ASTRI’s Smart Water IoT System has received yet another global recognition – this time from World Information Technology and Services Alliances (WITSA). The innovative smart city solution, which has the potential to revolutionise the way water supply is monitored, measured and analysed, won a Merit Award at the WITSA Global ICT Excellence Awards 2018. The award presentation ceremony took place on 19 February 2018 in Hyderabad, the international ICT hub of India.
ASTRI’s Smart Water IoT System won the Merit Award in the ‘Public Sector Excellence’ category in this international platform. This award-winning solution allows utility service operators to monitor water systems in real-time. Applied through both wired and wireless detectors across systems, it facilitates data analysis, supports user enquiry, allows timely access to water quality information, and detects water leakage to improve the overall efficiency of water usage. The solution is currently being trialled by Hong Kong’s Water Supplies Department. It has already been successfully deployed in four provinces in Mainland China.
Commenting on this feat, ASTRI’s CEO Mr Hugh Chow congratulated the project team for this “innovative solution that modernises water supply systems with significant potential benefits for the densely populated urbanscape of Hong Kong.” He referred to the project’s current pilot run by the Hong Kong Water Supplies Department and added that “this recognition will reinforce our efforts to innovate state-of-the-art smart city solutions and forge strong collaborations to support local industries and the communities.”
WITSA is a leading consortium of the global ICT industry – its members represent over 80 countries and territories around the world. The annual WITSA Global ICT Excellence Awards are organised to recognise industry players that have added exceptional value to the sector through their achievements, by leveraging ICT for the benefit of the society. The awards are given out in seven categories, usually with one winning award and two merit awards conferred on deserving nominees in each category.
ASTRI’s Smart Water IoT System won a series of local, regional and international accolades in the past. The impressive list includes: Best Business Solution (Application) Bronze Award in the Hong Kong ICT Awards 2017 and Merit Award in the Industrial Application category of the Asia Pacific ICT Alliance Awards 2017 (APICTA).
Some of Hong Kong’s Top Minds in Science and Technology visit ASTRI, as part of an ASHK delegation
A high-profile delegation from the Academy of Sciences Hong Kong (ASHK) visited ASTRI on 6 November 2017, to exchange views on scientific and technological R&D. The delegation included the Academy’s founding president Professor Tsui Lap-chee, GBM, GBS, JP; ASHK’s founding member Professor Tony F Chan, JP, President of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST); Professor Joseph J Y Sung, SBS, JP, Vice-Chancellor and President of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK); and ASHK Secretary General Mr Terence Chan. Mr Wong Ming-yam, BBS, JP, Chairman of ASTRI, welcomed the delegates to ASTRI along with Dr Meikei Ieong, Chief Technology Officer and other senior executives.
The ASHK delegation learnt about ASTRI’s various R&D initiatives including Financial Technologies, Cover Glass and Touch Panel Glass Automatic Defects Inspection Systems, Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) Platform, as well as 3D and Augmented Reality (AR) Displays. They were also briefed on the projects and accomplishments of the Hong Kong Branch of Chinese National Engineering Research Centre (CNERC) for Application Specific Integrated Circuit System, which is based in ASTRI.
The ASHK delegation stressed the need to foster stronger collaboration and exchange between academic institutions, technology developers and the industry. Professor Tsui recently spearheaded an ASHK Mentorship Programme for Hong Kong’s secondary school students, offering them a chance to mingle with the city’s scientific and engineering elite. He dubbed the collaboration between students and technology experts as a springboard that can “produce the city’s the next great scientist through the interaction between Distinguished Masters and Accomplished Students”. The two University Presidents shared their wish to facilitate more career development opportunities for science and technology graduates in association with ASTRI.
Echoing the delegation members’ suggestion to expose youngsters to practical research in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), ASTRI Chairman Mr Wong said, “It is imperative to have regular and meaningful interaction between all the players in the technology ecosystem, including students, technology developers and businesses.” Mr Wong referred to the many career development opportunities available at ASTRI which “welcomes talented scientists and engineers to join various R&D areas in ASTRI – to sharpen their skills and make a difference.”
Professor Chan and Professor Sung, Presidents of two of Hong Kong’s most globally-renowned universities, placed strong emphasis on providing students with real-life exposure into science and technology R&D. They cited examples of the FinTech Career Accelerator Scheme (FCAS) co-organised by ASTRI and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), where HKUST and CUHK are both participating universities. More such opportunities and platforms are needed for university students and graduates to work with institutions like ASTRI, and gain valuable practical experience.
