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New tech centre to help HK urban planning

Image Credits: Hong Kong Government, Press Release

According to a recent press release, the Technological & Higher Education Institute of Hong Kong’s (THEi) new Chai Wan campus provides an interactive learning environment for professional training in the areas of design and environment, as well as management and hospitality.

The facilities and laboratories include those tailored for programmes such as Horticulture & Landscape Management and Fashion Design.

The institute’s President stated as a new campus, the developer of the THEi Chai Wan campus were able to introduce truly next-generation learning spaces. The centre’s classrooms and laboratory are well-designed and equipped with the latest technology that will significantly aid learning and teaching. Moreover, the centre has additional specialist workshops and labs.

An increasingly popular course is the Horticulture & Landscape Management programme which includes a module on urban tree risk management. The first batch of graduates entered the workforce last year.

A graduate from the THEi Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Horticulture & Landscape Management programme stated that she studied modules including plant pathology, plant propagation and urban tree risk management – where she learnt professional techniques to determine a tree’s health from visual inspections to using testing equipment.

Students in different programmes in varied specialisms have access to advanced laboratories, both from the scientific point of view for teaching and learning in horticulture and landscape management in terms of augmented reality and virtual reality.

In addition to teaching, programme staff conduct research. One Assistant Professor has been exploring how tree distribution can affect the absorption of pollutants and in turn, improve air quality.

The researchers collected data from 32 parks located near highways and found that planting trees with lower crowns in a tree zone that extends 15 metres can reduce pollution exposure from vehicles.

For other areas of the parks, they suggested planting trees with a high crown such as the Green Ailanthus near playgrounds and placing the Chinese Banyan in less densely populated areas.

THEi plans to submit the research findings to the Government to assist in its future urban planning. By selecting the right green infrastructure, researchers hope to improve the city’s air quality.

OpenGov Asia reported that a new set of five-year air quality objectives (which will ideally come into effect in 2020) were proposed by the government and are now pending approval from the legislature and environmental advisers.

Local environmental advocacy groups have criticised the proposal for being too conservative; lax standards would enable projects that will result in environmental degradation to carry on unhindered. Concerned citizens of Hong Kong have attempted to identify the sources of the constant pollution problem.

The latest research and tech from Hong Kong’s academic institutes have predominantly geared towards green technology and mitigating the effects of air pollution.

For example, an earlier article by OpenGov Asia noted that The HKUST Institute for the Environment launched a new mobile app that aims to help users reduce their exposure to outdoor air pollution.

The app is named ‘PRAISE-HK’ which stands for “Personalized Real-time Air-quality Informatics System for Exposure – Hong Kong” and will help build Hong Kong into a world-class smart and healthy city. The development of the app is a five-year project which commenced in November 2016.

Until now, people struggled to find ways to cope with air pollution. However, the new technology empowers the public with personalized air quality information, it is believed that the app can lead to a perception change in air pollution exposure, and can also drive behavioural change in the public.

It is expected that the research from THEi will also empower Hong Kong’s citizens; enabling the HKSAR Government to provide Hong Kong citizens with information, technology and innovations that will lead to a higher quality of life and a more sustainable city.


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