Mr. Hong-Eng Koh at the Global Safe City Summit (Photo credit: Huawei)
OpenGov interviewed Mr. Hong-Eng Koh, Global Chief Public Safety Expert of Huawei Enterprise Business Group. He discussed threats to public safety in the ASEAN region, the challenges posed by legacy systems, the impact of emerging technologies, and using collaborative communication and collaborative cloud for ensuring safety in a smart city.
Mr. Koh is the chief expert in Huawei on the use of ICT in enabling Public Safety and Justice (PSJ) agencies to achieve a safer city and nation. Mr. Koh started his career with the Singapore Police Force (SPF) where he went on to hold various appointments. His last appointment with SPF was as head of the Computer Systems Division, where he led the implementation of various operational and administrative systems including SPF's first internet project, and systems for one-stop change of address, investigation management, automated vehicle screening, resource activation management, casualty information, and more.
Prior to joining Huawei for this pioneer global chief expert position, Mr. Koh spent over 15 years in Oracle, including Sun Microsystems which was acquired by Oracle. He was the Global Lead in PSJ with similar roles as in Huawei. Over the years, Mr. Koh was actively involved in many PSJ projects globally, including citizens registry/ID; ePassport; border control system; advanced passenger information system; licensing system, command, control, and communications (C3) system; traffic incident management system; national disaster warning system; video surveillance system; electronics surveillance system; automated fingerprint identification system; criminal records system; investigation/case management system; court case management system; and prisons management system.
Leveraging his frontline policing experience and deep ICT knowledge, Mr. Koh helps PSJ agencies to better understand their future challenges, trends, requirements and best practices.
What are the major threats to public safety in the ASEAN region? What are the challenges governments faces in tackling those threats?
Terrorism remains a dominant threat in the ASEAN region. Other major threats include organized crime, human smuggling and drug trafficking. With increasing adoption of technology, cybercrime is becoming a major concern too. In ASEAN, we are also constantly under threat from natural disasters.
While dealing with these “traditional” threats, public safety agencies also have to prepare for threats emerging from their “digital transformation”: the bad guys are leveraging technologies such as social networking, mobile computing, cloud and even big data. For example, a terrorist cell today is not limited by geographical constraints, it adopts a platform to widen its ecosystem of likeminded terrorists across the world. People with ill-intent can spread rumors and incite violence during mass protests through the use of mesh-networking, such as Firechat. We are even seeing Cyber-Attack-as-a-Service, such as those services offered by Lizard Squad.
Governments cannot uphold public safety and maintain safe cities on their own, especially with perpetrators leveraging platforms to widen their ecosystems of likeminded individuals.
Therefore, it becomes challenging when a single government agency is working alone for public safety/safe city and not involving the communities in all phases of public safety threats: prevention, detection, response, and recovery. Another challenge is not having the right legislation to uphold public safety. For example, a high percentage of emergency calls today are made through mobile phones; a law, such as e911 in the USA, is needed for telcos to provide more accurate location information of mobile phone making emergency calls.
How are developments in technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, cloud computing, software-defined networking etc. impacting approaches to public safety?
When I headed the IT of Singapore Police Force more than 20 years ago, my principle was that operations drive technologies. But today’s technologies are evolving and developing at such a fast pace, many new processes and operations can be introduced through the use of technologies.
Today, I believe strongly that operations and technologies are in a cycle: operations still drive technologies, and technologies can drive innovation in operations. For example, in the city of Qiqihar in China, 5,000 private taxis are able to share real-time videos from their personal in-vehicle cameras with the local police on a secured wireless broadband platform to help the police solve crimes. This is a great example of Collaborative Public Safety.
Just as the bad guys are leveraging platforms to widen their ecosystems of likeminded individuals, public safety agencies need “A Network to Fight A Network” and I call this Collaborative Public Safety, which comprises:
- Inter-Agency Collaboration (ecosystem)
- Communities Collaboration (ecosystem)
- Digital Platforms to enable the ecosystems
This approach is not new. Uber leverages digital platforms to support the ecosystem of passengers and drivers. Digital platforms are built on technologies such as IoT, Big Data, cloud computing, SDN, LTE, etc.
How can ICT help in dealing with cross-regional crimes and increasing inter-governmental collaboration?
Collaborative Public Safety, described above, is the way forward. While digital platforms aim to counter the barriers of government agencies working alone without involving other agencies or communities, there is another barrier that we need to consider: trust. Digital transformation is built on trust; just as we have to trust the AirBnB platform before we stay in the house of a stranger.
