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Featured image via https://www.news.gov.hk

Featured image via https://www.news.gov.hk

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung outlines Hong Kong’s Smart City development plans

In his opening keynote speech at the World Environment Conference 2017 Hong Kong, Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung (above) spoke about Hong Kong’s Smart City development plans and mentioned that the Government is studying the formulation of a Smart City Development Blueprint for Hong Kong, which will map out short-, medium- and long-term measures up to 2030 to develop Hong Kong into a smart city. Chief Secretary Cheung outlined Hong Kong’s Smart City development plans in several areas:                    

Expanding healthcare system

In view of the demographic changes, especially the ageing population, there is a pressing need for the Government to enhance the overall capacity of our public healthcare system in order to meet the rising healthcare needs of Hong Kong.

To expand and upgrade healthcare facilities in a more flexible and long-term manner, the Government has earmarked a total provision of $200 billion (US$25.8 billion) last year for the implementation of a 10-year hospital development plan. The plan will cover the redevelopment and expansion of some 11 hospitals across the territory. As for new hospital projects, an acute general hospital will be built in the Kai Tak Development Area, the site of the former Kai Tak Airport, providing an oncology centre and the first neuroscience centre in Hong Kong.

This vast investment in Hong Kong’s public healthcare system will provide 5,000 additional hospital beds, representing a rise of 18%. Operating theatres will increase by 40% to 320. Specialist outpatient service capacity will also be expanded substantially by 40% from 6.8 million to 10 million attendances a year. Also, additional services for 410,000 attendances will be provided at the general outpatient clinics each year.

At present, the public healthcare sector still accounts for some 90% of inpatient services in Hong Kong and serves as the safety net for those in need, particularly the disadvantaged. To provide patients with more choices and offer healthcare professionals alternative career development options, Hong Kong also needs a dynamic and vibrant private healthcare sector.

Earlier this year, a new private hospital offering 500 beds has commenced services. The Government has also provided a loan of HK$4 billion for the Chinese University of Hong Kong to develop a non-profit-making private hospital. Moreover, the Government has allocated $10 billion (US$1.3 billion) to the Hospital Authority for setting up a Public Private Partnership (PPP) Fund to generate investment returns for funding clinical PPP programmes and initiatives.

To meet the rising demand for additional places for elderly and rehabilitation services, the Government has introduced the Special Scheme on Privately Owned Sites for Welfare Uses in 2014 through an injection of $10 billion (US$1.3 billion) to the Lotteries Fund. Some 40 NGOs have submitted over 60 project proposals to make better use of the sites owned by them through expansion, in-situ redevelopment or new development. So far, one project has been completed, whereas three projects are scheduled to complete this year (2017-18) and two other projects in 2018-19. It is expected that the scheme will provide around 9,000 additional elderly service places and 8,000 additional rehabilitation service places.

Promoting green building                    

According to a worldwide skyscrapers database, Hong Kong is ranked first globally with over 1,300 skyscrapers, nearly double that of New York City.

In Hong Kong, power generation accounts for 70% of local carbon emission. Buildings in Hong Kong consume 90% of our electricity and thus account for 60% of  Hong Kong’s greenhouse gas emission. The enhancement of the environmental performance of the building stock is therefore the key to promoting a sustainable built environment.

To improve the environmental performance of Hong Kong’s building stock, the Government has implemented a range of policies and measures including legislation, incentive programmes and government leadership.

Legislation has been introduced to require new buildings and buildings that are undergoing major retrofitting to comply with minimum energy efficiency standards in order to enhance the energy efficiency performance of buildings. Hotels and commercial buildings are further required to comply with a statutory standard to reduce heat transfer through building envelopes, thereby saving energy consumption for air-conditioning. The mandatory standards are developed with reference to the latest developments in technology and practices and are subject to regular reviews. Hong Kong is also an international pioneer in requiring commercial building owners to carry out mandatory energy audits once every 10 years, and to publish the audit results.

To take the lead, the Government has set specific electricity reduction targets for some 8,000 government buildings or facilities and has cut electricity consumption by about 15% from 2003 to 2014, and is now working towards a further 5% saving by 2020 using 2014 as the base year. The Government also requires all newly built government buildings to obtain at least the second highest grade under the Building Environmental Assessment Method Plus rating system - BEAM Plus in short - operated by the Hong Kong Green Building Council. Up to now, some 100 government building projects have been registered under BEAM Plus certification.

To encourage the private building sector to improve the performance of their buildings, the Government has promulgated a set of Sustainable Building Design Guidelines under which developers may obtain gross floor area (GFA) concessions in new buildings by incorporating sustainable design elements and providing eco-related information. So far, 25 million sq m and 10 million sq m of floor space have been registered and certified respectively under BEAM Plus.

To further promote the BEAM Plus system, it is a requirement for all new private buildings to register for BEAM Plus certification in order to obtain bonus GFA for certain green features. To date, about 800 private development projects have gone through or registered for such certification.                    

Fostering inno-tech                    

Innovation and technology will be the key driver for global economic development. It is for this reason the Government set up the Innovation & Technology Bureau during this term of Government to drive its ambitious technology agenda and launch a variety of innovation and technology policies and initiatives, including supporting a $4.4 billion (US$560 million) expansion of the Hong Kong Science Park, home to some 600 technology start-ups and companies.

At last count, Hong Kong is home to more than 1,900 start-ups. Among other things, the Government has established a $2 billion (US$260 million) Innovation & Technology Venture Fund, partnering with private venture-capital funds to help finance promising local technology start-ups. The $500 million (US$64 million) Innovation & Technology Fund for Better Living has been introduced to encourage the use of innovation and technology in developing projects that bring more convenience, comfort and safety to daily living, or address the needs of specific community groups like the ageing community.

To give further impetus to the innovation and technology development in Hong Kong, the Government has announced in this year's Government Budget that $10 billion will be reserved for this good cause.

The Government is also putting more resources into Hong Kong’s world-class universities and research and development (R&D) institutions to help boost their mid-stream applied research in key areas of technology. Also, the Government is liaising with top R&D institutions from all over the world, promoting Hong Kong as their gateway to Asia and, in particular, the Mainland of China. Last year, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology opened its MIT Innovation Node in Hong Kong. Sweden's Karolinska institute, one of the world's leading medical universities, opened its first overseas research centre in October 2016 at the Hong Kong Science Park. The Ming Wai Lau Centre for Reparative Medicine will target such areas as genome editing, biomedical engineering and 3D tissue imaging.                    

Read the full speech by Chief Minister Matthew Cheung here.  

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