Google Hong Kong releases the second edition of Smarter Digital City Whitepaper



Hong Kong, October 3, 2018 – Google Hong Kong released the second edition of the Smarter Digital City Whitepaper. The research, conducted by Ipsos, takes an in-depth look at the progress of consumers’ perceptions of a Smart City and their technology adoption in everyday life; as well as the progress of business digital transformation in the past year.

The pace of digitalization in Hong Kong presents a conundrum. There has been only a slight increase in the Consumer Digital Index (CDI) compared to last year, but a significant leap in the CDI for the 55 – 64 age group. Only 30% of local residents consider Hong Kong a smart city despite high internet penetration. While 85% of corporates have increased digital investment this year, and 93% said they would invest more in the next two years; only half of the SMBs interviewed see digital as a fundamental part of their business.

Leonie Valentine, Managing Director, Sales & Operations, Google Hong Kong comments, “This year’s Smarter Digital City findings show that more work needs to be done to accelerate the city’s digital transformation. Consumer digital engagement remains low, while local small-and-medium businesses’ digital adoption lags behind our nearest neighbors like Shenzhen and Guangzhou; there is also a widening talent gap to address in order to meet the demands of digital transformation.”

“Talent is fundamental to smart city development. It is critical for Hong Kong to build a strong talent pipeline, by embracing STEM education, promoting digital literacy, and providing vocational training to help the workforce get prepared for the digital economy. Some positive signs from this year’s findings include: 80% of Hong Kong residents are interested in learning and acquiring new skills, with AI & machine learning, data analytics, and app development top of mind. Google Hong Kong has also been offering free digital education resources including CS First and Digital Garage to help nurture local digital talent.”

“We hope that different stakeholders will be able to use these insights as a catalyst for conversations that help Hong Kong make the leap to become a Smarter Digital City.”

Digital adoption breeds market opportunities

Despite the publication of the Hong Kong Smart City Blueprint by the HKSAR Government Office of Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) and the announcement of HK$50 billion for innovation and technology projects over the past year, only 14% of the public surveyed think the government is significantly investing in making Hong Kong a smarter city, down one-third from 21% in 2017.

The second edition of Google Hong Kong’s Smarter Digital City Whitepaper revealed that this year’s Consumer Digital Index (CDI) scored 2.44 out of 5, up 0.09 points compared to last year. The 55 – 64 age group shows a significant uptake in digital engagement, up 0.28 points compared to 2017. As Hong Kong residents continue to use technology and embrace digital in their everyday life, new opportunities emerge for key industries including travel, finance, retail and healthcare to innovate and improve experiences through digital channels.

In view of the aging population, this year’s research looked at digitization in the healthcare sector and consumers’ expectations. Fifty-five percent of Hong Kong residents hope for faster and more accurate diagnoses; 39% are also open to doctors consulting artificial intelligence (AI) and having preliminary consultations with doctors through online chat. To ease the burden on doctors and the healthcare system, stronger public-private partnerships, better trend analysis, and forecasting, and smart use of data and technology application are ways to address pressing challenges and to meet expectations for improved efficiency.

Hong Kongers are often hailed for their efficiency. However, even with digital enablement, job seekers often find it hard to filter through a sea of recruitment sites to locate the most relevant jobs to them. Google is adding a new feature called Job Search that provides an improved Search experience to help people find jobs more quickly and efficiently. Job seekers can explore jobs from across the web on partner sites including, but not limited to:,, CTgoodjobs, Michael Page, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Monster, Randstad, and Retired Not Out. This enables job seekers to easily locate desirable jobs, and employers to match jobs with talent more easily. The English version will go live in Hong Kong on October 5, with the Chinese version coming in 2019.

Nurture digital talent and promote digital literacy

Corporates are eager to digitally transform their businesses. However, the digital talent shortage remains a common barrier. Fifty-four percent of corporates consider data analytics to be an important skill for their employees, yet 70% of corporates have difficulty finding talent with a data analytics skill set. Only 14% of Hong Kong residents believe that the city is successfully developing digital talent.

According to the Smarter Digital City Whitepaper, policymakers should embed computational and design thinking in primary and secondary school curriculums, as well as promote computer science (CS) learning. Vocational training for teachers and the current workforce is also essential to building the talent pipeline for smart city development.

Google has been collaborating with local organizations and supporting digital talent development. Since 2016, Google Hong Kong has worked closely with local nonprofits to localize CS First, a free computer science and coding curriculum for kids. To date, more than 1,000 students have taken part in the CS First program. For the current workforce, this year Google has introduced the Chinese version of Digital Garage, a free digital marketing curriculum, to Hong Kong.

