The greatest innovations in the history of mankind were born out of crisis and necessity. The ability to adapt and innovate in dire times is what separates success from failure; leaders that show the way forward from those that follow.
OpenGov is always seeking to recognize and promote such leaders of innovation. This pursuit has led to partner with SMU’s Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which provides support and a platform for budding innovators.
One such group of mavericks is the team at Anzene. OpenGov had the opportunity to speak with Joshua Lin, Chief Operating Officer – Business Development & Partnership at Anzene.
Anzene is a cleantech hardware start up dedicated to producing standardized, smart and safe batteries powered with blockchain for green energy transition in smart cities.
Joshua told us that the genesis of this idea began in August 2018, when he and two other friends, who shared the passion for tech and concern for the environment, decided to create a portable power block would allow consumers to utilize renewable energy resources to power urban lifestyle.
This shared vision led to the creation of the Anzene energy Block. The energy block is a cuboid, weighs around 2 Kilograms and has the capability to store and channel solar and wind energy.
The team’s intention is to make it as accessible as possible to all specifications. With this is mind, it has versatile voltage outputs and can power different brands and kinds of electric vehicles and urban home appliances.
It come with various USB ports and can also be attached to a universal AC adapter that allows powering multiple devices simultaneously. It is a gift for people who work remotely and off grid as it gives them more flexibility and secured access to power.
Joshua shared that there were two major focus points for the team while developing the technology for this power wonder: 1) Smart and 2) Safe.
1) Smart: Anzene energy systems have IOT features (4G and Low range radio communication, data loggers) that are powered by blockchain to track green energy generation, usage, and storage. This feature will eventually allow it to be used by city planners to predict and plan urban energy consumption patterns.
2) Safe: There have been ample incidents in just the recent past of batteries overheating and catching on fires. In order to ensure the safety of its user, Anzene power block comes with a patented mini fire extinguisher pre-installed and connected to its battery management system.
The moment the block detects excessive heat in the battery, the extinguisher deploys automatically ensuring the safety of the user. It is purely a preventive measure by the Anzene team as they are using the superior quality Lishen cells that do not overheat unless it is abused or used carelessly.
Anzene’s novel energy idea and consciousness for the ecosystem has earned the team recognition on different platforms in various countries.
The first accolade was at the 2019 K-Startup Grand Challenge in South Korea – a nation that is a huge powerhouse for battery manufacturing and recycling. Anzene was among the Top 20 teams that gave a demonstration of their product after 3.5 months of acceleration.
Being a Singapore Management University (SMU) alumni, Joshua and team enrolled in SMU, Institute of Innovation & Entrepreneurship’s incubation programme – Business Innovations Generator (BIG) which gave the team valuable exposure of ASEAN market, and was one of the 7 teams selected for the third Shell Idearefinery Programme, Singapore.
Anzene plans to launch the power block in market in the second quarter of 2021. They are still fine-tuning the innovation and plan to make it more powerful using a swapping station with multiple energy blocks.
Utilising wind and solar energy require specialised equipment like panels and turbines to harness the power. These are often bulky and too complex for everyone to use. The team exploring options for consumer grade channelling equipment to make their energy block more accessible.
They also plan to modify it to make it useful to rural areas too. Joshua said the teams is determined to power villages that are off the grid using their innovative energy resource. At the very least they want their block to be able to power basic home appliances like lights, television, radio, etc. to reduce use of pollution causing non-renewable sources of energy like kerosene.
OpenGov is always eager to hear of and encourage innovation leaders like Anzene. If you have any innovations, you would like to bring to our attention please do get in touch with us.
The Philippines Railways Institute (PRI) will undergo digital transformation to further adapt to the demands of the new normal brought by COVID-19. The PRI is a rail transportation research and training centre that deals with research and development on the management, operation, and maintenance of railways and training of personnel in the rail transportation industry in the country.
In a statement, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) undersecretary and the PRI officer-in-charge, stressed that the PRI is now able to provide remote learning sustainably during this pandemic. She said that the agency is now part of a growing number of institutes and organisations that have adopted this kind of learning platform in the country.
Existing railway personnel and maintenance staff can now access self-paced training courses through an online learning platform launched by the PRI with the help of a PHP307-million grant from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
PRI’s learning management system (LMS) is an online learning platform that allows self-paced learning, while still encouraging the trainees’ participation through facilitated contact sessions. Further, the LMS gives PRI instructors and railway trainees an academic and scalable digital learning environment alongside the existing video platform being used by the Institute. It is also mobile-friendly, which allows trainees and instructors seamless access to learning materials anytime and anywhere.
