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Opening Remarks by Mr. Tony Wong, JP, Assistant Government Chief Information Officer (Industry Development) at the Technical Seminar on “Piecing Together the IoT Puzzle – Overcoming Barriers to Technology Integration” (with photos)

Dr. Ho (Dr. PT Ho, Chairman, Hong Kong Next Generation Internet Society), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

Good afternoon.  It is my great pleasure to join you all at this Technical Seminar organised by the Hong Kong Next Generation Internet Society on Internet of Things (IoT).  Indeed, IoT has great potential in taking traditional business activities into the new digital era, facilitating the formation of new business models, improving operational performance and enriching client experience.  In fact, IoT has already been widely adopted in many sectors today, and would play an important role in strengthening our city management and improving the quality of living of our citizens.  It is also one of the major technology enablers in building a smart city.  In order to take full advantage of the latest technologies such as IoT in developing a smart city, the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) has been actively building a number of enabling technology infrastructures and I would like to take this opportunity to share with you some of the latest progress we have made.

As one of the key infrastructure projects for supporting smart city development, OGCIO is building the Next Generation GovCloud which will facilitate government departments in adopting new cloud and system development technologies, thereby expediting system development of e-Government services, raising service level, and enhancing operation efficiency and cyber security.  The Next Generation GovCloud will adopt a hybrid cloud design and support new system development technologies including containerisation and DevOps.  We expect that the Next Generation GovCloud will be launched in the third quarter of 2020.

Riding on the Next Generation GovCloud, we are implementing a Big Data Analytics Platform.  Big data goes hand in hand with IoT and plays an important role in smart city development.  The Big Data Analytics Platform will provide advanced facilities, including big data analytics tools, artificial intelligence (AI) cognitive tools, parallel computing management system and a “Digital Highway” to facilitate exchange and sharing of real-time data among departments.  In particular, the “Digital Highway” can enable departments to upload in real time data collected for city management, such as the data collected through sensors and IoT devices installed on the smart lampposts, onto our open data portal.  Slated for launch in the third quarter of 2020, the platform will be able to speed up the development of big data applications for the Government through economies of scale and resource sharing, which facilitates smart city development and timely delivery of data‑driven public services in a cost-effective manner.

In fact, the Government has been actively exploring the use of IoT and big data analytics in various operations.  For example, the Customs and Excise Department has been making use of big data analytics and the massive amount of information collected from the Internet for detection of infringing activities.  The Hong Kong Police Force has also been carrying out feasibility study on an automation system for the collection, classification and association of cyber-crime data.

Just like big data, AI is another powerful technology for the next wave of digital transformation for government services and smart city development.  For example, the Customs and Excise Department has been studying the development of a Cargo Big Data System to enhance the risk management capability of the department in cargo clearance.  The Correctional Services Department has also been exploring the use of image analytics in their Smart Prison initiative.

With the rapid development of AI technologies, chatbots are becoming more mature and intelligent and their responses are getting more human-like.  The Government recognises the potential of chatbots in enhancing customer experience, and a number of departments are exploring the use of chatbots in their services.  To bring a brand-new user experience to the public, we are developing a chatbot on our government one-stop portal (GovHK) to facilitate the public in searching for and accessing e-Government services on the portal.  The GovHK chatbot is expected to be available at the end of this year.  The Efficiency Office is also revamping its government hotline services, better known to the public as 1823, and would introduce a pilot chatbot service by the end of this year for answering simple public enquiries and providing information to the public.  Moreover, the Hong Kong Observatory is planning to implement a pilot chatbot service for disseminating weather information in early 2020.

To support big data applications, the Government is fully aware of the importance of open data, which provides the raw materials for research and development of innovative applications.  OGCIO launched the Public Sector Information (PSI) Portal in 2011 to facilitate government bureaux and departments in opening up data for free use by the public.  Innovators can make use of these open data and mesh it with other data to perform data analytics and create applications to bring benefits to the public and create opportunities for businesses.  With the aim of releasing more open data, the Government promulgated a new open data policy last year, which requires all government departments to publish their annual open data plans and collect public feedbacks on their plans in order to open up more data according to public needs.  About 700 new datasets will be opened up this year, accounting for an increase of over 20% in the total number of datasets on the PSI Portal.  The annual open data plans of all government bureaux and departments can be found on their respective websites, and a full list of the plans is also available on the PSI Portal.

Open data will make a bigger impact with the participation of the industry.  The Transport Department has entered into an agreement with three bus operators, namely the New World First Bus Services Limited, the Citybus Limited and the New Lantao Bus Company to release real‑time arrival data of all their franchised bus routes in machine‑readable formats via the PSI Portal for free use by the public in the third quarter of this year. 

The proliferation and adoption of IoT technology would certainly help the Government as well as the industry generate more data.  We hope to see more collaboration and support from the industry in making open data widely available so as to stimulate the development of more innovative applications for the betterment of our citizens’ lives and for the advancement of the smart city initiative in Hong Kong.

I wish you all a fruitful seminar today.  Thank you.

- ENDS -