Hong kong is experiencing a serious shortage of talent in information and communications technology. While there is no short-term solution, Cyberport is looking to devise strategies for the longer term.
One of the ways is to raise interest among youths. Earlier this month, Cyberport launched a mega event by putting more than 1,000 young programmers together to create a smart city map for the SAR.
“Cyberport is dedicated to nurturing young ICT talents," said Cyberport chief executive Herman Lam Heung-yeung.
“We hope to raise awareness and spark interest in coding education among the younger generation through this remarkable collaborative coding event, where students reveal creativity and imagination, acquire new coding skills, exchange ideas and work together in teams."
In the Coding Jam 1000, 1,042 young coders aged six to 18 – 13 percent of them were girls – were tasked with putting up a huge map of Hong Kong as a Smart City form by Minecraft – a game about building and breaking blocks.
The Smart City is comprised of three parts: City Center, Smart Town and Youth Creative Space.
City Center embraced state-of-the- art buildings and modern metropolitan facilities, constructed according to the sustainability principle, with a futuristic design concept.
Smart Town features Hong Kong signature landmarks.
The Youth Creative Space is the platform showcasing all young coders’ imaginative works on their ideal community and building concepts, demonstrating the excellent coding and construction skills of the youngsters and unique aspirations for smart living.
The younger coders had prepared themselves since February, when they received free training programs including six-hour tutorial videos of 15 modules, as well as a two-hour Get- Together Training Day.
With their hard work, they set the record of “The Most Youngsters Perform Coding."
Anthony Au Chin-ho was one of the coders who joined 1,000 others to contribute their parts at the Central Harbourfront.
“I was interested in coding and started playing Minecraft in Grade Five," the sixth-grader at Tak Sun School said.
“I spent around 20 hours to create a building that looks like the Peak Tower."
Besides Minecraft, Au said he learned about programming languages at school. “It was amazing to be able to create something by computer languages," he said.
Au is not the only one attracted to programming. His teacher, Leung Wing-yan, said many students show an interest in joining the courses, where screening is necessary to pick the right students for the right sessions.
Leung noted that computer programming nowadays can be very visual instead of plainly using languages.
“Whatever programming methods they use, it’s most important to train their logical thoughts," she said. “Many kids love to create and develop."
Leung said one of the development kits is Scratch, a free programming language for students, scholars, teachers, and parents to easily create games.
It can serve as a stepping stone to the more advanced world of computer programming.
On the back end, it isn’t easy to combine and compute codes from 1,000 individuals at the same time.
“Traditionally, it can cost millions of dollars to build a server for this purpose," said Alan Chan Yuk-ming, national technology officer at Microsoft Hong Kong, which provided cloud computing supports for the event.
“Microsoft Azure enables participants to develop and test applications faster, and gives them the flexibility to deploy in the cloud, which helps reduce the preparation time of the event," Chan said.
He said it is cheap and more efficient while stability can be ensured. “We offered Microsoft Azure cloud-based storage services, which saved over HK$1 million," Chan added.
Earlier this year, Microsoft kicked off a “#WeSpeakCode" scheme to encourage youths to learn computer programming.
The US-based tech giant attracted 4,800 local students from 32 primary and secondary schools to register for a hands-on experience in coding with an accumulated 6,000 coding hours.
It became the largest territory-wide coding event in Hong Kong.
Other organizations supporting the Coding Jam 1000 event included the Hong Kong Software Industry Association and Office of the Government Chief Information Officer.
Lenovo provided hardware and Hong Kong Broadband Network the internet connections at the site.