As Dr Corina Raduescu, the unit coordinator explained, the ICPUs "bring another level of engagement and learning because it takes place in a new environment and challenges students to immerse themselves in order to develop innovative solutions to complex problems businesses face today."
Not only did we get to learn from one another, but we also had the opportunity to visit the offices of HSBC and Accenture and learn from and engage with industry experts.
|Hong Kong skyline at night|
My group, promptly named New World and Co, included Hogan Wang (Science/Medicine), Winnie Li (Engineering), Milan Narula (Economics) and myself (Commerce/Arts). We were tasked with finding opportunity areas and initiatives within the Smart Cities ecosystem which would be applicable in Hong Kong. As Craig Murray, Senior Manager at HSBC explains:
"Smart Cities is a nuanced topic that financial institutions, corporates and governments are actively researching. Having University of Sydney undergraduate students undertake assessments of various aspects of Smart Cities has provided a bedrock for further reviews into opportunities and risks."
Will this be our deus ex machina?
The HSBC Main Building in Central represents 36 years of grandeur and pantomime, standing as the most expensive building in the world during its time of construction. Contrasting to Accenture’s headquarters located in One Island East, striking a symbol of innovation amongst Hong Kong’s skyline.
I bring attention to these buildings not only because I admire their architecture and the extraordinary feats they represent, but how the theme of Smart Cities can manifest in all facets of life.
Under the Internet of Things phenomena, these buildings and our homes will be caring for your needs. From the trivial tasks of ordering food when your fridge detects a shortage or homes being equipped with life-saving devices which monitor the health and wellbeing of the elderly, or on a larger scale, with commercial buildings collecting data points of energy consumption and optimising its usage through tracking technology.
|Workshop at Accenture Headquarters|
The connection between the physical and digital world will be key to unlocking efficiencies in cities and people. It may seem profound to exclaim that cyborgs are already walking amongst us, however, as referenced by Elon Musk in the 2019 Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai, humans today are in-part "cyborgs".
The birth of smartphones have provided us with unlimited access to the digital world and embedded themselves into our physical and psychological anatomy. The next step is to make the bond between the digital world and the physical world seamless and integrative. This is the underlying crux of what Smart Cities aim to improve upon.
"Everything begins with an idea" - Earl Nightingale
Each group started off researching a broad topic area under the Smart Cities umbrella. From there, teams refined the scope to initiatives, which in essence satisfied the desirability, viability and feasibility criteria (DVF). In the end, each team presented their initiatives to a panel of industry experts from HSBC.
Group One's idea aimed to address the problem of Hong Kong’s declining efficiency of its traffic networks. The solution is a three pillared-approach, comprised of a smart traffic lights system, a bus application using real-time data and replacing the current bus fleet with electric buses.
Group Two's problem statement was the major public health concern of cardiovascular disease (CVD) for the elderly population in Hong Kong. To address this, the team pitched a smart cardiac monitoring solution, which monitors the patient's vitals, analyses their situation, and alerts health professionals or emergency services.
|High-level overview of the functionality for a smart cardiac monitoring solution|
As Dr Raduescu explains, "one of the biggest challenges was to narrow down the project focus and deliver a realistic solution in a very short time." In addition to this, I found each team had their difficulties ranging from group incompatibilities, leveraging and accounting for every member's strength and weakness, as well as balancing the expectations from both university academics and corporate stakeholders.
For some students, undertaking this ICPU was a very challenging experience. From conducting comprehensive research in new fields to receiving criticism and questions about the desirability, viability and feasibility of their ideas. As Dr Raduescu reiterates, "students undertaking a Global Intensive ICPU benefit from learning how to be agile and quickly adapt to different environments, a critical skill required in today's dynamic business world."
|Panel consisting of Corina Raduescu (USYD), Moses Tse (Accenture), Craig Murray (HSBC), Andrea Tiwana (HSBC) and Mei Shen Yeoh (HSBC)|
"You can leave Hong Kong, but it will never leave you" - Nury Vittachi
I am extremely proud of everyone who participated in this project, as we know how much time and effort went into completing this unit. Craig Murray reaffirms this by commending "the students' ability to work remotely and independently while remaining focused on the core task was impressive."
I would like to thank HSBC's Craig Murray and Mei Shen Yeoh and Accenture's Moses Tse for their incredible hospitality, as well as everyone we meet along the way to make this a truly life-changing experience for all of us. As Milan Narula, one of the students on the project recalls his experience:
"From my daily indulgence in coconut buns to being jammed into the MTR during peak hour, studying in Hong Kong has been an unforgettable adventure. I encourage everyone to apply for the ICPU and go overseas because you will make life-long friends, learn so much about Asia’s dynamic business environment and discover your future career aspirations."
|Hong Kong Smart Cities Project Cohort|
Written by Andew Trinh
Bachelor of Commerce/Bachelor of Arts student