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First meeting on HK’s Multi-functional Smart Lampposts held

Image Credits: OGCIO, Press Release

The newly established Multi-functional Smart Lampposts Technical Advisory Ad Hoc Committee held its first meeting recently.

The HKSAR Government Chief Information Officer, who is also the Convenor of the Committee chaired the meeting. A number of topics were discussed, including the work plan and modus operandi of the Committee.

Members’ views and advice on personal privacy protection and related information security technology issues relating to the operation of multi-functional smart lampposts were sought.

The Committee is working to complete the work and come up with a report before the end of this year.

Members of the Committee are drawn from industry experts and academics. Through their expert views in different technology and application fields and constructive advice, it is hoped that facts can be clarified and public concerns can be allayed.

The Committee will also advise on the publicity and engagement strategy to facilitate public understanding over the equipment installed on smart lampposts and their functionalities and potential uses in an open and transparent manner in order to gain greater support from the community.

The Multi-functional Smart Lampposts pilot scheme is a three-year programme to promote smart city development in Hong Kong and support 5G mobile network implementation.

Under the scheme, 400 smart lampposts are proposed to be installed in phases in four districts: Central/Admiralty, Causeway Bay/Wan Chai, Tsim Sha Tsui and Kwun Tong/Kai Tak Development Area. Since the end of June, 50 smart lampposts have been installed on Sheung Yuet Road in Kowloon Bay, on Shing Kai Road in Kai Tak and in the Kwun Tong city centre to collect various types of data.

Smart devices including traffic detectors, panoramic cameras, meteorological sensors and air quality sensors are installed to collect three types of real-time city data, including meteorological data, air quality data and traffic snapshot images with a view to enhancing city and traffic management.

All data collected will be uploaded as open data to the Public Sector Information (PSI) Portal (data.gov.hk) for sharing and to encourage the development of more innovative applications, thus driving smart city development in Hong Kong.

It is important to note that the images and videos recorded by the surveillance cameras will only be used by the Transport Department (TD) and the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) for monitoring traffic conditions and assisting law enforcement work against illegal dumping of construction waste. Relevant panels of the Legislative Council (LegCo) were consulted last year. The LegCo panels supported the two specific applications.

The Government made it clear that three applications of the lampposts would not be activated for the time being in view of public concern over privacy.

An expert committee will be set up as soon as possible to review the privacy protection of such applications in relation to technology, data handling and operational arrangements.

The applications on hold are the monitoring of illegal dumping at black spots with the aid of cameras by the Environmental Protection Department, the collection and analysis of average traffic speeds and travel times of specific road segments using Bluetooth traffic detectors, and assessment of road use by different types of vehicles enabled by cameras collecting car plate numbers by the Transport Department.

According to an earlier OpenGov Asia report, some functions of the lampposts will not be activated at the current early stage as a result of privacy concerns over some of the applications.

These include the monitoring of illegal dumping with the aid of cameras located near black spots by the EPD, the assessment of road use by different types of vehicles enabled by Bluetooth traffic detectors and cameras collecting car plate numbers by the TD.

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