Data analytics plays a big role in our move towards building a Smart Nation, allowing organizations and citizens, in both public and private sectors, to make more intelligent decisions that are ultimately aimed at better returns. At Tableau, we term this “being data-informed.”
What does it truly mean to be data-informed, though? Data is no longer just the concern of leaders who are charting the direction of their organization. More importantly, data is no longer just the domain of the business intelligence (BI) professional or “IT guy.” In a high performing organizational culture and smarter community, where data is celebrated and harnessed, analytics should be placed in the hands of essentially everyone. It means that everyone is comfortable with and understands data.
In Singapore, there has been much discussion about the country’s drive to become the world’s first Smart Nation, and leaders are viewing this initiative as one that is citizen-driven. A major part of this initiative is about enabling a skilled workforce that is nimble, creative, and largely fueled by data and technology.
Truly fostering a data-informed, analytical culture within a nation involves the empowerment of data users across the community, making data analytics available to all sorts of users, implementing training, building a culture of data-curious individuals and more. In other words, this is a movement that needs to start from the top, as much as it then needs to be embraced by literally everyone.
Data for everyone
We have seen organizations across all industries, from manufacturing, to the public sector and even consumer goods, benefit from being data-informed. That is to say, the capabilities that are opened up through data analytics can benefit people throughout organizations and across business units. From store managers and sales executives, to pushcart store owners, using data analytics to gain meaningful insights, or sometimes even simplify processes, will help improve organizational productivity.
To stay competitive in a globally connected marketplace, Singapore’s Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) had announced last year that phase two of their data and analytics masterplan includes driving the adoption of analytics across the retail, wholesale, business and government sectors . Take retail for example, front-end store managers will be able to use customer and store data to optimize promotion campaigns or product placements, logistics managers can analyze inventory to optimize inventory allocation, and operations managers can place resources more effectively.
Beyond just business users, from homemakers to students, everyone can benefit from making data-informed decisions.
The key in building a data-informed culture is to place the power of data analytics into the hands of users across professions and age groups, opening them up to discover data on their own. This allows them to gain insights that better their daily work and life.
With this in mind, and as part of the citizen-focused Smart Nation initiative in Singapore, the country’s leaders have taken it upon themselves to develop more technology-driven and open data initiatives to encourage this movement. Data.gov.sg , for instance, is an open data, government-owned portal that provides data sets on a range of subjects, including healthcare, housing, education and beyond. Citizens now have the ability to analyze housing and infrastructure data, giving potential home-owners a data-informed basis to make a home purchasing decision, parents who are looking for a school to send their children to will be able to pull enrolment, passing rates, school funding and transport infrastructure data to decide the best institution to place their children in, and so much more.
Just like the transformation of business cultures and government initiatives, data literacy can indeed be a part of conversations within entire communities. With citizens having access to appropriate data, decisions will be better calculated and will eventually improve the way everyone lives and works. Of course, this will only work if governments set a visible example. Showing how and why data can be used to enhance our daily lives is vital in building a data-informed nation.
People and data skills
A tipping point on whether becoming data-informed becomes a culture or just a passing fad, lies in how data-curious individuals are. As such, leaders need to take this requirement into consideration right from the onset. That is instilling a culture where analytics is one of the key go-to solutions for people when they make decisions or have discussions. For example, deciding a location to have a meal – whether for a client meeting, or dinner with your loved ones. All a person needs is some data from a restaurant review site and an easy-to-use analytics application, and they’re on their way to data-discovery.
Eventually, data skills will become an important aspect of all job descriptions. Businesses are increasingly using analytics in all aspects and it makes logical sense that the staff they bring in are familiar with these tools and concepts. In that reality, organizations will benefit from assessing employees and future hires on these necessary skillsets. More than the technical skills, it will involve people thinking critically and having a positively curious attitude towards data.
Having said that, current and future workers should equip themselves with data literacy as it becomes more and more common. It is no surprise that data courses rank as one of the most common programs available on Skillsfuture.sg , as citizens young and old are looking at bettering themselves with data skills. Taking a step back, this initiative is for people of all ages and professions to gain skills and ultimately drive Singapore’s next phase of development towards an advanced economy, and the necessary Infocomm Technology (ICT) skills to enhance industries is one example.
