Hong Kong launches innovation lab

By on 11/06/2019 | Updated on 24/09/2020
Your city at a glance: Hong Kong’s ‘city dashboard’, due to go live this year, was showcased at the Smart LAB launch

A Smart Government Innovation Lab (Smart LAB) has been launched in Hong Kong, with the aim of supporting tech SMEs and start-ups to develop products that can help improve public services.

IT firms will be able to pitch technologies such as big data analytics, blockchain and robotics to the Smart LAB – which is located in Cyberport, a government-run business park housing 1000 digital tech companies. As well has helping SMEs to develop products for government, the LAB will also work to raise awareness across Hong Kong’s administration about technologies that might be useful to public servants.

The acting secretary for innovation and technology, Dr David Chung, described the creation of the Smart LAB as a milestone towards the development of a “smart government”.

For budding entrepreneurs

Alongside the physical Smart LAB there will also be a dedicated website where public bodies can post details of challenges that SMEs might be able to help them address. Businesses will be encouraged to pitch their ideas, allowing government departments to use it as a resource to find potential solutions and suppliers.

The opening ceremony, held earlier this month, showcased several innovations already in place – including sensor technology for monitoring tree stability in built-up areas. The sensor alerts the relevant authorities if a tree begins to tilt and could potentially present a danger to pedestrians or vehicles.

According to the South China Morning Post, the Tree Management Office has already installed 300 sensors across Hong Kong, with a further 8000 to be rolled out by the end of 2019.

Full of ideas

A “city dashboard” presenting open data in the form of interactive charts and maps for the general public, expected to go live later this year, was also on display.

Other technologies showcased at the launch included virtual reality technologies for assisting the design of construction sites, the monitoring of construction processes and urban development planning, as well as innovations related to the Internet of Things, blockchain, artificial intelligence, cloud technologies and big data.   Speaking at the opening ceremony on Thursday, the government’s chief information officer, Victor Lam Wai-kiu, said: “Innovative technologies never cease to emerge. They can bring revolutionary changes in different fields. The government needs to follow these trends closely,” the South China Morning Post reported.

About Natalie Leal

Natalie is a freelance journalist whose work has been published by The Sun Online, The Guardian, Novara Media, Positive News, and Welfare Weekly, among others. She also writes reports and case studies on global business trends for behavioural insights agency, Canvas8. Prior to working as a journalist Natalie worked for the public sector in social services for several years. She switched careers in 2013 after winning a fully funded NCTJ in a national writing competition. She holds a Masters degree in social anthropology from Sussex University where she specialised in processes of social change and international conflict and reconciliation processes.

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