To build trust, an agency needs leadership and commitment to innovate the agency’s operations to support Collaborative Public Safety. To gain trust from other agencies and from communities, an agency needs to be transparent and respect the rule of law, including privacy.
Huawei offers a Unified Security solution platform, safeguarding the security of the device, connection and cloud, so that entities can connect, share, and even collaborate knowing the right data is accessed by the right people at the right time at the right place on the right device.
In 1996, I was fortunate to lead the implementation of the Electronic ASEANAPOL Database System to share certain criminal and crime information between the police forces of ASEAN countries. Such Collaborative Public Safety was not just built on technologies, it was built on trust between the countries, and a legal framework.
Do governments face issues in adoption of new technologies because of legacy systems and infrastructure?
There are some specific challenges faced by public safety agencies due to legacy systems and infrastructure. These include:
- Command & Control: multiple public safety agencies with different emergency numbers and even different operations centers; agencies also have to deal with prank or repeated emergency calls, and are largely unaware of caller locations; agencies rely only on data and mapping, with poor awareness of the extent of threats.
- Communication: largely using voice only (e.g. TETRA, P25, analogue) with limited data; reliance on a separate network, mainly public LTE for broadband data which gives rise to problems such as high costs, additional devices, and threat of public network outage during major incidents; different agencies using different devices/networks; blind spots or damaged infrastructure.
- Cloud: hundreds of silo applications, especially across multiple public safety agencies; lacking in information sharing; difficulty in launching new services for both internal and community users.
- Intelligence: data silos across agencies and with different data types; dealing with new modus operandi and unknowns, especially among the massive databases; lacking in real-time data processing made worst by aging technologies.
- Surveillance: silo video surveillance sites lacking intelligent analytics; slow transfer rate even if the sites are connected; poor power and data lines in developing nations.
- Reconnaissance: poor security and identity management of sensors/devices; complex management of such sensors/devices from vast numbers of vendors; massive scale in terms of data and concurrency.
Another issue with developed nations/cities, which tend to have legacy technologies, is resistance to adopting new technologies despite the obvious benefits. We have seen developing nations/cities leap-frog by adopting state-of-the-art safe city technologies.
While Huawei offers such state-of-the-art technologies, we also understand the need to protect the past investment by government agencies. We build solutions based on open standards allowing interoperability with older technologies, allowing the latter to be used until they run out of their operational value. For example, Collaborative Communication allows LTE-based broadband critical communication trunking system to interoperate with legacy systems, such as TETRA and P25. Huawei’s Collaborative Cloud adopts OpenStack standard to work with other brands.
Can you tell us about case studies where Huawei has worked with governments for building public safety systems?
Take Kenya as an example. Safe City solutions that require innovative ICT for security management are part of Kenya’s national strategy. Kenya has abundant natural resources, including wildlife protection zones which occupy a large part of the country's territory. Tourism is one of the country's pillar industries, but it is vulnerable to security threats. Huawei partnered with Safaricom, Kenya’s leading mobile network operator, and discovered the following challenges:
- Legacy Systems: Analog trunking systems were still being used for emergency communications; outdated devices left systems vulnerable to interference from external signals, leading to unclear communications.
- Disparate Systems: Kenya’s police system included numerous agencies across the country, creating difficulties in planning and building subsystems into the solution for quick use across agencies and multiple locations.
3. Project Delivery: Complexity of the project required collaboration with upstream and downstream enterprises in the industry chain.
Keyna’s National Police Service Commission has now deployed a high-speed private broadband network, reliant in part on Huawei’s proprietary wireless eLTE solution. In regions without CCTV, 1,800+ HD cameras have been implemented for use by over 7,500 police officers and 196 police stations.
The new infrastructure links its command center using Huawei’s converged command solution with over a thousand high-definition cameras in downtown Nairobi, more than a hundred cameras at city checkpoints and any number of wireless devices in the hands of officers in the field.
Authorities have panoramic video surveillance of Nairobi’s urban center, and a highly-agile visualized command and dispatch setup, running on satellite-based GPS and software-based GIS, the geographic information system designed to store and manipulate GPS data.
An intelligent video analysis platform has been established to manage video resources and meet a variety of service needs, including real-time surveillance, video browsing, data sharing and evidence collection.