The PRI has recently conducted the first LMS-delivered refresher training course, with 30 railway personnel and 15 graduating college students as participants. The PRI noted that the pandemic disruption has accelerated technological trends in the fields of learning and education. Instructional methodologies are evolving with the adoption of innovations to address limitations set by health and safety protocols to prevent the further spread of the virus.
Before the strict community quarantine was imposed due to the pandemic, the PRI was conducting the Refresher Training Course (RT) face-to-face with a total of six batches of trainees completing the course. Since then, the learning institute shifted to the Web Refresher Training Course (WRT), an online course conducted through the Zoom platform, with 15 batches completing it.
The PRI also expanded the scope of its WRT to include graduating college students with a railways-relevant background and returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) with railway operation and maintenance experience.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, the country’s “Full Digital Transformation Act of 2020” mandates all government agencies, government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs), instrumentalities and Local Government Units (LGUs) to adopt a digital plan that aligns with the Philippine Digital Transformation Strategy 2022.
The bill of full digitalisation of government services promotes a zero-contact policy and facilitates ease of procedures. All of this is meant to streamline government services under Republic Act No. 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018, Republic Act No. 11234, the Energy Virtual One-Stop Shop Act and other applicable laws.
The Government reiterated that digitalisation is no longer just another trend, but it is the way the world is heading to, the rationale emphasised by lawmakers in the country. They added that full digitalisation is in the nation’s vision two years from now, and this transformation can be achieved through business and wireless networks, resulting in higher efficiency and lower costs.
At the same time, the rapid adoption of digital technologies can help the country overcome the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, recover from the crisis, and achieve its vision of becoming a middle-class society free of poverty, according to the report released by the World Bank and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).
COVID-19 is proving to have some benefit for Australian businesses, according to new findings from an international research company. Ecommerce is now a bright spot in the Australian economy and a lifeline for consumers who are working and sheltering at home. Businesses that quickly transitioned to the new normal to survive are now debating if these are not short-term adjustments wondering how long this change will last and if further investments are essential for long-term e-commerce sustainability and growth.
All the signs point to a long-term change in consumer behaviour and the need to step up e-commerce functionality. Findings indicate that the e-commerce market in Australia has been on a steep growth curve during the past few years and has received an additional boost from the COVID-19. The pandemic is expected to ramp up e-commerce sales in the country at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.3% between 2020 and 2024.
The initial counter pandemic measures disrupted Australia’s nearly three-decade recession-free streak, with the economy shrinking by 7% in Q2 2020. Retail was hard-hit as nonessential outlets had to close with no footfall. However, people rapidly rallied and transitioned to online platforms. While overall retail spending declined by 2.5% in April 2020, online goods spending came back. By Q2 of 2020, e-commerce average spend-per-visit was all higher than Q1 2020 or Q2 2019.
More than 200,000 Australians shopped online for the first time in April according to reports, including many older consumers who never felt the need to foray into e-commerce. Currently, 46% of Australian consumers are shopping online more often. The shift is most pronounced among younger people, with 62% of 18- to 25-year-olds and 57% of 26- to 35-year-olds buying online more frequently.
Analytics reveals that e-commerce payments in Australia are estimated to have grown by 13.9% in 2020 to A$52.2 billion (US$36.7 billion) riding on COVID-19 mitigation measures which kept wary consumers at home, relying on online platforms for almost all essential transactions. The report shows that the trend is likely to continue and, if so, then online commerce in the country is likely to top A$77.1 billion (US$54.2 billion) by 2024.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics showed that online sales in Australia registered a 55% rise in December 2020 compared to the same period last year. Additionally, more than 5.6 million Australian households did business digitally in December 2020 according to the Australia Posts Online Shopping Report published in January 2021. This reflects a 21.3% growth as compared to 2019 the average.
As Australian consumers continue to embrace online shopping, the use of electronic payments will increase as consumers move away from cash, GlobalData states. Payment solutions like e-wallets, portals and cards have also benefitted from this trend.
The research company’s 2020 Banking & Payments Survey conducted in Q1 2020 showed that payment cards were the top choice of payment for e-commerce purchases in Australia with a lion’s share of 52.3%. Other alternative payment solutions were responsible for 38.1%.
