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Dr Gay Jane P. Perez, Deputy Director-General for Space Science and Technology at the Philippine Space Agency addresses the country’s growing vulnerability to climate change using space data collected by the agency’s sovereign satellites, curated satellite data sources, ground stations, and high-performance computing systems. She added that data is readily accessible, and the technical capacity to house this data exists, but the issue lies in translating this data into useful insights.
To realise the economic value, we must maximise what we can get from space data, such as maps, forecasts, and advisories that serve as an impetus to actionable insights that benefit our end-users, such as our fishermen or farmers.
– Dr Gay Jane P. Perez, Deputy Director-General, Space Science and Technology, Philippine Space Agency
An important part of space data mobilisation is a needs assessment, which is being done right now through the 2021–2030 Decadal Survey. This survey has brought together scientists and people from the public and private sectors in the country to identify the most important challenges and goals in Earth observation and other satellite applications for the next ten years.
The results of the Decadal Survey will be used to figure out what the most important and urgent problems in the country are and what the most important and urgent space missions should be. The survey focuses on six categories, including :
- Hydrologic Cycles and Climate Studies
- Weather, Air Quality, and Atmospheric Processes
- Earth Surface and Interior: Dynamics and Processes
- Hazards and Disaster Risk, Reduction, and Management
- Aquatic Ecosystems and Water Resources Management
- Terrestrial Ecosystems and Land Resources Management
Furthermore, PhilSa produces programmes that directly improve the capability to utilise Earth Observation data by analysing the requirements and existing capabilities.
ISKUELA, or Inclusive SSTA Know-how Utilisation, Exchange, and Localisation Activities is one of the activities that PhilSA has implemented to utilise and cascade EO data. ISKUELA is comprised of numerous initiatives and activities designed to educate and strengthen the capacity of partners from academia, industry, media, communities, and the public sector on how to use space data for their purposes.
The Space Information Infrastructure Capacity Building and Training Programme is one of these projects, with the goal of increasing awareness and understanding of space information infrastructures and their applications through webinars, short courses or even resource person support. The project has successfully held two webinars, with students, researchers, and representatives from various local government units participating.
PhilSA also hosts maps derived from space data via the Space Data Dashboard, which was developed collaboratively by PhilSA, DOST-ASTI, and the STAMINA4Space Programme. The dashboard includes publicly available satellite data maps of ship traffic, air quality, water quality, and night lights.
The agency hosts an annual Space Data Dashboard Media Workshop to help the public understand these open maps. Journalists are taught to navigate and produce articles using space data. PhilSA hopes to expand the workshop to include training for campus journalists.
It has been realised that there are still gaps in how space data is used to act on climate change. One way to close this gap is to improve how space science is taught and communicated. It is also important to reach out to a wide range of people and groups to show how using information from space to deal with uncertainties in the environment can be helpful.
The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) of the Philippines is now hiring more researchers, scientists, and engineers to assist the government and industry in making and implementing more science-based decisions and policies.
COVID-19 established the need for Science and Technology (S&T) Fellows, but the Philippines had been using science, technology, and innovation as decision-making inputs prior to the global health epidemic, according to Rowena Cristina L. Guevara, Undersecretary, DOST.
Recognising the potential threats humanity may face in the next years, the DOST deemed it vital to implement strategic measures that would ensure a stable and sustainable supply of Filipino researchers, scientists, and engineers. Guevara indicated that the DOST research and development (R&D) section will be manned by master’s and doctoral degree holders on a five-year contract in the context of the DOST S&T Fellows programme.
It has been over a year since the concept of increasing DOST agencies’ workforces with MS and PhD graduates from various S&T specialisations became a reality. To commemorate this momentous occasion, DOST hosted its first S&T Fellows Convention. DOST cited that it is in the hearts of Filipino scientists to share their knowledge and experience with the country, regardless of the money offered.