The delegates showed a keen interest in ASTRI’s innovative technologies and learnt about their impact on Hong Kong residents’ everyday lives. While visiting the Smart City Innovation Centre, developed jointly by ASTRI and Hong Kong Science Park, the delegates witnessed practical applications like AR Head-Mount Display, Smart Navigation and Smart Parking, Smart Meter for utility services, and Connected Cars for Smart Mobility. The discussions during the visit referred to the Hong Kong Smart City Consultancy Study Report recently released by the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO). The Government’s smart city vision for Hong Kong involves “building a strong economy, enhancing the quality of people’s lives, and making Hong Kong a smart, sustainable city.”
Professor Sung mentioned “elderly care” in particular, when discussing the future challenges in Hong Kong’s smart city development. With an ageing population, “offering a safe and comfortable living to the society’s senior citizens shall be a key priority” for the Government as well as for public service providers, he said.
ASTRI’s Health Technologies R&D involve developing applications and solutions, especially in the areas of preventive health monitoring, medical diagnosis, medical computing and data analytics. In the recent past, ASTRI’s R&D teams developed an innovative cardiovascular monitoring device, a hybrid tracking system used in elderly care centres, an e-Education and Infotainment Platform for senior citizens, an intelligent preventive healthcare system which combines wireless sensors and smart devices to track and report key health indicators.
ASTRI, as the largest applied R&D institution in Hong Kong, undertakes a number of initiatives in smart city development. While exchanging experiences and insights with the visiting ASHK delegation, ASTRI’s R&D professionals discussed various innovative projects that the Institute has pursued over the years. These include: smart connectivity, smart mobility, smart utility and public transportation, smart healthcare, and public safety. In supporting the Government’s Smart Hong Kong vision, ASTRI leverages a number of R&D fields such as Internet-of-Things (IoT) – including Internet-of-Vehicles (IoV) and Device-to-Device (D2D) communications, Pre-5G and 5G communications, data analytics, smart city software platform and network security.
The delegation acknowledged ASTRI’s highly-capable R&D teams, and hoped that ASTRI would “continue to invest in its R&D capabilities, people and infrastructure” to deliver innovative solutions in full alignment of Hong Kong’s socio-economic priorities. They also talked about global as well as regional benchmarking, and how neighbouring cities and economies are approaching their smart city development.
Professor Tsui summed up the visit by saying, “Through this visit, we have been enlightened by the developments and achievements at ASTRI. We wish ASTRI continued success and look forward to hearing more breakthrough stories in the not too distant future.”
Large crowds flock to ASTRI’s pavilion at InnoCarnival 2017, marvelling innovative solutions and appreciating the power of technology
Youngsters and senior citizens alike, a huge mass of science enthusiasts and general public lined up every day at ASTRI’s pavilion in InnoCarnival 2017 from 21 to 29 October 2017. ASTRI’s pavilion covered core technologies in smart city development, including FinTech, Smart City, Industry 4.0 and Next Generation Network. The pavilion was backed by the Innovation and Technology Commission (ITC) of the HKSAR Government as the funding organisation.
The major attractions in the pavilion included a simulation ‘Drive Safe’ game that showcased ASTRI’s Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) technology for connected cars. In addition, a matching game on Internet-of-Things, demonstrations on smart navigation and smart parking applications, FinTech solutions, and an innovative ‘Smart Water Meter’ were in the pavilion’s display manifest. In the nine days of the Carnival, over 8,000 people stepped into ASTRI’s pavilion. They learned about the latest developments in ASTRI’s smart city R&D, and spoke to the Institute’s technology experts.
In addition, three R&D experts from ASTRI presented in the InnoTalk event on 26 October 2017 on the topic “Smart Technologies for Smart City”. Over 80 participants, representing mostly the young generation, listened to the ASTRI experts and witnessed presentations on three topics:
1. Cellular V2X (C-V2X) Technologies for Smart Mobility
2. Real Case System Solutions for Hong Kong Smart City
3. Deep Learning – Handwritten Chinese Recognition – Automated Document Processing
InnoCarnival took place as part of the month-long InnoTech campaign organised by ITC. The Carnival aimed to enhance public understanding of, and interest in, innovation and technology, particularly amongst the young generation. The Carnival officially kicked off on 21 October through a ceremony officiated by, among others, Hon Mr Nicholas W Yang, GBS, JP, Secretary for Innovation and Technology of the HKSAR Government; Hon Mrs Fanny Law, GBS, JP, Executive Councillor of the HKSAR Government and Chairperson of the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation; Mr Cheuk Wing-hing, JP, Permanent Secretary for Innovation and Technology; and Mr Allen Yeung, JP, Government Chief Information Officer.
Dignitaries who visited the ASTRI pavilion included Hon Mr Nicholas W Yang, GBS, JP, Secretary for Innovation and Technology of the HKSAR Government; Ms Annie Choi, JP, Commissioner for Innovation and Technology; Mr Liu Zhi-ming, Associate Counsel of the Central Government’s Liaison Office in HKSAR; Hon Ir Dr Lo Wai-kwok, SBS, MH, JP, Legislative Councillor for the Engineering constituency; and Hon Charles Peter Mok, JP, Legislative Councillor for the Information Technology constituency.
