To take forward smart city development, the Development Bureau (DEVB) is constructing the Common Spatial Data Infrastructure (CSDI), and establishment of the Geospatial Lab (GeoLab) is one of the major initiatives. Providing a “geospatial” community, the GeoLab encourages the younger generation, start-ups and creative minds to harness spatial data in developing innovative applications that will bring benefits and convenience to the public. The GeoLab has been officially open, and I attended the opening ceremony. What facilities and services does the new GeoLab provide? What does it do to promote exploration of spatial data application? In this post, I have specially invited colleagues from the Spatial Data Office (SDO) to tell us about it.
What is “Geospatial Data”?
To put it simply, spatial data is any data with reference to a specific geographical location. Besides basic map data, it also covers geospatial datasets such as traffic information, location of public facilities and retail services location. In fact, spatial data has long been integrated into our lives. To give an example, we use the map applications in our mobile phones combined with Global Positioning System to locate nearby restaurants, parking lots or bus stops by their addresses, streets or building names. To take parking for another example, through spatial data, we obtain real-time information of vacant parking spaces and their locations.
Promoting sharing of spatial data
The DEVB and the departments under its purview, including the Lands Department (LandsD) and the Planning Department, possess vast collections of valuable geospatial data. The Government has been pressing ahead to open up data, so that relevant sectors may transfer the data into useful information for the public, and develop more and better applications for our daily life. It is our hope that we will join hands to promote the development of spatial data as partners, with the Government playing the role of a facilitator.
Nurturing a “geospatial” community
The GeoLab, located at Millennium City I in Kwun Tong, officially opened in late July. It was set up from scratch by Ms SHIU Wai-yee, Winnie, former Head of SDO of the DEVB. She says that the DEVB aims at providing a platform through the GeoLab to enable the public and the relevant sectors, particularly the younger generation and start-ups including application developers, to discuss, explore and exchange ideas so as to harness the potential of spatial data, and thereby to develop new applications, promote business opportunities and improve quality of life. The enhanced interoperability and sharing of spatial data is also expected to help government planning and policy formulation.
Equipped with advanced technology and training facilities
The GeoLab covers an area of about 3 000 square feet. I would like to thank the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals and the Smart City Consortium for operating and supporting the GeoLab. According to Mr CHAN Yue-chun, Head of SDO of the DEVB, the GeoLab is equipped with advanced technology and training facilities for free use by the public. Moreover, it has a meeting room, a living zone for members, and a multi-purpose room to support experimental projects in application of spatial data. The GeoLab also offers different types of information, including the CSDI datasets, and showcases the application of spatial data in various forms, such as the Interactive Map Dashboard for COVID-19 developed by the LandsD, and the Urban Renewal Information System developed by the Urban Renewal Authority based on the geographic information system (GIS).
Providing professional consultancy services
Besides the hardware, the GeoLab provides professional consultancy services to its members to enhance their understanding of spatial data and the relevant applications. In the living zone, members can try to develop different thematic applications with the GIS and spatial data. Moreover, the GeoLab will organise a range of activities, such as competitions, workshops and talks. Complementing the Government’s emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, the GeoLab will regularly hold talks and practical classes for schools to help students master geospatial technology and knowledge. I hope you will take part in these activities.
The GeoLab is a new attempt. I hope that with the efforts from non-governmental organisations and their community network, and through various activities to reach out to the public, we can promote sharing of spatial data, and everybody will join in to explore the value and application of spatial data. Enjoy your surfing!
8 August, 2021Back