Winemaking contributes over A$ 40 billion to the Australian economy each year. Among the
many challenges being faced by this centuries-old industry are managing pests
and diseases, producing a consistent crop and using water efficiently.
Dr Sigfredo Fuentes is a plant physiologist
and agronomist at the University of Melbourne. He explained how they are able
to make use of cutting-edge technology to keep wine racks stocked with
Drones improve the irrigation management of
wineries by taking detailed pictures as they fly overhead. Multi-spectral and
thermal infrared cameras that are mounted on drones can pick up signs on the
vines that indicate their water status.
The machine-learning model to assess stress
was developed using ten vegetation indices as inputs and is able to classify
the plants into three levels of stress: absent, moderate or severe. With an 83%
accuracy, the winemakers are able to use water and fertiliser supplies more
Moreover, drones can also provide
information on which parts of the vineyard are hit by disease or pests, as well
as what plants have died and need replacing. This proves how technology allows
a 45-hectare land to be surveyed in 15 minutes and have the data ready a day
Machine learning algorithm has aided in
grapevine cultivar classification, assisting on telling grape varieties apart.
It can also give information about water stress and fertiliser status.
Dr Fuentes explained that their machine
learning model uses 13 morpho-colorimetric parameters, which are shape and colour
measurements, as inputs and predicts the cultivar with a very high accuracy of
94%, and water stress with an accuracy of 88%.
The algorithm can also be a part of a
computer application, which can be downloaded to a smartphone or tablet PC.
Grapes that have been in close proximity to
a bushfire can produce smoke-tainted wine, which has a distinct, unpleasant
smoky and leathery taste. But using the naked eye alone, to determine which
grapes have been contaminated, proved to be difficult as they look the same as
the uncontaminated ones.
Drones have aided the team of Dr Fuentes in
addressing the issue. They have developed a way to use thermal infrared imagery
to measure the pattern of temperatures in the canopies of the vines.
Thermographs are images in which every pixel is a measure of temperature rather
Dr Fuentes discussed that smoke
contamination disrupts the vines’ temperature, so measuring this thermal
pattern and analysing it through machine learning models allows them to
determine which plants have actually been affected by a bushfire.
Their algorithm is able to provide an
accurate map of what areas of the vineyard have been affected by smoke, thereby
providing growers what they needed to make informed decisions when harvesting
their grapes to avoid contamination.
In order to determine whether a grape is
ready to become quality wine, its sugar content should be assessed. More
important to assess though is the production of flavour and aromas, which
according to research is related to the pattern of cell death in grapes.
He explained that a percentage of the fruit
must be dead in order to produce the different aromas and flavours for
winemaking. To achieve this, they made use of a handheld device that uses near-infrared
wavelengths to measure the level of grapes and the patterns of cell death, made
possible by machine learning algorithm. This allows winemakers to see in real
time which grapes are ready for picking.
Estimating yield early in the season is
particularly important to help winemakers plan logistics including allocation
of resources, like water and fertiliser, how many staff to hire for the season,
and how many barrels to have ready, among others.
Dr Fuentes shared that big data and machine
learning are used to predict seasonal yield faster with an accuracy of around
80 – 90%. They take the historic data of a specific vineyard such as soil data,
management data, meteorological information and actual yields per season.
They would then plug the data into their
machine learning models to predict the yield from the coming season, from early
stages of growth thereby aiding winemakers plan for that season much more
Indonesia’s Ministry of Industry believes digital technology, such as cloud computing and the Internet of Things (IoT) is it is critical to boosting the productivity of the manufacturing sector, including small and medium industries (IKM) during the pandemic and the new normal thereafter. Such tech deployment would be in accordance with the Making Indonesia 4.0 roadmap.
Director-General of Small, Medium and Miscellaneous Industries (IKMA) of the Ministry of Industry, Gati Wibawaningsih in Jakarta acknowledged that the pandemic had become a global issue for business, especially with the necessary social restrictions. Implementation of distancing normas has caused a shift in lifestyle, work models and business methodology.
In order to reduce the impact of the pandemic, the Ministry of Industry is looking at ways to maintain the activities of domestic business actors by utilising Cloud Computing and IoT based technology platforms. According to Gati, the development of digital technology has led to the creation of many breakthroughs for the manufacturing industry.
The advantages of these two technologies are considered useful in maintaining the business continuity of the IKM sector. Gati conceded that such technology would have a big impact on the SME sector business, especially during this pandemic.