Experts say that the pandemic has altered consumer buying behaviour and are increasingly shifting from offline to online channels. The crisis opened the e-commerce market to a whole new set of consumers, who were not using online channels. While this may not be a choice, safety norms and rules have forced the closure of many physical stores; as such, shoppers have had to embrace e-channels for daily life.
“A significant rise in consumer preference for online channels during the pandemic coupled with the proliferation of online retailers and customised payment solutions will further drive e-commerce growth in Australia,” said the data company’s Banking and Payments Senior Analyst.
A senior executive at an international consultancy firm feels that the rapid shift to online may have “caught many retailers unprepared [but] has also seen businesses with strong digital DNA and e-commerce capabilities thrive, and their growth rapidly accelerate”.
This week, Amazon Web Services (AWS) released the report, “Unlocking APAC’s Digital Potential: Changing Digital Skill Needs and Policy Approaches.” Prepared by strategy and economics consulting firm AlphaBeta and commissioned by AWS, the report analyzes the digital skills applied by workers in their jobs today and the digital skills required by workforces over the next five years. The report focuses on six Asia Pacific countries: Singapore, Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, and South Korea.”
Divided into three parts, the report assesses the extent to which different digital skills are being applied at work in 2020 for the surveyed countries in APAC, identifies potential digital skill needs over five years, and provides workforce skills development recommendations for policymakers. The report also identifies current skill levels and gaps for each of the six countries.
Key findings show gaps in current workforce
Almost 150 million workers in the six countries in the study apply digital skills in their jobs today. Each country varies in their level and extent of skills, but cloud computing expertise is among the most commonly applied digital skills in each country. The study found that 48% of the digital workers across these six countries who are not applying cloud skills today believe cloud skills will be a requirement to perform their jobs by 2025.
The report identifies four types of workers who will need to gain new digital skills by 2025: currently digitally skilled workers, currently non-digital workers, future workforce (today’s students), and individuals who are unemployed or involuntarily excluded from the workforce.
The findings showed that digitally skilled workers will need to enhance their skills, non-digitally skilled workers will need to learn digital skills to remain in their roles or access better jobs, students will need to learn in-demand skills to improve their employability, and unemployed individuals will have to learn digital skills to gain access to jobs.
Skilling the workforce for the future
To keep pace with technological change, the number of workers applying digital skills in these countries will increase by over five-fold from 149 million workers today to 819 million workers in 2025. To achieve this level of skilling in the six countries, the average worker in the six surveyed countries will need to gain seven new digital skills by 2025, and 5.7 billion digital skill trainings will be required.
Advanced cloud computing and data skills will become more important for current digitally skilled workers and future workers (today’s students), with these skill needs projected to triple by 2025. Cloud architecture design consistently emerged as one of the top five most “in-demand” skills by 2025 in all countries. Another advanced cloud computing skill—specifically, the ability to help organizations transition from on premises-based to cloud-based infrastructure—will also become more important, including in non-technology sectors.
Current digital workers will need to focus on training in advanced cloud computing skills as well as advanced data skills. These skills include cybersecurity, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML), and are projected to see the largest required increase across all digital skills in the six countries by 2025, with the number of workers needing these skills expected to triple over the next five years.
Bridging Digital Skills Gaps with AWS
AWS helps bridge digital skills gap with training programs for the most in-demand cloud computing skills. To date, AWS offers more than 500 free, on-demand online courses with many courses available in multiple languages such as Bahasa Indonesia, Japanese, Korean, Simplified and Traditional Chinese; interactive labs, and virtual day-long training sessions through AWS Training and Certification.
AWS also provides in-person and virtual classroom training courses taught by accredited AWS instructors for workers interested to upskill or reskill, and organizations who want to upskill employees. These one-to five-day foundational, intermediate, and advanced courses cover a range of topics like cloud architecture, cybersecurity, and data analytics.
Additionally, students can gain access to free, self-paced, online learning content for cloud career pathways related to in-demand jobs such as cloud engineer, cybersecurity specialist, machine learning scientist, and data scientist.
Click here for more information on how to get started with free AWS skills training.
As the digital economy grows and matures with the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, the “smart cities” movement is gaining momentum. For most, it represents the promise of high-tech cities, cars equipped with advanced tech rolling the streets, AI-powered drones delivering food, and connected devices everywhere helping citizens experience digital haven.
