With more than half of the world's population living in cities driving for economic growth, they contribute not just to prosperity but also increasing global carbon emissions.
This rising impact has seen the emergence of "smart city" initiatives across the globe. Yet smart cities are so much more than just 'green initiatives', the term is equally synonymous with 'digital' and 'highly ICT-savvy' city. While both of these factors are crucial in 'smart' development, a truly smart city goes above and beyond that.
So what is a smart city?
A smart city is most often considered as a hyper efficient city, that is proficient in green and technology. To be genuinely 'smart', cities must integrate all key resources -- energy, waste, water and transportation -- and utilize all of those innovative technologies to get the most out of this holistic city model. Smart cities are those that emphasize the importance of ICT, public participation, environmental quality, as well as public governance to enhance citizen's quality of life. All of these factors go a long way to distinguish smart cities from their more technology-laden counterparts, and help to draw a clear distinction between them.
It's this distinction that matters most. Support from industries, academia, and government bodies to manage resources and develop a holistic approach is especially vital to this much needed transformation.
What about Hong Kong?
At Hong Kong Science Park, we believe that the development of smarter and greener cities is key to economic growth. We have been nurturing new start-ups through incubation program and providing state of the art laboratory facilities to partner companies to develop new and innovative solutions that benefit our community, from healthcare, to green energy, to waste management.
If you take one look around Hong Kong and you will see that we are already living in a highly sophisticated smart city. From Hong Kong International Airport's RFID system, which has increased baggage handling capacity by deploying RFID baggage tags onto each of the 40,000 bags that leave the airport every day, to the Octopus card -- arguably the world's leading smartcard which allows for convenient, innovative payment solutions.
With more than 20 million in circulation, Hong Kong's Octopus card is the global leader in contactless smartcard systems, with the highest penetration, the highest transaction volume and the widest scope of applications.
And in a recent global smart city report, Hong Kong was ranked in the top 10. The report cited that smartphone penetration rate in Hong Kong is 230%, which is the highest in the world, and that we are at the top among all Asian cities in the Global Innovation Index 2013. All of this proves that Hong Kong is ready to be the model smart city in the region. But I believe our challenge has only just begun.
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