The benefits of using cloud computing range from digital security to network, data centres and capable servers. Additionally, the use of IoT systems will easily interconnect technology, information and communication.
To accelerate the adoption of digital technology in the industrial sector, Gati urged cloud computing and IoT technology providers to support the production process more. This collaboration would be essential to form a solution ecosystem that would bridge the needs of industry and society.
Sutedjo Tjahjadi, Managing Director a cloud business, said the technology makes work very practical and does not need to use large infrastructure; cloud computing can also minimise company expenses. In a digital era, computers are increasingly touching all of our lives, especially during this pandemic and moving online is a critical strategy that must be carried out continuously in future as well.
In line with these trends, the Ministry of Industry launched the Startup4Industry program that would bridge the needs of industry with startup players as technology providers. This program was launched by the Minister of Industry, Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita under the umbrella of Indonesia Is Confident With Domestic Technology.
The Startup4 Industry program Directorate-General of IKMA of the Ministry of Industry, Endang Suwartini, said that the development of immersive technology needs the government’s attention because it is proven to be able to create new jobs and make the industry more efficient. For example, using Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality (AR / VR) during this pandemic has increased, initially being used for gaming has been effectively deployed for industry, education, training and tourism.
“The growing development of the AR/VR industry will encourage the electronics industry in Indonesia to start developing research and development for hardware development,” said Endang.
The Chair of the Indonesian AR/VR Association (INVRA), Andes Rizky, agreed this was the time for the Indonesian AR/VR industry to take grow and develop exponentially. Immersive technology as a new business field is recognised by the government through the publication of the 2020 Indonesian Standard Business Classification (KBLI) giving it formal legitimacy and a regulatory framework.
OpenGov Asia recently reported on the accelerated digital transformation of Indonesia’s Industry 4.0. The increased pace is being driven by efforts to increase productivity, efficiency and safety to adapt to the new normal brought about by the pandemic.
The International Science Survey 2019-2020 examined the attitudes of Malaysians towards robots and automation in the workplace, artificial intelligence (AI), and involved 20 countries.
In the survey results released in September, the 1,650 Malaysians polled had mixed views towards the use of robots for workplace automation. About 51% regarded this as bad for society while 45% said it has been good; only 3% felt it has been both good and bad for society.
The Malaysian respondents, who were polled via phone between October to November 2019 in Bahasa Melayu, Mandarin, and English, responded to the question of whether they felt using robots to automate many jobs humans have done in the past is mostly a good or bad thing for society on the whole, after considering all the advantages and disadvantages.
Similarly, when asked about the development of AI or computer systems designed to imitate human behaviours, Malaysians had mixed views. About 53%said it has mostly been good for society, while 44% indicated that it has mostly been bad for society. Only 3% said it has been both good and bad for society, and 1% declined to answer or gave other answers.
Malaysians were much significantly keener on space. When asked about the government’s space exploration programme at the National Space Agency (Angkasa), 83% of the 1,650 Malaysians polled said it has been good for society, while 14% said it has been bad for society.
How do other Asian countries view robots and AI?
In the same survey, most of Malaysia’s peers in the Asia-Pacific region displayed a more positive attitude towards the use of robots at the workplace to replace human labour, with comparatively more saying it was a good thing for society in Japan (68%), Taiwan and South Korea’s respondents both at 62%, Singapore (61%).
In India, 47% of respondents said it was good while 27% it was bad, with Australia displaying a mixed view with 47% saying it was bad and 44% saying it was good.
As for the development of AI, about two-thirds or more in most of the Asia-Pacific countries viewed it as a good thing, including 72% of Singapore’s respondents, South Korea (69%), India (67%), Taiwan (66%), Japan (65%), while Australia recorded 49% saying it was good and 39% saying it was bad.
The Pew Research Center referred to its own 2018 survey on the view in 10 developing and developed countries towards job automation by robots and computers to replace the work done by humans currently, with a majority of the respondents thinking that it is likely that people would have a hard time finding jobs and that the inequality or gap between the rich and poor would worsen.
The International Science Survey 2019-2020 of 20 countries generally found that men in most countries were more positive about both robots and AI but the difference between genders was not statistically significant in Malaysia.
When examined according to the gender of the respondents in Malaysia, 50% of women and 55% of men found AI to be a good thing for society, while 43% of women and 48% of men found robots at the workplace to be good. The Center noted that age was not a factor in the respondents’ views in most countries surveyed on the topic of automation.
