The government recently released its official blueprint for a “smart Hong Kong”. The plan embraces the efficient and sustainable city, digital data, innovation, and technology.
Climbing the index
In a smart city global index produced by Swedish based company, EasyPark Group, Hong Kong ranks 68th in the world. The rankings analyse 500 cities and include transport, sustainability and living standards. The city ranks behind Tampere in Finland, Ljubljana in Slovenia and Leeds in northern England. Singapore ranks second and Tokyo’s sixth.
Elements of smart cities?
One important element is having “smart people”, a tech-savvy workforce. A workforce skilled in science and technology.
What’s the city’s focus?
Like Singapore, Hong Kong is prioritising “lifelong learning” in science, technology engineering, and mathematics (STEM). An aspect of the lifelong learning is the focus on schools. A science and technology project to run from 2017 to 2020, aims to train 2,000 pupils, 100 teachers and 100 laboratory technicians across 35 local secondary schools.
What’s the problem with schools?
A survey exploring what turned young people on to science and technology revealed a couple of issues. Young people are not happy with the way schools teach STEM subjects. Although 97% enjoyed STEM only 54% were happy with the way its taught. The lack of support and professional development for teachers were another problem. Only 20% felt supported. About 44% thought STEM was not given enough priority in the curriculum.
What is China doing?
China’s ambition is even more ambitious. China recently announced that it should introduce artificial intelligence into the classroom in both primary and secondary schools.
Marrying STEM & HAAS
STEM as a solution is pretty much the common path many nations take. In 2011, when introducing the iPad2, Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, summarised his strategy: “it is in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough – it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our heart sing.” Hong Kong’s strategy and focus on young people and STEM is important, but should not be at the expense of the Humanities and Social Sciences (HAAS). Exposing students to the ever-increasing interface and intersection between STEM and HAAS nurtures a different type of person. A person comfortable working and thinking in a multidisciplinary context. “One of the greatest achievements at Pixar”, said Jobs in 2003, “was that we brought these two cultures together and got them working side by side.”