The new system has enhanced police collaboration, coordination, decision-making, more rapid response to security incidents and quick identification of useful clues and more efficient resolution of criminal cases.
We’re received great feedback from our customer in Kenya:
- On November 26, 2015, the system successfully guaranteed the Pope's visit where 0.12 square kilometers gathered 300,000 people and 10,000 police without zero incidents and complaints.
- According to an annual report by the Kenya Police, the crime rate in regions covered by Huawei's solutions was reduced by 46% between 2014 and 2015.
- In an interview in July 2016, Kenyan tourism minister said the number of international visitor arrivals in Kenya had increased by 14%.
- Kenya's gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 5.8% in 2016, the growth rate was higher than that in 2015, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) 5.7%. The report also said Kenya's economic growth last year was largely due to the strong recovery in tourism. As the security situation improved, the number of international visitors visited in 2016 reached 1.34 million, an increase of 13.5%.
A safer environment helps stimulate investment and employment, improve how people work and live, and contribute to sustainable social and economic development.
Could you share your vision of what public safety would look like in a smart city?
Collaborative Communication and Collaborative Cloud mentioned above are part of this vision, which I call Collaborative C4ISR, or C-C4ISR:
- Collaborative Command & Control (C2), enabling a converged and visualized command center, allowing multiple agencies to work together through a single emergency number with automatic call analysis, filtering and distribution, and with visualization beyond mapping, such as real-time video surveillance and social media integration.
- Collaborative Communication (C), an enterprise LTE-based broadband critical communication trunking system that allows voice, video and mobile apps on a single device, and with the ability to interoperate with other and legacy systems. It must have a rapid version for fast deployment in areas with no coverage.
- Collaborative Cloud (C), an OpenStack-based scalable and elastic platform that maximizes computing resources, supports information exchange, allows user-centric apps, provides dynamic resource allocation when demand surges, and facilitates agile deployment of new services.
- Collaborative Intelligence (I), using Big Data technologies including massively parallel processing database and analytical algorithms, to discover unknowns and to connect the dots.
- Collaborative Surveillance (S), a two-tiered intelligent video surveillance system for effective analysis and efficient archival, with virtualized processing at the edge nodes, and super-fast transfer of high resolution video between edge nodes and central node.
- Collaborative Reconnaissance (R), a secured IoT cloud platform, with unified API interface for sensors from various suppliers that supports massive concurrent processing.
The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) is spearheading an initiative to propel the nation’s capabilities in healthcare, Industry 4.0-driven manufacturing, and supply chain and logistics through the transformative power of 5G. This groundbreaking endeavour, known as the S$30 million 5G Innovation Programme, is not just a step forward but a giant leap into a future where innovation reshapes industries.
Launched in 2021, the 5G Innovation Programme is a testament to Singapore’s commitment to embracing emerging technologies. IMDA has forged strategic partnerships with key enterprises, including the National University Health System (NUHS).
In the healthcare industry, Singapore’s forward-thinking tech innovators, in collaboration with NUHS, have harnessed 5G to revolutionise patient care. The introduction of Mixed Reality-based Holomedicine in operating theatres stands out as a groundbreaking achievement.
This innovative approach not only enhances patient care but also redefines the entire healthcare experience. Announced in 2022, the initiative marks the Asia Pacific’s inaugural deployment of indoor private Enterprise 5G mobile edge computing (MEC) for Mixed Reality and Holomedicine capabilities in health tech.
A significant stride in healthcare also involves a collaboration with Republic Power to deploy 5G-enabled unmanned medical booths. These “Medbots” represent Asia’s first 5G-enabled unmanned pre-screening and teleconsultation medical booths. Equipped with state-of-the-art hygiene and safety systems, these booths support remote health screening and video consultations, offering an enhanced user experience that aligns with the demands of a digital era.
The impact of 5G extends beyond healthcare, permeating the realms of Industry 4.0-driven manufacturing, supply chain, and logistics. Collaborations with ST Engineering and DB Schenker have given rise to groundbreaking applications.
For instance, Singapore’s first 5G-enabled Digital Twin has been implemented for a logistics and supply chain company transforming warehouse and manufacturing operations, quality control, and customer experience. Simultaneously, ST Engineering’s 5G-Enabled Industry 4.0 Smart Factory boasts one of Singapore’s first 5G-enabled collaborative robots, revolutionising manufacturing processes.
