According to the latest regional survey by KPMG, rising adoption of digital services amid the COVID-19 pandemic has predisposed people in Asia Pacific to have increasingly favourable views of smart city development efforts over the long term.
78% of respondents said their interest in sustainability initiatives has increased since the start of the pandemic, while 84% said the pandemic has boosted their awareness of new technologies and applications that have improved their quality of life.
"The coming decades hold great promise for Hong Kong's continued development as a smart and sustainable city. The city's status as a logistics hub and global financial centre enables innovation in the areas of logistics and digital supply chain, fintech, Regtech and sustainable finance, while its dense urban landscape offers opportunities for the development of proptech solutions. Hong Kong is in a strong position to develop use cases that can be applied to other markets in the rest of the GBA and ASEAN,” said Andrew Weir, regional senior partner, Hong Kong and Global Head of Real Estate, KPMG, said.
KPMG polled a total of 4,096 people from Hong Kong, the nine Mainland China cities with the Greater Bay Area, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Shanghai.
The survey is part of Hong Kong's Connected Future – KPMG China's fourth annual study on Hong Kong's smart and sustainable development produced in partnership with Autotoll, CGI, CLP, Cyberport, DLA Piper, JLL, Lenovo, MTR, Siemens, Sino Group, Smart City Consortium and theDesk. The report includes insights from the public sector, business and NGO leaders on the challenges and opportunities for Hong Kong's ongoing smart transformation.
HK property and transport sectors: key in reducing city’s carbon footprint
The study identified the property and transport sectors as key areas for Hong Kong to reduce its carbon footprint.
Hong Kong residents see room for improvement in these areas, with only 25% of the city’s respondents saying current efforts to create carbon neutral buildings are sufficient, while 19% believe enough is being done to promote carbon neutral vehicles.
To meet the city's targets of becoming carbon neutral by 2050, existing buildings will need to be retrofitted to reduce their carbon emissions and make them more energy efficient.
Furthermore, pollution, waste reduction, waste management and reducing single use plastic are seen as the most pressing sustainability challenges facing Hong Kong.
"Hong Kong currently has a big focus on redevelopment, including planning, building approvals, land premium/zoning, revisiting plot ratio and incentives to create greener buildings that are fit for purpose. With incentives now in place, we need a concerted effort to bring redevelopment projects to life,” said Alan Yau, head of real estate, Hong Kong, KPMG China.
Meanwhile, with a wide range of new digitalisation initiatives outlined in the Hong Kong Smart City Blueprint 2.0 released by the government in 2020, the study also pointed out to the need for a comprehensive, coordinated approach to smart city development that addresses the needs of residents. Access to affordable housing was a top concern with 53% of respondents citing it as a priority, while access to affordable quality healthcare was considered a key issue by 40% of respondents, followed by addressing poverty and inequality at 38%.
Additionally, 55% of respondents in Hong Kong said data security and privacy as among the top three factors to consider when cities implement new initiatives. These findings highlight the need for a unified cybersecurity regime in Hong Kong, backed by a legal framework, to protect both individuals' data and critical government infrastructure from cyberattacks.
There is also a need for the city to develop a set of industry-wide security standards for Internet of Things (IoT) devices and projects.
Digital services now a fixture in consumers’ lives
The study also showed a significant increase in the take up of both government and private sector digital services among residents amid the rollout of anti-pandemic controls and related measures among the seven Asian markets surveyed:
- 65% of respondents said they are more likely to access public services and information online
- 70% reported increasing use of digital payments and e-wallets
- 64% mentioned an increase in getting updates on city services and information on their mobile devices
A majority of respondents indicated that the increasing trend towards the use of these digital services is likely to be permanent. More than three-quarters (78%) of respondents agreed that anti-pandemic efforts in their cities have played a role to help their cities become smarter and more sustainable.
Underemployment, healthcare, economic resilience and environmental quality were listed as key challenges facing their city by residents in Hong Kong, mainland China GBA cities, Singapore and Shanghai.