Research projects

Two research projects on smart mobility EJINSIGHT

The annual Esri Young Scholars Award is for local college students to research topics of their choice using Geographic Information System (GIS). This year, in addition to the individual category, a new group category has been added with six outstanding awards.

In terms of rewards, the top 3 winners from individual nominees can be awarded a summer internship at the Urban Renewal Authority as before, and all winners can attend the Esri Online User Conference held in the States for free. States in July. They were able to exchange ideas with GIS professionals around the world in real time and learn about the latest application cases around the world.

Looking at the award-winning works, one can only admire the broad vision, concern for society and innovative thinking of young people.

First of all, I would like to share two works on smart mobility.

Sum Tin Lam, Alvin from the Department of Geography and Resource Management, Faculty of Social Sciences, Chinese University of Hong Kong, won the individual category champion title with the Wheeling to Go project — Wheelchair Users Accessibility in Kwun Tong District. The work also earned him the two outstanding awards: Best Introductory Video Clip and Best Use of Open Data.

Sum believes that whether people are healthy or not, they should be able to meet their basic needs within a 15-minute walk to minimize their reliance on transport. He used this principle to examine Kwun Tong which is the most densely populated and aging community in Hong Kong. For a normal pedestrian, it takes just 14 minutes on foot from East Kowloon Health Center to Lam Tin metro station, but 53 minutes if the mobility aids route is chosen, according to the HKeMobility app. Using the Land Department’s 3D pedestrian road network dataset, Sum found that the area is full of travel obstacles, including steep walkways (from the waterfront to Sau Mau Ping has an elevation of up to 200 meters), stairs, narrow passages less than 1.2 m wide, roads without traffic lights and more than 75% of passages without shelter (motorized wheelchairs may malfunction in heavy rain).

He also conducted a survey to investigate where older people often go to dig deeper into the issues. For instance:
• MTR stations: such as Exit A and Exit D of Lam Tin station, escalators are the only way to reach the station from these exits. Wheelchair users should take a detour and travel an additional 40 minutes to Yau Tong Station instead;
• Medical and rehabilitation services: Wheelchair users in Sau Mau Ping and Ngau Tau Kok have to travel an additional 15 minutes to reach rehabilitation facilities, such as the hospital, 8 health centers and a day centre;
• Markets and malls: residents of Sau Mau Ping and Ping Shek have to spend an extra 15 minutes to buy food;
• Recreational Facilities: There is a set of stairs leading to the main entrance of Lam Tin Park, wheelchair users have to spend an additional 15 minutes to enter the park.

Sum concluded that given the aging of the population, authority must address and remove physical barriers as soon as possible to ensure social inclusion and a better quality of life for wheelchair users.

Another work concerns the charging network for electric vehicles (EV). The Charge for the Future project? by Chan Chun Ping, Dieter, a student in the Department of Urban Planning and Design, Faculty of Architecture, University of Hong Kong, won 2nd place in the individual category.

While the government encourages the purchase of electric vehicles, the lack of charging stations discourages car owners. It takes time to charge, so charging facilities should be within a 10-minute walk of one’s home or office, Chan suggested. It reviewed the distribution of CLP charging stations and the government’s pedestrian road network 3D data, and found that the Kowloon City district, including To Kwa Wan and Ho Man Tin, needs the most improvement.

Chan recommends that the government actively cooperate with the owners of the appropriate sites and bear the installation costs. This enables better allocation of charging stations through central planning and can meet user needs more effectively and efficiently.

— Contact us at [email protected]

Dr Winnie Tang

Adjunct Professor, Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Engineering; Department of Geography, Faculty of Social Sciences; and Faculty of Architecture, University of Hong Kong