How do you use technology/policy to improve citizens’ lives? Tell us about your role or organisation.

As a Senior Systems Manager in the digital identity area of the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government, I am responsible for the implementation of the electronic identity (eID) to be provided to all Hong Kong residents in 2020. eID can be used as a single digital identity and authentication method to conduct online government and commercial transactions, and to perform digital signing for important transactions.

Hong Kong has one of the most sophisticated and successful telecommunications infrastructures in the world. The average Internet connection speed and mobile subscription rate are among the fastest and highest in the world. eID will be built on this world-class infrastructure and tied securely to mobile devices of Hong Kong residents on a voluntary basis.

As one of the cornerstones of the smart city in Hong Kong, eID will help establish trust between online service providers and individuals in carrying out online transactions. It can also serve as a reliable identity to increase the effectiveness of online services and facilitate the development of innovative ones. eID will bring about benefits to the community, such as provision of a secure, ubiquitous, and convenient mobile identity for residents to use online services anytime, anywhere to deal with daily routines, as well as savings on cost and time for online service providers in handling user authentication, thus advancing the use of online services.

What has been the most exciting thing that you worked on in 2018?

Participation in the eID project team is definitely one of the most exciting assignments in my career so far. The eID project is one of the initiatives under “Smart Government” in the Smart City Blueprint for Hong Kong released in end 2017. All the project team members share the common goal of “Smart Government” to “change how the Government manages the city and serves its stakeholders through the deployment of supporting infrastructures that collect, collate, analyse and present city data in the ways that can best support the stakeholders, leading to a more vibrant, dynamic and safe community”.

One of the mottos of the team is definitely “think out of the box”, which we have been using again and again to remind each other not to stick to old thinking and experience in system development. With tons of deliberations and lots of learning, we are moving towards our goal to provide eID to all Hong Kong residents that can best fit their needs.

If you were to share one piece of advice that you learned in 2018, what would it be?

“Change is the only constant.” and “You will have to repeatedly let go of some of what you know best, and feel at home with the unknown.” – from 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari.

Changes are going to happen around us whether we want it to or not. We have to equip ourselves with the ability to learn new things, to embrace changes, and to face uncertainties and unknowns.

What tool or technique particularly interests you for 2019?

One of the security measures to be deployed in the eID project is biometric authentication, which is considered a more secure alternative to passwords. Biometric authentication is becoming faster and more secure. Best of all, such verification is based on a person’s biological characteristics that one will not forget or lose.

We will develop eID for mobile devices in 2019, adopting biometric authentication as one of the security measures. I believe that the solution can provide both security and convenience to Hong Kong residents, as well as promote usage of government online services.

What are your priorities for 2019?

Do the right things, not just do things right. Indeed, this has been my priority in the past few years and it applies to both my working and personal life. It sounds simple but is not easy in practice. I do remind myself to review frequently if I am on the right track to attain the targets; what the objectives are; and what have been changed ever since. We need to stay alert to changes in the environment and make adjustments accordingly.

“Efficiency is doing things right. Effectiveness is doing the right things.” This is a famous quote from Peter F. Drucker, the father of management thinking. Both efficiency and effectiveness are very important in management.

What is one the skill that has helped you the most throughout the course of your career?

Empathy, that is, to feel and understand another’s problem and to place yourself in another’s position. As a government officer, I have to understand the needs of the community and listen to their voices. As a manager, I have to hear the team and understand the difficulties my team members are facing. Empathy is a very important element to connect all the parties together for the successful delivery of service to the community, to accommodate the conflicting needs and to strive for balance among all stakeholders.

What advancements do you predict will happen in your field in the next ten years?

In the next ten years, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning will drive innovation and transformation. 90% of the data in the world was generated over the last two years. Large volumes of data will accelerate the growth of AI to support analysis, assessment and prediction in different sectors. I believe that there will be new breakthroughs in the coming years and we should be ready for the changes involved in our working and daily lives.

Coffee, yoga, music… what powers you through your day?

Tea…jasmine, oolong, green, black, white, rooibos, all kinds of tea. Having a cup of tea during a break or when things are going a little bit sticky can always soothe my mind. The different choices of tea remind me there are many ways to solve problems. Take a break, and move on!