In the meantime, this initiative is not new in nations that strive to be leaders in technological growth and advancement overall. Around 51,000 students are receiving financial assistance from the DOST through the Science Education Institute (SEI), which administers all scholarship programmes at the undergraduate and graduate levels. In the meantime, the department of science has 4,308 students enrolled in graduate programmes and 1,550 students working on their PhD.
In its hunt for outstanding individuals with backgrounds in science and technology from all over the world, the DOST is seeking to find academics like these. There is now a total of 32 S&T Fellows whose services are being utilised by various departments and agencies within the DOST. In general, the S&T fellows programme offers researchers, scientists, and engineers the chance to participate in important work within the country while also receiving income that is on par with other similar programmes.
There is more to the work that the S&T Fellows conduct than simply the results and outcomes of research and development. They put in a lot of hours working in laboratories, coming up with ideas for road plans, analysing materials, and conducting experiments; the results of their effort will be beneficial to hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Filipinos. Furthermore, the National Academy of Science and Technology of the Philippines (NAST PHL) recently held the Grand Launching of PAGTANAW 2050.
DOST is optimistic about the institutionalisation of PAGTANAW 2050, as it is a long-term policy instrument that requires regular review and updating to remain relevant to the times. Aside from its review, there is also a need to continuously fund the initiative, which extends beyond term limits and administrative appointments.
The initiative is a significant step toward designing and implementing integrated yet time-specific strategies for a prosperous, inclusive, and agile Philippine future in which the shared vision of the Philippines as a Prosperous, Archipelagic, and Maritime Nation can only be realised by diplomatically asserting rights over marine resources.
The foresight will provide clearer direction on developing enabling mechanisms to further accelerate scientific growth and innovation that will serve the nation’s interests and benefit the Filipino people.
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU, Singapore) climate scientists have extended the known record of Singapore’s sea level to almost 10,000 years ago, giving a more solid dataset to improve future sea-level rise projections.
This more refined sea-level record also has wider implications. For instance, it would lead to more robust and accurate local projection of sea-level rise, offering a strategic guide for Singapore as it moves to adapt to climate change.
– Dr Stephen Chua, Lead Author
Stephen added by dating the Singapore sea-level record to 10,000 years ago, they retrieved crucial new information from the early Holocene period. This is a time of rapid sea-level rise that has remained poorly understood – until now. Furthermore, reconstructing its history over thousands of years is one of the most difficult aspects of studying climate change. To have a better understanding of the possible causes and repercussions of future developments, scientists must study and comprehend the past.
An international team led by NTU researchers extracted ancient sediments from up to 40 m underground at a site in Singapore’s Marina South. The samples were then subjected to rigorous laboratory methods such as identifying microfossils like foraminifera and statistical analysis to reconstruct Singapore’s sea-level history.
The longer the sea-level record goes back in time, the clearer the picture becomes for future predictions, according to climate scientists. The Holocene transition (10,000-7,000 years ago) was the last major episode of natural global warming in Earth’s history, with melting ice sheets and rising oceans resulting in a 20-meter rise in sea level. Before the recent increase in the twentieth century due to climate change, the sea level in Singapore has been constant for the last 3,000 years.
Researchers believed that this is the type of crucial information needed to effectively plan adaptation measures in the face of ongoing sea-level rise due to global warming. The team chose the Marina South investigations. Sediment extraction from an ‘ideal’ site with deposits like marine mud and mangrove peats was required to create an accurate ancient sea-level record.
Sea-level rise is a potentially disastrous outcome of climate change, as rising temperatures melt ice sheets and warm ocean waters. Scenarios of future rise are dependent upon understanding the response of sea level to climate changes. Accurate estimates of past sea-level variability in Singapore provide a context for such projections.
– Professor Benjamin Horton, Co-author & Director, Earth Observatory of Singapore
Singapore’s coastal defence plan against rising sea levels will benefit from the findings. The study also discovered the first clear evidence that mangroves only existed for roughly 300 years in the Marina South area before succumbing to flooding caused by rising sea levels at the time.