Dr Ong Chen Hui, Assistant Chief Executive of the Biztech Group at IMDA, emphasised the agency’s commitment to architecting Singapore’s digital future. The goal is to build capabilities in various sectors powered by emerging technologies like 5G. IMDA’s collaboration with forward-looking companies signifies a concerted effort to unlock the full spectrum of benefits that 5G offers across a wide range of sectors.
As Singapore propels itself into the future, the 5G Innovation Programme stands as a testament to the nation’s dedication to progress. The partnerships with key enterprises underscore a collective effort to reshape, redefine, and transform industries across the country.
Singapore is not merely embracing change; it is pioneering a future where technology catalyses innovation and progress. The journey has just begun, and Singapore is at the forefront, shaping the narrative of a technologically advanced and future-ready nation.
The comprehensive initiative serves as a catalyst, propelling Singapore into a new era of digital prowess. It is not merely an adoption of advanced technologies; rather, it is a strategic alignment with the needs of the future, recognising the pivotal role technology plays in shaping economic landscapes on a global scale.
The 5G Innovation Programme signifies Singapore’s commitment to sustainable economic growth. By embracing technology as a driver of progress, Singapore is not just securing its current standing; it is laying the foundation for a resilient and forward-thinking economy. The emphasis on sustainability in this digital transformation ensures that growth is not just rapid but also enduring, with an eye towards environmental and social responsibility.
The implementation of a National Digital Identity (Digital ID) system in Malaysia is poised to revolutionise the verification and distribution of aid during crises or natural disasters, ensuring swift and precise assistance to those in need.
According to the Chairman of the Malaysian Cyber Consumer Association (MCCA), Digital ID has the potential to streamline processes, reducing bureaucratic hurdles and optimising the impact of government subsidies by facilitating the efficient distribution of assistance to targeted groups with greater accuracy and effectiveness.
Digital ID, in this context, serves as a digital means of self-identification and authentication for individuals, designed for use in both public and private sectors to verify user identities during online transactions. The nation’s Prime Minister has conveyed that while the government will not mandate registration for Digital ID presently, civil servants are encouraged to do so, especially as the Rahmah Cash Aid (STR) and other targeted subsidies will be channelled through this system. MIMOS Berhad, Malaysia’s national Applied Research and Development Centre, has been appointed as the implementing agency for Digital ID, with an initial allocation of RM80 million.
The Former Principal Assistant Director at Bukit Aman emphasised the significance of Digital ID in enhancing cybersecurity. The technology relies on digital certificates to bolster security in online transactions, verifying identities by linking cryptographic keys with their owners through cryptography.
Despite its potential benefits, the Former Principal Ass
istant Director pointed out a critical concern: the possibility of Digital ID being exploited as a ‘mule ID’ by third parties for fraudulent or illegal activities. He stressed the need for the government to establish robust security measures to prevent misuse, safeguard the system’s integrity, and maintain public trust in the initiative.
Addressing potential concerns about the misuse of Digital ID, the Former Principal Assistant Director called for a thorough examination of security measures. The government’s commitment to preventing fraudulent activities and illegal exploitation is crucial for the success of Digital ID. The Former Principal Assistant Director’s experience in cybercrime and multimedia investigations underscored the importance of maintaining the integrity of the system.
Furthermore, the Former Principal Assistant Director highlighted the need for comprehensive digital education to ensure that all segments of society benefit fully from Digital ID. A focus on digital education can prevent digital divides and contribute to the long-term success of Malaysia’s digitalisation initiatives. By promoting digital literacy, the government can empower citizens to use Digital ID responsibly and stay informed about potential risks.
In conclusion, the implementation of Digital ID in Malaysia represents a significant step toward modernising and securing online transactions. While the technology holds great potential for enhancing the distribution of aid during crises, it is imperative for the government to address security concerns and invest in digital education to ensure the successful adoption of Digital ID across all segments of society.
The advent of Digital ID in Malaysia represents a pivotal moment in the nation’s journey toward a more efficient and secure identity verification system. The Malaysian Cyber Consumer Association’s unwavering support underscores the potential benefits of this technological advancement for the wellbeing of Malaysians. However, as the implementation progresses, the emphasis on system integrity, cybersecurity, and public trust becomes paramount.
The call for robust security measures and consistency resonates as a crucial safeguard against potential misuse, ensuring that Digital ID serves as a reliable tool for streamlined aid distribution and government subsidies. As the nation navigates this transformative phase, it is imperative to strike a balance between technological innovation and the preservation of public confidence to fully realise the positive impact of Digital ID on the Malaysian society.
