Scientists at City University of Hong Kong (CityU) have developed a novel computer tool to extract, track and visualize cells, and analyze the formation, structure and functions of Caenorhabditis elegans (a type of worm) during cell division. The research can help scientists understand cancer and find a possible cure by enabling them to learn how an animal’s body and organs are formed through cell division.
The research was co-led by scientists at CityU, Hong Kong Baptist University (BU) and Peking University (PKU). Researchers at BU used laser beams to obtain cell images of Caenorhabditis elegans at different depths and at different time points to form a 4D data array during cell division, CityU developed the computer software for cell image analysis, and PKU provided biological interpretations.
The findings were recently published in the prestigious journal Nature Communications under the title “Establishment of a morphological atlas of the Caenorhabditis elegans embryo using deep-learning-based 4D segmentation”.
Professor Yan Hong, Chair Professor of Computer Engineering and Wong Chun Hong Professor of Data Engineering in the Department of Electrical Engineering (EE) stated that the computational framework the teams developed is called CShaper. It helps biologists reconstruct and visualize the 3D shapes and their temporal changes in Caenorhabditis elegans embryos, which share many essential biological characteristics with humans and provide a valuable model for studying the tumour growth process in humans.
In addition, the researchers developed a deep-learning method, called DMapNet, to segment embryo membranes.
The team generated a time-lapse 3D atlas of cell morphology for the Caenorhabditis elegans embryo from the 4- to 350-cell stages, including cell shape, volume, surface area, migration, nucleus position and cell-cell contact with resolved cell identities.
Previous image analysis systems could detect only the cell nuclei well, not the cell membranes. The nucleus and membrane were imaged from two channels simultaneously, but the image quality of the membrane was much worse than that of the nucleus because of low fluorescence density.
Using the new system, the scientists can accurately detect the membranes, track the cells, and reconstruct their 3D shapes. The new tool opens a window to analyzing cell features, such as cell shapes, cell-cell contacts, cell-cell communication, and gene and protein functions during cell division.
Cao Jianfeng, PhD student in EE and one of the first co-authors of the paper stated, “we are proud to be able to develop a useful computer tool for automated analysis of massive amounts of cell image data. To the best of our knowledge, CShaper is the first framework for segmenting and analyzing a Caenorhabditis elegans embryo systematically at the single-cell level. Using this tool, we can characterize cell shapes and surface structures, and provide 3D views of cells at different time points.”
CShaper revolutionizes the way biologists inspect experiment data. It cuts down the time required to annotate the images of an embryo from hundreds to just a few hours and enables biologists to implement quantitative and statistical analyses on cell morphological features on a large scale. The system can be further developed to analyses images from other types of cells, such as plant cells.
The official portal of the Laos – Vietnam Cooperation Committee was put into operation at a ceremony in Vientiane, last week.
The site was the outcome of the first phase of a project sponsored by Startech, a Vietnamese IT company operating in Laos. The second phase will build software to serve the committee’s project and administrative management, according to a news report.
Speaking at the ceremony, the Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment and Vice Chairman of the committee, Khamphuei Keokinaly, stressed that the launch of the website presents an opportunity for the committee to boost its employment of advanced science and technology serving its work in a new period.
The website is a tool to spread information on Laos’ policies for attracting foreign investors, including those from Vietnam, he noted. Once completed in December this year, the Startech project is expected to help the committee digitise its data on operations, investment promotion, and management of Vietnam – Laos cooperation projects. It will also facilitate access by Vietnamese agencies and firms to information on the two nations’ collaboration developments.
In 2019, state-run organisation Viettel planned to roll out 5G technology in Laos. This was Vietnam’s third overseas launch of the service. The country planned to expand this list to four Southeast Asian nations. Viettel had been testing 5G in Myanmar and Cambodia through local arms.
Founded in October 2009, the Viettel subsidiary operates across all 17 provinces and cities in Laos and has led the market for eight consecutive years. It is also the Laos government’s partner in implementing the country’s key e-government systems.
As OpenGov Asia reported, Unitel, Viettel’s Laos unit, became the first operator to offer the 5G technology in Laos. In 2019, Unitel boasted 6,000 3G and 4G base stations, covering 95% of the country. It commanded more than half the local market with about 3 million subscribers. In February 2019, Unitel helped introduce SIM cards to Laos, which led the country to rank 7th out of 10 ASEAN member states in terms of advanced telecommunications services.