Researchers discovered abundant mangrove pollen at a depth of 20 metres below contemporary sea level, indicating that a mangrove shoreline existed in southern Singapore nearly 10,000 years ago. According to the findings of the NTU, sea-level rise during that time was as much as 10 – 15 mm per year, which likely contributed to the extinction of the mangrove.
The findings are useful for present and future adaptation strategies in Singapore, as the island nation seeks to move beyond engineering solutions and use natural approaches to protect its shoreline.
Despite their adaptability and usefulness as coastal defence, mangroves have limitations in the event of a fast sea-level rise, according to the study. This research backs up a previous study co-authored by NTU that found mangroves will perish if sea levels rise faster than 7 mm per year under a high carbon emissions scenario.
The sea-level change was modelled without deglaciation, meltwater discharge, and other considerations. This important systematic contribution from Singapore and the vicinity spans the post-glacial Holocene period, allowing a broad sea-level change pattern to be formed.
The Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS) will lead the collaboration between the Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore) and Singapore Land Authority (SLA) in using Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) data for scientific studies.
The EOS, as the NTU Singapore Research Centre of Excellence, provides researchers with access to GNSS data collected by SLA’s Singapore Satellite Positioning Reference Network (SiReNT), as well as to its archived historical data.
Leveraging NTU’s strengths in areas such as sustainability and earth sciences, this collaboration also provides us with valuable data to contextualise more accurate projections to augment Singapore’s climate change response.
– Associate Professor Emma Hill, Acting Chair, Asian School of the Environment and Principal Investigator, Earth Observatory of Singapore
Hill ackownledged that Singapore’s GNSS data from the past is very important for understanding how the land and coast have changed over time. Using precise positioning technology like SLA’s SiReNT can help with more than just positioning and mapping. It can also open a lot of new ways to deal with the increasingly complicated problems caused by climate and environmental changes.
With the combined knowledge of SLA and EOS, they want to use the rich historical data to co-create solutions for a new era of predicting and preparing for coastal and land changes to help Singapore deal with and lessen the effects of climate change.
The collaboration between NTU and SLA supports the university’s NTU 2025 strategic plan, which aspires to address humanity’s great issues on sustainability and speed the translation of academic discoveries into solutions that lessen the human effect on the environment.
Together with EOS’s development of new coastal GNSS reference stations in Singapore, this will enable research into more accurate methods of measuring land height and sea-level changes around the country, as well as the effect of the atmosphere on the weather and climate on the island nation.
GNSS refers to various satellite navigation systems, including the well-known Global Positioning System (GPS), which can be used by systems such as SLA’s SiReNT to produce precise positioning data with a 3 cm accuracy.
The NTU-SLA agreement will establish four-year cooperation that will contribute to the Centre for Climate Research Singapore’s National Sea Level Programme (NSLP), which is supported by the National Research Foundation and the National Environment Agency.
Furthermore, during the duration of the collaboration, EOS will analyse previous GNSS data provided by SLA in order to determine how certain places’ land height has changed. This would increase the accuracy of elevation measurements generated from Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR), the technique currently employed by NTU to map ground deformation over Singapore and other cities in the region.
In Singapore, EOS and SLA will deploy up to four additional coastal GNSS stations for data gathering to develop innovative approaches for monitoring both land height and sea-level changes. Additionally, they will be incorporated into the SiReNT infrastructure and services to maximise resource utilisation. Also, the existing SiReNT station data will be incorporated to assist this goal.
Simultaneously, EOS will study unique ways to use data from existing GNSS, such as investigating the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere. By characterising the atmospheric processes that impact Singapore at different timeframes, scientists may determine where and when localised weather systems are likely to cause heavy precipitation.
EOS researchers will also attempt to employ GNSS data in regional meteorological studies. By comparing and analysing GNSS and meteorological data in detail, the scientists hope to gain a deeper understanding of precipitation and extreme weather events.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has issued a draft National Data Governance Framework to mobilise citizen non-personal data for use by public and private entities in a bid to improve services.