The National Education Policy (NEP) of 2020 has ushered in a new era for education in India, advocating for a robust investment in digital infrastructure and technological tools. At its core, the policy emphasises the integration of technology into the educational landscape, embracing online teaching platforms, virtual labs, digital repositories, and assessments.
NEP’s visionary approach highlights the pivotal role of multilingualism and language in transforming teaching and learning methodologies. Para 4.23 of the NEP stresses the acquisition of essential skills, including digital literacy, coding, and computational thinking. These competencies are being actively promoted through a myriad of digital initiatives.
The PM e-VIDYA, launched under the Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan in May 2020, aims to consolidate efforts in digital, online, and broadcast education, ensuring widespread access to education through multiple modes. Notably, PM eVidya is accessible to students across all states, free of cost, democratising educational resources.
The cornerstone components of PM eVidya encompass DIKSHA, serving as the nation’s digital repository for high-quality e-content tailored for school education across States/UTs. The integration of QR-coded Energised Textbooks, providing a unified platform for all grades, resonates with the ethos of ‘one nation, one digital platform’.
Expanding the horizons of education further, the initiative has scaled up from 12 to 200 PM e-VIDYA DTH TV Channels, enabling states to offer supplementary education in various Indian languages for classes 1-12. Leveraging radio and podcast platforms like Shiksha Vani, PM eVidya embraces a holistic approach to inclusive education, crafting specialised e-content for the visually and hearing impaired.
Driving the agenda of critical thinking and creativity, PM eVidya ambitiously aims to establish 750 virtual labs and 75 Skilling e-labs by 2023. These labs, designed for Science, Mathematics, and simulated learning environments, seek to foster hands-on learning experiences. The creation of a dedicated vertical on Virtual Labs within the DIKSHA platform and comprehensive training via PM eVidya DTH TV channels for educators underscore the commitment to capacity-building.
Moreover, the ICT and Digital initiatives within the centrally sponsored scheme of Samagra Shiksha extend support to Government and Aided schools, focusing on classes VI to XII. Financial aid facilitates the establishment of ICT Labs and Smart Classrooms, enhancing the technological infrastructure within educational institutions.
India is committed to deploying locally designed and made digital tools, platforms and solutions to better serve citizens, more comprehensively and inclusively.
OpenGov Asia reported on India Stack, a set of domestically created digital solutions implemented nationwide. It includes APIs and digital public assets that enable the widespread use of digital identity, data, and payments as fundamental economic elements. Key components include Unified Payments Interface (India’s instant payments system), Aadhaar (the government’s digital identity card), and DigiLocker (a secure document access platform on a public cloud).
India Stack enhances access to and the delivery of public services, with the overarching goals of achieving widespread connectivity, promoting digital inclusion, and ensuring seamless access to public services. Built on open technologies, these solutions are interoperable and crafted to encourage active participation from industry and community stakeholders, thereby fostering innovation.
Addressing the needs of students preparing for competitive exams nationwide, the development of the SATHEE portal in collaboration with IIT Kanpur stands as a testament to India’s dedication to empowering its youth.
The ongoing beta version is actively soliciting feedback from students across the country, aligning with a culture of continual improvement. It provides a comprehensive suite of resources tailored for NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test) and JEE (Joint Entrance Examination) aspirants.
These initiatives mark a significant stride towards a tech-driven educational ecosystem in India. As the nation embraces this digital revolution in education, it sets a precedent for inclusive and innovative learning paradigms.
Based on a study conducted in 2018, the Head of the Satellite Division of the Accessibility to Communication and Information Agency (BAKTI) of the Ministry of Communication and Information, Sri Sanggrama Aradea, stated that based, there is a need for internet access to 1Mbps for 150,000 public service points in the fields of education, healthcare, and government in remote, frontier, and outermost (3T) areas.
The Ministry of Communication and Information continues to uphold its commitment to implementing the agenda of equalising the progress of digital transformation across the entire archipelago of Indonesia. This commitment is realised by continuing the contract for Base Transceiver Station (BTS) 4G services, especially for Remote, Frontier, and Outermost (3T) regions.
