Implementing the smart city: Who has a say? Some insights from Hong Kong

Kevin Y. K. LEUNG, Hiu Yan LEE

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9 Citations (Scopus)


Over the years, the concept of the ‘smart city’ has become increasingly popular, and planning institutions seem to be more than keen to incorporate buzzwords associated with the smart city into their strategic city-wide plans, like IoT (Internet of Things) or AI (artificial intelligence), to name a few. Beyond these buzzwords, however, it seems that researchers and policymakers have mainly focused on the policies and characteristics of a smart city with only limited consideration for whether the planning stages have involved its citizens, or whether its citizens are even in support of these measures. Particularly in East Asia, consultative approaches seem to provide only tokenistic opportunities at best for citizens to have a say about their vision of ‘smart’ futures. Hence, this paper presents an extensive analysis on the history of implementing strategic city-wide plans by planning institutions, elaborating on how the concept of the ‘smart city’ gradually expanded into popular usage, using the case of Hong Kong. Studying Hong Kong's urban planning strategies reveals the complexities of policy implementation in a city with an escalating sense of fear and mistrust between the people and the government, and where some of its citizens are wary of further integration with mainland China, charting the many incompatibilities of what it means to be ‘smart’ between the government and citizens. Whether the citizens’ needs are met are evaluated along a modified hierarchy of needs inspired by Maslow ([1954]. Motivation and Personality. New York, NY: Harper), and recommendations are provided that identify the many opportunities and challenges that lie ahead for cities of the future to truly become smart. Copyright © 2021 Informa UK Limited.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)124-148
JournalInternational Journal of Urban Sciences
Issue numbersup1
Early online date08 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2023


Leung, K. Y. K., & Lee, H. Y. (2023). Implementing the smart city: Who has a say? Some insights from Hong Kong. International Journal of Urban Sciences, 27(sup1), 124-148. doi: 10.1080/12265934.2021.1997634


  • Smart city
  • Strategic planning
  • Hong Kong
  • Greater Bay Area
  • Regional integration


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