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HKSAR government seeks support for new safety app

Image Credits: HKSAR Government Website, Press Release

The Secretary for Innovation & Technology recently attended two briefing sessions for representatives from the wholesale and retail sectors as well as the beauty and massage industries to solicit their support for the LeaveHomeSafe mobile app and encouraged more businesses to join the scheme.

He noted that under the new normal, concerted efforts from various sectors are needed to fight the COVID-19 so that people will feel comfortable going out and the economy can regain its momentum.

There are currently over 6,000 public and private venues that have pledged support for the scheme. The mobile app can also be used directly in over 18,000 taxis. The Government will continue to engage various sectors and businesses such as retail, shopping malls and property management to fight the virus together.

Additionally, the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer has organised several briefing sessions in collaboration with relevant government departments to introduce the scheme to trade organisations from restaurants, bars or pubs, karaoke establishments, clubs, taxis, fitness centres, banks, cinemas and social welfare institutions.

The app will be available for download from 16 November 2020. It can assist the public in recording the date and time for checking into and leaving different venues, thereby encouraging them to keep a more precise record of their whereabouts to minimise the risk of further virus transmission.

User registration is not required for downloading the app. App users can check into the participating venues by scanning the QR code there to log their arrival time and click the app’s “Leave” button to mark their departure. Relevant data will then be kept in the app and will be erased automatically after 31 days.

If a confirmed case is later discovered at a participating venue, the app will notify users who have visited the venue at around the same time and provide health advice.

FS: I&T crucial to development

In another statement, the Hong Kong Financial Secretary said that since the year began, more than $300 billion were made available through the Financial Secretary’s Budget and the three rounds of the Anti-epidemic Fund.

Through the fund, a $1.5 billion Distance Business Programme was launched aimed at helping companies adopt IT solutions to support their businesses and services during the epidemic. The programme received an overwhelming response, with more than 38,000 applications in less than six months.

The government is also funding public sector research and development trials targeting COVID-19 prevention and control under the Public Sector Trial Scheme. More than 60 projects have been approved, with total funding exceeding $102 million. The trials have begun and the leader is hopeful that the wider adoption of technology in the public sector will lead to more business opportunities for local technology companies.

In short, COVID-19 only underscores the central policy priority that is placed on innovation and technology. Over the past three years, the Government has devoted over $100 billion to a great variety of I&T programmes and initiatives. They range from infrastructure provision and research and development to investment funding and talent development.

Moreover, the role of I&T will grow more important, given the newly announced National 14th Five‑Year Plan which will place technology at the heart of the region’s country’s sustainable social and economic development, with innovation a key driver in quality growth. Self-reliance in science and technology will become a strategic pillar underpinning Hong Kong’s national development.

For Hong Kong, this means expediting plans to build the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area into an international I&T hub. It means boosting technological collaboration with other cities in the bay area, particularly Shenzhen.

Hong Kong has made significant progress in this area. The bay area cluster-city development is committed to becoming a leading international I&T hub, and Hong Kong aims to help realise that ambitious goal.

The emerging Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation & Technology Park – a significant investment in Hong Kong’s long-term I&T development – will play a critical role in making it happen. Together with the Shenzhen Innovation & Technology Zone across the boundary, the area will create a central base for regional, and global, co-operation in scientific research.

In addition, the region’s first two research technology clusters at Science Park, one focused on artificial intelligence and robotics, the other on healthcare technologies, are attracting high-profile research and technology players from all over the world, helping to raise Hong Kong’s global I&T standing.

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