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Smartening the city: The Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors 2016 Annual Conference explored how Kowloon East can make Hong Kong more competitive

Over 300 experts, professionals and business leaders from a range of industries headed to the JW Marriot Hotel on September 10 for the Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors (HKIS) Annual Conference 2016.

The conference took the theme “Kowloon East – Building our Future Model City” and, similar to the previous two conferences, again underscored the importance of smart city development to both town planning professionals and the general public.

Proceedings were opened by guest of honour Paul Chan Mo-po, the government’s secretary for development. Chan emphasised the government’s backing of smart city development and the HKIS’s role in this work.

“Developing a smart city is the trend of future city development,” Chan said. “The government will be using Kowloon East as a pilot area for the study of smart city development, with the aim to transform Hong Kong into a sustainable community.”

Also commenting on the pilot study, HKIS president Lau Chun-kong told the audience that HKIS has shifted its focus to developing solutions for smart city grids and infrastructure.

Lau said that Kowloon East – which is being transformed into a second central business district, or “CBD2” – would pave the way for a more competitive city. “There are many other development projects taking place and many are on the drawing board, which will continue to fuel the growth of Hong Kong.”

Lau explained that the area’s smart city blueprint will help HKIS formulate plans for Hong Kong’s development of “urban planning, transportation, and better use of scarce urban space”.

He also noted that smart city development had been a primary topic at the conference for three consecutive years, and highlighted its role in Hong Kong’s future.

“Hong Kong is a world city and one of the best cities in the world to do business. Maintaining such a reputation comes with great challenges and responsibilities.

“Other thriving Asian cities are trying to challenge Hong Kong as Asia’s best city to do business. Our competitors have been formulating different policies and making significant investments so as to attract talents and enhance competitiveness.”

Acknowledging successful case studies outside Hong Kong, speakers were also invited to review smart city developments in Singapore.

“Singapore has emerged strongly economically after the global financial crisis,” Lau said. “In 2015, Singapore was the only Asian city in the Forbes 2015 ranking of global smart cities. It was ranked third for livability among 28 cities in the APEC region, which was also the highest in Asia in the PricewaterhouseCoopers ‘Building Better Cities’ study.”

Travelling from Singapore to present at the conference were Dr Victor Khoo, deputy director of the Singapore Land Authority, and Teoh Hai-pin, director of DP Architects.

Khoo explained how government global agencies could benefit from Singapore’s initiative to create and maintain high-resolution nationwide 3D mapping, while Pin demonstrated the conceptualisation and master plan of the Singapore Sports Hub, an award-winning project.

Other expert speakers, from Hong Kong’s government and private sector, explored topics ranging from government policy and technology to commercial development.

These included Bernadette Linn, the government’s director of lands; CK Yip, Kowloon district planning officer  at the government’s planning department; Wong Wai-man, New Territories East project manager at the government’s civil engineering and development department; Dr Ieong Meikei, chief technology officer at Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute; Donald Choi, managing director at Nan Fung Development; and Augustine Wong Ho-ming, executive director of Henderson Land Development Company.

In his closing remarks, Dick Kwok Ngok-chung, chairman of the HKIS Annual Conference Organising Committee and HKIS vice-president, expressed gratitude towards the guests and participants.

“By bringing together speakers from across the industries and city, we were able to join forces to address the differences between Hong Kong and Singapore, and the past experiences and policies which will help to inspire more innovative ideas for our future development.”

Looking forward to continued support at its future events, Kwok said such initiatives lead to an increased level of professionalism in the surveying industry.

This article appeared in the Classified Post print edition as Smartening the city .