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ASTRI & Immigration: Innovating Hong Kong’s Public Services

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The collaboration between the Hong Kong Applied Technology and Research Institute (ASTRI) and the Immigration Department of the HKSAR Government marks a significant milestone in the integration of innovative technologies into public service delivery.

Image Credits: ASTRI, Press Release

Under the leadership of the Chairman of ASTRI, and the Secretary for Security, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by the Chief Executive Officer of ASTRI, and the Director of Immigration, outlining a strategic partnership to enhance service quality and efficiency through the implementation of cutting-edge technological solutions.

The adoption of innovative technologies is paramount for the Immigration Department to align with the HKSAR Government’s vision of advancing towards a “Smart City.” The Director of Immigration emphasised the importance of leveraging ASTRI’s technological advancements to optimise operational efficiency and meet the increasing demands for public services. The collaboration aims to explore solutions in four key areas: “Innovative Immigration Clearance Mode,” “Biometric Identification and Authentication,” “Artificial Intelligence Assisted Immigration Application,” and “Collaborative Robotics Technology.”

One of the main focuses of this collaboration is the integration of multi-faceted technologies to streamline immigration processes. The Chief Executive Officer of ASTRI highlighted the utilisation of multi-cameras matrix sensing fusion technology, facial recognition, frontalisation technology, fast-searching AI algorithms, and AI Out-of-focus De-blur engine to expedite immigration clearance procedures. These advancements enable quick identification and capture of moving targets, facilitating automation, and enhancing overall efficiency.

In addressing specific challenges encountered during vehicle immigration clearance, ASTRI has developed pioneering solutions. For instance, the absence of a moving window at the rear seat of some vehicles posed a hindrance to image verification. ASTRI’s innovative technologies overcome such obstacles, enabling image verification through the use of glasses.

Beyond streamlining immigration procedures, the MoU encompasses projects aimed at bolstering service standards and law enforcement capabilities through biometric identification and authentication technology. Additionally, AI-assisted immigration applications are being explored to enhance operational efficiency further. Collaborative robotics technology is also being deployed to fortify security measures within immigration premises and simplify clearance processes.

The Chairman of ASTRI underscored the significance of this collaboration in fostering technological innovation not only within Hong Kong but also in neighbouring cities. By setting a positive precedent for the adoption of innovative solutions, ASTRI aims to contribute to the broader advancement of smart cities across the region. Lee expressed readiness to collaborate with other government departments to leverage Information and Technology (I&T) in various scenarios, promoting the development of home-grown innovative technologies and solidifying Hong Kong’s role as a technology transfer hub.

The collaboration between ASTRI and the Immigration Department represents a concerted effort to harness the power of technology to enhance public service delivery. Through the implementation of cutting-edge solutions, including facial recognition, AI algorithms, and collaborative robotics, the partnership seeks to optimise efficiency, bolster security measures, and pave the way for the advancement of smart cities in Hong Kong and beyond.

The global GovTech market, valued at US$ 430.9 billion in 2021, is anticipated to reach US$ 1,829.9 billion by 2031, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.56%. GovTech, a fusion of “government” and “technology,” aims to modernise public administrations through advanced technological solutions facilitating remote access to government services.

The adoption of electronic Know Your Customer (eKYC) for government accounts, electronic signatures, and online identity verification forms the cornerstone of this initiative. The digital transformation of state and municipal governments was expedited in 2020, driven by the necessity to shift services online amid regulatory changes.

Enhanced remote work capabilities further bolstered confidence in productivity. Citizen engagement is increasingly vital, particularly as local populations depend on reliable authorities for support during challenging times. IoT presents opportunities for the public sector to enhance services through data, analytics, and automation. With IoT, devices seamlessly exchange data over the internet, enabling efficient data mining and analysis, revolutionising citizen access to governmental services.

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