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Speech by SCED at opening ceremony for Hong Kong RFID Centre (English only) (With photo)

     Following is a speech by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mrs Rita Lau, at the opening ceremony for Hong Kong RFID Centre today (October 9):

Mr Giard, Mr Tan, ladies and gentlemen,

     I am delighted to be here today at the opening of this new facility dedicated to enhance public awareness, facilitate knowledge transfer and encourage application of a very important technology - radio frequency identification, or in short, RFID.  I would particularly like to welcome all of those who have come to Hong Kong from various parts of the world to join us at this opening ceremony.

     With the clear objective to develop Hong Kong into a regional hub for innovation and technology, the HKSAR Government has consistently been working to promote the development of technology in areas where we have a competitive edge.  RFID is one of these technology areas.

     As many of you know, RFID technology has been with us for a number of years.  It emerged through the integration of a number of technologies, including electronics, wireless communications, information technology, materials science, and others.  RFID is often regarded as the next emerging technology after the Internet: one that could have even greater direct impact on our daily and business life.  As you will see from the exhibits in this centre, RFID technology can be applied throughout the business process from material sourcing to after-sale services.  Indeed, there are so many innovative ways to apply this technology to various aspects of our life such as health care, transportation, food safety and shipping.  We in Hong Kong are exploring new uses for this technology every day.

     I am proud to say that, despite the many technological and practical constraints, Hong Kong has established itself in the last decade as a leader in the development of RFID technology and its applications.  For example, the Hong Kong International Airport is the world's first airport to fully utilise this technology to ensure the efficient flow of passengers and cargo.  The RFID tags attached to the luggage allow access to information and real-time tracking more easily and more quickly than traditional barcode tags.  Since adopting the new integrated RFID system, the speed of baggage handling at the Hong Kong International Airport has increased but, more importantly, there has been a dramatic fall in the number of lost bags as the system has seen dramatic improvements in accuracy, the read rate of the airport's luggage handling system has gone from 70% to 96%.

     Another excellent example of our innovative use of RFID is the Octopus card.  It is one of the world's earliest RFID-enabled payment solutions.  It started off as an automatic, contactless fare collection system, designed to ease congestion in transport throughput and reduce the handling of spare change.  Later it developed into a popular electronic cash system, and its application has been extended to property management, school administration, and even the implementation of joint loyalty programmes.  Today, more than 17 million Octopus cards are in circulation, and the system won the Chairman's Award of the World Information Technology and Services Alliance's Global IT Excellence Award in 2006. Equally exciting is the fact that this approach has been emulated in the oyster card in London and elsewhere.  Truly Hong Kong leading the way!

     RFID can also be used for suiting the specific business operational need.  Earlier this year, I met a tenant at the Science Park, which has successfully worked out a mobile RFID solution for jewellery management systems.  Its high performance RFID reader can capture more than 100 tags simultaneously, facilitating stock-taking and management.  The performance of this system was highly commended in the Hong Kong Jewellery and Watch Show last year.  The application can also be extended to the marketing side by linking into customer loyalty schemes.  You can also try out the function of this reader here at our centre.

     The Government has been a staunch supporter of the development of RFID technology in Hong Kong.  It is one of the top research areas for our Hong Kong R&D Centre for Logistics and Supply Chain Management Enabling Technologies.  From 2004 to 2007, our Innovation and Technology Fund provided financial support for a total of 17 RFID-related projects amounting to about $108 million, covering areas such as improvement in RFID tagging and embedding technology, application of RFID technology in food safety, enhancement of privacy protection and communication security, and development of a real-time manufacturing shop-floor information infrastructure.

     The Hong Kong RFID Centre to be opened today is yet another initiative to promote the development of RFID. This centre will be the largest of its type in the Asia Pacific Region.  The objective is to encourage business, industry and technology sectors to showcase their capabilities and explore further opportunities for development.  The centre also aims to demonstrate to the general public the many possible applications of the technology, to enhance their awareness and understanding of the next generation of RFID technology, and its significance to future economic and social development in Hong Kong.

     Before closing, I would like to thank GS1 Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation, as well as founding members, strategic partners and supporting organisations of the former Supply Chain Innovation Centre, for their efforts in setting up the RFID Centre.  I am particularly pleased that Science Park partners and incubatees have become sponsors of the new centre.  This is exactly what we want to see.  I wish you every success in developing RFID technology, and I look forward to further innovative and creative uses for this technology emerging as a direct consequence of the opportunities presented by this new centre.

     Thank you.

Ends/Thursday, October 9, 2008
Issued at HKT 16:50


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