On the topic of AI, however, 10 of the countries surveyed showed that younger adults (or those younger than the median age of the pool of respondents) are more likely than older adults to say the development of AI has been good. The pollster noted that in Malaysia, the pattern is reversed, with older adults seeing AI more positively than younger adults (57% vs. 49%, respectively).
Education does play a significant role in the views of Malaysian respondents, with 52% of those with less education and 59% of those with more education or who studied beyond secondary school saying AI has been good for society. Correspondingly, for the use of robots to automate jobs, significant differences were found in views based on education levels of Malaysian respondents, with 44% of those with less education and 53% of those with more education viewing automation positively.
On workplace automation, taking more science courses in post-secondary studies also makes a difference for Malaysian respondents, with 49% of those who took zero to two science courses and 61% of those who took three or more science courses saying that using robots to automate human jobs is a good thing.
Vietnam has seen a rapid blossoming of its city areas with the urbanisation rate shooting up from 19.6% in 2009 (629 urban areas) to about 39.25 by the beginning of 2020 (835 urban areas in December 2019).
The Vietnam government is paying close attention to developing smart cities. Many agreements have been signed between Vietnam and important partners such as countries and organisations that have successfully developed smart cities, including the Netherlands, South Korea and India. Most recently, an agreement was signed to develop the ASEAN smart urban network.
Domestically, several state-owned entities have forayed into this sector. In fact, by the first quarter of this year, an additional 35 central cities and provinces had signed strategic cooperation agreements with telecom groups on building smart cities. Military telco Viettel has signed cooperation agreements with 24 localities while the Vietnam Post and Telecommunication Group (VNPT) have gone ahead with agreements with another 20 localities.
After Vietnam joined ASCN (ASEAN Smart Cities Network) in two years ago, the Vietnam Smart City Development Project (2018-2025) was released with a vision until 2030. The project has three priority areas – programming smart cities, managing smart cities and smart urban utilities.
Minister of Construction, Pham Hong Ha, said Vietnam will implement the tasks and solutions set in the Vietnam Smart City Development project in 2018-2025. These include a legal framework for the development of smart cities as well as management of tools, institutions and mechanisms for cooperation between ministries and branches, between the central and local government, to ensure smart cities throughout the country and avoid waste in using resources.
Using a linked database, many cities in Vietnam had initial success in providing smart utilities in the fields of education, healthcare, transportation, construction environment. Step-by-step, inclusively, these cities have been optimising urban management, improving the quality of urban residential life and creating opportunities for human development.
Hanoi, for example, is developing a parking system that allows people to find suitable parking places, payment through apps on smartphones and a digital transport map to manage urban traffic.
Driving development towards sustainability, the Bac Ha Noi (Northern Hanoi) Smart City project, covering an area of 272 hectares in Dong Anh district, is expected to improve transport infrastructure, energy, education, healthcare and environment on a digital technology basis,
Meanwhile, HCM City is building a big data infrastructure system, data control centre, security control centre and open data system. It is planning to build smart solutions for healthcare, food safety, education, traffic management and flood control.
Da Nang leads the country in readiness for ICT development and application. Da Nang has been hailed as a leader in applying IT in state agencies. As early as 2018, the Da Nang People’s Committee issued the Overall Architecture of Smart City and Smart City Construction Plan for 2018-2025.
Minister Ha said developing smart cities is in line with international trends, takes full advantage of the achievements of the Industry 4.0 and is in line with the country’s ambitions.
Experts emphasise that lack of reasonable policies will make it difficult for local authorities to seek resources for smart city development, especially capital from the state budget. They believe that Vietnam needs to be cautious when developing smart cities, and not a one-size-fits-all approach.
Nguyen Van Binh, head of the Central Economic Commission, said it is necessary to have an ‘open and creative’ approach when developing smart cities.
Smart cities should be developed with people in the centre, and be based on specific characteristics of each city. Before applying a development model, each city needs to check its resources and advantages and ascertain where and what it needs for each stage to effectively use existing facilities and investment resources.
The Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI) showcased a portfolio of its cutting-edge 5G technologies at the PT EXPO China 2020 in Beijing which was held from 14 to 16 October 2020.
