KPMG’s Hong Kong’s Connected Future survey finds that respondents in Hong Kong SAR, mainland China cities within the Greater Bay Area and five other Asian markets highlight increased interest in sustainability and rising awareness of digital-enabled government services
Increased public attention to deliver more sustainable cities as well as the rising adoption of digital services during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have led to increasingly favourable views of smart city development efforts over the long term, KPMG’s latest annual regional survey on sustainable urban development finds.
78 percent of respondents in Hong Kong SAR, nine mainland China cities within the Greater Bay Area (GBA), Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Shanghai say their interest in sustainability initiatives has increased since the start of the pandemic, while 84 percent say the pandemic has boosted their awareness of new technologies and applications that have improved their quality of life, according to KPMG’s survey of 4,096 residents (1,038 respondents were polled in Hong Kong SAR, along with 506 across nine mainland China GBA cities, 500 in Bangkok, 528 in Ho Chi Minh City, 508 in Kuala Lumpur, 514 in Singapore and 502 in 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.
Andrew Weir, Regional Senior Partner, Hong Kong and Global Head of Real Estate, KPMG, says: “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.”
The study identifies 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 percent of Hong Kong respondents responding that current efforts to create carbon neutral buildings are sufficient, while 19 percent 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. Meanwhile, pollution, waste reduction, waste management and reducing single use plastic are seen as the most pressing sustainability challenges facing Hong Kong.
Alan Yau, Head of Real Estate, Hong Kong, KPMG China, says: “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.”
The study also points to 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 percent of respondents say they are more likely to access public services and information online; 70 percent reported increasing use of digital payments and e-wallets; while 64 percent mention 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 percent) of respondents agreed that anti-pandemic efforts in their cities have played a role to help their cities become smarter and more sustainable.
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 points 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 percent of respondents citing it as a priority, while access to affordable quality healthcare was considered a key issue by 40 percent of respondents, followed by addressing poverty and inequality at 38 percent. 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.
Additionally, 55 percent of respondents in Hong Kong mentioned data security and privacy as among the top three factors to consider when cities implement new initiatives. It was also seen as a key consideration by those in GBA cities in mainland China and other Asian cities. 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.