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Thursday, June 20, 2019, 00:49
Digital technology will help to build smart cities
By Julianna Wu
Thursday, June 20, 2019, 00:49 By Julianna Wu

In this undated photo, SoftBank Group Corp’s Pepper humanoid robot Timmy greets young customers with auspicious messages at Hong Kong International Airport in 2017. (PHOTO / BLOOMBERG)

Digital technology will play a key role in the future in helping governments around the world build smart cities and design new urban ecosystems, smart city experts said in Hong Kong on Wednesday.

Digital technology enables vast amounts of information to be put into small storage devices so it can be preserved and transported

They were speaking at the Livable Smart City forum, part of the Knowledge of Design Week (KODW) organized by Hong Kong Design Centre and Create Hong Kong and supported by the SAR government.

In a recent report, the United Nations estimated that 68 percent of the worlds’ population will be living in urban areas by 2050. This will require new methods of data computing, architecture and digital technology to build new urban ecosystems, technologists and urban designers told the forum.

Governments around the world will also use digital technology to reduce the complexity of public services, predicted Chris Ferguson, a research director at the United Kingdom’s Government Digital Service. 

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Digital technology enables vast amounts of information to be put into small storage devices so it can be preserved and transported.

In the UK, Ferguson and colleagues helped the country make savings of 339 million euros (US$300 million) through the innovative use of digital technology in the 2015-16 year.

Urban planning expert Ren Yee, who is head of innovation strategy and forecasting at Amsterdam-based Architectural Technology company UNSense, said architects and designers need to “be positive and critical” when using data to build smart cities. A smart city refers to an urban area that uses information and communication technologies to improve the quality of energy, transport and utilities in order to reduce waste and costs.

“Smart city is a changing concept,” said Yee. “The first principle of designing livable cities is to keep defining the word ‘smart’,” he explained.

KODW is an annual event that brings together policy makers, industry leaders and experts to discuss solutions to the many challenges facing modern societies.

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This year’s event runs from Monday through Friday. After the opening ceremony on Wednesday, a forum on digital health, two workshops and two roundtable discussions will be held.


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