Adopting the theme of “Promote 5G for an Intelligent Future”, ASTRI demonstrated its technologies and innovations that enhance the competitive strength of enterprises in Hong Kong, the Greater Bay Area and around the world. These technologies include:
- 5G O-RAN Solution
- Industrial IoT applications
- 5G OpenUPF
- Ground-breaking Terabit 5G Standalone Core Network
- AR Intelligent Maintenance
- IoT Blockchain
- 5G Smart Mobility solution
The Chief Executive Officer of ASTRI stated that the agency’s technology and innovation must always serve a practical need in society. He noted that the organisation was delighted to have the opportunity to showcase so many of these ground-breaking success stories in one place, allowing them to truly demonstrate how wide-ranging and impactful their work is.
The PT EXPO China 2020 is hosted by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. It is one of Asia’s largest and most influential Information and Communications Technology (ICT) events, exploring the impact of next-generation technologies across a variety of industries, as well as trends in the market. Last year, the event had more than 81,000 attendees and hosted over 400 exhibitors.
The Vice-President, Communications Technologies at ASTRI remarked that the agency’s network solution is fully compliant with 3GPP standard and low-cost. It can realise new application scenarios including private networks, Internet of Vehicles, industrial Internet and mobile phone OS cloudification etc., bringing 5G into the market quickly with valued services.
ASTRI’s 5G O-RAN Solution is an end-to-end 5G network solution, which complies with 3GPP standards and, through its flexibility, low cost and ease of deployment remove a traditional cost barrier to the industry looking to make the most of the 5G network. Our Industrial IoT applications include the development of simultaneous localisation and mapping (SLAM) and robot navigation software running over a 5G network with industrial AGVs.
China Mobile’s 5G OpenUPF (User Plane Function) will enable open and flexible 5G deployment in network edge and drive vertical applications. ASTRI is one of the first members to have joined the OpenUPF initiative.
ASTRI has been working closely with an American multinational corporation and technology company in 5G technology development, including 5G core network, O-RAN development, 5G OpenUPF, and V2X infrastructure technology. They have worked together to optimise software and hardware to enable scalable 5G UPF. They also combined to deliver a ground-breaking performance of more than 1Tbps 5G UPF data throughput earlier in 2020.
Further, ASTRI also collaborated with a Hong-Kong-based technological company to introduce a jointly developed AR Intelligent Maintenance solution, designed to transform field engineers’ operations and maintenance processes. ASTRI has also developed an innovative IoT Blockchain platform that can securely monetise and strategically exploit enormous amounts of IoT data in real-time.
ASTRI and a Chinese multinational technology company also jointly demonstrated a 5G Smart Mobility solution that combines with ultra-low latency C-V2X communication and 5G edge intelligence to improve road safety and traffic efficiency.
The Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI) was founded by the HKSAR Government 20 years ago with the mission of enhancing Hong Kong’s competitiveness in technology-based industries through applied research.
The agency’s core R&D competence in various areas is grouped under five Technology Divisions; Artificial Intelligence and Big Data Analytics; Communications; Cybersecurity, Cryptography and Trusted Technologies; Integrated Circuits and Systems; and IoT and Sensors. It focuses on five areas of application including Smart City; Financial Technologies; Intelligent Manufacturing; Health Technologies; and Application Specific Integrated Circuits.
For decades now, ASTRI has nurtured a pool of research, I&T talents and received numerous international awards for its pioneering innovations as well as outstanding business and community contributions. To date, ASTRI has transferred more than 750 technologies to the industries and owns more than 850 patents in the Mainland, the US and other countries.
As a professor of Sustainable Land Management at Murdoch, Professor Richard Bell is fifteen years into a research journey that’s transforming agriculture in Bangladesh. The results are changing the lives of farmers, entrepreneurs and their families across the country.
He noted that there are lots of examples of international scientists going to developing countries with bright ideas, which is all very well. “But you’ve got to sit and talk to the local people and get their ideas to develop technology that gets used,” he commented.
Alongside a network of local academics, entrepreneurs and farmers, Professor Bell developed a new system of cropping for small farms and invented the small-scale machinery to make it possible. The team mechanized a system of planting where less than 25% of the soil is disturbed to place seed and fertiliser and keep the remnants of the previous crop in the field as a cover of the soil. It’s a type of agriculture called ‘conservation agriculture’, Professor Bell explained. The technology will help farmers in Bangladesh and, hopefully, other developing nations efficiently sow seed.
