Hong Kong is getting big on the smart city. Since COVID-19 restrictions physically retrained our daily lives in many ways, new work-from-home models and online classes have steered business activities more rapidly to digital and online.The demand for business digitalisation has risen during this COVID period, and 5G is now playing a key role in every sector of the world’s economy. The implementation of the smart city has also become more comprehensive and solid in Hong Kong.
Smart City Blueprint 2.0
Following the release of the second edition of the Hong Kong Smart City Blueprint (Blueprint 2.0), the HKSAR Government has rolled out over 130 initiatives, such as “iAM Smart” one-stop personalised digital services platform, to enhance and expand the existing city management measures and services. The objective of these new initiatives is to help the public share in the benefits smart city and Innovation and Technology (I&T) in their daily lives.
A data-driven economy
In the era of big data, data-driven revenue is a key element in the online platform businesses and helps companies to produce more effective and better targeted advertising by using consumer surveys, internet penetration rates and user clickstreams etc. New business systems, business models, consumer and employee experiences can all be built and enhanced by utilising these emerging technologies in digital transformation.
In today’s 5G era, faster speeds can be more easily achieved. Data rates through 5G networks can reach up to 20 Gbps. The ultra-low latency of around 1 ms allows users to access online applications without any delay in connectivity, while greater capacity can be achieved with the wider bandwidths. More users can also be connected at the same time.
5G along with edge computing could also provide additional benefits in smart city projects. Edge computing can distribute across a continuum of application locations including the devices connected to the network, and on-premises equipment etc. It can bring computation and data storage closer to the sources of data to shorten response times and save on bandwidth.
In addition, 5G Network slicing will enable the multiplexing of virtualised and independent logical networks on the same physical network infrastructure. This allows mobile operators to create specific virtual networks that cater to particular users and application cases. It will bring flexibility and agility into business operations with lower costs.
Cellular Vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X)
5G is also becoming vital in the wireless collection of huge amounts of data at a faster speed in the transportation sector. It enables C-V2X (Cellular Vehicle-to-everything) to support Autonomous Vehicle applications with smart connectivity and real-time monitoring, which can bring smarter, safer and more efficient urban mobility and logistics.
To examine this, a local telecom operator conducted a trial of 5G Standalone (SA) network with network slicing for C-V2X applications on public roads, a designated 14 km route from The Hong Kong Science Park to Shatin town, C-V2X road side units (RSU) were installed on traffic light poles and lamp posts along the designated route to provide real-time traffic intelligence to on-board units (OBU) installed in the vehicles. This showed how C-V2X could provide enhanced personal mobility service, together with better route planning and parking services.
Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) has already introduced the Smart Airport City with touchless technology, intelligent transport systems and Digital Twins. Their aim was to create a contactless journey for passengers to build confidence and accelerate recovery from the COVID restrictions. Biometrics and self-service technology can help improve operations and ease congestion. For example, passengers can use the self-service facilities with a single token from check-in to the boarding gate, it takes less than 15 minutes to board a Boeing 777, a 30% saving in boarding time. Faster boarding, results in less congestion. For protection against COVID-19, arriving baggage is disinfected by an automatic UV disinfection system.
Autonomous Electric Tractor (AET) that adopts the Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) technology have been in operation since December 2019. These vehicles with AET can communicate and navigate through traffic to get to their destination safely, efficiently and cost-effectively. For example, the Independent Geo-fencing with AET restricts the driving areas of the vehicles to prevent unauthorised access. Fleet management for Mixed Traffic Management (V2V and V2I) can provide centralised traffic coordination and independent management system for all vehicles. The Vehicle-to-Passengers (V2P) connection uses Ultra-wideband (UWB) and RTK based positioning and detection with an accuracy up to 20 cm.
C-V2X can also reduce the cost of infrastructure deployment by combining Road Side Unit (RSU) at the airport with small 4G/5G cells, to benefit from cellular network densification. Internet of Things (IoT) enables Digital Twins utilise IoT technology, GIS technology and wireless technology to create a digital version of the Smart Airport City with a single source of truth. 3D High Definition Map was also made for Autonomous Tractor Simulations.
Developing for the future
With the global opportunities created by the latest technologies, many sectors in Hong Kong have already started to implement and develop various smart projects, leading Hong Kong to be a great and well-recognised smart city. As a professional body in Hong Kong, the HKIE Electronics Division organised a symposium under the theme “Heading Towards Smart City Blueprint 2.0” to promote the latest progress of 5G, IoT and a variety of smart city initiatives for Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area to the members and the public.
By Mr Simon LEE from the Electronics Division of the HKIE