CityU and MTR break new ground with IT Excellence Award

Michael Gibb

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An Artificial Intelligence (AI) software system jointly designed and developed by Dr Andy Chun at City University of Hong Kong (CityU) and the MTR has been honoured by the Hong Kong Computer Society with a Certificate of Merit in the 2005 IT Excellence Awards in the “IT Applications” category.

The project is the Artificial Intelligence Engine. The system, which has been in daily use since July 2004, is a component of the Corporation’s Engineering Works and Traffic Information Management System (ETMS).

"This is the first time any university in Hong Kong has received an award in this category,” said Dr Chun, Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science. “We’ve won twice before in the “products” category, for iMBA and Professor Horace Ip’s CASSOS,” he said.

Dr Chun and representatives from the MTR received their award at a ceremony on 19 October at the Hong Kong Academy of Medecine.

This achievement once again illustrates CityU’s excellence in applied research and the University’s commitment to collaboration with industry leaders for the benefit of Hong Kong.

“The Artificial Intelligence Engine helps plan, schedule and optimize nightly engineering works at the MTR,” Dr Chun said. It ensures all necessary engineering works are performed in a timely and safe manner and that the MTR Corporation’s resources are fully utilized.


“The underlying aim is to streamline workflow so the MTR will become more agile and responsive to passenger needs. It is the citizens of Hong Kong who ultimately benefit,” he added. 


Ir Richard Keefe, Infrastructure Engineering Manager – Tseung Kwan O Line on the MTR, a co-sponsor of the project and leader of the Business Design and Definition Working Group responsible for determining how to make best use of the available technology, said the award reflected a successful collaboration between the MTR and CityU, with each leveraging its expertise to provide a software and business process solution of real value.


“The Artificial Intelligence Engine enables an optimum set of solutions to be generated, which makes best use of all engineering and access resources, and it ensures all safety and engineering rules are complied with during the planning process. It enables us to continue in delivering excellent service and value to the travelling public,” he said.


Earlier this year the “Artificial Intelligence Engine” was honoured by the American Association for Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) with the “Innovative Application of Artificial Intelligence” Award 2005 (IAAI) in the category of “Deployed Applications”. 

Dr Chun, a local expert in applying Artificial Intelligence technology to scheduling, resource and manpower allocation, is the only person in Greater China to have received this award to date, and he is the only person in the world to have won it three times before.

“Given the Hong Kong Computer Society’s recognition of our work with the MTR, I am very grateful and pleased that our expertise at CityU has, in a way, helped make Hong Kong a better place for all its citizens by ensuring MTR service quality is maintained at a high level,” Dr Chun said.


The IT Excellence Awards, first instituted in 1998, are organized by the Hong Kong Computer Society to celebrate and encourage IT applications and products that help create better value for business and industry.


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