In the same year, Viettel broadcast its first end-to-end 5G network in Ho Chi Minh City, offering the public a chance to experience 5G services for the first time. The organisation said it had set up 5G base stations in Ward 12 in the city’s District 10.
Last year, Viettel was the pioneer in announcing commercial 5G trials in late November with coverage in the Hoan Kiem, Ba Dinh, and Hai Ba Trung Districts of Hanoi. Owners of 5G-enabled devices can now use the service for free at a speed of up to 1.5 gigabits per second, far higher than 4G.
Further, the number of 5G subscribers nationwide is expected to reach a figure of 6.3 million by 2025, with the deployment of 5G services anticipated to help Vietnamese mobile service providers increase their annual revenue by US$300 million.
To keep up with demand, Vietnam needs to invest between US$1.5 billion and US$2.5 billion in the technology over the next five years. The Vietnamese government is pursuing an industry 4.0 strategy, with a specific focus on upgrading infrastructure, improving human resources, and deploying e-government services. E-commerce transformation is expected to boost the number of electronic firms to 43% over the next five years.
Three tech firms operating under the Hong Kong Smart Government Innovation Lab recently announced that they have launched new solutions which are now ready to be acquired by companies and institutions.
Solution one – Smart Office Solutions
A traditional office might provide constraints on productivity and excessive resources on operation due to lack of automation. It might be necessary to be considered with some innovative ideas to bring up colleagues’ motivation and creativity at work for big and important projects. Meeting Room, Visitor and Hotdesk Management, the company that developed Smart Office Solutions created an All-in-one Smart application to match users’ specific needs.
The solution was developed to be applied in the areas of Development, Environment as well as Infrastructure.
The solution was developed using the latest in Internet of Things (IoT), Mobile Technologies, and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID).
- Improve concierge resources focus, fewer papers, more efficiency
- Accumulable system of VIP preference
- Reduce Administrative workload, better Administration planning
- Better space utilization
- IoT integration
- Energy-saving, Green office
Solution two – Anti-Phishing Bot (APBot)
Anti-Phishing Bot (APBot) is a cloud-based privacy-by-default anti-phishing SaaS tool. Act as an extension on MS O365 and Google GSuite, it enables the user to identify fake senders. The AI function can learn from past emails to create whitelisted sender profiles.
The solution was developed to be applied mainly in the area of Infrastructure.
The solution was developed using the latest in Artificial Intelligence (AI) as well as Cloud Computing.
APBot prioritises usability and enhances the tool through community crowdsourcing. With just one click, the user could detect and report a phishing email, at the same time, similar emails will be flagged within the APBot community, and through this ecosystem, the detection accuracy of the AI-assisted tool will gradually improve.
To protect users’ privacy, APBot also follows “privacy-by-default” principle to detect email frauds based on the sender’s behaviour and network profile without reading the email content. One of the benefits is to help elderly people who not able to distinguish phishing emails.
Solution three – VR Mapping
The solution allows users to preview their VR path to the destination using only one QR code. The user no longer needs to search the map; they only need to scan the QR code and follow the VR pathfinding their destination. The VR Mapping solution is the easiest way to help users getting to their destination.
The solution was developed to be applied in the areas of City Management, Housing, Infrastructure and Transport.
The solution employs Mobile Technologies and Virtual Reality predominantly.
Members of the public can use the VR mapping to preview the destination. It improves the public service and saves cost for the staff.
About the Smart Government Innovation Lab
In 2018, the Government established the Smart Government Innovation Lab to explore hi-tech products such as AI and relevant technologies, including machine learning, big data analytics, cognitive systems and intelligent agent, as well as blockchain and robotics from firms, especially local start-ups.
The Lab is always on the lookout for innovation and technology (I&T) solutions that are conducive to enhancing public services or their operational effectiveness. I&T suppliers are encouraged to regularly visit the Lab’s website to check on the current business and operational needs in public service delivery and propose innovative solutions or product suggestions to address them.
The NSW government has opened tendering for a gigabit fibre network to provide high-speed, reliable internet services to Wamboin, Bywong and Sutton in the state’s Southern Tablelands. The network, which is slated for rollout from 2022, will be the first piece of major infrastructure delivered under the government’s $400 million regional digital connectivity program.
The program – first announced with a budget of $50 million in 2017, but later bolstered with additional funding – aims to improve telecommunications infrastructure in under-served regions of the state.
