In the bid of protecting the world from further harm and damage, constant efforts are made for finding environmentally friendly alternatives. Scientists from the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have done just that.
They have a found way to convert plastic waste into chemicals of use, with the help of sunlight.
This is the first established process that can fully break down non-biodegradable plastic, such as polyethylene, with visible light and a catalyst that does not contain heavy metals.
This research was led by Assistant Professor Soo Han Sen from NTU who overlooked the research team from the School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences. The team had formed a catalyst that used sunlight to break down the chemical bonds in plastics within a matter of days.
This is an environmentally friendly method of using photochemical reactions to achieve this. Prof Soo said that most other recycling methods involve the use of incineration which generates greenhouse gases as a by-product.
The team’s method involves a catalysed reaction which can break down non-biodegradable consumer plastics, such as polyethylene, within six days. It converts the plastic into formic acid which exists as a naturally occurring preservative and antibacterial agent which can be used for energy generation by power plants and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
The process is such that plastic is dissolved in acetonitrile, an organic solvent, where the mixture is heated to 85 deg C. Following that, the catalyst is added, and the mixture is exposed to artificial sunlight at room temperature.
Prof Soo said that the catalyst has a 100 per cent conversion rate, with all plastic processed is converted into formic acid. Carbon dioxide gas is a by-product of this process.
According to the National Environment Agency (NEA), out of the 949,300 tonnes of plastic waste that was produced in 2018, only 40,700 tonnes were recycled. This figure makes up just 4% of the waste produced.
Most of such plastic waste is burned and thus producing greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. The remaining mass-burn ash is deposited at Semakau Landfill. It is estimated that the land space will be fully occupied by 2035.
This projection has pushed Singapore to find zero-waste solutions. NTU Smart Campus has its eyes on formulating a way for converting plastic waste into useful chemicals such as polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene. These chemicals make up 80 per cent to 90 per cent of the plastics in the world.
The method formulated by Prof Soo and his team is one of the two known processes that make use of sunlight to convert plastic waste into useful chemicals.
The other method is photoreforming, a method developed by scientists from the University of Cambridge, in 2018. Photoreforming method is used for converting plastic to Hydrogen gas. This method fuses plastic together with water and sunlight to produce hydrogen gas. The gas in return can be used for energy generation using hydrogen fuel cells. The setback with this method is that the catalyst used contains cadmium which is a toxic heavy metal.
The method devised by Prof Soo and his team used vanadium in its catalyst. Vanadium, in contrast, is less toxic and is about 1,000 times more abundant than cadmium. It is more affordable too. It serves as a more environmentally friendly option.
NTU’s research team will work with the Agency for Science, Technology and Research’s Institute of Chemical and Engineering Sciences (Ices) and Institute of Materials Research and Engineering to create a continuous flow system for the process.
This method produces minimal carbon dioxide gas and more hydrogen gas hence making it a carbon-neutral process.
Prof Soo added that there still are improvements that can be made to the catalyst. At the moment, a lot of energy is required to recover the powdered form catalyst, after the completed chemical reaction.
The team is looking into ways of creating a solid catalyst that will not dissolve during the process, allowing it to be more easily reused.
The government released Presidential Regulation Number 132 of 2022 About the National Electronic-Based Government System Architecture to close corruption loopholes and improve government services to the people through integrated digital transformation (SPBE).
The National SPBE Architecture is vital for carrying out government business processes correctly and eliminating redundant government business processes to improve public services. The National SPBE design, according to Mahfud, is also projected to decline the repetition of ICT applications and infrastructure and increase information security.
“Integrated digital transformation can ultimately close the gaps in corruption in the service process and the use of state funds. The implementation provides quick, accurate, and transparent monitoring,” said Mahfud MD, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs, at a Ministerial Level Coordination Meeting discussing the Acceleration of Implementation of National SPBE at the Coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs.
The coordination meeting also reviewed the integration of the SPBE architecture’s development of the Information Technology-Based Integrated Criminal Justice System (SPPT-TI). The consolidation will involve digitalisation and the standardisation of the quality of national digital services.
