30 April, 2019

Hong Kong has strived, in recent years, to develop a Smart City vision for itself. The recent Budget Announcement and the release of the Hong Kong Smart City Blueprint provide the framework, funding and initiatives to realize smart growth in innovation, research and development. With so much emphasis on becoming smart, what will the impact be on how we design, construct, retrofit and operate our buildings and how will this change the user’s experience?

It starts with the Government

Hong Kong’s Smart City Blueprint outlines how it will ‘embrace innovation and technology to build a world-famed Smart Hong Kong characterized by a strong economy and high quality of living’. Embracing the Blueprint and to stress the criticality of its success, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, has personally committed her services to lead ‘a high level, inter-departmental steering committee on Innovation and Technology’. This focused support is important to build momentum, cut through bureaucracy and create a platform that will enable the implementation of the vision. The Blueprint considers six development areas with associated initiatives and a well-planned roadmap: Smart Mobility, Living, Economy, People, Government and Environment.

The initiatives associated with Smart Environment and Government are the ones that will mostly affect the future of buildings in Hong Kong. Specifically, Smart Environment, which makes provisions aimed towards encouraging sustainable green building design, retro-commissioning, smart IT technologies, smart water meters and LED lighting retrofitting, while Smart Government is set up to promote Building Information Modelling (BIM) and Common Spatial Data Infrastructure (CSDI). Putting this technology into use along with additional applications such as facial recognition, smart HVAC, and Internet of Things (IoT) can solve complicated challenges in Asset Management and provide valuable insights to both building stakeholders and the Government.

Beyond the development areas and initiatives in the Smart City Blueprint, there are major global and regional trends, which are putting Hong Kong’s buildings under increasing demand to provide a smart and fit-for-purpose environment. Examples include, amongst many others, the future of parking and how it will be affected by the disruption of autonomous vehicles, the future of retail from larger units that stock products into ‘product experience’ spaces, the expanding footprint of co-working spaces and the reduction in space needed through hot-desking. Developers and owners will be well-advised to consult these trends and inject flexibility into their assets.

Finally, understanding the needs of the building’s end-user is critical. Whether it’s reducing carbon footprint to improve sustainability or creating attractiveness for tenants to reduce operational costs, identifying these needs and creating specific objectives will define the starting point for reviewing smart technology adoption. Without identifying the requirements of the end-user, you run the risk of adopting technology without clear direction, which has the potential to waste time, money and resources. It defeats the purpose – it’s not smart.

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Dr. Alex Katsanos

Head of Business Advisory, Hong Kong and Macau +852 2911 2000 Ask me a question
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