With this end-goal in mind, Indonesia and Singapore team up to build Southeast Asia’s digital hub of the future. The two countries called this project, “Nongsa D-Town”. This will serve as a digital bridge between Indonesia and Singapore connecting Batam’s high-tech future with its industrial past.
Located just 40 minutes by ferry from Singapore’s Harbourfront, the digital hub provides an opportunity for rising start-ups from both countries to collaborate within close physical proximity. The settlement is built upon the three philosophical pillars of ecological, digital, and physical sustainability. Rather than the hyper-urban culture typical of many downtown tech hubs, life at D-town is designed to accommodate sustainable mobile work.
Designed by a Singaporean firm and developed by two of Indonesia’s largest conglomerates, the interconnected layout of D-Town includes a residential village, tech campuses, a town plaza, and a commercial centre and is set to house 8000 tech talents when completed. There are currently about 1000 tech talents at the existing NDP working for tech companies and start-ups from the two countries.
Singapore and Indonesia are home to Southeast Asia’s most vibrant tech ecosystems. Eleven out of the thirteen tech unicorns operating in ASEAN are headquartered in either country, seven out of those eleven are homegrown start-ups.
The two countries have produced companies that dominate the regional market by first-mover advantages over their neighbours through superior technology, as is the case with Singapore, and massive population size, as is the case with Indonesia, their respective start-up scenes share and compete for talent, resources, and market share.
Overlapping time zones between Indonesia and Singapore facilitate ease of work across borders. Due to the accelerated transition to digital within the last year, cross-border collaboration between remote teams has become a common occurrence. Despite Singapore’s technological advancement compared to its neighbours, it faces a shortage of tech talent. Nongsa D-Town will allow talent from Indonesia and Singapore to collaborate directly within the same area, providing a solution to the shortage while further tightening economic ties between the two nations.
At 270 million people, Indonesia is the largest market in ASEAN. Indonesians are notoriously early adopters of new technologies when given the chance, with 32% of the population keen to use new tech products as soon as they enter the market, according to a survey. The sheer volume of Indonesian consumers eager to try new technologies makes the country an ideal steppingstone for Singaporean start-ups that intend to scale regionally, often through Batam as a port of call.
At the same time, within the perimeter of the D-Town Masterplan that will be launched, there is Nongsa Digital Park (NDP), an initiative supported by both Indonesian and Singapore Governments which is frequently mentioned in high-level bilateral meetings between President Jokowi and Prime Minister Lee. D-Town leverages on the initial success of NDP that saw several international companies have already taken advantage of the access to talent and the economic incentives currently offered to set up in the digital downtown.
Indonesia’s National Special Economic Zone Council, chaired by Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto, announced that NDP has the potential to create employment and boost economic growth, hence it was recommended to President Jokowi to be confirmed as a new Special Economic Zone (SEZ).
As reported by OpenGov Asia, these digital ventures were recently mentioned as part of Singapore’s investment budget over the next three years. Deputy PM Heng Swee Keat announced that Singapore will be allocating around $24 billion over the next three years to enhance its digital connectivity and global presence, a plan which includes cross-country investments like NDP and its next phase of development, Nongsa D-Town.
The public sector IT association, Society for innovation, technology and modernisation (Socitm) released their latest practical guide for public sector CIOs looking at the challenges and opportunities presented by cloud computing. The association says the report is designed to be a practical guide for the public sector CIO and other public service business leaders into the realities of cloud challenges and opportunities of today. It lays out the issues and opportunities raised by cloud computing in the public sector and how best they can be tackled.
The report, at its start, does away with complacency saying, “it would be easy to assume that there is nothing new about cloud computing. After all, it has been around for nearly 20 years. Socitm’s first briefing on cloud, ‘Heading into the Cloud’ is still relevant today and was published in December 2010.”
While the prevailing perception has been that the public sector has been comparatively slow in its adoption of cloud computing, with the civil administration cadre being unfavourable to change, resulting in the retention of inefficient and outdated IT models and services, the report says this is only partially true.
Many other factors play into the decision for cloud deployment. These include advocates and marketers exaggerating the benefits and underplaying the risks, costs and challenges associated with cloud adoption in a government context. The situation is compounded by ambiguous cloud policies at the top along with a paucity of robust governance. The report says that a successful cloud adoption strategy relies on a sound understanding of the different types of services available. Concerns over procurement and logistics are dependent on the type of service that has been chosen.