This action signifies the seriousness of the Ministry in ensuring that the benefits of digital transformation progress are not only felt in major cities but also extend to remote and outermost areas of Indonesia. Continuing the BTS 4G contract for 3T focuses on equalising access and strengthening communication networks, ensuring that communities in previously connectivity-limited areas can enjoy the benefits of the digital revolution.
Minister of Communication and Information Budi Arie Setiadi emphasised, “Strengthening communication networks is the main focus, ensuring that communities in areas that may have been previously limited in connectivity can benefit from the digital revolution.”
Minister Budi Arie Setiadi stated that this aligns with President Joko Widodo’s directive during the handover of the Ministry’s Budget Execution Plan for the Fiscal Year 2024, emphasising that the utilisation of government budget allocations must be focused on results. Minister Budi Arie explained that the signed Operation & Maintenance Contract is intended to continue the operation of the already-built BTS 4G, which has become an asset of the Telecommunication and Information Accessibility Agency (BAKTI).
Arwoto Atmosutarno, Chairman of the Task Force of the BAKTI at the Ministry of Communication and Information, admits that completing the BTS 4G Project is challenging. The diverse topography of Indonesia and its often remote geographical locations create complexities that increase the difficulty in executing this project.
In overcoming these challenges, Atmosutarno highlighted the importance of collaborative and synergistic coordination among Task Force members, involving entities such as the Attorney General’s Office, Ministry of Finance, Supreme Audit Agency (BPKP), Procurement Policy Agency (LKPP), Ministry of Communication and Information, and various related industry stakeholders. This joint effort aims to overcome various obstacles and challenges from complicated geographical conditions.
This indicates that project completion requires technical expertise and active involvement from various sectors contributing to addressing Indonesia’s unique and complex landscapes. Although the task is not easy, the determination and good cooperation among Task Force members ensure the efficiency of the project, even in challenging geographical conditions.
Indonesia is indeed known as an archipelagic country with quite extreme topography. This poses significant challenges for communication networks, especially telecommunication infrastructure projects such as BTS 4G. With widely scattered islands, high mountains, and remote areas that are difficult to access, establishing a network that can cover the entire Indonesian territory requires meticulous planning and execution.
Based on data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), the number of internet users in Indonesia reached 292.3 million in 2022, equivalent to 77.02% of the total population. This figure increased by 2.6% from the previous year.
The increase in Internet access is driven by various factors, including economic growth, increased smartphone penetration, and government programmes to equalise Internet access.
Regarding telecommunication infrastructure development, the government aims to achieve 100% 4G network coverage by 2024. This target seems achievable, as in 2023, 4G network coverage in Indonesia has reached 98%.
The progress of telecommunication network development in Indonesia has brought various benefits to the community, including: Improving accessibility to information and communication, Facilitating economic transactions, Enhancing the quality of education and healthcare and Increasing the nation’s competitiveness.
Chengdu has placed its sights on catalysing digital transformation to connect with the dynamic landscape of scientific and technological innovation. With this, the Municipal Development and Reform Commission recently organised a major scheduling meeting for the Digital Transformation Promotion Centre, bringing together key participants in the province’s digital progress.
The recently held meeting convened influential figures from 19 provincial-level digital transformation promotion centres, district and county development and reform departments, and pivotal enterprises within the city. The goal was to enhance the city’s digital transformation promotion service capabilities and fast-track the realisation of a modern industrial system.
The proceedings unfolded with a comprehensive report from the High Technology Department of the Municipal Development and Reform Commission, shedding light on the progress of the city’s digital transformation promotion centre and unveiling the initial evaluation results.
The exchange of ideas extended beyond city borders, with experts from the Sichuan Provincial Digital Economy Development Centre offering insights, interpretation, and guidance on policies supporting the digital transformation initiative.
Highlighting the diverse facets of digital transformation, representatives from various sectors shared their experiences. These exchanges delved into the construction nuances of supporting, regional, and industry-specific digital transformation promotion centres, emphasising a multifaceted approach to catalysing change.
Concrete examples from food technology elucidated the transformative power of digitalisation in their respective industries, showcasing the tangible benefits accrued through embracing cutting-edge technologies. From enhanced processing efficiency in aviation equipment manufacturing to streamlined collaboration in biopharmaceutical production, the ripple effects of digital transformation were tangible.
Chengdu’s strategic position as a hub node in the computing power network has been pivotal in propelling the city’s digital drives. The initiative to construct a ‘smart Chengdu’ serves as the cornerstone for iterative upgrades and the demonstration of emerging technologies, products, business formats, and models. This concerted effort aims to foster innovative development within the digital economy.