A number of journalists from print, broadcast and online media organisations also visited the ASTRI pavilion. They covered the R&D projects showcased by ASTRI and interviewed the Institute’s technology experts about latest technological developments. Notably, Ming Pao Daily and Sky Post published feature articles after visiting the ASTRI pavilion. Ming Pao Daily featured ASTRI’s R&D in the area of smart mobility. Sky Post, on the other hand, highlighted ASTRI’s efforts to promote Smart City development through a number of innovative technologies, including C-V2X, Smart Finance, Smart Indoor Navigation and Smart Parking.
ASTRI’s pavilion in the InnoCarnival carried the theme “Power of Technology ‧Spirit of Hong Kong” – fully supporting the event’s overall theme – “Live Smart‧Be Innovative”.
ASTRI supports Symposium on Innovation and Technology; its Chairman and Board Director join other dignitaries in strategic forum
Organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, a high-profile symposium on Innovation and Technology was organised in the 37th HKTDC Hong Kong Electronics Fair along with the 21st electronicAsia on 13 October, 2017. The event was attended by a number of senior leaders from Government, Legislature, Technology and Business domains, including Mrs Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor – Chief Executive of the Hong Kong SAR Government. One of the flagship events at the Fairs was the Symposium on Innovation & Technology under the theme “Connected Living”. ASTRI was a supporting organisation in the programme.
The Symposium opened with the Chief Executive of the HKSAR Government Carrie Lam as the officiating guest. She said that innovation and technology create quality jobs for young people, opportunities for young entrepreneurs, improve people’s livelihood and help power Hong Kong’s future economy. “The Government would adopt the right policies, invest the necessary resources and connect with talents and renowned research institutions”, she added. The Chief Executive also said that in a highly competitive global environment with rapid advancements in the Mainland, Hong Kong needs to promote innovation and technology (I&T) “with the right vision and the right policies”. Mrs Lam told the audience, “Hong Kong is entering a period when opportunities and challenges co-exist. This also applies to I&T development.” She referred to the development taking place across the industrial sector in the South China Greater Bay Area, and how Hong Kong stands to gain from it.
The Symposium featured speakers from technology giants such as Microsoft and Tencent sharing the latest technology developments. Ms Cally Chan, General Manager of Microsoft Hong Kong Limited, who is also a Board Director of ASTRI, spoke about how mixed reality and intelligent cloud are helping to drive the digital transformation. She explained how Internet of Things – complimented by virtual, augmented and mixed reality – are empowering businesses, engaging customers, transforming products and boosting efficiencies.
Mr Wong Ming-yam, Chairman of ASTRI, moderated a panel discussion on ‘Smartly – We Connect’. Mr Wong facilitated a lively discussion on the roles for start-up ventures, entrepreneurs, policymakers, and technology experts in enabling innovation and fostering positive change. The discussion centred around catalysing a culture of innovation in Hong Kong to fast-track Smart City development. The panel featured two members of the Hong Kong SAR Legislative Council: The Hon Ir Dr Lo Wai-kwok who represents the Engineering functional constituency and The Hon Mr Charles P Mok who represents the Information Technology functional constituency; as well as Mr Chan Yam-ki, Head of Public Policy and Government Affairs, Google Hong Kong; Mr Zane Moi, Head of Business Development for Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, Amazon Web Services; and Mr Alex Wong Ka-hang, Director of Solution Sales, Huawei International. The panellists were unanimous in urging the Government to take up a more active role in boosting innovation and technology. The Hon Mr Mok said it was a good sign that the new Policy Address acknowledged that resistance towards technological advancement came partly from within the Government. He hoped that the Government would continue to listen to the industry and build a world of “Connected Living” together.
The day-long symposium covered a series of other topics: smart city, cloud technology, autonomous driving, machine learning, IoT, cellular vehicle-to-everything technology, and artificial intelligence.
ASTRI, as the largest applied R&D institution in Hong Kong, actively pursues sophisticated IoT and communications technologies as well as Smart City applications. ASTRI is well placed to support the industrial sector to leverage the innovative manufacturing technologies while gearing up for ‘Industry 4.0’ and ‘Made in China 2025’.
Chief Executive announces major policy initiatives to boost the SAR’s I&T endeavours
Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong SAR, delivered her maiden policy speech today at the Legislative Council. In her speech, the Chief Executive (CE) said in order to sustain the favourable trends for our economy, diversification is the only solution. The current-term Government considers that both innovation and technology (I&T) and creative industries have the competitive edge and much potential, not only to bolster economic growth, but also to create quality employment opportunities for our young people.