Hosted cloud platforms, as an example, extend basic cloud infrastructure as a service. While established brands can be considered safe, secure and resilient, it is imperative that care is taken in managing how sensitive data is tracked and shared, and where data is located and processed.
On the other hand, cloud-native applications can be implemented faster and are easier to manage. The flip side to this coin is that leaders need to ensure that their team has mature methods for development and optimisation.
Of course, homegrown solutions can help address particular challenges better than even specialist solutions from the private sector. Many public service organisations are therefore beginning to turn to development work, even in partnership to share services. However, attention needs to be paid to optimise performance and security. It is also imperative to maintain the necessary level of skills and resources for support and development.There must also be careful planning and design to avoid creating future legacy overheads.
Hence, to genuinely enjoy solid returns of cloud investment, agencies must think carefully when planning. Rather than rely exclusively on in-house expertise and teams, they should seek advice on how to best capitalise on the investments.
Cloud migration and deployment comes with a plethora of advantages including robust resilience, enhanced security, the potential to save on a range of costs, sustainability, greater agility and superior innovation.
When convinced about cloud migration, agencies must retain a tempered perspective. While the urge to cover the entire gamut of services at one time, it may be prudent to avoid this strategy. The report said this could be counter-productive. Too many concurrent cloud implementation and transformation projects could lead to confusion and pose a challenge in terms of governance, vendor supervision and change management.
While transitioning to cloud computing is designed to be safer, it does pose unique risks in and of itself. While many expect that the main risks associated with cloud computing to be maintaining resilience and control of the technology environment, security and data management, these may not be the primary concerns.
Instead, cloud technologies commonly cause risks in areas including increased use of shadow IT, a growing dependency on internet connectivity and capacity, the lack of clear data ownership for apps, and the lack of understanding or tracking of data use — which can have regulatory implications.
The report warns that a move to a predominantly cloud model of IT requires even careful consideration. Organisations must expect to face challenges in areas ranging from security to vendor lock-ins, availability of technical support, data governance issues and increased requirements for IT resources.
Careful thought must be given when choosing a cloud service provider partner. Extensive due diligence checks in tendering and selecting a cloud service are a must. These should involve an assessment of both the vendor and its solutions along with credential checks, standards and accreditation evaluation. When reviewing the terms of a proposed contract, provisions must be made for vendor-support for transition and migration.
The role that technology plays in society is becoming an increasingly urgent topic of discussion today as the COVID-19 pandemic takes its toll. The advancements in technology are lightning-fast, which is evident as more and more data becomes available through cloud technology. As the digital landscape continues to evolve at a rate that seems to outpace our innate, online culture, organisations without sufficient digital foundation and cybersecurity measures are at risk.
Worldwide digital transformation and the paradigm shift to cloud tech is imperative and it continues to gather momentum with the pandemic accelerating the transition. This is a timely opportunity for organisations to pause and reflect on their current digital makeup.
These were the focal points discussed by digital executives from various tech sectors during the OpenGovLive! Virtual Breakfast Insight held on 24 February. The topic – Start Small, Scale Fast, Transform Securely: Embracing a Paradigm Shift in Cloud-Native Applications and Protection Strategies – was highly pertinent and relevant to the current times.
The pandemic’s effect on digital transformation and cloud migration
To kickstart the session, Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief at OpenGov Asia explained that cloud technology has been around, but it has been magnified today because of COVID-19.
The paradigm shifts towards cloud-native are here to stay, he asserted. The public sectors around the region have been juggling numerous applications to keep the services going. In today’s new normal, citizens no longer have the luxury of walking up to a government office to ask for assistance – it has all been moved to the digital space.
Mohit reiterated that a digital system should be as seamless and innovative as possible, creating a user-friendly experience. Yet, many government agencies are grappling with mission-critical legacy applications and therefore, it is vital to have a clear strategy and overall framework to modernise these applications. While doing that, a cloud system must be incorporated – providing accessibility from any device, any where, any time.
At the same time, scalability must be at the forefront of this digital shift. The modernisation of critical applications can be gradual, and organisations can start by streamlining the current portfolio of applications to achieve scalability. As technology advances, so does the level of cyber risk that organisations must manage; security must be built into the process.
However, with time pressure to get a project up and running, the lack of sensible security measures will create a hindrance for governments to achieve true cyber resilience and vigilance.