The city’s proactive stance has yielded approval for 19 provincial-level digital transformation promotion centres. This includes 10 support centres, 2 regional centres, and 7 industry centres, collectively constituting over 50% of the total number in the province. The coverage extends across strategic areas like Tianfu New District and key industrial chains such as electronic information, equipment manufacturing, and medicine and health.
Success stories were brought to the forefront during the meeting, showcasing the tangible impact of digital transformation. For instance, the Chengdu Aircraft Digital Transformation Promotion Centre has significantly boosted the processing efficiency of the aviation equipment industry chain. Similarly, the Kelun Pharmaceutical Digital Transformation Promotion Centre has facilitated intelligent collaboration in biopharmaceutical production, reducing costs and optimising inventory turnover.
The initiatives underscored the imperative to align with national, provincial, and municipal mandates for deepening the integration of the digital economy with the real economy. A call to action resonated, urging a focus on the high-level construction of Sichuan Provincial Digital Transformation Promotion Centres.
Likewise, the emphasis on harnessing the transformative potential of computing power, algorithms, and data highlights Chengdu’s unwavering commitment to catalysing industry-wide development. The city recognises the pivotal role that advanced computing capabilities, sophisticated algorithms, and insightful data analytics play in propelling industries forward.
By leveraging robust computing power, industries in Chengdu can not only streamline their operations but also enhance their overall efficiency. This translates into faster processing times, heightened accuracy, and the ability to handle complex tasks with unprecedented precision.
The infusion of advanced algorithms further augments this initiative by introducing intelligent decision-making processes that adapt and evolve, ensuring that industries remain agile in dynamic market landscapes.
Hong Kong, a dynamic global financial centre and a historical node for the Chinese diaspora, stands as a vibrant hub for tech and trade. Hong Kong’s start-up ecosystem is thriving. In 2022, the number of start-ups in Hong Kong grew by 6% to 3,985, employing nearly 15,000 people.
Hong Kong’s innovation and technology sector together with that of Shenzhen and Guangzhou – the Shenzhen-Hong Kong-Guangzhou science and technology cluster – ranks as the world’s second performing according to the Global Innovation Index 2023.
Biotechnology, artificial intelligence, smart city and financial technologies were identified as the four key areas for Hong Kong’s innovation and technology industry. The city’s expenditure in absolute amount on research and development has almost doubled compared to a decade ago.
With opportunities brought by the Guangdong‑Hong Kong‑Macao Greater Bay Area development, Hong Kong is set to further capitalise on its advantages in R&D capabilities, technological infrastructure, legal system and intellectual property.
The region intends to spearhead the I&T industry and act as a business platform for companies looking to access the Asia market (and China in particular), or for innovative mainland companies seeking to go international.
There is a sharp focus on pivotal tech-driven sectors – healthcare, youth development, and the Greater Bay Area (GBA) – that have the potential to shape Hong Kong’s business trajectory. From cutting-edge healthcare advancements to fostering youth entrepreneurship and capitalising on the economic powerhouse that is the GBA, the pathways for innovation and collaboration will be determined.
Its pivotal role in the global business landscape is further accentuated by the Federation of Hong Kong Business Associations Worldwide (FHKBAW), a sprawling network uniting 47 associations across 36 countries and regions. With a membership boasting nearly 11,000 executives and professionals worldwide, this federation serves as a linchpin for a diverse global business community.
An annual Hong Kong Forum, jointly organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council and the Federation, emerges as a pivotal event drawing in business leaders and tech innovators. Scheduled for 5th and 6th December, the 24th iteration promises an inspiring convergence of minds, ideas, and opportunities.
Sessions will explore the intricacies of navigating Hong Kong’s ever-evolving business landscape. Experts will elaborate on Hong Kong’s prowess as a global business platform and delve into how cultural exchange through the West Kowloon Cultural District could further elevate Hong Kong’s global cultural imprint.
As tech, innovation, and global business intertwine, Hong Kong is a testament to its unwavering commitment to fostering collaboration, innovation, and growth across industries that define the future.
The startup ecosystem is rapidly expanding and diversifying, stretching beyond conventional hubs like San Francisco and London to embrace emerging powerhouses like Hong Kong. Simultaneously, within the ASEAN region, burgeoning economies are evolving into significant nodes of innovation and entrepreneurship in their own right.
