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"Let’s go tech! – Handy technologies for your green project" Seminar

The rapid development of technology has greatly lowered the cost of its application. Use your creativity and technology could possibly help your project in many ways. We organized the “Let’s go tech! – Handy technologies for your green project” on 9th September. This event aimed to introduce how technology is applied in various ways, so as to inspire those who are in the process of planning their low carbon innovation projects.

How to “master” the technology? How to “use it effectively”? We 
invited Mr Willy Kwong and Mr Alfred Chung, Executive Director and Program Coordinator respectively, of The Jane Goodall Institute, Hong Kong to share their experience. Mr Kwong has long been working on technology application to social services projects. His social innovation projects, with a view to explore different types of creative technology, have successfully attracted investment and funding from various sources, including the DBS Foundation Social Enterprise Grant (2014-15), The SIE-Fund (2014-15, 2015-2018) and Office of the Government Chief Information Officer’s funding for “Development of Assistive Technologies for Persons with Disabilities”.

In modern society, the penetration rate of smart phones is over 85% . Even the elderlies know how to use computers. “Go tech” is the big trend but how to “master” it? Technological elements can be added to various processes during the design stage of environmental projects. Mr Kwong, however, emphasized that the attributes of each technological product should be carefully considered before application. Take information collection as an example, many corporations only use ‘Google Form’, but   ‘Google Form’ is only useful for collecting quantitative data and not qualitative data. Therefore, project hosts may need to consider other ways of collecting qualitative data. He gave further examples to illustrate how to design user-friendly social projects through data collection. For example, finding out what are the transportation needs of the disabled has given rise to ‘uberASSIST’. The use of filter application to mimic the style of Caravaggio, the famous Italian painter in 16th century, has closed the distance between the modern-day public viewers and the master artist. This project has also aroused media interest from computer magazines.

Mr Alfred Chung pointed out the difficulties of getting a good response to educational activities and how technology might help to attract participants. He has tried coming up with more interesting contents and more attractive ways of presentation. For example, mapping, a technology easy enough to be handled by even an eight-year-old child, could be applied.

Mr Chung compared the pros and cons, as well as the application of Google’s ‘My Maps’, ESRI’s ‘Survey 123’, 360 degrees panoramic camera and virtual reality (VR) technology. There was a community project which engaged public participation in the improvement of community facilities. Participants were asked to take photos of problem spots they found in the community and upload their location onto Google’s ‘My Maps’. The results were shared with district councils and used to urge government departments to make improvements. During the process, participants discovered problems such as passages too narrow for wheelchairs to pass, ashtrays found in non-smoking areas, shortage of seats in public space, etc. The 360 degrees panaromic camera also plays a useful role, as it captures more live scenes than photos. This helps government officials not present on site to better understand problems facing the community. Mr Chung let participants try their hands on the mapping function of ‘My Maps’ and shooting VR videos with the 360 degrees panoramic camera.

To practise what they have learned, the workshop participants were asked to help two clients of The Jane Goodall Institute, Hong Kong to design a project from the perspective of a project coordinator. Participants suggested a technological application to compare the past and the present of the local community for a shopping mall client.  The aim was to attract more customers for the shopping mall, as well as to help people better understand the history of Hong Kong. After the talk, participants continued to seek advice from the two speakers. It is hoped that the participants, aided by attractive and effective designs, will continue to work on their low carbon innovation projects.