In conclusion, Mohit advised delegates and organisations to find the right partners in this ever-evolving journey of digital transformation and application modernisation, instead of attempting to handle everything in-house.
Modernising digital solutions for today’s immediate needs
The COVID-19 pandemic created new norms in society, triggering significant pressure on organisations to provide modern digital solutions. This was the key premise, Sanjay Deshmukh, Vice President & Managing Director for Southeast Asia & Korea, VMware, elaborated on with fellow speakers and distinguished delegates from the Singapore public sector.
He started with the fact that VMware has been working with different agencies all over the world, especially during the pandemic, to build the right foundation for digital government. He acknowledged that there is unprecedented pressure on governments and digital service providers brought by the on-going pandemic.
The escalating pressure to modernise and the urgent need for mobile workplaces and services are just some of the community’s expectations. At the same time, protection from cyber threats is vital as these threats are on the rise. All these issues and needs have been compounded and accelerated by COVID-19.
Sanjay added that the biggest challenge lies in legacy systems. These systems create a digital divide between what the citizens are expecting and what agencies can deliver. Every agency wants to deliver and automate digital services, but legacy systems are a major hindrance. The lack of agility in response time from this system magnifies this issue.
Additionally, security and compliance are known factors in creating this digital divide.
Through a secure and flexible digital foundation – with consistent infrastructure, consistent operations, and intrinsic security, powered by digital infrastructure – agencies can enhance mission delivery and productivity; continually defend against cyberthreats, and meet dynamic mission requirements— all while relieving IT burdens.
Yet achieving these agency goals with a digital foundation requires rethinking the IT architecture.
Governments to act as solution providers, not as mere policymakers
Following Sanjay’s presentation, Adam Carthew, Chief Information Officer of Service Victoria to over. He started by sharing that Service Victoria was first instituted as a start-up aiming to provide a place where citizens can go digitally, irrespective of the structure of government. The company launched a successful pilot using lean methodology in government services, so citizens do not need to go out and conduct their businesses, which proved to more cost-effective for all concerned parties.
With the foundation set, the company went from start-up to scale-up. At first, they did not target infrastructure building nor even had a team to handle services right away. So, what they did was they partnered with someone with a plethora of digital capabilities that could run in a cloud environment, that could scale and be cost-effective.
Service Victoria eventually redesigned their digital transactions by making services such as identity identification, payment gateways, police check etc., all possible on the digital space.
Adam also said that the ones who are winning right now are marketplace organisations. These types of organisations do not care about brands, bricks and mortar, or any of these. They only care about the customer. Hence, from the government’s perspective, Service Victoria had to get away from thinking like policymakers and start thinking about what is best for customers.
Accordingly, Service Victoria picked up various products and services and integrated them into their standard way of operating in the cloud. They improved the products’ capabilities and flexibility. But then, COVID-19 struck, and as Adam described, it was like a 40kph wind behind them. Service Victoria needed to adapt once more and create leverage with this wind behind them. Even with the tech they had, as good as it was, it still was not fast enough, and it just could not take them to where they want to go.
With the government making swift policy changes, Service Victoria needed to be agile enough to keep up. They did away with the tech that they had and started to used servers. They also needed to scalable because of the high volumes of changes. Volumes that were not constrained to a single platform.
Adam revealed that with the on-going pandemic, they improved their digital permit system so that it did not force citizens to navigate from one place to another during lockdown situations. Adam added that with the cloud-native approach and advanced tech applications, various projects from frontend to backend, ones that can stem from 3 months to accomplish, can be achieved in 3 weeks or even just a matter of days.
Polling questions and discussion
After the engaging and informative presentations by the speakers, the session transitioned to an interactive discussion with polling questions posed to the audience. The questions revolved around the main challenges and drivers of application modernisation.
When asked what the current state of their organisation’s public cloud adoption is, 42% of the delegates said they currently have small workloads in the cloud. A delegate from the health sector said that most of their data, like patient details, are still on their private cloud. But they are pushing for the migration of data containing useful clinical information to the public cloud.
The next question focussed on their main challenges in cloud migration. Most of the delegates said that digital processes are the biggest challenge because government policies hinder full migration. Sanjay from VMware reiterated that infrastructures must complement the cloud to achieve benefits in the long run. For him, the future is hybrid and multi-cloud heavy.
