PolyU: PolyU develops smart tree management system and transfers technology to the Tree Management Office to improve tree health monitoring in Hong Kong


The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) launched the “Jockey Club Smart City Tree Management Project” (the Project) in 2018, led by Professor Charles Wong, Department of Land Surveying and Geo-informatics at PolyU to develop the “Smart Monitoring System for Urban Tree Management” (the System), for monitoring the overall stability condition of trees in Hong Kong. The three-year pilot project, which concluded in August this year, was funded by The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust with a grant of HK$32.8 million and was supported by various government departments. Other collaborators include The University of Hong Kong, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and Friends of the Earth (HK).

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University places significant emphasis on research, and is committed to transferring knowledge in response to societal needs, thus implementing the university’s motto of ‘To learn and to apply, for the benefit of mankind’. To support the development of a smart city, related technologies and research results will be transferred to the Tree Management Office of the Development Bureau. I hope to provide technical and research support to the Government’s tree management department as well as to industry, while also demonstrating the results, originality and value of the Project.

To mark the Project’s successful completion, PolyU recently organised the Closing Ceremony cum System Transfer for the Jockey Club Smart City Tree Management Project, announcing the official transfer of its “Smart Monitoring System for Urban Tree Management” technology to the Tree Management Office (TMO) of the Development Bureau of the HKSAR Government, in order to widen the technology’s implementation in the city.

In her welcoming remarks at the ceremony, PolyU’s Executive Vice President, Dr Miranda Lou thanked The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust for their support in enabling PolyU to contribute to sustainable development and tree conservation through innovative research. “The Hong Kong Polytechnic University places significant emphasis on research, and is committed to transferring knowledge in response to societal needs, thus implementing the university’s motto of ‘To learn and to apply, for the benefit of mankind’. To support the development of a smart city, related technologies and research results will be transferred to the Tree Management Office of the Development Bureau. I hope to provide technical and research support to the Government’s tree management department as well as to industry, while also demonstrating the results, originality and value of the Project.”

Mr Liu Chun San, JP, Under Secretary for Development of the HKSAR Government, officiated at the ceremony and affirmed PolyU’s achievements in smart city development. He said, “this System can provide tree management personnel with useful scientific data on tree detection and identify trees that need to be followed up so that tree management personnel can act in a timely manner in response to tree conditions. The Project also demonstrates Hong Kong’s proactive attitude towards technological innovation and applications. Through close co-operation between the Government’s tree maintenance departments and the project team, an effective tree monitoring system can be set up to improve and enhance tree management in a comprehensive and multi-dimensional manner.”

The Hong Kong Jockey Club (“The Club”) actively supports numerous environmental protection projects through its Charities Trust to promote a healthy and sustainable community, in line with its purpose of acting for the betterment of society. The Club is delighted that the early alert system developed by the Club-supported project will be transferred to the Tree Management Office of the Development Bureau and will continue to use the smart sensing technology to collect and analyse data about urban trees, facilitating the sustainable development of these valuable resources.

The PolyU research team installed smart sensors on about 8,000 trees during the three-year period, most of which were placed in locations with high levels of pedestrian and vehicle traffic, including pavements, slopes and parks. Via the sensors, the System keeps track of the angles at which trees are tilting to assess the stability of their roots. By leveraging the Smart Sensing Technology and Geographic Information Systems based platform, the System monitors changes in the environment and reflects other relevant tree data (such as Height and Diameter at breast height (DBH)) for further analysis. The System goes beyond identifying which trees require a safety inspection by utilising big data analysis to predict the leaning trend for trees. When the tilting angle of a tree exceeds certain thresholds, the System will send a notification to alert the responsible tree management team.

The research team hopes that the System can assist the TMO in monitoring local tree health more effectively, thereby facilitating urban forestry management in Hong Kong. The data collected by the System can also be used to inform the future design of urban landscapes. The System is recognised internationally and received a Gold Medal at the Special Edition 2021 Inventions Geneva Evaluation Days – Virtual Event organised by the Internation Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva and was also a recipient of the 2021 Smart 50 Awards in the United States.

Comments are closed.