When I arrived in Hong Kong last September to lead the Kadence office I had a pretty good sense of the city I was about to call home. Growing up on the Canadian prairies I recognised Hong Kong as a global capital, a city spoken of in the same sentences as London, New York and Tokyo.

Being a researcher of course I did my research, maybe too much. I was pleased to learn that Hong Kong has one of the world’s highest restaurant density numbers, one restaurant for every 300 people. I was surprised to learn that 85% of toilets are flushed with seawater which of course means there is an official Hong Kong Toilet Association. I was really excited to learn that the MTR runs at a 99.9% on time rate. To put that in perspective, somebody doing two train journeys a day, every single day of the year is barely likely to experience one single delay. For comparison I lived in London for 10 years where I probably experienced 30-40 delays in a year.

The MTR lead me to learning about the Octopus card of course. Having spent a lot of time in the last few years working on projects related to payment methods and the “death of cash” it was still engaging to learn that the Octopus system is generating nearly 4.5 billion (!) transactions a year (that’s about two per person per day every day of the year if you are wondering).

I can geek out with the best of them when it comes to large scale engineering and construction projects. In that regard I learned all about the Central and Wan Chai Reclamation project powering into its 25th year of work. Of course I am fascinated by the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge project and have been since taking an early morning ferry to Macau last year and feeling very “at sea” at one point when coming out of a fog bank appeared this mighty bridge disappearing into the horizon, all 55km and HK$120 billion of it.

I knew I would be living in a tower block for the first time in my life. Having lived in Montreal, Toronto, Phoenix, Geneva, London and Singapore over the course of my life I had never actually lived higher than the second floor. It was impressive to learn that Hong Kong has 8,000 buildings of 14 floors or more and 1,375 “skyscrapers” (500 feet +), nearly double New York in second place. I read up on the architecture and construction of the most well-known ones (including the HSBC Building and its alleged feng shui cannons defending it from the Bank of China Building).

Of course moving here hasn’t been all about the big numbers. In recent weeks I have found myself poking my head into some of Hong Kong’s many alleyways and photographing them. I notice their stories, or think about what their stories might be. The open back door of a restaurant’s kitchen, a teddy bear missing a leg leaning against a wall, the broken down bicycle and the brand new scooter, the broom that looks decades old being used to sweep up last night’s broken beer bottles and the shop keeper sitting on an over-turned bucket watching K-pop on their mobile.

Those two experiences are in essence what we do at Kadence. We can give you the big numbers, the global data collection, and help you decide which numbers matter and which don’t, be your People Behind the Data. We can also tell you the neighbourhood story and find the right person to tell it. And we can do both in a compelling, clear and sharable way, making our Insight Worth Sharing.

Oh, and I love that dog owners here carry a water bottles with them to wash their dog’s wee off the pavement. I’ve never seen that anywhere I’ve lived or travelled and find it damn pleasant and neighbourly.