Moreover, the Singapore government has started pushing ICT skills even further by launching the TechSkills Accelerator , a new skills development and job placement hub. The government-launched hub is teaming up with IT employers and associations to help people acquire new skills and expertise, then find jobs in the growing ICT sector.
Research shows that the ability to make quicker, smarter, and more automated decisions and actions will increasingly become a competitive advantage for communities and economies – and this is something that we can no longer ignore. The key is having that top-down approach where leadership shows the drive and the need to infuse a community with a data-informed culture. To reap the maximum value from data, leadership will need to drive the change by having the right initiatives to develop the right people, and leverage the right technology, to foster data-informed communities.
Data & Analytics, a Key Driver of Competitiveness and Growth, iDA, April 2015
SkillsFuture Credit Course Directory, SkillsFuture, 2016
TechSkills Accelerator Set-Up To Engage ICT Sector, Reach.gov.sg, 24 March 2016
Indonesia has great ambitions for its digital economy and has deployed strategies to achieve its ambitions with a goal to reach USD315 billion by 2030. The 2021-2024 Indonesia Digital Roadmap is set on 4 pillars, namely digital infrastructure, digital government, digital economy and digital society.
As part of its strategy, the government is promoting four important digital skills to accelerate its digital economy. The government believes that the future demand for digital skills will be focused on four areas Artificial Intelligence, Bitcoin, Cloud Computing, and Data Analytics (ABCD). The ABCD skills are projected to help the national economy hit its US$315 billion by 2030 target.
Therefore, the Indonesian government is encouraging young people to start businesses through a variety of free programs such as Beta School, 1,000 Startup Movement, Startup Studio, HUB.ID and IGDX.
“Aside from university disciplines, the ABCD is becoming increasingly important for everyone. I believe that all young people require ABCD,” stated Dedy Permadi, Expert Staff of the Minister of Communication and Informatics, in a discussion forum.
Mastering ABCD technical hard skills apart, Indonesian digital talents are also expected to be proficient in non-technical or soft skills known as the 4C’s, which are Complex Problem Solving, Critical Thinking, Creativity and Communication.
The Director of SDPPI Kominfo, Ismail, expressed his hope that the young generation in Indonesia would capture the golden opportunity for digitalisation. Digitalisation will transform Indonesia from a consumer country to a prominent player in the new normal.
The government recognises the importance of good infrastructure support in boosting the digital economy. As a result, the government is working to ensure an equitable distribution of internet connection networks across Indonesia, particularly in frontier, remote, and underdeveloped (3T) areas.
According to Ismail, the development of ICT infrastructure must meet three criteria: broad coverage, the deployment of a fibre-optic cable network on the backbone, and affordability, which means that the price is reasonable for the community.
Private operators focus on developing infrastructure in high-demand urban areas and, as a result, the digital divide between cities and towns has grown wider. Consequently, the government is beginning to develop 3T telecommunications in rural, underserved areas.
“We cannot rely solely on private-sector investment. To speed up and accelerate digital transformation, the government must invest in infrastructure,” Ismail said emphatically.
The Ministry of Communication and Information Agency and Telecommunications and Information Accessibility (BAKTI) have also worked to improve and expand internet access for public services throughout Indonesia. BAKTI is working with telecommunications companies to build Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) in remote areas of Indonesia.
“We hope to finish building BTS in all remote areas by 2023 and connect them to the 4G network,” Deddy stated.
Indonesia is a vast archipelagic country. So, relying solely on fibre optic cable networks will make it difficult to provide connectivity. As a result, the government is combining the fibre optic cable network constructed with the 150 Gbps SATRIA 1 satellite.
This multifunctional satellite can provide internet access to 150,000 public service locations in Indonesia, including educational institutions, local governments, defence and security administration, and health facilities. This satellite is scheduled to launch in 2023.