Connectivity gaps in regional NSW were highlighted in the government’s most recent state infrastructure strategy, which also makes it clear that this will continue to widen without intervention. The government has put the ‘digital divide’ down to a combination of inadequate infrastructure and a “lack of compelling commercial incentives for private operators”.
“Given the ever-increasing demand for digital connectivity, researchers anticipate that, without intervention, the digital divide will continue to grow,” it said in tender documents released recently.
To remedy this, the government is calling on suppliers to “install and operate a fibre-based network” to replace the satellite internet service that currently serves the three towns. Tender documents reveal the government is seeking a range of proposals from suppliers outlining multiple solutions, including an “all fibre” response and “technology innovation” response.
Suppliers will be expected to both design and construct the fibre network, as well as any related backhaul, and operate and maintain it.
The all-fibre response – considered the conforming response – will consist of fibre backhaul to Canberra, intertown backhaul, a spine network and lead-ins for properties. The technology innovation response, on the other hand, is less prescriptive, though will include a fibre backhaul to Canberra and intertown backhaul.
Tenderers will be asked to propose a technology solution which is commercially viable and achieves the most competitive tender, tender documents state. This could include non-fibre technologies, a mix, and/or alternative delivery model linked to the proposed access network technology.
The successful proponents will be expected to deliver speeds of 100/40Mbps to residents and 10/10Gbps to businesses through “Layer 2 Ethernet access services to facilitate an RSP [retail service provider]. The proponent must provide network services on an open wholesale basis to RSPs and access seekers on a non-discriminatory basis,” documents states.
The successful tenderer is expected to develop a detailed design and technology architecture within six months of securing the contract or one month before construction. Submission to the tender will close on 3 March, with the contract expected in late 2021.
In a statement, the Department of Regional NSW said it was looking forward to “innovative proposals from the private sectors to make the best technologies available to residents”.
The tender will help provide a blueprint for how government investment can capitalise on and expand existing fibre infrastructure to deliver a faster and more reliable service to towns on a satellite internet service,” it added.
As COVID-19’s largest vaccination drive begins, monitoring and evaluation will be a monumental going to be a huge task. To ensure the smooth running of the vaccination programme, the government of India has created a dedicated web portal called – Co-WIN – to manage it.
The COVID -19 Vaccine Intelligence Network serves as an extension of the existing electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network (eVIN) module. The eVIN is an indigenously developed technology that digitises vaccine stocks and monitors the temperature of the cold chain through a smartphone application. It was launched across 12 states in 2015 to enable better vaccine logistics management at cold chain points.
An extension of the eVIN platform, Co-Win is a comprehensive cloud-based IT solution for planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of COVID-19 vaccination in India.
The Co-WIN system is an end to end solution that has utilities for the entire public health system from national up to the vaccinator level. The system allows for the creation of users (admins, supervisors, vaccinators), registration of beneficiaries (bulk upload and individual registration), facilities/planning unit and session sites followed by planning and scheduling sessions and implementation of the vaccination process. As of now, it has no self-registration option.
As part of its quality control measures for the vaccination drive, the government of India is using the ‘Rapid Assessment System’ platform developed by Ministry of Electronics & IT (MeitY) to obtain feedback from those who get vaccinated. This initiative aims to improve the vaccination experience for citizens while ensuring that all norms are being followed during the process at all vaccination centres.
This system will help the government to make the vaccination process more effective and also more citizen-friendly. RAS platform has already sent out around 6.2 lakh SMSes to all those who have been vaccinated in a short span of 4 days.
Registered mobile numbers and names of those vaccinated on a day are sent to the RAS system from the Co-WIN platform at midnight. The RAS system prepares a unique URL for feedback questions and sends personalised SMSs to all beneficiary of that day. The SMS contains the name of the person, dose (first/ second), and a unique URL. The sender ID used for SMS is “GOVRAS”.
Under the overarching vision of Digital India, the government of India aims to make seamlessly integrated services across all government departments accessible to citizens. This system has multiple channels for receiving feedback and is backed by analytics. These analytics will help integrated departments for continuous system improvement and better governance.
The National e-Governance Division, Ministry of Electronics & IT, developed Rapid Assessment System (RAS) for online instant feedback for e-services delivered by the Government of India and State Governments. The citizen services cover both online as well as offline (through counters) offerings of the government.
The platform is designed to be
- a mechanism for continuous measurement of Quality of Service (QoS)
- a generic feedback system available to be used by all Government Departments
- an integrated electronic system for taking feedback from citizens
RAS provides an online mechanism for getting feedback from citizens on e-services provided by governments across the country. It also analyses the feedbacks and generates actionable insights, which in turn, helps in improving the users/ citizens’ experience in availing public services.
