Speech by Miss Joey Lam, Deputy Government Chief Information Officer (Policy and Customer Service), at the "Canada - Hong Kong Innovation and Technology Partnering Forum"
13 Apr 2012


Ms (Shirley) Ong, Mr. (Eric) Tsang, Distinguished Guests, Friends from Canada and Hong Kong, Ladies and Gentlemen,


Good afternoon! It gives me great pleasure to join you at this Canada-Hong Kong Innovation and Technology Partnering Forum. First of all, I would like to thank the Consulate General of Canada for organising this event. The linkage between Canada and Hong Kong has always been strong. Including Hong Kong people with Canadian citizenship, almost 300,000 Canadian citizens live in Hong Kong and more than 100 Canadian firms have offices in our city.


In August last year, I, together with a 60-strong Hong Kong ICT delegation, visited Vancouver and Calgary. We visited many interesting digital media and ICT establishments. We are grateful to them for sharing with us their experience in developing ingenious products and services. I wish to take today's opportunity to update you about Hong Kong's latest development on the ICT front.


Over the years, Hong Kong has made tremendous progress in ICT. We ranked seventh in the world and the first in the Asia Pacific region in the Digital Economy Rankings 2010 published by the Economist Intelligence Unit. Hong Kong is developing into a data centre hub in the region with many enterprises, including Google, Digital Realty Trust, SAVVIS and NTT Communications, setting up mission-critical and high-availability data centres here. The Asia Cloud Computing Association has also ranked Hong Kong the second in the Asia Pacific region in cloud readiness in 2011.


I'm sure we all agree, nowadays ICT is the backbone of a modern city. Practically all economic sectors and activities rely on its wide and innovative adoption to thrive and blossom. Likewise, data centres are the powerhouse of a digital economy. They are particularly important for Hong Kong's traditional economic pillars such as financial services and trading and logistics, as well as for emerging sectors like content and media and cloud computing. Our highly reliable power supply with low tariffs, robust telecommunications infrastructure, low risks of natural disasters, free flow of information with firm copyright and data protection safeguards, and a conducive business environment have made Hong Kong a preferred location for high-end data centres.


Nonetheless, Hong Kong is a compact city, and finding land for the development of mega-size, high-tier data centres is always challenging. We have therefore adopted a multi-pronged approach to facilitate more data centres to be set up here. First, we established a Data Centre Facilitation Unit last year to provide one-stop service to assist interested parties in obtaining information about setting up data centres in Hong Kong and liaising with Government authorities on regulatory and land administration requirements.


Second, we have increased land supply in the Industrial Estates in Tai Po and Tseung Kwan O. In the past few years, the Science & Technology Parks Corporation has allocated over 18 hectares of land for high-tier data centres. Moreover, the Government has earmarked two hectares of land in Tseung Kwan O for high-tier data centre development. The first site of about one hectare will be available for open bidding next year.


In view of the constraints in identifying greenfield sites, the Government has recently introduced two measures to encourage the data centre sector to make use of existing industrial buildings. For data centres which can be set up in existing industrial buildings, the Government will exempt the waiver fees for converting them, in whole or in part, into data centres. Alternatively, existing industrial buildings can also be redeveloped into custom-designed data centres. For this option, if lease modification is required, the Government will charge the premium on the basis of actual development intensity and high-tier data centre use, instead of the established practice of assessing the premium according to maximum development intensity allowed and optimal use. I encourage Canadian companies to take advantage of our facilitation measures to set up data centres here or make use of the efficient, reliable and cost-competitive services offered by our many data centre operators.


Data centres aside, we have also made good progress in our e-Government initiatives.


Advancement in ICT has enabled the Government to disseminate information more effectively and to meet the community's needs in a more personalised manner. With a household broadband take-up rate of some 86%, our IT-savvy public demand more services to be available electronically and a better user experience. Riding on our one-stop GovHK portal for Government e-services, we have developed a personalised platform, called MyGovHK. Users can link up their MyGovHK accounts to multiple e-Government services including personal tax and billing accounts, as well as subscribing to alerts and reminders. It saves users the trouble of remembering different usernames and passwords for e-services provided by different departments. As of March 2012, there are some 80,000 MyGovHK accounts.


Our mobile penetration rate of 210%, which means everyone in Hong Kong possess more than two mobile devices on average, is among the highest in the world. More than half of our mobile phone users use smart phones. Leveraging on these capabilities, we are keen to introduce more mobile e-Government services. Last year, our office launched two mobile applications. The first one, called “Tell me@1823” enables the public to make enquiries and reports on concerns of any kind whenever they want and wherever they are. Apart from bringing convenience to users, this has turned out to be a tool to enlist the public's help in spotting malfunctioning or damaged public facilities for expeditious remedial actions. The second one, “HKeTransport”, allows users to look for public transportation routes to their destinations while on the go. As of early February 2012, we have a total of 26 Government mobile applications touching on various aspects of everyday life, ranging from weather and nutrition to hiking routes, etc., and we are in the process of developing even more.


To encourage innovation and entrepreneurship, we have embarked on a new adventure of making available public sector information in machine-readable format for value-added re-use. We have made available two kinds of public sector information so far, namely geo-referenced data for public facilities and real-time traffic data for free download and re-use in applications. Responses are encouraging. There are some 600,000 daily downloads of traffic snapshot images. Within just a year since its launch, our community has developed and launched at least 13 mobile applications with such data. To meet the demand for more types of demographic, economic and geographical data, the Government will continue to make available more data-sets. We welcome Canadian firms to inject creative ideas and develop value-added products and services for the Hong Kong market.


The ICT buzz word of today is “cloud computing”. It is almost a consensus that the cloud computing model will transform the way to deliver IT services in coming years. In view of the business values that can be delivered, we have formulated a strategy for establishing a Government cloud environment progressively over the next few years for supporting a range of new e-service applications. With the benefit of cloud computing, our office has just implemented a communal paper-less meeting system for shared use across Government bureaux, offices and departments to reduce paper consumption and enhance efficiency. The days ahead are exciting. We will develop a new hosting infrastructure for e-Government services, adopt virtualisation and cloud computing technology for more dynamic capacity allocation and share common facilities and services across the Government.


To enhance our healthcare system, the Government is developing a territory-wide patient-oriented eHealth Record Sharing System to provide an infrastructure for access and sharing of participating patients' health data by authorised healthcare providers in both the public and private healthcare sectors. Through timely sharing, different healthcare providers can supply collaborative patient-centred care more efficiently and in a seamless manner. This sharing platform is targeted for completion by 2013-14. We will continue to enhance the continuity of healthcare as well as better integration of different healthcare services by making good use of ICT.


To conclude, Hong Kong has a world-class ICT infrastructure which is conducive to the development of a vibrant ICT industry. The Hong Kong Government will continue to implement facilitation measures to entrench Hong Kong as a leading digital city and an ICT hub. There are huge opportunities and economic benefits for doing business here, in particular, setting up data centres and doing cloud business in Hong Kong. We look forward to seeing more involvement of the Canadian business community in Hong Kong ICT's development.


Last but not least, may I wish you a fruitful and enjoyable stay in Hong Kong!


Thank you.