Acknowledging the borderless nature of the digital entrepreneurial landscape, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council unveiled Start-up Express International last year. This global iteration of its longstanding local entrepreneurship development programme acknowledges and taps into the interconnectedness of the worldwide startup community.
Hong Kong has launched multiple initiatives in line with its goal to expand its digital economy and propel technological advancements. Cyberport is Hong Kong’s digital technology flagship and incubator for entrepreneurship with over 2,000 members including over 900 onsite and close to 1,100 offsite start-ups and technology companies.
With a vision to become Hong Kong’s digital technology hub and stimulate a fresh economic impetus, Cyberport is dedicated to cultivating a dynamic tech environment.
This commitment involves nurturing talent, encouraging youth entrepreneurship, aiding start-ups, fostering industry growth through strategic partnerships with local and international entities, and driving digital transformation across public and private sectors, bridging new and traditional economies.
The game industry in Vietnam has emerged as a promising domain, yet it grapples with hurdles demanding immediate attention to unlock its full potential. In an era where global gaming numbers surged to nearly 3.2 billion players, generating a massive US$182.9 billion in 2022, Vietnam aims to solidify its stance in this evolving landscape.
Vu Quoc Huy, Director of the Vietnam National Innovation Centre (NIC), identifies the game industry as a pivotal sector crucial for the nation’s scientific, technological, and innovative growth trajectory. With an annual revenue surpassing US$500 million and a strong foothold as Southeast Asia’s fifth-largest revenue generator, Vietnam’s gaming landscape thrives. Over 50% of the population engages in gaming for entertainment purposes, signalling a robust market demand.
Huy underscores the industry’s capacity to foster high-value jobs in programming and design, presenting an opportunity to propel Vietnam’s global position within value chains. The country currently ranks second in game downloads within Southeast Asia, witnessing a steady annual growth rate of approximately 10%. Globally, Vietnam clinches a position among the top 10 for download numbers and the top 30 for revenue generation.
The country boasts a talented pool of programmers capable of creating games meeting the stringent standards for Google and Apple stores. Apple estimates approximately 180,000 Vietnamese are actively engaged in mobile app development, with the game industry housing the majority.
The Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) emphasises Vietnam’s rank as the seventh-largest global mobile game distributor, attributing Vietnamese developers to nearly half of the world’s renowned games. Yet, there’s a push to increase the industry’s revenue from US$600 million to a lofty US$1 billion within the next five years.
Vietnam’s game industry, with its remarkable growth trajectory and burgeoning talent pool, stands at the cusp of a transformative phase. Despite this burgeoning success, challenges persist. Addressing hurdles in infrastructure, market expansion, and skill development will be pivotal to realising its immense potential and securing a formidable position in the global gaming arena.
At the fore, Vietnam’s game industry grapples with entrenched social stigmas and a host of structural deficiencies that hinder its growth. The prevailing societal bias against gaming, perceiving it as addictive, detrimental, and resource-intensive, casts a shadow over the industry’s prospects.
Le Quang Tu Do, Director of the MIC’s Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information, highlights critical issues, including policy inadequacies, limited financial support, and a dearth of local game competitiveness in the global market. Moreover, the absence of a robust ecosystem and collaborative efforts among businesses stifles the industry’s progress, hindering the discovery of high-quality Vietnamese games by distributors.
A significant obstacle lies in the shortage of skilled human resources, with estimates suggesting a need for up to 30,000 qualified personnel in the game industry. To transform the industry into a robust and competitive landscape, Vu Quoc Huy, NIC Director, advises cultivating an internationally adept workforce and fostering a cohesive ecosystem where stakeholders collaborate and uplift each other.
Others advocate official recognition of the game industry as an economic sector and a pivotal driver of the digital economy. Acknowledging the need for an appropriate management strategy and development roadmap underscores the necessity of societal and governmental acknowledgement to attract foreign investment and solidify the industry’s position.
The MIC has outlined a developmental roadmap spanning 2022 to 2027, centring on addressing critical issues such as policy frameworks, market regulation, and manpower development. Initiatives encompass facilitating partnerships between domestic developers and international counterparts, alongside efforts to entice foreign investment entities into Vietnam’s burgeoning gaming sector.
As the MIC steers the developmental trajectory and industry stakeholders converge to address these challenges, Vietnam’s game industry holds the promise of a transformative evolution towards global competitiveness and economic significance.