The main objective of RAS is to continuously assess the quality of eServices, through feedback, under each e-Governance project and realign processes to achieve targeted benefits. RAS interface prompts the citizens to provide feedback about the quality of service immediately after the citizen avails an e-Service of the Government. The analytic features of RAS help integrated departments in system improvement and better delivery of services.
The Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation’s (MDEC) expectation to hit 20 per cent growth in e-commerce contribution to the digital economy can be achieved as the COVID-19 pandemic has given a huge boost to digital adoption among entrepreneurs.
The Vice-President of digitally powered businesses (industry-supply) stated that in 2019, the digital economy had contributed 19.1 per cent to the gross domestic product (GDP). Sectors like MedTech, the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0) and Agri Tech will be forerunners in 2021, contributing to the rise in digital revenue, he said.
ASEAN is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. Connecting and promoting Malaysian tech business to the region, as a start, will be a huge boost. He said Malaysia is already holding a leadership position in many tech sectors.
Export programmes such as MDEC’s GAIN must be intensified to move this further to position Malaysia as the heart of digital ASEAN. Reskilling, upskilling and producing good digital talent is crucial for the digital economy moving forward, he explained.
The gig economy is on the rise, this needs to be harnessed and grown to stay globally competitive. Programmes like GLOW assists those in need of crowdsourcing platforms to generate digital revenue. From January to June last year, GLOW generated an income totalling over RM190 million, the Vice-President said.
Meanwhile, the Digital Content Ecosystem (DiCE) – from January 2020 to June 2020 – saw 324 companies participate; it also generated over RM1.6 billion in revenue and over RM260 million in total exports.
For the e-commerce segment, the National eCommerce Strategic Roadmap (NESR) helped nearly 80,000 SMEs adopt e-commerce and helped nearly 8,000 companies adopt e-commerce for exports from January to June 2020.
With regards to Internet of Things (IoT), MDEC’s data shows that from January to June 2020, the National IoT Framework helped to garner over RM140 million in investments, involved 283 companies, generated over RM230 million in revenue and generated over RM120 million in total exports.
On drone technology – the Global Test Bed has involved 84 companies and raised over RM124 million in investments.
On whether the implementation of the National Entrepreneurship Policy can turn Malaysia into a true entrepreneurial nation by 2030, the VP noted that the policy needed to be led and driven by various agencies under the government, with digital being the main driver.
The government needs to also embrace digital transformation in their ministries and agencies, he added. Policies and regulations need to keep up with the fast-paced technology innovation in areas such as Fintech, Industry 4.0, drone tech and AI, and we need to ensure that the policy is inclusive and will benefit many.
Malaysian start-ups are poised to be regional champions. They have all the necessary support to become global players. Malaysian tech companies need to continue innovating to stay ahead of the game. Malaysian companies need to also start thinking global. Don’t build solutions for one market. Build for the global market and start addressing global problems.
He advised them to take advantage of the ample government support – MDEC, the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC) and others.
New Zealand has been a strong advocate of digital inclusion and this is reflected in their report on Digital inclusion user insights – Disabled people.
The purpose of this research was to understand the perceptions and feelings about digital inclusion from disabled people as they went about their daily lives. The goal was to understand the key pain points for individuals, what they liked about the current online environment and what improvements could be made to ensure a more equitable digital environment for all.
The report estimates that by the mid-2030s, 24% of jobs in New Zealand could be automated and a new range of jobs will have emerged. As digital technologies weave their way into lives, they impact society and the way things are done. It is therefore vital that everyone can participate fully in, and make the most of, an increasingly digital world: this is digital inclusion. There are four interdependent elements, which are all needed for a person to be digitally included. They are motivation, access, skills, and trust.
When digital inclusion is discussed in research papers such as Motu Research’s Digital Inclusion and Wellbeing in New Zealand, the following people are often identified as being most at risk of digital exclusion: Disabled people, Māori, Pasifika people, People in social housing, Seniors, Un- and under-employed and Remote communities.
Some of the key findings were:
- Need to enforce the Web Accessibility Standard and support better accessibility education
- More human-centred design and co-design practices required
- Need to reduce cost barriers and provide skills training
- Digital inclusion for disabled people should be prioritised
The NZ government is providing $3 million in one-off seed funding to help disabled people around New Zealand stay connected and access support in their communities according to an announcement by Minister for Disability Issues, Carmel Sepuloni.