This type of cropping has spread to over 170 million hectares worldwide, but 85% of that is in five countries; Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada and the United States. Each of these countries has big farms and big machines, making the system easy to implement.
It has been a very profitable technique for the farming industries in these places due to the time and fuel saved, and it has reduced soil erosion. As compared to conventional farming, where you need to plough the soil two to three times and then seed, conservation agriculture requires a single operation for the sowing of seed.
However, the trouble is that this technique hasn’t spread in small farms as it’s not possible to get four-wheel tractors into these areas and big machinery isn’t accessible. Thus, the team is pioneering the system for Bangladesh, where the field sizes are much smaller.
Identifying the opportunity
The Professor first got involved in Bangladesh in 2005 trying to promote pulses – chickpeas and lentils – which are important parts of the national diet. Pulses seemed to be difficult to grow and were disappearing from the farming systems when the team arrived. When irrigation became available, farmers switched over to growing more rice and wheat and the legumes were squeezed out.
So, the team started this project to promote the growth of pulses and realised one of the constraints was that straight after rice harvest, the soil was wet, but dried rapidly. One must plant lentils and chickpeas very quickly after harvest to grow a decent crop without irrigation.
Getting those pulse crops to grow depending on the speed with which farmers could sow the seeds, but the traditional methods with bullock and plough were too slow. So, the research team began developing small machinery that could be used to plant crops very quickly.
The team collaborated with a retired farmer from New South Wales to design these lightweight, simple and relatively easy to manufacture machines that would help the locals sow their crops faster. This design was refined over time with a colleague in Bangladesh, based on feedback from user trials. And that’s been the key – with this project and any other – the technology has to be accepted by the users.
The research team now partners with a small business in Bangladesh to make and sell these seeding machines locally.
Scaling the technology
One of the most common pieces of farming machinery in Bangladesh is the small two-wheel tractor. These are mainly operated by small business people, who use them to provide ploughing, transport, pumping and other services for farmers.
There are 700,000 of these two-wheel tractors in Bangladesh and the team is working to convince as many service providers as possible to offer a seeding service using the technology, the team developed which allows for conservation agriculture. The technology can be easily integrated into farmers’ seeding routines and will propel local farmers into the next generation of farming.
The team has delivered over 3000 on-farm demonstrations to prove the seeding machinery technology they developed works and also provides a range of incentives to locals who buy the machines. One of those incentives includes underwriting a free season of seeding for the farming customers of local service providers, to encourage take-up of conservation agriculture.
Their modelling shows that operators can buy the seeding machines and pay them off in two years, which makes it a viable and attractive opportunity for local service providers to add to their offering. On this basis, the research team has engaged banks to encourage them to provide finance to local service providers and established a farmer network of nearly 10,000 farmers to promote conservation agriculture. Eventually, the team of collaborators will step aside and let the system run itself.
Suffering from dry, itching hands due to daily multiple washes times with chemical disinfectants and soap as protection against contact infection of COVID 19 may well be over. New-age sustainable disinfectants and sanitisers may soon bring relief from chemical ones with their side effects. A number of Indian start-ups are now armed with a range of sustainable alternatives to conventional chemical-based decontaminants that can disinfect surfaces and even microcavities.
The structures and processes which made these extraordinary achievements possible are being incorporated in the upcoming Science, Technology and Innovation Policy 2020, confirmed Prof. Ashutosh Sharma, DST Secretary. They include technologies for disinfection of the biomedical waste generated at hospitals and the use of novel nanomaterials and chemical process innovations for long-lasting and safe sterilisation of the recurrent use surfaces.
Safe disinfection and sanitisation technologies have come from 10 companies supported by the Centre for Augmenting WAR with COVID-19 Health Crisis (CAWACH), an initiative by the National Science & Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board (NSTEDB), Department of Science and Technology (DST) implemented by Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SINE), IIT Bombay.
A Mumbai based start-up, with expertise in treating complex polluted water and wastewater, modified their technology to design and develop a system, VAJRA, for space and equipment disinfection to fight COVID 19 contamination. The VAJRA KE Series incorporates a disinfection system consisting of a multistage disinfection process by incorporating electrostatic discharge that generates ozone and the powerful sterilising effects of UVC light spectrum. Advanced oxidation, electrostatic discharge and UVC light spectrum are deployed to inactivate the viruses, bacteria, and other microbial strains present on the PPE. This saves costs by making the PPE, medical and nonmedical gear reusable.
