To embrace the new scene brought by the innovation and technology (I&T) development, many industry sectors are eager to keep pace with the trend and develop more advanced products, technologies or services. In this regard, the Government plays the role of a facilitator and a promoter. Over the years, the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD) of the Development Bureau has been actively supporting the development of start-ups in the electrical and mechanical (E&M) field. Recently, the department has turned its headquarters building and related facilities in Kowloon Bay into a shared testing ground to provide a platform for interested people to test newly developed E&M products and technologies, and collect data to verify their functions and effectiveness. Here, I will further introduce to you the work of the EMSD in innovation promotion and the enhanced application of new technology.
The EMSD plays a dual role. The first is to provide reliable and quality services of design, installation, operation and maintenance for the E&M systems in government departments and the public sector. The second is to regulate the safety of gas, electricity and machinery, and strive to promote energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy in Hong Kong. I believe that the enhanced application of innovation and technology will uplift the quality of services provided by government departments to the public. The EMSD is conducting an internal structure review, covering the establishment of an innovation office to coordinate the efforts to support start-up projects and the department’s technology development; as well as the setting up of an innovation team to come up with tailor-made solutions to help government departments and the public sector improve their services and enhance productivity and efficiency.
Shared testing grounds to support start-ups
To achieve success in research and technology, the key requisite is to go through repeated and multiple tests and trials. As I&T projects are not readily accepted by the market, it is difficult to collect actual usage data to verify their effectiveness, which is hence the largest obstacle to product success. In fact, since 2014, the EMSD has supported more than 10 universities and start-ups in applying for the "Innovation and Technology Fund”, of which five have received funding and eight are still in the process of application. Among the fund’s applicants, the EMSD has selected one university and two start-ups for collaboration to support a new initiative introduced in November this year, under which the EMSD Headquarters Building and related facilities would be used as the testing grounds for research personnel to test newly developed products.
Use of government fleet to test the device on vehicles
Among the three collaboration projects, a battery health monitoring and diagnostics system developed by the City University of Hong Kong is allowed to use over 100 batteries from government fleet to conduct tests and collect data. Drivers or users can use a mobile app to monitor the consumption of batteries in order to accurately assess their lifespans. This can remind drivers to replace batteries in a timely manner to avoid any car breakdowns due to premature disposal or belated replacement of batteries.
Besides, a start-up that had applied for the “Innovation and Technology Fund” was allowed to test its novel “smart data driving safety system” in Government vehicles. The system equips the cabin of a vehicle with a sensor and a video camera to analyse the road situation and send the driver early real-time warning signals. The data will help monitor the driver’s behavior and identify y traffic black spots.
Newly developed smart thermostat to reduce energy consumption
The EMSD will allow another start-up that has applied for funding under the “Innovation and Technology Fund” to install more than 100 “smart thermostats for central air-conditioning system” in the EMSD Headquarters Building. By adjusting the motor speed of the fan coil, the device can reduce the energy consumption of central air-conditioning systems. Not only does it reduce energy consumption of the building, it also lengthens motor lifespan. After installation, the EMSD will provide technical support, monitor the system and measure energy consumption so as to verify the effectiveness of the thermostat.
I know that the EMSD has been seeking and offering innovative solutions to enhance the energy saving performance of E&M facilities. Since 2015, the EMSD has been co-operating with the Hospital Authority by replacing the aged and less efficient air-cooled chillers in various hospitals with oil-free magnetic bearing chillers that are more advanced, resulting in the saving of an annual electricity consumption of around 13 million kWh and daily maintenance costs.
Encouraging innovative technology to build a smart and liveable city
It is now a global trend for modern cities to be developed into smart cities. The EMSD has been using its professional knowledge, through the application of innovative technology, to proactively promote the construction of a smart city. We hope to improve people's quality of life and turn Hong Kong into a more liveable city. For instance, the EMSD has been co-operating closely with the Energizing Kowloon East Office (EKEO) and other departments to participate in building a proof-of-concept project using Internet of Things (IoT) devices in a smart city. The installation of multi-functional smart lampposts at various locations is an example. The functions of the multi-functional smart lampposts include the collection of environmental and transport data to enable data transmission to relevant government departments for analysis and monitoring. I hope that these multi-functional smart lampposts will be an essential infrastructure for Hong Kong to become a smart city.
Hong Kong is a highly efficient city. With our unsung heroes from various departments working tirelessly to build and serve Hong Kong, the smooth operation of our public facilities compares favourably with other world class cities. In fact, there is no shortage of creative talents in Hong Kong. As the saying goes, we must not let opportunities go over to others. We must seize opportunities to continuously promote innovation and technology. To seize different opportunities and meet challenges ahead, we will proactively collaborate with various parties to encourage more research projects on innovation and technology.
3 December, 2017Back