The funding will allow disability service providers to develop digital and community-based solutions over the next two years for disabled people impacted by COVID-19, starting in 2021. The minister confirmed that 16 organisations would receive funding for initiatives that would help disabled people to access support, be independent and keep in touch with their friends and whānau in innovative and sustainable ways.
There have been a number of creative and innovative initiatives – from helping people with dementia to create their own digital storybook of memories, to online dance and music workshops for disabled people in rural areas, and online spaces for matching disabled people to mentors and volunteers. There is also a strong focus on initiatives that encourage community participation, which is vital for disabled people’s wellbeing and a sense of belonging.
The government was optimistic to see support for the disability community across New Zealand and its role in helping the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This seed funding is part of the Government’s response during the first lockdown for disabled people, which was allocated for the 2021 financial year. Regular progress updates will be required for the period of the seed funding.
The Disability Action Plan presents priority work programmes and actions developed through a co-design process by government agencies, disabled people and their representative organisations. The work programmes and actions will advance implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the New Zealand Disability Strategy 2016-2026.
From a digital perspective, several outcomes would significantly depend on and benefit from tech deployment
- Involving disabled people: When planning for and implementing their work programmes, each government agency is expected to engage effectively with disabled people.
- Ensuring data is disaggregated by disability: Statistics New Zealand and the Office for Disability Issues are joint leads for the Disability Data and Evidence Working Group’s work programme. All agencies are expected to promote the use of the Washington Group sets of questions on disability in government surveys.
- Monitoring and reporting progress: It is important to report on and monitor the Action Plan’s progress.
- Governance: The Ministerial Leadership Group on Disability Issues is the primary governance lever, together with ongoing engagement with agency chief executives and senior officials.
Indonesia’s Ministry of Industry has been very supportive of the efforts of other ministries and institutions that have been proactive in using industrial technology 4.0 to support their activities to be more productive and efficient. A prime example of this is the Indonesian National Police (Polri) who are implementing the Police 4.0 programme under the National Police Chief, Komjen Listyo Sigit Prabowo.
Speaking at a programme in Jakarta, Director General of Metal, Machinery, Transportation and Electronics Industry (ILMATE), Taufiek Bawazier reacted positively to the Police 4.0 programme plan, as it is in line with the Making Indonesia 4.0 road map priority program which also supports the electronics and telematics industry sector.
The minister was confident that digital transformation in the police department would have a positive impact on innovation and growth in the domestic industrial sector, especially industries producing hardware and software for artificial intelligence (AI).
The use of AI technology in the police, such as Automatic License Plate Recognition (ALPR) goes a long way in reducing the burden on the police in monitoring road violations. Additionally, the use of surveillance equipment and drones can assist the police in reducing crime rates and providing effective services to the public more optimally. Deployment of technology not only facilitates better citizen-services but can be a driver for the domestic industry that produces and manages such technology solutions.
“This programme provides an opportunity for the nation’s citizens to make software and hardware applications in accordance with the needs of the Police,” said Taufiek.
The Director General of ILMATE said that the domestic electronic industry is committed in its support of the police create Police 4.0. He firmly believes that the Indonesian police would be able to take advantage of the tech developments in the Industrial 4.0.
For example, Thermal Imaging to assist in dark conditions, biometric applications to reveal fingerprints and DNA and the use of GPS for shot spotting in case of a shooting. In addition, he agreed that the use of facial recognition is to be able to speed up identification while analytics can aid in resolving problems in the field. The role of the camera and robotics industry, according to Taufiek, should also be strategically utilised by the police. Equipping cameras in the field that are connected to the head office will provide efficiency in the work of the police and to provide better community services. He believes that the readiness of big data and a secure cloud must be a priority if AI-enabled solutions are to be implemented by the police.
Responding to concerns that Police 4.0 would contribute to job losses and in a reduction of police personnel, Bawazier actually feels that the program would increase the number of jobs in the police and the nation.
He emphasised that the tech-readiness of the National Police would only be possible if supported by competent human resource. Relevant training must be made available so that the application of police technology is sustainable. Professionals, skilled manpower and experts in technology would be needed to implement and deploy Police 4.0.
Further, skilled tech workers are essential for providers in the industrial sector continue to innovate and effectively supply products, solutions and technology for the service needs of the police. New technology, digital products and solutions will create a large number of new job opportunities.