URA’s Urban Renewal Information System Receives International Acclaim for Taking forward Urban Renewal through Adopting Intelligent Geographic Information System
With the application of the geographic information system (GIS), the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) developed the Urban Renewal Information System (URIS) in 2019 to improve the organisation’s capability to process and analyse planning information and spatial data, facilitating the implementation of the new “planning-led” direction in urban renewal. The URIS received international recognition for its ability to consolidate data of the built environment and its extensive application in the work of urban regeneration.
The URIS received the Special Achievement in GIS (SAG) Award from the Environmental Systems Research Institute (Esri), a global authority on GIS technology today (2 July 2021). The SAG Award was created to recognise the application and implementation of GIS by corporations worldwide. Of all the contenders this year, the URA is the only corporation from Hong Kong to win the award, reflecting the URA’s exemplary performance in the application of GIS.
The URIS integrates geographic information and data on land uses, planning requirements, development density, infrastructure, building conditions, population distribution, etc., and visualises such information on a map, enabling the URA to review and analyse precisely the feasibility of different urban renewal options to rejuvenate older urban districts through its 5R business strategy of redevelopment, rehabilitation, preservation, revitalisation, and retrofitting.
In addition, with the system’s capability to analyse land use and development parameters, buildings that required regeneration, along with the adjacent roads, public facilities, and government lands, can be reviewed comprehensively to identify planning schemes under the “district-based” planning approach, thus expediting the formulation of urban renewal solutions to address the needs of the community for long-term and sustainable development.
Meanwhile, the URA makes use of the three-dimensional (3D) digital map technology in URIS to build a “Digital Twin” that serves as the virtual models of the existing building clusters of the soon-to-commence redevelopment projects, according to the approved building plans. This technology allows faster processing of the information collected from households during the freezing surveys, which is being transferred in real-time to the Digital Twin virtual models, enabling the URA to understand the living conditions and needs of the households, expediting the planning and provision of appropriate assistance to the households in need.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the SAG Award Presentation Ceremony for the Hong Kong district, which used to be presented in Esri’s headquarters in California of the United States, was held in H6 CONET, the community space in The Centre in Central today.
The URA’s Managing Director, Ir Wai Chi-sing, said at the ceremony, “In line with the URA’s Five-year Corporate Plan, the URA will undertake a number of large-scale district-based planning studies, aiming to expedite the pace of urban renewal. The application of URIS will enhance the effectiveness of our urban renewal work in many fronts covering planning, relocation, financing and technological research.
The URIS will undergo continuous upgrades by developing further application areas, including among others, the application to promote building rehabilitation works, driving the URA further to become a professional data-driven organisation and a pioneer in the city planning and engineering sectors.”
Chief Executive Officer of Esri China (HK), Sr Paul Tsui, said, “The URA stood out from the crowd to receive the SAG Award this year, showcasing its ability in recent years to leverage the power of GIS technology, and its data processing and analytic capabilities in the areas of urban redevelopment and building rehabilitation. I appreciate that all URA staff are committed to applying GIS at all levels of work to improve work efficiency.”
The URA has invested in resources for staff members to embrace this new technology. Trainings such as arranging GIS specialists to speak on the latest developments and applications in the field, workshops on the utilisation of GIS mobile apps and operation of unmanned aircraft systems, etc. are provided. As of today, over 70 percent of the URA staff have completed foundation courses related to URIS.