The CE also highlighted the need to catch up in the global I&T race to turn Hong Kong into a global I&T hub. In the 2017 Policy Address, she announced a series of new, major policy initiatives to boost the SAR’s I&T endeavours. She said the Government has set a goal to double the Gross Domestic Expenditure on R&D as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product from the current 0.73% to 1.5% within its five‑year tenure. The Government will also step up its efforts in eight key areas in that regard: investing more resources into R&D, nurturing a talent pool, promoting venture capital, strengthening scientific research infrastructure, carrying out legislation review, opening up data, streamlining government procurement, and boosting STEM education.
Encouraging significantly greater investment in R&D, the Chief Executive announced HK$10 billion funding for R&D in universities, and major tax deductions for R&D expenditure incurred by businesses enterprises. The Education Bureau is going to offer scholarships worth HK$3 billion to local students admitted to postgraduate research programmes. The Innovation and Technology Bureau will launch a HK$500 million ‘Technology Talent Scheme’, including the establishment of a ‘Postdoctoral Hub’. At the same time, the Government will strive to attract the best overseas talents and scientific research institutions to Hong Kong.
Announcing an additional HK$700 million investment to “immediately take forward several projects to develop Hong Kong into a smart city”, Mrs Lam said she will personally lead a high-level, inter-departmental Steering Committee on Innovation and Technology to scrutinise and steer measures under the eight areas of I&T and smart city development. The Committee will offer advice to the Government on I&T development to maintain Hong Kong’s competitiveness in the global arena and enhance Hong Kong’s alignment with the development of our country.
The Chief Executive promised to streamline Government institutions and operations, fostering innovation and collaboration, and embracing smart technologies across all levels of the administration. She put her faith in people – it is the enterprising spirit of the “brilliant Hong Kong people” that has made the city so successful over the past half-century.
ASTRI welcomes the strong emphasis put in by the HKSAR Government on Innovation and Technology development in Hong Kong. As ever, ASTRI will remain steadfast in our mission to fully align with Government initiatives in I&T, gearing up for cutting-edge R&D efforts to support local economic growth.
The development of Smart Cities involves the emergence of Internet of Things (IoT) – connected devices operating on a large scale across indoor and outdoor areas. To fully exploit its potential, ASTRI has developed a scalable cloud-based Smart City Platform that can connect all these devices with seamless indoor and outdoor geographic information (GIS), and time stamps. It is capable of capturing, monitoring and analysing real-time data, as well as enabling smart navigation.
The Smart City platform is meant to be deployed in large-scale enterprise and consumer grade BLE applications and systems in order to reap the maximised potential of IoT and smart city technologies. An application based on this platform has already been deployed in Hong Kong Science Park for a pilot experiment – allowing visitors to locate themselves within indoor premises. It assists visitors to navigate effectively to their desired locations.
Internet-of-Things (IoT) Management and Application Platform (IMAP)
ASTRI has developed the ‘Internet-of-Things (IoT) Management and Application Platform (IMAP)’. This software platform provides an open standard, commercial-grade platform for IoT management and applications to become practical and deployable. It also enables the industry to develop end-to-end IoT applications in a cost-effective manner.
With the large-scale, city-wide deployment of IoT devices, IoT management becomes challenging due to potential failure caused by various factors such as component errors, environmental factors e.g. temperature, and network connectivity. ASTRI’s IMAP software can minimise management complexity of large-scale deployment, and monitor the detailed status of IoT devices and their components. The IMAP can be scaled up or down, and be flexibly adapted to different devices, standards, protocols and applications. The system’s operational stability, and protection for data, makes it reliable and very secure.
To demonstrate application in the real market, in addition to determining the system performance and quality, the IMAP has been leveraged to develop two smart city applications with great market potential: (1) Solar Street Light Management System, and (2) Solar Power Station Management System. These application systems have been successfully used for large-scale city-wide deployment in Wuhan, China. Currently fully operational, the systems allow remote management and control of solar energy devices – aiming over 1,000 solar street lights and solar power stations. The IMAP and related smart city applications can benefit business sectors and communities in both Hong Kong and the Mainland.
Figure 1. Solar Street Light Management Deployment on a highway in Wuhan
Figure 2. Web-GUI of Solar Street Light Management
NB-IoT is a new global standard based on public and spectrum-licensed mobile operator networks. It is a wide area wireless technology which enables ubiquitous connections. Anything can be connected to the network from anywhere, regardless of its distance.
NB-IoT is a part of the global 3GPP Release 13 standard published in June 2016 optimised for Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) applications with the following advantages:
Low Power: Battery life up to 10 years
Low Cost: Cost-effective and affordable enough for mass-scale deployment