ACE and HKGBC co-organised an industrial symposium titled “Revolutionizing urban development with AI and digitalization” on 17 May 2024

The Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering (ACE) of City University of Hong Kong (CityU) and Hong Kong Green Building Council (HKGBC) co-organised an industrial symposium titled “Revolutionizing urban development with AI and digitalization” on 17 May 2024. Gracing the event were the Guests of Honor Mr Yi Fei, Deputy Minister and Senior Inspector, Department of Educational, Scientific and Technological Affairs, Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the HKSAR and Ir Ricky Lau Chun-kit, JP, Permanent Secretary for Development (Works) of the HKSAR government. Also in attendance was Professor Li Wenjung, Vice-President (Talent and International Strategy) of CityUHK; Ir Professor Thomas Ng Shiu-tong, Head of ACE at CityUHK; Ir Professor Eric Ma Siu-cheung, Chairman of the ACE Departmental Advisory Committee and Ir Pan Shu-jie, Chairman & Director of the Sustainable Development Committee of the HKGBC.


The symposium received keen interest from the construction sector and attracted close to 200 participants. Centred on how cutting-edge technologies can be harnessed to address climate change and ensure the resilience of urban development, the event saw government, academic and industry experts shared their insights on the use of AI and digitalization to drive a paradigm shift in the construction and urban development industries. A wide range of topics were presented, including AI and digitalization in construction, carbon neutrality, sustainable mobility infrastructure, urban system design, digital twin-enabled solutions, and typhoon risk assessment.


In his opening speech, Professor Zhang Wenjun, Associate Dean (Research and Postgraduate Education) of the College of Engineering at CityUHK, explained the importance of seeking innovative ways to safeguard the urban environment against extreme weather. “Leveraging data-driven insights, innovative technologies and sustainable design principles, we can start to enhance the resilience of built environments in the face of changing weather patterns,” he said.


Sr Professor Cheung Tin-cheung, Chairman of the HKGBC, pointed out that the symposium highlighted the interdisciplinary efforts of the innovation and technology sector and the building and construction sector, showcasing the exciting dynamics and unlimited possibilities of AI and digitalization in the net zero carbon transition.


As one of the keynote speakers, Ir Ricky Lau elaborated on how to leverage AI and digitalization for sustainable infrastructure development. He showcased some examples of digitalization and AI applications in public works, such as digital planning and design systems, asset management systems and AI cameras, which enhance efficiency, productivity, site safety and green performance.


He also introduced some of the Government’s decarbonization strategies and said that the success of sustainable development in Hong Kong requires the joint collaboration and commitment of many different sectors, and that the symposium demonstrates UGI (University-Government-Industry) collaboration to make Hong Kong a smarter and greener city.


The symposium also featured online talks by two other keynote speakers, namely Professor Dimitri Mavris, a Regents’ Professor, and Professor Perry PJ Yang, of the Georgia Institute of Technology, USA. Professor Mavris talked about digital twin-enabled solutions for sustainable energy and mobility infrastructure development, and Professor Yang elaborated on enhancing carbon neutrality through urban systems design. Ms. Rosana Wong, who is a member of the Building Information Modelling and Construction Digitalisation Committee of Construction Industry Council (CIC), also gave a fascinating talk showcasing the implementation of robotic technologies and digital infrastructure tools in construction projects, enhancing the cost, safety, and efficiency of construction.


The forum session also saw experts of the UGI sectors giving an insightful sharing of experiences, perspectives and aspirations on Net Zero Carbon buildings, building energy efficiency and the future of AI and digitalization-enabled construction. The forum panellists included Ms. Rosana Wong, Ir Pan Shu-jie, and Ir Professor John Lin, ACE faculty member at CityUHK.


Likewise, the Department of ACE has been playing an active role in contributing to this common shared vision. In his opening remarks, the Departmental Advisory Committee Chairman, Professor Siu Cheung Eric Ma, cited several examples. These include securing a collective total of $26 M in competitive research funding for low-carbon road pavement development, waste-to-eco-friendly construction materials upcycling, energy harvesting in green buildings and etc. On the education front, ACE has also introduced new streams on “Infrastructure and Smart City” and “Digital Construction Management” for their Bachelor and Master programme, respectively. Recently, ACE also unveiled its new Master of Architecture degree programme which incorporates digital technologies such as BIM, VR and AI into its curriculum. The goal is to ensure that the next-generation of workforce and current professionals are endowed with future-ready skills for a digital-driven industry.


ACE faculty members, Professor Zheng Hao, Professor Luo Xiaowei, Professor Amy Tan and Professor Lu Ping also shared their cutting-edge R&D work related to the use of AI, digitalization and digital twin for city design, construction site, toxic gas monitoring and typhoon risk assessment applications.


Aligning its work with national priorities, ACE at CityUHK are poised to make impactful contributions towards sustainable, resilient cities of the future. Their strategic, holistic approach positions the department as a leader in addressing urban challenges through innovative research and advanced facilities.


A huge thanks to our Sponsor Construction Industry Council (CIC), Supporting Organizations, and all the amazing participants! Can’t wait for our next symposium – stay tuned!