Referencing the study findings, 80% of Hong Kong residents have expressed interest in improving their digital skills, most notably in machine learning, app development, and data analytics. To inspire educators and spark interest in AI and Machine Learning, Google Hong Kong hosted AI Bootcamp for professors and teachers.

Realize Hong Kong’s strength in the Greater Bay Area

The newly added whitepaper section on the Greater Bay Area initiative (GBA) poses some interesting findings. Only 15% of Hong Kong residents consider themselves to be familiar with the GBA. When asked if they think the GBA initiative may benefit the local technology and innovation industry, only 34% of Hong Kong respondents agreed, far less than their Shenzhen and Guangzhou counterparts (66%). In addition, only half of Hong Kong’s small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) agreed digitization is an important part of their future, fewer than Shenzhen and Guangzhou SMBs (66%).

The whitepaper points to Hong Kong’s unique advantages, including intellectual property protection, well-established infrastructure, and free and open internet, which the government can leverage to capitalize on digital o
pportunities in the GBA region.

Build a healthy ecosystem and accelerate businesses’ digital transformation with smart use of Cloud technology

Echoing the government’s strategy to position Hong Kong as a data and insights hub, the Google Cloud Platform region to be available in Hong Kong later this year will help businesses accelerate digital transformation, support ecosystem growth that favors innovation and promote a smart economy in the city.

Visit the Google for Hong Kong website to download the full Smarter Digital City Whitepaper 2.0, and learn more about Google’s initiatives to advance Hong Kong’s smart city development. Follow #GoogleforHongKong on social platforms for more information.

  Leonie Valentine (left), Managing Director, Sales & Operation, Google Hong Kong, and Mick Gordon (right), Managing Director, Ipsos Hong Kong, discussed the Smarter Digital City Whitepaper 2.0 key findings and recommendations for Hong Kong to become a smart city.
Leonie Valentine (left), Managing Director, Sales & Operation, Google Hong Kong, and Mick Gordon (right), Managing Director, Ipsos Hong Kong, discussed the Smarter Digital City Whitepaper 2.0 key findings and recommendations for Hong Kong to become a smart city.

About Smarter Digital City Whitepaper Google Hong Kong commissioned Ipsos to conduct comprehensive research on the progress of digitization in the city across four key business verticals that account for nearly half of Hong Kong’s GDP – Travel, Finance, Retail, and Living (with a focus on Healthcare sector). Google Hong Kong’s Smarter Digital City Whitepaper identifies factors that shape Hong Kong’s digital transformation and offers strategic insights with an aim to help Hong Kong make a leap to become a smarter digital city.

Media Enquiry Google Hong Kong Betty Wong Telephone: (852) 3923 5630 Email: [email protected]

Plug PR Vica Chan Telephone: (852) 3422 3523 Email: [email protected]

Appendix: Statistics and Figures for Reference (Source: Smarter Digital City Whitepaper 2.0, Google Hong Kong / Ipsos, 2018)

Top 5 Competitive Smart City, a Hong Kong Perspective

  1. Tokyo(53%)

  2. Singapore(39%)

  3. Hong Kong(30%)

  4. Seoul(29%)

  5. Shanghai(23%)

Level of Digital Activity Adoption
2018 2017 Change(+/-)
Travel 53% 42% + 11%
Finance 38% 37% + 1%
Retail 44% 48% – 4%
Living / Healthcare 38% 38% NIL
Total 42% 41% + 1%
Digitisation Perspectives from Hong Kong Businesses (Corporates and SMBs)
Corporates SMBs
% of agree “My business is being disrupted by digital transformation” 82% 70%
% of agree “Digital is a fundamental of business” 84% 50%
Hong Kong Corporates Point of View on Digitisation
2018 Compared to 2017(+/-)
Anticipate very fast / fast digital transformation in their company 73% + 19%
Proactively searching for the latest digital technology 67% + 17%
Have increased digital investment this year versus 2017 85% + 10%
Anticipate increasing investment in the next 2 years 93% + 8%

Digital Talent Gap

  • 14% of Hong Kong residents think their city is successfully developing digital talent

  • 54% Hong Kong corporates think data analytics is important for staff to have; 70% of these corporates think it is difficult to find staff with data analytic skills when recruiting

  • 80% of Hong Kong residents would like to learn more digital skills

  • Top three digital skills Hong Kong residents wish to learn:

    • 1. Machine Learning / Artificial Intelligence (41%)

    • 2. App development (41%)

    • 3. Data Analytics (34%)


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