While many city governments all over the world are embarking on their smart city journey, Hong Kong shared its smart city roadmap by publishing its Smart City Blueprint and the second edition (Blueprint 2.0) in 2017 and 2020 respectively, highlighting six smart areas in the effort to develop Hong Kong into a people-centric smart city. Even though the integration of the digital model into Hong Kong’s infrastructure has been going well so far, how can we optimize the city’s underlying infrastructure and overall operations even further? Our next step for Hong Kong is to move towards City 4.0, a term that originated from industry 4.0 to describe the revolution brought by data in manufacturing. In the midst of City 4.0, infrastructures like buildings, energy grids, mobility networks, or their self-learning systems are interconnected to provide new values, such as energy feed-in tariff that allows individuals or households to produce energy and consume mainly for their own needs. Given the need to integrate and analyze the data collected from the Internet of Things, such transformation has to be enabled by a platform-based ecosystem with an ultimate goal to drive further improvements and efficiency gains in city operations.
Smart City Digital Hub as a foundation for a platform-based ecosystem
The Siemens Smart City Digital Hub has facilitated a proliferation in the digital application to create smarter infrastructure, unleashing Hong Kong’s potential to achieve more with less. Being the first of its kind in Hong Kong, the Hub has been collaborating with Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) since 2017, dedicated to building an innovation ecosystem that offers digital solutions to address city challenges. Powered by Siemens Advanta, it has been serving as a living lab to enable countless business leaders, entrepreneurs, start-ups and innovators to become co-creators of numerous proof-of-concept projects focusing on smart buildings, smart energy and smart mobility applications. To name a few examples through its Connected City Solution which provides a holistic view of the performance of various city infrastructures, it has set up multi-purpose smart lampposts that collect environmental data, developed an AI chiller plant solution to optimize HVAC energy efficiency, smart metering for households to understand consumption patterns and identify energy-saving opportunities, as well as loading and unloading bay monitoring systems to ease Hong Kong’s traffic congestion. By launching the aforementioned smart city innovations, Siemens has laid the foundation to build an ecosystem that helps strengthen Hong Kong’s position as a breeding ground for innovation across Asia.
IoT platform is the key to foster smart city development
Simply creating smart city initiatives is not sufficient to realize a smart city. What’s more important is how to create city governance that helps people to work well with technology, which requires a fundamental change of the relationship of different stakeholders. By adopting an open-source platform that integrates a set of technologies desired to address Hong Kong’s pain points, effective city governance can be attained to allow better collaboration among stakeholders and therefore improve decision-making for every smart city innovation.
Realizing the need for an open ecosystem, Siemens has been introducing IoT platforms that offer openness, scalability, end-to-end security, and usability, catering to differences in cities and various types of smart city applications. With Siemens’ Enlighted and Comfy, award-winning IoT technology is leveraged to create a future safer and smarter workplace. The Enlighted building IoT platform creates “sensory systems” using cloud-connected smart sensors for features like lighting and temperature control, building occupancy, and digital contact tracing, while Comfy is designed to optimize the use of workplaces and boost employee engagement and productivity, fulfilling the “Smart Living” ambition. These platforms centralize all relevant data to enable building operators with a comprehensive end-to-end portfolio from a single source – with products, systems, solutions and services from power generation to consumption. By enabling the IoT deployment and open platforms, Siemens not only offers technological solutions but also develops a city governance framework for Hong Kong, regarded as an essential step to move towards City 4.0.
Platform starting from scratch? Apps can be the start-off
No matter the size of business, the pandemic has urged every industry to boost its digital efforts. Before platforms like Enlighted and Comfy to digitalize operations, some platforms are not born as platforms but as compelling apps. The best platforms such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon did not become successful initially as platforms, but instead, as powerful apps. To support customers on their digital journey, Siemens acquired Mendix, an intuitive low-code software platform that helps businesses develop their own apps more easily and effectively than ever before. Being the industry’s first “all-in-one” low-code platform, Mendix expands the talent pool for apps development and empowers businesses to address their pressing needs without a huge IT investment. More importantly, it enables collaborative work as all parties are permitted to intuitively participate through the web portal. As Siemens is shifting its focus to outcome-as-a-service, a model that we provide resources or tools and deliver services until the agreed outcome is reached, Mendix can bring subject matter experts together to better recognize the quality of solution delivery with its agile task management and multi-stakeholder environment.
Converging advanced technologies to shape our future city
Aside from IoT platforms used to digitalize data, integrating and converging technologies is another evolution that shapes our smart city ecosystem. For our new transition from a product-based economy to the “outcome as a service” model, Siemens empowers customers and partners to master the advanced technology and embrace those innovations required to realize City 4.0.
Further examples in achieving the “Smart Living” vision can be found with our Digital Twin Campus solution which simulates the campus environment with sensors and system integration, improving design, engineering, automation of processes, and end-to-end reporting and analytics.
Grid edge technologies open up a new dimension between intelligent grids, smart buildings and prosumers for a more efficient and sustainable energy system. With smart grids, end users are no longer passive but are empowered to become prosumers to produce, store, and use electrical energies. This will not only facilitate the decarbonization and decentralization of energy systems, but will also create possibilities for smart city innovation integrations such as eMobility and grid-interactive buildings.
To pave the way for the future of mobility, along with the arrival of 5G, Siemens’ Vehicle-to-X technology can enable autonomous driving to achieve the “Smart Mobility” vision. It opens the door to build an interconnected transport system that places a focus on safety and efficiency for both vehicles and road users.
In view of the disruptions in business brought by the new normal, SieService, a mobile apps by Siemens, is locally developed with people-centric service intelligence to support customers and streamline their building management processes. Tailored for building operators and facility managers, the apps facilitates efficient and seamless communication through features like instant calls and secure messaging between involved parties to provide timely technical support anytime, anywhere.
Smart city will work if we engage people, not just technology
Nurturing tomorrow’s talents is of the utmost importance for the sustainable development of Hong Kong in the long run. For this reason, Siemens partnered up with the Vocational Training Council (VTC) in support of advanced IoT education in addition to advocating STEM education in high schools. Through a pledge of HKD 2.5 million as well as provision of IoT-related learning materials and on-the-job training, we are eager to cultivate an innovative mindset in our younger generation to achieve the “Smart People” vision.
City is one of the most complex ecosystems designed by humankind and is home to over half of the world’s population. Simply enforcing the aforesaid technology and platforms would only develop Hong Kong as a digital city but not necessarily a smart one. Successful smart city development depends on people engagement, which is why the network effects brought by the huge data collected can be amplified through a platform-based ecosystem that allows for continuous improvement between users and developers. In line with the concept of City 4.0, we can transform the way we interact with infrastructure and create an inclusive and interconnected city that actively responds to the people’s needs.