed help Hong Kong distinguish itself as a world-class smart city.