29th Annual Professor Chin Fung Kee Memorial Lecture: Embracing Innovation and Technology in Landslide Prevention and Mitigation
(Supported by Malaysian Geotechnical Society)
Ir. Ken Ho obtained his undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at Imperial College London, specializing in soil mechanics and earthquake engineering. He is the Deputy Head of Geotechnical Engineering Office, a specialist arm of the Hong Kong SAR Government and an internationally renowned centre of excellence in landslide risk management. He is an Adjunct Professor at The University of Hong Kong and a part time lecturer at The University of Hong Kong and The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Prior to joining the GEO, he worked in Ove Arup & Partners in London and provided specialist geotechnical advice on a wide range of infrastructure and building projects.
He has published over 130 technical papers including journal papers, keynote papers and state-of-the-art papers at various international conferences. He is a core member of the Joint Technical Committee (JTC 1) on Landslides, under the auspices of ISSMGE, IAEG, ISRM and IGS. He was previously a core member of ISSMGE TC304 on Risk Assessment and Management. He is currently serving on the editorial boards of two journals, namely Landslides and Georisk. He was appointed by the Hong Kong SAR Government as a Justice of the Peace (JP) in 2012. He is the Immediate Past Chairman of the Institution of Civil Engineers (Hong Kong Association), a Council Member of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers (HKIE), and the Deputy Discipline Representative of the HKIE Geotechnical Discipline Advisory Panel.
Landslides pose a ubiquitous hazard in mountainous and hilly terrain and often lead to human casualties in urban settlements and along transportation corridors. From a global perspective, Asia has remained a dominant region in terms of occurrence of fatal landslides. For example, the 1996 Keningau landslide in Sabah recorded the highest level of fatality (>300 deaths) for a single landslide in Malaysia whereby a debris flow, triggered by torrential rain, inundated a number of villages.
In the aftermath of several disastrous landslides with multiple fatalities in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Government took the policy decision in 1977 to establish the Geotechnical Engineering Office (GEO). In striving to achieve its mission of saving lives, the GEO has made notable advances in the understanding of the mechanisms of initiation and propagation of landslides, masterminded the implementation of a systems approach to manage landslide risk, championed the development of novel methodologies for landslide risk assessment, and pioneered new approaches for landslide prevention and mitigation. The application of innovation and technology is central to GEO’s vision and culture, which has played a pivotal role in landslide risk management.
In light of the similar topographical, geological and climatic conditions between Hong Kong and Malaysia, the two places have much to learn from each other in terms of well-winnowed experiences, hard-earned lessons and geotechnical know-how. In this lecture, the speaker will share some insights from his experience in combating landslide disasters, together with the secrets of success and ongoing formidable challenges in Hong Kong