However, 43% of delegates said that re-factoring or developing new cloud apps is preferred, rather than migrating existing apps to the cloud. Some delegates also said that re-platforming their apps or utilising Kubernetes is also appreciated.
Mohit on the other hand suggested that retiring processes/apps that prove to be outdated are also useful for governments for them to focus on what is effective and not get disoriented by multiple platforms and applications.
For over 70% of the delegates, the lack of developers and operator skills is the top challenge when adopting Kubernetes in their organisations. Resources are also limited, so they need to get partners on board. Compounding that, unfamiliarity with the tech bothers some of the attendees – primarily because of its security capabilities.
On the topic of security, the delegates were asked which of the following security strategies namely, Endpoint, Workload, Workspace, Network and Cloud are on the companies’ radar for the next 12 months. About 21% of the delegates voted for Workload and Endpoint securities, while the same number of attendees voted for Network and Cloud securities. Only 16% voted for Workspace security.
The session ended with the closing remarks by Adrian Hia, Country Manager, Singapore for VMware. He closed the session by emphasising two points.
The first was the need for continuous production of modern applications for training and learning in the digital world. The second was the current trend where fresh graduates are mainly interested in cloud technology. This should prompt and inspire organisations to adapt and migrate to the cloud as soon as possible, taking advantage of the available talent and skill. Together, they could create an effective and cost-efficient digital government.
He encouraged delegates to reach out to them and explore ways they could collaborate for a better, efficient and resilient government for the benefit of all.
Several technology-based initiatives for governance were recently unveiled in Delhi, earlier this week. During the launch, the Minister for Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), Ravi Shankar Prasad, said that the cities will become smarter only if technologies are properly leveraged and that the objectives of Digital India can be achieved through indigenous, developmental, low-cost, and inclusive technology.
National Urban Digital Mission
The National Urban Digital Mission (NUDM) will create a shared digital infrastructure to support cities and towns. It will institutionalise a citizen-centric and ecosystem-driven approach to urban governance and service delivery for 2,022 cities by 2022, and across all cities and towns in India by 2024. It will create a shared digital infrastructure that can consolidate and cross-leverage the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs’ various digital initiatives.
India Urban Data Exchange
The India Urban Data Exchange (IUDX) has been developed by the Smart Cities Mission in partnership with the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru. IUDX is a seamless interface for data providers and users, including urban local bodies (ULBs), to share, request, and access datasets related to cities and urban governance and service delivery.
IUDX is an open-source software platform that facilitates the secure, authenticated, and managed exchange of data among data platforms, third-party authenticated and authorised applications, and other sources.
IUDX is designed to address the problem of data silos, both within and across cities. Cities generate large volumes of data, which are recorded by a wide range of entities, both within the government and across the industry, academia, and society. The combination of these datasets can enable rapid innovation and offer a better understanding of and planning for urban needs and challenges.
SmartCode is a platform that enables all ecosystem stakeholders to contribute to a repository of open-source code for solutions and applications for urban governance. It will address the challenges that ULBs face when deploying digital applications to solve urban challenges, by enabling cities to take advantage of existing codes and customising them to suit local needs.
As a repository of open-source software, the source code available on the platform will be free to use without any licensing or subscription fees, thus limiting costs to those involved.
New Smart Cities Website and GMIS
To better connect with people on the Smart Cities Mission efforts and achievements, and to make it easier for ULBs and citizens to access resources related to their work, the Smart Cities Mission website has been redesigned to be a single stop for all smart city initiatives.
The geospatial management information system (GMIS) has also been integrated on the website. Through a seamless and unified interface, it aggregates all mission-related information from various platforms. The website is a highly effective communication and outreach tool.
Since its launch in 2015, the Smart Cities Mission has made significant strides in its efforts to ensure that the benefits of technology reach all citizens. Over the last year, the mission has seen accelerated project implementation with Smart Cities focusing on grounding and completing projects. Also, over 50 smart cities have transformed their Integrated Command and Control Centres (ICCCs) into COVID-19 war rooms.
Further, the Climate Smart Cities Assessment Framework (CSCAF) was rolled out in 100 smart cities to help cities with climate change-based urban design and governance. The second round of annual assessment is currently underway. A Climate Centre for Cities (C3) has been established in the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA. Several national competitions like the India Cycles4Change Challenge, Streets for People, and Nurturing Neighbourhoods have also been implemented.