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HK govt launches a new HKeMobility app

HK govt launches a new HKeMobility app

The Transport Department (TD) announced that the all-in-one mobile application
"HKeMobility" has been launched as one of the initiatives to take
forward the Hong Kong Smart City Blueprint.
      

The TD's three existing mobile applications,
namely "Hong Kong eTransport", "Hong Kong eRouting" and "eTraffic News", are integrated into
"HKeMobility", with the user interface improved and new features
added.

The app cost about HK$600,000 (around S$104,000) to
develop and is part of government plans to improve urban management and quality
of life under a blueprint for a “smart city”.

Members of the public can acquire real-time
traffic and transport information anytime and anywhere to plan their
journeys.

The press release
stated the public could also make use of "HKeMobility" to obtain and
stay updated on traffic news with a voice-over function, snapshots of traffic
conditions from about 180 CCTV cameras installed at major roads, and the estimated
times of arrival of buses and trams.

Moreover, real-time
parking vacancy information from about 220 car parks – more than 10 per cent of the total number in Hong Kong – has
been included.

To promote the habit
of walking, the walking route search feature, now covering the best walking
routes in Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui, will be progressively extended to
other districts.  "HKeMobility"
has enhanced the walking route searching feature by offering the choice of
barrier-free routes for people with visual and mobility disabilities.

Officials said they had
conducted on-site inspections in these two districts to map out the best routes
for people with special needs.

Visually impaired
users can find advice on routes with traffic lights, to make crossing the road
easier. Bridges not installed with lifts are excluded from recommendations for
those with mobility problems.

The department said
walking routes covering all districts would be available in two or three years.

The app would collect
information on user behaviour, officials
added, to improve transport planning in the future. But they stressed that
personal information would not be collected and none would be handed to law
enforcement agencies.

Francis Fong Po-kiu, honorary president of the Hong Kong
Information Technology Federation, said that officials should get all transport
operators to share their data with the government as well as private companies,
as a condition for renewing their operating licences.

Open data was a key
part of building a “smart city”, he added

However, there is a
small issue with the new app that must not go unreported.

A recent
report
noted that while the
app is a great step forward in boosting Hong Kong’ technological connectivity,
its mission is hindered by the fact that some information from rail giants and
major bus companies like KMB and Citybus is noticeably absent from the
HKeMobility app.

The absent information
pertains to the arrival times for services run by major players like KMB, New
World First Bus, Citybus and rail operators like the MTR.

The app, which is an
amalgamation of the Transport Department’s existing mobile platforms,
HKeTransport, HKeRouting and eTraffic News, only displays the arrival times
for trams, and buses run by New Lantao Bus Company.

For information on
other operators, users need to relocate and switch to the companies’ own apps.
This comes despite the government being the largest shareholder in the MTR
Corporation.

However, despite the
missing information, HKeMobility comes a
welcome addition to Hong Kong’s mission of creating a smart city.

The “HKeMobility"
 app can be downloaded for free on both Android
smartphones and iPhones. Alternatively, members of the public can download the
app through the link on the TD's website (www.td.gov.hk). Users of the TD's
three existing mobile applications will also receive guidelines on how to
download or update to "HKeMobility".

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