Editorial : Freeing smart city development from hindrances of political distrust

【明報專訊】WITH the launch of the multi-functional smart lampposts pilot scheme last month, the government finally took the fundamental step in constructing Hong Kong into a smart city. However, the tense situation of society at the moment has added uncertainty to the pace of the project's implementation. As there are concerns about whether the smart lampposts will become tools of political surveillance, the government has decided not to activate several functions of the lampposts that involve the privacy issue. Technology is a double-edged sword. The key lies with using it appropriately, drawing on the advantages and avoiding the disadvantages. The pursuit of big data and smart city development is a worldwide trend regarding which Hong Kong is already falling far behind. While the city needs to catch up as soon as possible rather than procrastinate further and further, it is also necessary for the government to deal with the issue of privacy protection properly. The controversy surrounding smart lampposts is a reflection of public distrust in the government. The authorities ought to conduct public consultations properly and increase the project's transparency so as to dispel public doubts and prevent progress in society from being held back by political distrust.