Coimbatore based purification company offers advanced sterilisation solutions. It is using environmentally-sound micro-cavity plasma technology. This novel technology, where the disinfectant is produced directly from air or oxygen, offers a sustainable alternative to conventional chemical-based decontamination. The Complete Sterilisation by Microplasma Oxidation (COSMO) system can rapidly disinfect Covid-19 infected areas, including quarantine facilities, ambulatory care, and equipment surfaces. This innovative micro-plasma sterilisation system offers compact and scalable modular units which are robust, flexible, and energy-efficient.
The disinfectant is produced on-site, thereby eliminating the transport, storage, and handling of hazardous chemicals. These decontamination systems are 10 times less than the conventional system of equivalent capacity, making it suitable for resource constraint environments. Their advanced sterilisation systems surpass hypochlorite and other traditional disinfectants in its ability to neutralise multi-drug resistant pathogens. The company has already provided customised solutions to hospitals and healthcare settings to sterilise selective critical care areas. They have also taken this innovation to vulnerable communities. Presently their advanced integrated micro-plasma oxidation system for rapid sterilisation has been fully developed and tested rigorously for commercial use.
A mechanical hand sanitising dispenser machine which quantifies the steps of hand sanitisation through touchless, real-time monitoring via dashboard is offered by a Chennai based startup. A bio-solution company from Pune has developed silver nanoparticles based on non-alcoholic liquid sanitiser. Their technology pending for patent also inhibits the RNA replication activity – preventing the spread of the virus and blocks surface glycoproteins – making the virus ineffective.
An instant microwave-based handheld steriliser ATULYA and a microwave-assisted cold sterilisation device OPTIMASER for hazardous biomedical waste disinfection and making linen and PPE reusable is the offering from Lucknow based Maser Technology.
OPTIMASER is microwave-assisted cold sterilisation superior technological advancement over the conventional Autoclave. It allows for disinfection and sterilisation of the PPE Kits and the masks to ensure the 100 reusabilities, ensuring the cost-effectiveness. ATULYA is an Instant Microwave based handheld steriliser which offers the cutting edge over the UV tube-based steriliser, sanitising sprays and all the possible methods of sterilisation & protection.
Incubators like SINE IIT Bombay FIIT, IIT Delhi, SIIC, IIT Kanpur, HTIC, IIT Madras, Venture Centre, Pune, IKP Knowledge Park, Hyderabad, KIIT-TBI, Bhubaneswar provided timely advice on technical progress, guided the startups to follow all necessary guidelines, signing of MoUs, etc.
The COVID-19 Pandemic has dominated 2020 and seems to be poised to take over at least the first half of 2021.
But what have we learnt from the unprecedented health crisis of the past year? Have we gleaned enough to be well prepared for the next pandemic or natural disaster? Have governments and organisations gained adequate insights to be resilient and continue operations during future critical events?
These are some crucial questions that must be answered to know how well prepared you are for the next major critical event. OpenGov Asia delved into these important issues at its recent OpenGovLive! Virtual Insight with delegates from Singapore, Australia, India and Hong Kong.
Keeping with the OpenGov Asia track record, there was 100% attendance from delegates who were fully immersed in the interactive OpenGov Asia experience.
A collective and coordinated effort of different parts of an organisation is key to strengthen resilience
Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief at OpenGov Asia gave an overview of the session with the audience with his opening presentation.
Mohit recounted historically countries across the globe have been overcome different kinds of disasters individually or is clusters but never have they encountered such a situation where the whole world has been hit by a crisis of such magnitude.
This is part of the reason organisations and leaders were stopped dead in their tracks when the pandemic initially hit. There was a lot of panic in the general public as well as top leaders as at the most basic of the necessities seemed endangered at the start.
No one was prepared to run entire businesses with people locked up at home. Business continuity management plans did not take into consideration a critical event od such scope and depth.
The world is at a tipping point and will be quite unstable until there are concrete signs of an effective cure and vaccine. So, organisations must put together all their resources in a coordinated manner with sound planning to keep operations running without compromising the safety of people.
Mohit left the audience with advice to partner with experts in Critical Event Management space rather than trying to come up with a solution on their own.
Being prepared in advance is the secret to successful critical event management
After Mohit laid the foundation, Graeme Orsborn, Vice President – International CEM Business Unit, Everbridge shared his insights on the topic.
