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Insights Using digital engineering to build Hong Kong's future ready communities

It is widely acknowledged that Hong Kong has a housing shortage with an annual home supply of around 38,000 and a population of 7.5 million. In a previous article, we wrote about how sustainable construction is the answer to preventing a deeper crisis as the population grows and ages, and increasingly, we’re seeing digital engineering being used to help build communities that will stand the test of time. 

This aligns with our approach at AtkinsRéalis , as it is our mission to transform traditional methods and future-proof society all over the world for generations to come. 

Using digital in engineering

In 2022, we’re living in an increasingly modern world. Technology is surpassing and overlapping the boundaries of every sector, enabling us to find new and better ways of working, living, and preparing for the future. In the built environment, we’re seeing technology push the boundaries of design and engineering, and this is only going to increase.

In the last decade, we’ve seen an uplift in engineers integrating data and digital technologies across the entire lifecycle of construction projects. Examples of digital technology being applied by engineers to improve safety, eliminate carbon and reduce costs on a project include 

  • AI 
  • BIM
  • 3D modelling
  • Digital twins
  • Cavern Master Plan in Hong Kong

    The Cavern Master Plan (CMP) is ‘a planning tool proving a broad strategic planning framework to guide and facilitate territory-wide cavern development in Hong Kong.’ The CMP in Hong Kong sets out areas of land that are suitable to be developed to create space and alleviate the pressures of the housing crisis. This is a solution that the Hong Kong government has been exploring for almost 40 years. Recently, however, it is gaining traction as geotechnical engineers in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’s Civil Engineering and Development Department have identified dozens of strategic cavern areas. 

    It is plausible that these caverns, which are planned to be dug and built inside hills and rocks, could potentially house essential resources such as parking, sewage and water treatment plants, and data centers, opening up much-needed space on land. 

    How can digital engineering help deliver the CMP?

    The challenge that comes with building underground is the cost. According to the Global Construction Review, to ensure the CMP can be successfully delivered and costs are kept to sustainable levels, engineers can take advantage of digital technologies such as:

    3D geological modelling

    • Which gives engineers real time updates of geological conditions, allowing for greater efficiency and accuracy, and collaboration across various disciplines


    • A geographic information system (GIS) can be used to obtain an accurate blasting assessment report with visuaisations, which helps stakeholders to understand the effects of the activity above ground

    Laser scanning excavation

    • This technique can be used to map the profile of a cavern, scanning a before and after the concrete lining is applied

    Digital rock mapping

    • Customisable apps have made this process more accurate for geologists who need to record data such as material type, joint count, water characteristics, roughness and alteration

    Field force application

    • Apps for site inspections, which can be tailored to projects, can be used to take the form of an online database, allowing for repetitive data collection and easy access for all stakeholders

    AtkinsRéalis is harnessing the power of digital in engineering

    At AtkinsRéalis , we’re at the forefront of the technology revolution. We are disrupting the industry by creating sustainable solutions that connect people, data, and technology to design, deliver and operate the most complex projects. Technology and data are integral to our ability to do this.

    We’re leading the way with new cutting-edge global client technology hubs, also known as ‘Lava Labs’. They will enable the development and application of new and innovative ways of delivering end-to-end services for our client projects.

    Take your engineering career to new heights in Hong Kong

    Hong Kong is a great place to take your engineering career with the growing number of opportunities available. In the recovery period from the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy is expected to improve greatly, especially with help from public infrastructure projects that will provide more job openings for civil and structural engineers looking for their next challenge. 

    If you’re looking for a new opportunity and you want to make a real difference to society, browse our available civil and structural engineering jobs in Hong Kong or sign up for our job alerts so you’ll never miss an opportunity.