The government has begun construction of the first National Data Centre in the Delta Mas Region, GIIC, Cikarang District, Bekasi Regency, West Java Province, in connection with its digital strategy. It will then gradually expand data centres in Nongsa Digital Park in Batam, Riau Archipelago, the new National Capital City (IKN) in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, and Labuan Bajo, East Nusa Tenggara.
The creation of this government data centre is intended to promote efficiency, effectiveness, state data sovereignty, and national data consolidation as part of the One Data Indonesia initiative. “This (data centre) is critical because government data management is critical to developing society’s transformation into a digital society,” Deddy said.
The Indonesian government disclosed four potential uses of Big Data and AI to improve its e-government programmes. These two technologies, they feel, have the potential to support disaster identification and preventive action, prevention of illegal activities and cyber-attacks and increase workforce effectiveness.
The Director General of Informatics Applications, Semuel A. Pangerapan, explained several scenarios for Big Data. According to him, the government can use Big Data to improve critical event management and the quality of the response by identifying problem points through Big Data Analytics. For example, the agencies can be better prepared to prevent and mitigate natural disasters such as drought, epidemics or massive accidents occur.
In addition, Big Data can also enhance the government’s ability to prevent money laundering and fraud through better surveillance to detect such illegal activities.
Furthermore, Big Data significantly reduces the possibility of cyber-attacks. Cyber-attacks can come from external parties, data leaks or internally for a variety of reasons. An analysis of patterns and unusual activities can help in preventing or managing such cyber issues.
Big Data and analytics can contribute to workforce effectiveness by increasing monitoring. In addition, it can be used for policy design, decision-making and gaining insights.
Semuel stressed the importance of data analysis after collecting all data in the right fashion. Data is only valuable if it is collected correctly and then analysed – data will only provide benefits if processed in the right way. “In its implementation, AI helps analyse existing Big Data, providing data understanding or insight to help make decisions,” he explained.
Another advantage of AI is the ability to speed up new implementation services and corrections in real-time. At the evaluation stage, AI can also provide suggestions for adjustments and improvements to subsequent policies.
Currently, the encourages the improvement of the quality of Big Data and AI innovation through the development of e-government. The Indonesian government is also open to third parties to accelerate Big Data and AI use.
E-government has made progress in recent years and received appreciation from the United Nations in 2020. The UN said that Indonesia’s e-government development index rose to rank 88 from previously ranked 107 in 2018. Indonesia’s e-participation index has also increased from rank 92 in 2018 to 57 in 2022.
“The two rankings show an increase in the quality of Indonesia’s e-government and the level of community activity in using e-government services,” said Semuel.
However, the government faced challenges in implementing these two technologies. Overlapping and data replication is one of the main problems. “Regulatory obstacles in the procurement of government Big Data infrastructure also need to be overcome. Then compliance with international standards for the national Big Data ecosystem is also still the government’s homework.”
To optimise AI use, Semuel emphasised the need for a skilled workforce, regulations governing the ethics of using AI, infrastructure, and industrial and public sector adoption of AI innovations.
The government is implementing several solutions to overcome challenges. First, they have provided suitable facilities in the form of National Data Centres (NDCs) in four separate locations. The NDCs will accommodate Government Cloud and contain national data across sectors.
Optimisation of data centre utilisation needs to be supported by staff with qualified expertise. For this reason, the government is holding digital skills training on AI and Big Data through the Digital Talent Scholarship (DTS) and Digital Leadership Academy (DLA) programs.
Apart from facilities and upskilling, Indonesia is looking to develop a business ecosystem that utilises AI and Big Data. Support for this comes from the National Movement of 1000 Digital Startups, Startup Studio Indonesia (SSI) and HUB.ID.
The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) announced a new certification for personal information protection and implementation. The office has decided to implement such certification to enhance its information protection capabilities and to promote the rational processing of personal information.
The certification implementation follows the Personal Information Protection Certification Implementation Rules. The implementation rules clarify that personal information processors must comply with the requirements of GB/T 35273 Information Security Technology Personal Information Security Specifications. The rules outline requirements for on-site audits, the evaluation and approval of certification results, post-certification supervision and certification time limits.
