GIS incorporating AI can optimise urban planning - EJ Insight



GIS incorporating AI can optimise urban planning

The annual Esri Young Scholars Award is for local tertiary students to research on topics of their choice using geographic information system (GIS). Both champions of individual and group category of this year are from the Department of Geography and Resource Management in the Faculty of Social Science at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), while the University of Hong Kong (HKU) obtained seven awards, the most among all institutions. The research subjects are quite diverse with four excellent works on urban planning.

The champion of the group category composed of four CUHK students: Bao Wen Wei, Li Wen Yu, Luo Hao Wen, Zeng Bin Cheng Joyce worked on the project Redevelop Our Brownfield Sites: Evaluation of planning scenarios for developing modern logistic industry on brownfield sites in the New Territories.

The logistics industry is one of the four traditional pillar industries in Hong Kong. It is scattered mainly in the New Territories, but the lack of land constrained its development. At the same time, the northern metropolitan area has been identified as the new development area. The students study how to make the best use of the area to promote and modernise the logistics industry. They evaluated 11 categories of existing and potential land use, such as cold chain storage, dangerous goods storage, and more, from seven perspectives such as economic value and environmental impact, and made recommendations according to the land use and characteristics.

According to the students, GIS incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) in the process of urban planning can make well informed decisions. Planners can not only adjust evaluation variables such as geographical and socio-economic factors, but also specific weights for each objective in reference to the needs of their plans. For example, the team identified the spatial characteristics of different types of logistics land use in their analysis: cold chain for fresh produce and pharmaceuticals need to be close to highways; dangerous goods should be kept away from residential areas; and port-related logistics have to be closer to the seashore and ports. The model also benefits future brownfield and other land use planning. It is not surprising that some judges praised the work "really excellent study, innovative, topical, important and well executed with meaningful results that can guide the Northern Metro project".

The other three excellent works on land use are all from HKU's Department of Urban Planning and Design. They are:

• Smart Redevelopment: Suitability of Public Facilities Provision for Private Redevelopment Projects, the 1st runner up in the individual category by Chu Chit Hei, Sebastian. He suggests that the government should recognise and promote the significance of private development in providing planning gains, in addition to enhance housing supply and improve living environment.

• Urban Renewal of Mong Kok: Based on Urban Vibrancy Analysis, the 1st runner up in the group category by a team of six HKU students: Cai Zhongyu, Chen Boran, Hui Chun Yin, Lu Zhi Mao, Ng Chun Hin and Peng Jingyi. Referring to the examples of other cities together with an analysis of spatial characteristics, the group suggests a people first and public participatory approach to perfect the Urban Renewal Authority's redevelopment proposal.

• Development of Smart Environment in Hong Kong by Chan Yi Man in the individual category won the Best StoryMap Design award. The project explores solutions to enhance green buildings.

The topics of three other award-winning works are:

• Analysis of the relationship between MTR travel record and the COVID disease by Huang Hanting, Hsu Ya-cheng, Yan Junchen from HKU;

• How BIM and GIS technology can be integrated and applied in building facility management by Fok Chun Fung from the Department of Construction and Surveying in the Faculty of Construction and Engineering at Vocational Training Council;

• Coastal Defense and Taxation: Qing Military and Check Post in Hong Kong During the 19th Century by Chan Hoi Yuet, Chiu Sin Him, Fung Kai Leung, Ngai Ching Yy and Sze Kuen Yung from the Department of History in the Faculty of Social Sciences at Hong Kong Baptist University. This topic is quite unique, the work displays several maps of Hong Kong 200 to 300 years ago, it is very interesting.

Last but not least, I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to the judges for their hard work. The 17 members include 11 professors from seven universities and tertiary institutions, the principals of three professional bodies and three public organisations. The strong judging team makes the results more representative.




Dr. Winnie Tang
Adjunct Professor, Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Engineering; Department of Geography, Faculty of Social Sciences; and Faculty of Architecture, The University of Hong Kong