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HK Geospatial Lab Officially Opens

Image Credits: HKSAR Government, Press Release

The Geospatial Lab (GeoLab) officially opened on 30 July 2021. The establishment of the GeoLab is one of the major initiatives of the Common Spatial Data Infrastructure. The lab has “Geospatial” as its theme and is equipped with advanced technology and training facilities. Through the integration of education, experience and practice, it will help raise public interest in spatial data and explore together with the community the value and application of spatial data in support of smart city development.

The GeoLab is located at Millennium City I in Kwun Tong and has an area of 3,000 square feet. The Tung Wah Group of Hospitals has been selected as the operator through an open tender.

The GeoLab will provide fitted-out working space and coaching services to support experimental projects using spatial data and conduct activities such as competitions, workshops and talks. Complementing the Government’s emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics education, the GeoLab will regularly hold talks and practical classes for schools to help students master geospatial technology and knowledge, and to enhance their understanding of how to apply spatial data for innovative applications.

About the Common Spatial Data Infrastructure

The vision of developing Common Spatial Data Infrastructure (CSDI) is to contribute to a liveable, competitive, innovative, sustainable and Smart Hong Kong through the provision of convenient, easily accessible, high quality, standardised and up-to-date spatial information and services.

According to the government website, “spatial data” refers to any data concerning a specific geographical location. In fact, “spatial data” has long been integrated into our lives. We can use the map applications in our mobile phones, for example, combined with Global Positioning System (GPS) to locate nearby restaurants, parking lots or bus stops by their addresses, streets or building names and more.

Geographical location is the bridge between information. It can associate relevant information of facilities that are above, on and underground levels to support the development of various smart city applications. According to overseas academic research, more than 80% of all data is location-related information.

Common Spatial Data Infrastructure (CSDI) aims to provide government departments as well as public and private organisations with an information infrastructure to promote the sharing of spatial data and support the development of various smart city applications.

It is envisaged that the establishment of CSDI standards to facilitate linkage and integration of spatial data from various government departments and that of the whole territory, and the provision of a common platform for integration and exchange of geospatial information will be conducive to the provision of reliable spatial data services for the efficient use of resources, development of a smart city and sustainable development.

Throughout the years, various government departments, as well as public and private organisations, have made use of the Geographic Information System (GIS) to facilitate the management of individual geographic related spatial data and/or the development of different map service platforms.

The spatial data thus generated, therefore, comes from different government in-house data systems and are without common standards. The development of the Common Spatial Data Infrastructure (CSDI) aims to provide a platform to link and integrate geospatial data across various government departments to facilitate easy sharing and use of high-quality spatial data by government departments, public and private organisations, academics as well as the general public.

Examples of spatial data applications

  1. Boosting digital economy: In this era of autonomous applications, the capability of a 3D digital map can be extended to support a wide range of applications (e.g. self-driving cars and drones) and foster the creation of a digital twin by leveraging the Internet of Things, building information modelling (BIM) technology and big data analytics.
  2. Enhancing data-driven decision-making in the Government: By collecting the Dengue Fever Ovitrap Index from 3 000 locations across the territory and presenting the index figures via an interactive map interface with trend data, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) can readily identify the more affected areas and accordingly deploy manpower to tackle priority sites.
  3. Spurring innovations and improving quality of life for the wider community: A retail chain store is considering opening a new shop. Socio-economic data such as age, income and housing type of residents, as well as information on traffic patterns, foot traffic and the number of residences in the area, can be helpful when choosing a location.
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