The draft policy proposes launching a non-personal data-based India datasets programme. It also addresses the methods and rules to ensure that non-personal and anonymised data from both the government and private entities are safely accessible by the research and innovation ecosystem.
The Minister of State (MoS) for Electronics and Information Technology, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, stated that the National Data Governance Framework will appeal to artificial intelligence (AI) startups, AI research entities, and government departments. He called it an important piece of policy framework that will help the country achieve its target to be a US$1 trillion digital economy. The policy will apply to all government departments and entities. Its rules and standards will be applicable to all data collected and managed by any government entity.
The framework will also accelerate the digitisation of government operations. Currently, digital government data is stored, managed, and accessed in differing and unpredictable ways across different government entities, weakening the efficacy of data-driven governance and preventing an innovative and seamless ecosystem of data science, analytics, and AI. According to the draft, the power of data must be harnessed for more effective digital governance and innovation.
State governments will be encouraged to adopt the provisions of the policy and rules, standards, and protocols where appropriate. The framework also proposes establishing an India Data Management Office (IDMO) under MeitY’s Digital India Corporation, which will develop rules and guidelines. It will be responsible for farming, managing, and periodically reviewing and revising the policy. The draft published on MeitY’s website is open to comments by stakeholders. The last date to submit comments is 11 June.
The rise of data and digital technologies are rapidly transforming economies and societies, with significant implications for governments’ daily operations. The Indian government has said it believes in transparent and accessible public systems that rely on technology-based infrastructure and data-driven decision-making. Recently, the country’s policy commission, the National Institution of Transforming India (NITI Aayog), launched the National Data and Analytics Platform (NDAP). It aims to democratise access to public government data by making information interoperable, interactive, and available on a user-friendly platform.
As OpenGov Asia reported, NDAP hosts foundational datasets from various government agencies and provides tools for analytics and visualisation. All datasets on the platform can be downloaded and merged freely.
NDAP follows a use-case-based approach to ensure that the datasets hosted on the platform are tailored to the needs of data users from government, academia, journalism, civil society, and the private sector. All datasets are standardised to a common schema, which makes it easy to merge datasets. A key feature of NDAP is that it makes foundational datasets interoperable with each other, enabling easy cross-sectoral analysis. The platform has datasets from sectors like agriculture, power and natural resources, transport, housing, finance, health, tourism, science and technology, communications, and industries.
The increased level of security is because the linkage techniques operate on encrypted data, which means there is no requirement for the release of information that could potentially identify an individual.
Under a new Memorandum of Understanding, the Curtin Centre for Data Linkage will work with the Department of Health to link GP, hospital, pathology and non-health data records with analytical tools to support the individual-centred research and service evaluation necessary to improve health outcomes at both a state and national level.
Professor Gavin Pereira, from the Curtin Health Research and Data Analytics Hub at Curtin University, said the new privacy-preserving record linkage methods had the potential to provide new individual-level data for research discovery and to inform government services, policies and programmes. It will now be possible to study a person’s interactions with the health system and overlay big data analytics with the ultimate aim of new research discoveries.
The linkage of big data has traditionally relied on matching personally identifiable information. Although this improves the ability to investigate individual health outcomes and provide personalised health care, there remain concerns pertaining to privacy as the matching requires the exchange of identifiable information.
The professor added that the COVID-19 pandemic increased awareness that health cannot be solely attributable to clinical care. Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing. It is not just about genetics, diet and exercise. “Each life activity is a transaction that generates new data, which brings both new opportunities to gain a more holistic understanding of health as well as challenges to overcome.”
The Curtin Centre for Data Linkage has developed a means to connect data across general practices, hospitals, registries, and government departments and yet also preserve privacy. The Department of Health’s Director of Data and Information Systems said WA had a long history of data linkage activities for medical research and health service planning. A collaborative effort by the department, Curtin University, The University of WA and Telethon Kids Institute led to the establishment of the internationally recognised WA Data Linkage System (WADLS).
