Electrical and Mechanical Services Department and innovation and technology enterprises to fight the virus together
The Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD) set up the E&M InnoPortal in 2018 to match the service needs of government departments and public organisations with local start-ups’ deliverables, as well as providing suitable venues to field-test projects and validate their effectiveness and performance. Facing the challenges brought by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak, the EMSD has particularly launched an anti-epidemic thematic page on the platform to liaise with innovation and technology (I&T) enterprises for the development of new technology projects on fighting and curbing of the epidemic. This time, I have invited the Director of Electrical and Mechanical Services (DEMS), Mr SIT Wing-hang, Alfred, to introduce two I&T solutions to facilitate our understanding of the department’s efforts in fighting the virus together with the I&T sector.
More than a hundred anti-epidemic proposals received in two weeks
The situation of the COVID-19 is serious. It is our top priority to step up efforts to fight and curb epidemic. The DEMS, Mr Alfred SIT, says that the EMSD, being the Innovation Facilitator for the Government, has sought to play a part in providing appropriate help through I&T.
The department has announced a series of needs for I&T solutions related to the fight against the virus on the anti-epidemic thematic page of the E&M InnoPortal, such as developing mobile fever screening robots and mobile robots for indoor disinfection in place of manual operation; robots for delivering meals, medications and documents to patients or people who are quarantined to minimise close person-to-person contact and hence the risk of infection; and self-disinfecting substances/coatings. Meanwhile, the EMSD has also strengthened liaison with its I&T strategic partners to identify suitable projects. As a result, more than a hundred relevant solution proposals were received within just two weeks.
Mobile fever screening robots
To guard against the spread of the epidemic, identifying potential infected persons in the community is a very effective way. The mobile fever screening robot has been developed by a local technology company after the EMSD reached out to the companies at Cyberport through the online platform.
According to a co-founder of the technology company, Prof POON Ka-yeung, Larry, he and his colleagues managed to put together a mobile robot combined with artificial intelligence for automatic detection of body temperatures in place of manual operation in a tight timeframe of 15 days starting from the first day of the Lunar New Year. The robot has been designed with flexible deployment in mind and can walk along routes set on the map and according to different environments, particularly in areas with no fixed entry/exit gates, or waiting areas. Once it detects a person with abnormal or higher body temperature, the robot will display a red image on the monitor and an alarm will be sent to alert management staff to take follow-up actions.
Tests conducted in various government departments
When the Government resumed normal operation on 2 March, the EMSD tested the robot at the main entrance of the EMSD Headquarters. The results of the four-day test have shown that the robot performs satisfactorily in monitoring body temperatures. Given its embedded Wi-Fi and 4G functions, the robot can perform duties in different environments and greatly reduce the workload for manual temperature checks. The EMSD has arranged to test robots of the same type at various government departments, such as the Correctional Services Department, Transport Department and Leisure and Cultural Services Department. It is hoped that these robots can be used at various government venues to reduce the work pressure of frontline staff.
Anti-microbial nano-coating technology
Besides, the EMSD is in close communication with the research institute which has developed a nano-coating technology to explore the feasibility of using it to fight the epidemic. The Director of Research & Development of an I&T company, Dr Ivan SHAM, says that when the nano-coating with anti-microbial properties is applied to a surface, such as an enamel product, the coating can guard it from dirtiness and prevent the accumulation of micro-organisms on its surface. Then, the spread of viruses and thus the risk of infection due to touching of polluted surfaces can be reduced. The nano-coating technology can also be used in air ducts to minimise static electricity and hence reduce the accumulation of dust and micro-organisms, resulting in cleaner air. Currently, the EMSD is helping with the testing of the technology, with a view to having its application rolled out in the near future.
Fighting the epidemic together
To fight and curb the epidemic, colleagues of the EMSD have been diligent in providing professional services. Apart from ensuring that the electrical and mechanical facilities at various government venues and hospitals are functioning properly, the EMSD has installed fixed Smart Fever Screening Systems at areas with higher people flow such as boundary control points, the Central Government Offices, and other government buildings to step up body temperature checks to make it more efficient to curb the epidemic. I hope that the novel technological products developed jointly by the EMSD and the I&T sector can be put to use as soon as possible to give us more power to fight the virus. Let us win the anti-epidemic battle together.
15 March, 2020