Organisations engaged in personal information protection certification work need approvals to carry out activities. The regulation applies to every personal information processor that carries out private information collection, storage, use, processing, transmission, provision, disclosure, deletion and cross-border processing activities.
The State Administration for Market Regulation and the State Internet Information Office decided to implement personal Information protection certification. The step is relevant to provisions of the Personal Information Protection Law of the People’s Republic of China (‘PIPL’). The body requires the Specifications for Security Certification of Cross-Border Processing of Personal Information for cross-border personal information processing.
The latest versions of the standards include technical verification, on-site audit, and post-certification supervision. In addition, the certification body shall clarify the requirements for certification entrustment materials, including but not limited to the basic materials of the certification client, the certification power of attorney, and relevant certification documents.
To get certified, an organisation must submit certification entrustment materials according to the certification body’s requirements and the certification body shall give timely feedback on whether it is accepted after reviewing the materials.
The materials are then used for determining the certification plan, including the type and quantity of personal information, the scope of personal information processing activities, information on technical verification institutions, etc., before notifying the organisation seeking certification.
The CAC stated certification is valid for three years. An organisation must submit a certification commission within six months before the expiration of the validity period. The certification body shall adopt the method of post-certification supervision and reissue new certificates to those that meet the certification requirements.
Violations, cheating, and other behaviours that seriously affect the implementation of the certification on the certification client or personal information processor will cancel the certificate. Therefore, certification bodies shall adopt appropriate methods to implement post-certification supervision to ensure that certified personal information processors continue to meet certification requirements. The certification body comprehensively evaluates the post-certification surveillance conclusions and other relevant information. If the evaluation is passed, the certification certificate can continue to be maintained.
The organisation shall actively cooperate with the certification activities. During the validity period of the certification certificate. If the name and registered address of the certified personal information processor, or the certification requirements, certification scope, etc., change, the certification principal shall submit a change entrustment to the certification body.
When changes happen, the certification body must evaluate the change in entrustment materials. The result will determine whether the body can approve the change. If technical verification or on-site audit is required, the body shall conduct technical and on-site audits before the change is approved.
When a certified personal information processor no longer meets the certification requirements, the certification body will promptly suspend or revoke the certification certificate. The certification principal can apply for the suspension and cancellation of the certification certificate within the validity period of the certification certificate.
Caltech engineers collaborated with the University of Southampton in England to design an ultrahigh-speed data transfer chip. The chip integrates both an electronics chip and a photonics chip which uses light to transfer data. It took four years to complete, from the initial idea to the final test in the lab.
“As the world becomes increasingly connected, and every device generates more data, it is exciting to show that we can achieve such high data rates while burning a fraction of power compared to the traditional techniques. We had to optimise the entire system all at the same time, which enabled achieving a superior power efficiency,” said Azita Emami, the Andrew and Peggy Cherng Professor of Electrical Engineering and Medical Engineering, Executive Officer for Electrical Engineering and senior author of the paper.
The research paper is titled “A 100Gb/s PAM4 Optical Transmitter in A 3D-Integrated SiPh-CMOS Platform Using Segmented MOSCAP Modulators.” Rockley Photonics and the U.K. Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council funded this research.
The need for high processing power and transmission creates the inevitable excess heat. Heat is the enemy of the speed and the amount of data a computer device can manage. It happens not just for personal computers or laptops but also for data centres.
While a laptop may heat up while when in use, servers in data centres also heat up as they work – but at a much grander scale. Therefore, managing heat in the data centre is essential. The less heat, the more computing power is generated and the greater the volume of information it can handle.
Hence, engineers tried to find a way to increase the processing speed while keeping the heat low. The solution was to design and co-optimise an electronics chip and a photonics chip. The chip is innovative because it integrates an electronic circuit essential for data processing, combined with a photonics chip which is the most efficient piece for data transmission.
The Caltech/Southampton integrated chip can transmit 100 gigabits of data per second! Moreover, the integrated chip generates minimal heat, producing just 2.4 pico-Joules per transmitted bit. The result increases the electro-optical power efficiency by 3.6 times compared to the current technology.
Handling Next-level Computing
In the future, data centres will manage very high volumes of data compared to today. The new design integrated chip will answer a continuous demand for increasing data communication speed in data centres and high-performance computers.