Professor Pereira noted that the WADLS platform is housed and managed by the Department of Health. The infrastructure has contributed to several improvements to health policy and care in WA and has also supported hundreds of research projects.
The government recognises and supports the significant value of linked data for purposes that extend well beyond the historic usage in medical research. This has been reflected in significant investments in data skills and functions, enabling legislation, and partnerships with universities and industry.
Supporting the use of data linkage services in WA has led to better decision-making and high-quality healthcare throughout the state, which has been showcased through the State’s COVID-19 pandemic response.
Further, the collaboration provided an opportunity for the Department of Health to effectively leverage upon data skills and expertise available within Curtin University to support digital innovation and business transformation throughout the WA health system, using customer focus processes and emerging technologies in direct alignment with strategic priorities of the Digital Strategy for the Western Australian Government 2021-2025 and Sustainable Health Review 2019.
Using privacy-preserving record linkage models, in collaboration with Curtin University’s Centre for Data Linkage, provides a safe and effective approach to integrating data from different sources, consistent with the Australian Privacy Principles and the Department of Health’s strong commitment to ensuring information is appropriately protected from misuse or inappropriate disclosure.
RMIT and the largest industrial manufacturing company in Europe announced a new Digital Energy TestLab that aims to enable students and researchers to simulate intelligent electrical systems for smart cities in a Victorian first.
Harnessing the power of data analytics, Internet of Things (IoT), simulation and the same hardware and software used by new generation national networks, the future energy workforce can evaluate and model real-world scenarios and optimise energy systems for smart cities, including national and local energy grids.
It builds on a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) RMIT, the German industrial manufacturing company and another German multinational industrial control and automation company signed in 2021 to drive industry and workforce transformation.
The Deputy Vice-Chancellor of RMIT’s STEM College and Vice President of Digital Innovation welcomed the latest strategic initiative, saying it opened new education and research pathways to one of the nation’s most critical topics – the future of energy for smarter and more sustainable cities.
He noted that energy impacts every industry and every home in Australia. The region’s cities need smarter energy grids and systems that support our sustainable development agenda. He added that with a growing mix of energy types coming into the market, the focus is on developing new technological solutions and new workforces to help progress the region’s economy through Industry 4.0 towards a more sustainable future.
By working in interdisciplinary teams engaged with industry, RMIT’s students and researchers are gaining valuable soft skills in teamwork, systems thinking and problem-solving, while using the latest in digital technology that will set them up for life and work.
The Digital Energy TestLab features two modelling options for students: the national grid simulation that mimics complex energy scenarios using the Australian Energy Market Operator’s (AEMO’s) data and a microgrid system that mimics more complex energy flows from multiple traditional and renewable sources of diverse sizes.
It is the latest addition in a network of TestLabs with universities across Australia, designed to build capability across a range of critical areas from energy and agribusiness to advanced manufacturing.
The Chairman and CEO of the Australian branch of the partnering company stated that Australia’s progress towards net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 hinged on using innovative technologies and people who could harness them to deliver innovative solutions.
He said he was proud to continue to work with RMIT and other Australian key educators to help drive better outcomes for the nation on critical topics such as digitalisation and energy.
He added that through the contribution of the tech firm’s technology in the TestLab, students will now have firsthand experience working on data that can help maintain grid stability in the event of situations such as natural disasters and outages.
Students also can understand the dynamics and impact of various generation sources such as wind and solar power, storage, electric vehicle charging and other infrastructure.
The CEO of Engineers Australia stated that “engineering was at the heart of solving society’s greatest challenges, including the future of energy.” She added that now Australian engineers will have access to the best tools and, therefore, will be able to develop the real-world skills necessary to guide the region through the journey to a more dependable, cost-effective and environmentally sustainable energy future.