To cope with the development of smart cities in Hong Kong, the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD) has been striving to use innovative technologies to upkeep the electrical and mechanical (E&M) systems and optimise energy efficiency in over 8 000 government buildings, facilities and infrastructures in the territory, enhancing the life quality of the public.
With the advancement of the Internet-of-Things (“IoT”) technology in recent years, the EMSD has used this technology to establish a dedicated "Government-Wide IoT Network" (GWIN), through which the wide area remote monitoring systems can be used to provide near real-time monitoring of the E&M systems concerned and further improve reliability of EMSD services. This has in turn enabled relevant government departments to enhance their delivery of public services.
The GWIN system makes use of in-situ battery powered IoT sensors installed at E&M equipment under monitoring to communicate wirelessly with relevant gateways using the LoRa technology. These gateways in turn communicate with the central server through high speed wired or wireless networks.
The “Smart@GWIN E&M IoT Application Challenge" aims to increase public awareness and understanding of the GWIN, so as to promote its widespread application in daily life, optimise smart city management and enhance the quality of public life, in order to maximise the value of public services for the community.
Co-organisers and Supporting Organisations
Application of GWIN
With aid of the GWIN, the EMSD makes use of various types of LoRa sensing devices to conduct remote monitoring and control of E&M equipment as well as to support smart city management. Below are a few examples of GWIN application.
Remote Monitoring and Control
The EMSD deploy the LoRa sensing devices to monitor the operation status of typical E&M equipment which includes air-conditioning systems of government buildings, filtration pump systems of swimming pools, ventilation fans in public transport interchanges, irrigation pumps at sports grounds, etc. Fault signals from the equipment under monitoring are promptly sent to maintenance staff for quick follow-up actions. The data so collected by the LoRa sensors can also be processed using data analytics and artificial intelligence tools to conduct performance trending of equipment. With the application of the GWIN, we can monitor the E&M facilities on a near real-time basis to enhance operation reliability, effectiveness and efficiency which is crucial to support various smart city initiatives.
Smart Drainage System
Water level sensors have been installed in over 50 sites to monitor changes in river/sea water level for speedy alert of potential flooding risks. The system was in operation in 2020 and collected water level readings in a prompt manner during the passage of typhoons through connection with the LoRa network.
Provision of Parking Vacancy Information
We have completed the testing of the wireless sensors installed at the parking area near the Energizing Kowloon East Office of the Development Bureau (“DEVB”). We are collaborating with relevant government departments to conduct trials of installing wireless sensors in other suitable non-metered on-street parking spaces so as to provide real-time information to facilitate the motorists for finding vacant parking spaces.
People Counting System
We installed a People Counting System for 15 flower markets over the territory for a period of seven days during the 2021 Lunar New Year Fair for counting the number of visitors entering and exiting these venues in order to control the flow of people, thereby ensuring adequate social distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The system also served to provide crowdedness indicators on the web to facilitate Hong Kong citizens to plan for their visits. According to our record, a total of about 877 000 persons visited the 15 flower markets during the Lunar New Year Fair safely.
Smart Toilet Pilot Programme
The general public raises concern from time to time about the availability, hygienic conditions and comfortability of public toilets in the territory. With the use of the GWIN sensing devices, “smart toilets” are being devised to collect useful information and data such that toilet management and attendants can better plan, adjust and manage the cleansing and housekeeping work as well as the maintenance of facilities and equipment. On the other hand, the system will also provide members of the public with useful information on the occupancy status of nearby toilets and the locations of toilets in their proximity. Through the “smart toilets”, we expect that user experience will be enhanced. On this front, we are coordinating with the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department and the Leisure and Cultural Services Department for implementation of a Smart Toilet Pilot Programme covering 17 public toilets.
Location Tracking of Hikers at Remote Areas
Hiking is a popular outdoor activity but sometimes, hikers may wander off-trail and encounter accidents. In Hong Kong, some remote country parks and hiking trails are not covered by mobile signals, making the search and rescue of injured or lost hikers rather difficult. If hikers are equipped with GWIN-enabled wearables, the rescue team can carry out location tracking of their wearables even when there are weak or no mobile signals, thus speeding up the search and rescue work.
Tree Monitoring Pilot Programme
The Tree Management Office (TMO) of the DEVB is committed to continuously improving tree risk management to protect public safety. In this connection, the TMO will commence a territory-wide pilot project in the third quarter of 2021 that uses tilting sensors to monitor the falling risks of some 8 000 trees over the territory. In this pilot project, the TMO will collaborate with the EMSD to make trial use of the GWIN to collect data from some of the tilting sensors.