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Speech by Mr. Tony Wong, JP, Deputy Government Chief Information Officer, at “The 1st CAFEA Young Talent Smart City Forum” (with photos)

Christine (Ms Christine Yip, Founder of CAFEA Smart City Limited), Peter (Mr Peter Yan, JP, CEO of Cyberport), Professor Dong (Prof Z.Y. Dong, Director of University of New South Wales Digital Grid Futures Institute), TK (Mr TK Chiang, Managing Director of CLP Power Hong Kong Limited), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls.

Good morning! It is my honor to join you all at the 1st CAFEA Young Talent Smart City Forum jointly organised by CAFEA Smart City Limited and Cyberport Academy this morning. I am deeply impressed by the creativity of our young talents which is showcased in the 25 high quality shortlisted Forum submissions. As pillars of our future smart city, many of our young talents have passionately presented their vision of a future smart school campus, a place where they will acquire knowledge and skills and explore whatever that inspires them on their path to adulthood. Their aspired smart campuses involve not only an upgrade of school campus facilities and enhancements of the school campus environment through adoption of smart technologies, but also improvements to students’ lifestyle, social life and learning experience, ultimately making education smarter by effectively utilising a wide range of innovative technologies.

I am particularly fascinated by some of our youngsters who have gone beyond the smart campus and ventured into using technologies to solve wider social, economic and environmental issues in Hong Kong, such as high carbon footprint in transportation, traffic congestion, limited local food supply, labour intensive public toilet management and sea pollution, etc. In fact, a school campus is a mini-city in itself. School campuses have their own buildings, transportation networks, utility systems as well as commercial activities such as tuck shops. Schools also comprise different groups of stakeholders who are either providers or recipients of various services, e.g. school bus, catering, cleansing, facilities management and of course most importantly educational services. Therefore, schools are just perfect living laboratories for our youngsters to boldly test out their learning and experiment their innovative ideas to address real-life challenges.

The Government is firmly committed to develop Hong Kong into a smart city. We published the first Smart City Blueprint for Hong Kong (Blueprint) in December 2017 and the updated Blueprint 2.0 in December 2020, co-ordinating efforts among government departments, public and private organisations to enable our citizens to better perceive the benefits of smart city development. Our vision is to embrace innovation and technology to build a Smart Hong Kong characterised by a strong digital economy and high quality of living. The Blueprints cover six main areas, namely smart mobility, smart living, smart environment, smart people, smart economy and smart government. We spared no efforts in pursuing the many initiatives that have been set out in the Blueprints. In return for our efforts, we have seen encouraging advancement in the global ranking of Hong Kong in terms of innovation and digital technology. For example, in the 2020 World Competitiveness Yearbook published by the International Institute for Management Development (IMD), Hong Kong’s technological infrastructure ranked 7th, which is up from 18th in 2019. Hong Kong was 5th in 2020 in the World Digital Competitiveness ranking, up from 8th in 2019. Hong Kong has also become one of the world’s most digitally advanced economies, ranking 2nd and 3rd in the Asia-Pacific region and the world respectively according to the 2020 Digital Intelligence Index Report. I think most of you will agree that in today’s post COVID-19 digital era, IT plays a vital role in economic recovery as well as support of people’s daily life. The demand for IT talents in all sectors of the community is ever-increasing. Our younger generation needs to build up a solid IT foundation as early as possible. To this end, we have launched the three-year “IT Innovation Lab in Schools” Programme to provide funding support of up to $1 million for each publicly funded secondary school to organise IT related extra-curricular activities and procure necessary IT equipment and professional services to support the activities. The Programme has been open for application since last December. So far we have received applications from over 180 secondary schools and more than 130 applications have already been approved. In view of the overwhelming response, we have further allocated an additional $200 million to extend the programme to some 500 publicly-funded primary schools under a new three-year “Knowing More About IT” Programme. Starting from the 2021/22 school year, a maximum grant of $400,000 will be provided to each publicly-funded primary school for organising IT related extra-curricular activities. Both programmes aim to stimulate our youngsters’ interest in IT and strengthen their basic IT knowledge, thereby enhancing their interest to pursue the study of IT and STEM subjects and get better prepared for the development of the digital society in the future.

I would like to thank again all the co-organisers and the University of New South Wales Digital Grid Futures Institute, the strategy partner and research collaborator of today’s Forum, for putting together this meaningful event for our young talents, enabling them to unleash their potential, realise their innovative ideas and exploit their entrepreneurship aspiration. I wish the event a great success, and all of you a most rewarding and enjoyable time. Thank you.

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