“As the computing power of the chips scale, the communication speed can become the bottleneck, especially under stringent energy constraints,” Emami explained.
The high-demand data transmission and processing from a data-demanding task, such as a video call, streaming a movie, or playing an online video game, need high processing power in the data centre.
“There are more than 2,700 data centres in the U.S. and more than 8,000 worldwide, with towers of servers stacked on top of each other to manage the load of thousands of terabytes of data going in and out every second,” says a Caltech graduate student Arian Hashemi Talkhooncheh (MS ’16), lead author of a paper describing the two-chip innovation that was published in the IEEE Journal of Solid-State Circuits.
Both in normal circumstances and in times of crisis, Thai people are known to generate a lot of innovative ideas and continue to develop products that make their lives better. This encompasses and encapsulates the nation’s most recent campaign, Innovation Thailand, which promotes Thai creativity to a global audience.
The Innovation Thailand Alliance consists of partners from a variety of sectors including government agencies, private organisations, educational institutions, and civil societies. Through it, the National Innovation Agency of Thailand (NIA), is expanding the scope of its Innovation Thailand platform.
The fundamental goal is to use national/local ideas to revitalise the nation by promoting awareness of and pride in inventive Thai works. Allies will serve as ambassadors in the effort to promote Thailand as an innovative nation. They will be able to exchange knowledge and skills with one another at the same time.
All stakeholders are enthusiastic to help Thailand achieve its goal of being one of the world’s top 30 innovative nations by 2030 and turning Thailand into an innovation-driven country.
Innovation Capabilities of Thai People
The National Innovation Agency’s mission is to support and develop Thailand’s innovation system to promote economic restructuring and competitive enhancement.
“We began the Innovation Thailand campaign before COVID-19 because we faced a significant challenge in terms of how not only Thai people but also global clients, perceive the nation’s unique products and services,” explains Dr Pun-Arj.
Even though this may not be directly related to innovation, the NIA has attempted to communicate and brand national innovation in such a way that it can be easily connected not only with Thais but also with international customers – this is how they started the Innovation Thailand platform.
Thailand is a tourist destination and one of the top three in the world, which has caused the country to innovate their lifestyle as well as their livelihood.
Thai culture places a high value on craftsmanship and attention to detail. Thai innovation for artful living is a process created exclusively by the fusion of modern technology and knowledge passed down from one generation to the next.
“We have created ingenious solutions through this method that enhances the standard of living in terms of society, prosperity, health, safety, and the environment,” Dr Pun-Arj furthers.
They began to construct a community to exchange ideas, develop, and manage innovation that would result in delivering some information or any significant strategic movement that the government could initiate.
They are recruiting more Chief Innovation Officers from not only the private sector but also the public sector and universities, as part of their primary target group.
Dr Pun-Arj is looking to enhance the opportunities brought in by innovation, particularly at the regional level in the city. This is because they are working not only on economic development but also on the skillset of the social innovation division and platform.
“As a result, our primary focus is on regionalisations of innovation possibilities, as well as startups – innovation-based firms,” reveals Dr Pun-Arj.
He believes that every successful community is built upon a robust and well-functioning infrastructure. Hence, Thailand’s industries and infrastructure will be modernised to meet upcoming challenges.
“In the past, one of our five-year priorities included buildings which we identify as system integrators. As the system and ecosystem become more robust, we are transitioning from system integrators to full core facilitators.”
He emphasised the need to consider the impact of being a system integrator before transforming themselves into focal facilitators. Furthermore, the country wants to make better use of the enormous resource of innovation in universities to conduct research and technology in collaboration with other organisations across the world.
Through the City Innovation Index, which focuses primarily on districts and cities, the NIA promotes and monitors the constant innovation and evaluation of diverse organisations. Periodically, they performed surveys in particular industries to evaluate and propose answers for the difficulties they face.
A strong innovation strategy will evaluate the overall objectives, the target portfolio for innovation initiatives, and the process for allocating the necessary resources. The portfolio clearly defines innovation-critical benchmarks and bounds. Therefore, the nation will become democratic and transparent.
