DMatters July 2017 Issue

Get set. Get smart!

With the recent release of the Hong Kong SAR Government commissioned Report of Consultancy Study on Smart City Blueprint for Hong Kong, discussions around “Smart Cities” have come to the spotlight across public and private sectors. The report well noted that “appropriate integration of technology has become a defining feature that sets cities apart in terms of advantage and competitiveness.”

Hong Kong, with the vision to become a liveable, competitive and sustainable “Asia’s World City”, will need a creative mindset, human-centred design and technology to empower development, placing the wellbeing and needs of citizens and users at the centre.

Liveability is measured in terms of five fundamental aspects, namely, robust and complete neighbourhoods, high accessibility and sustainable mobility, diverse and resilient local economy, vibrant public spaces and affordability, according to San Francisco based Livable City. These areas more or less coincide with the six “Smart” indicators coined by urban strategist Boyd Cohen and adopted in the Report for Hong Kong: Smart Economy, Smart Environment, Smart Government, Smart Mobility, Smart Living, and Smart People.

Among European nations and cities, Barcelona has been on the forefront typifying smart city by deploying design and technology to solve problems such as smart bins for betterment of city hygiene; resourceful bus stops for commuters’ easy accessibility of information; user-friendly bicycle sharing system encouraging healthy city development and sustainable transportation; smart deployment of sensors for monitoring and solving road traffic congestion. Through framing challenges and procurement innovations, the city has opened up abundant opportunities for good design, henceforth stimulating entrepreneurship and public-private partnerships.

Good Design touches people’s heart and it creates experiential transformation through insights from user behaviour, demographics, trends and contexts of environment, people, culture and technology.

“In the sea of technology-driven disruptions, design helps to make technology more relevant to human needs, desirable and useful. From driverless cars, AI, VR and AR, design can ensure new technology benefits people across the board,” says Rama Gheerawo, Director, Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, Royal College of Art, UK at the KODW 2017 Inclusive Design forum in Hong Kong.

 Smart city is beyond fad but a forward-looking commitment. It is time for all to recognise the power of Design as core part of our innovation culture and to embrace design thinking, enterprising creativity and partnership across science, technology, engineering, design and art as we face the challenges of the future.

Click here for DMatters (July) full issue.