Graeme began by very simply explaining the meaning of critical event management. When things that people care about like our friends, family, staff, infrastructure, supply chain and reputation intersect with threats like physical disruption, threats, system failures etc., that leads to a critical event.
All organisations are undergoing a fundamental shift in the way they operate our businesses and the key is to be prepared in advance for the impending danger or critical event.
Graeme went on to acknowledge that while being prepared sounds very simple and easy, implementing it can be quite a challenge for organisations. Currently, the process of managing critical events is largely manual, disjointed and takes significantly longer to work through.
He enumerated the challenges to critical event management as follows:
- Problems in locating who and what is impacted
- The criticality of impact on the assets
- Taking the right action to protect endangered business assets
- Analysing the situation to assess the effectiveness of a plan
After highlighting the problems, Graeme proposed the solution or the correct approach for dealing with critical events. He suggested a four-step strategy:
- Assess the context and severity of the critical event
- Locate and identify stakeholders and assets
- Take action to inform, notify, rally, collaborate and recover
- Analyse own performance and improve
He also shared with the audience the wide range of CEM solutions offered by Everbridge to help organisations mitigate risk and accelerate resolution when events become critical.
Graeme concluded his presentation by sharing Everbridge’s strategy to deal with the most recent critical event, i.e. the COVID-19 pandemic. The three broad parts of this solution included: Know your risk, protect your people, recover and protect your operations.
Make resilience a part of organisational culture to tackle critical events effectively
After Graeme’s presentation, Arunabh Mitra, Chief Continuity Officer, HCL technologies spoke on the topic at hand.
Arunabh opined that as a result of globalisation today, organisations are faced with several interconnected challenges. While on one side, processes like globalisation and industrial revolution are indicators of progress, on the other, risks hovering around them also have a cascading impact on all industries and sectors. He alluded to the fact that our world today is no longer a simple linear structure, rather it’s a system of systems highly interdependent.
He then expounded about the shocks and stresses that disrupt the usual operations and test the resilience of governments and organisations time and again. He shared with the delegates the iceberg model of disruptive events: better preparedness for the events we have better visibility of as we can relate to those events better. However, he conceded that the recovery path for the different events in the iceberg model will vary.
Arunabh moved on the COVID- 19 crisis and how it impacted organisations globally. He reiterated that it was an event unprecedented in scale, complexity and velocity.
He talked about the 3R wave or pattern of organisations’ response to the pandemic::
- Response: This was the initial stage of the hit when organisations were occupied with keeping their people safe and continuing business.
- Return and Reimagine: This stage kept organisations busy with envisioning and implementing what the new workspace will look like
- Reform: This is the stage when organisations are contemplating how to enhance productivity in the hybrid workspace.
Arunabh explained that companies that made people a priority, who had invested in resilience and who had made it a part of their culture, did it better than others.
He concluded his presentation by highlighting that the key to being truly resilient is to embed it in the DNA of every layer of the organisation with certain design principles in place.
After the informative presentations, it was now time for the interactive polling session with the delegates.
On the first question regarding an organisation’s preparedness to respond quickly and decisively to critical events, a majority of the delegates voted that they are well prepared but there is room for improvement (72%).
To this, a deputy director from a media company in Singapore reflected that after dealing with the recent pandemic, they are confident that they are prepared to deal with a future crisis but at the same time there is a lot that they still don’t know and can learn, so cannot be complacent.
On the next question about the department/organisational division responsible for leading the response and preparedness efforts during a critical event, a major chunk of the delegates voted for other than operations, human resource, Information and Technology, or the CEO (47%).
On this issue, a delegate from a public sector organisation shared that they have a separate safety division responsible for coordinating actions and preparedness at the advent of a crisis or a critical event.
On the final question of instant access to critical information needed to evaluate risk and take action during emergency events, 57% of delegates voted that they have established systems to spot events that could endanger company assets.
The president of a major healthcare organisation from India shared that since they are responsible for the lives of not just their employees but also their patients, they have made sure that they have the correct systems in place that inform them of an impending disaster.
After the interesting insights and sessions, Graeme once again addressed the audience to conclude the session.
He felt that it would be interesting to see how culture in organisations will undergo a shift to adapt to the new norm of working. He was also convinced that big data and analytics would play a major role in helping organisations to be more predictive and better prepared for future critical events.
Graeme urged delegates and their organisations to move from having a reactive approach to being proactive in their response to managing critical events and to leverage technology in their efforts.