“I believe the government’s most essential innovation strategy focuses on three specific concerns. You must have highly strong and capable businesses of all sizes that will establish a very strong enterprise on its own. And secondly, you must have laws and regulations,” Dr Pun-Arj asserts. “In addition, governance is also required and identifying future risks.”
Thailand is struggling with several issues, including inequality, which includes limited access to public services, digital technology, education, and environmental problems. High manufacturing costs and new types of competition in the global supply chain became challenges for Thailand, with this, innovation has emerged as the country’s answer.
Additionally, there are many challenges in terms of digital transformation and government service and the nation is pushing for innovation that can deliver a good policy and deploy it into practice.
In the previous five-year plan, NIA primarily focused on the job of system integrator into four core facilitators. “That is why the short-term strategy is to train management in the methods, programmes, and activities that we have implemented over the last five years.”
NIA is primarily concentrated on strengthening the potential of regional innovation in several key sectors such as new technologies, assistance for startups, venture capital creation or investment for innovation, and internationalisation of Thailand’s innovation.
Dr Pun-Arj envisions a stronger Thai economy and society, with innovation playing a key role in propelling it. The Bio-Circular-Green Economy (BCG) model is a plan for the country’s growth and post-pandemic recovery. The BCG model focuses on four strategic sectors: agriculture and food, wellness and medicine, energy, materials, and biochemicals and tourism and creative economy.
It emphasises using science, technology, and innovation to turn Thailand’s comparative advantage in biological and cultural diversity into a competitive advantage. The primary aim is to support the sustainability of biological resources, develop local economies and communities and make Thai BCG industries more competitive and resilient to societal changes.
The approach is meant to make Thailand’s economy, society, and environment more sustainable and inclusive. “To achieve the 2030 goal, we must work incredibly hard to encourage innovation in this BCG economy. At the same time, the national policy needs to be improved.”
Dr Pun-Arj has been recognised as a pioneer in the domains of foresight and innovation management in the country. He counsels anyone aspiring to be a great innovator to fully comprehend the concepts of uncertainty and failure.
“Innovation will help us grow as a community or nation by making ourselves and others aware of the importance of innovation,” Dr Pun-Arj concludes.
The Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) has launched nine satellites, including eight nanosatellites, into space from the first launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Andhra Pradesh.
The 44-metre-long rocket’s primary payload is the Earth Observation Satellite-6 (EOS-6) or Oceansat-3, a third-generation satellite to monitor oceans. It is a follow up to OceanSat-1 or IRS-P4 and OceanSat-2 launched in 1999 and 2009, respectively. Oceansat-3 will provide data about ocean colour, sea surface temperature, and wind vector data for oceanography, climatology, and meteorological applications.
The Oceansat-3 was placed in the polar orbit at a height of about 740 kilometres above sea level. While it weighs approximately 1,100 kilogrammes, which is only slightly heavier than Oceansat-1, for the first time in this series, it houses three ocean observing sensors. These include an Ocean Colour Monitor (OCM-3), Sea Surface Temperature Monitor (SSTM), and Ku-Band scatterometer (SCAT-3). There is also an ARGOS payload, a press release mentioned.
The OCM-3, with a high signal-to-noise ratio, is expected to improve accuracy in the daily monitoring of phytoplankton. This has a wide range of operational and research applications including fishery resource management, ocean carbon uptake, harmful algal bloom alerts, and climate studies. The SSTM will provide ocean surface temperature, which is a critical ocean parameter to provide various forecasts ranging from fish aggregation to cyclone genesis and movement. Temperature is a key parameter required to monitor the health of the coral reefs, and if needed, to provide coral bleaching alerts. The Ku-Band Pencil beam scatterometre will provide a high-resolution wind vector (speed and direction) at the ocean surface, which will be useful for seafarers, including fishermen and shipping companies. Data regarding temperature and wind is also particularly important for ocean and weather models to improve their forecast accuracies.
ARGOS is a communication payload jointly developed with France and it is used for low-power (energy-efficient) communications including marine robotic floats (Argo floats), fish-tags, drifters, and distress alert devices valuable in search and rescue operations.
The Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Science and Technology, Jitendra Singh, stated that ISRO will continue to maintain the orbit of the satellite and its standard procedures for data reception and archiving. Major operational users of this satellite include Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoEs) institutions such as the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) and the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF).
INCOIS has also established a state-of-the-art satellite data reception ground station within its campus with technical support from the National Remote Sensing Centre (ISRO-NRSC). Singh asserted that ocean observations such as this will serve as a solid foundation for India’s blue economy and polar region policies. A representative from MoES noted that the launch of Oceansat-3 is significant as it is the first major ocean satellite launch from India since the initiation of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (UNDOSSD, 2021-2030).
The Indian Space Research Organisation is the national space agency of India, headquartered in Bengaluru. It operates under the Department of Space, which is overseen by the country’s Prime Minister.
Astronomers from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have completely automated the classification of 1,000 supernovae using a machine-learning (ML) algorithm. The Zwicky Transient Facility, or ZTF, a sky survey instrument located at Caltech’s Palomar Observatory, collected data that the algorithm was then used to analyse.
“We needed a helping hand, and we knew that once we trained our computers to do the job, they would take a big load off our backs,” says Christoffer Fremling, a staff astronomer at Caltech and the mastermind behind the new algorithm tagged as SNIascore.
A year and a half after SNIascore classified its first supernova in April 2021, they are approaching the pleasant milestone of 1,000 supernovae. Every night, ZTF scans the night sky for alterations known as transient events. This covers everything, from asteroids in motion to recently devoured stars by black holes to exploding stars known as supernovae.
ZTF notifies astronomers worldwide of these transient events by sending out hundreds of thousands of alerts each night. Other telescopes are then used by astronomers to monitor and learn more about the nature of the shifting objects. Thousands of supernovae have so far been found thanks to ZTF data.
Members of the ZTF team cannot organise all the data on their own due to the constant flow of data that comes in every night. According to Matthew Graham, project scientist for ZTF and research professor of astronomy at Caltech, “the traditional notion of an astronomer sitting at the observatory and sieving through telescope images carries a lot of romanticism but is drifting away from reality.”
Instead, to help with the searches, the team has created ML algorithms. SNIascore was created to categorise potential supernovae. There are two main categories of supernovae: Type I and Type II. In contrast to Type II supernovae, Type I supernovae are devoid of hydrogen.
When material from a companion star flows onto a white dwarf star, causing a thermonuclear explosion, a Type I supernova is produced. When a massive star collapses due to its own gravity, a Type II supernova happens. Type Ia supernovae, or the “standard candles” in the sky, can be classified by SNIascore. These are dying stars that explode with a steady-state thermonuclear blast.
Astronomers can gauge the universe’s expansion rate thanks to Type Ia supernovae. Fremling and colleagues are currently expanding the algorithm’s capabilities to classify additional types of supernovae soon.
Every night, after ZTF has recorded sky flashes that may be supernovae, it sends the data to the SEDM spectrograph at Palomar, which is in a dome a short distance away (Spectral Energy Distribution Machine).
To determine which supernovae are likely Type Ias, SNIascore collaborates with SEDM. As a result, the ZTF team is working quickly to compile a more trustworthy data set of supernovae that will allow astronomers to conduct additional research and, ultimately, learn more about the physics of the potent stellar explosions.
“SNIascore is incredibly precise. We have observed the performance of the algorithm in the real world after 1,000 supernovae” says Fremling. Since the initial launch in April 2021, they have found no clearly misclassified events, and they are now planning to implement the same algorithm with other observing facilities.
According to Ashish Mahabal, who oversees ZTF’s machine learning initiatives and is the centre’s lead computational and data scientist at Caltech, their work demonstrates how ML applications are maturing in near real-time astronomy.
The SNIascore was created as part of the ZTF’s Bright Transient Survey (BTS), which is currently the most comprehensive supernova survey available to the astronomical community. The entire BTS dataset contains nearly 7000 supernovae, 90 per cent of which were discovered and classified by ZTF while the remaining 10 per cent were contributed by other groups and facilities.