SPBE’s position as a catalyst in speeding national development necessitates synergy from numerous initiatives stipulated in the National Medium-Term Development Plan for 2O2O-2O24. It would also assist the unification of government services through an interoperable data and information-sharing system in compliance with the One Data Indonesia strategy.
Furthermore, the Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs stated that cross-sectoral cooperation in the fields of Politics, Economy, Maritime Affairs, and Investment, as well as Human Development and Culture, was needed to ramp up the coordination of the national programme between government agencies.
“Each Coordinating Ministry is responsible for advancing SPBE implementation in the ministries/agencies under its management,” he explained.
On a separate occasion, the Ministry of Administrative Reform and Bureaucratic Reform (PANRB) convened a working session with members of the National Electronic-Based Government System Coordination Team (SPBE). The session covered a variety of issues, including efforts to accelerate the implementation of a digital government that is clean, effective, visible, and responsible.
E-catalogue is another effort to promote efficiency and minimise corruption which will digitally document government procurement transaction procedures.
Digitisation of government administration is one technique for developing an effective bureaucracy. The state civil apparatus (ASN) must move away from routine and toward a creative culture to improve people’s happiness. To be adopted, however, digitalisation must have genuine repercussions or implications on poverty reduction rates and investment growth.
Meanwhile, the Philippines has made a similar effort to prevent corruption by implementing Integrated Financial Management Information Systems (IFMIS) (IFMIS). The Public Financial Management Committee (PFMC) has authorised an integrated solution for transparent tracking of public money disbursements and appropriations.
BTMS is an important IFMIS component. The system is a web-based, completely automated, and centralised database that will help generate crucial information on all areas of government financial operations and function as an online ledger where transactions are documented in real-time from purchase to payment.
The government believes that the digital transformation initiative and convergence hub can improve government system performance. The system will deliver real-time and consolidated reports, improve company efficiency and system resilience, and prevent corruption.
On the other hand, Thailand’s government intended to produce a law document that will enable anti-corruption organisations, to prohibit illegal online transactions and cybercrime. Furthermore, to improve access to public information, the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (DES) has accelerated the development of a technological infrastructure system to support people’s use and reduce inequities in obtaining information via computer networks or online.
They also enacted the Personal Data Protection Act B.E. 2019 to safeguard the personal information (PDPA). The Personal Data Protection Regulation and Cross-Border Data Transfer are defined in the statute designed to protect private data rights. As a result, it is critical to retain citizens’ interest and safety in the internet environment.
President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has authorised the expansion of online visa applications for Chinese, South Korean, Japanese, and Indian visitors. The act on e-visa renewal aims to attract those countries’ tourism markets.
According to Communications Secretary Cheloy Garafil, Marcos delivered the command during a meeting with the Private Sector Advisory Council’s (PSAC) Tourism Sector members at Malacaan Palace in Manila.
During the discussion at Malacaan Palace, PSAC asked Marcos to include Indian nationals in the visa-on-arrival programme and the e-visa request. The suggestion was made to help the government achieve its economic goals, particularly in the country’s critical sectors. As a result, only Taiwanese, Chinese, Indian, South Korean, and Japanese citizens are eligible for VoA and e-visa.
DICT Secretary Ivan John Uy indicated that several connectivity issues with the other jurisdictions that will use the Philippine e-visa platform must be worked out.
“It will take at least a semester to establish the capability because there is so much anti-fraud element that has to be merged with the platform and the many countries that will be connected with the infrastructure and the transactions,” Garafil added, referring to Uy’s comments.
Enrique Manalo, Secretary of Foreign Affairs (DFA), who was present at the conference, revealed that his office is already engaging with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to provide the necessary preparations for the e-visa.
Meanwhile, Manalo added that the DFA has a programme for some Chinese nationals who qualify for visa-on-arrival. Other foreign nationals, such as Americans, Japanese, Australians, Canadians, and Europeans, may be granted a 14-day visa upon arrival, according to Garafil.
According to figures from the Presidential Communications Office, the Philippines hosted around 2.65 million visitors from February to December 2022, including 2.02 million foreign tourists and 628,445 Filipinos living abroad (PCO).
According to Garafil, the latest figure is higher than the 163,879 visitor arrivals projected for 2021 but fewer than the 8.26 million pre-pandemic average. The Department of Tourism (DOT) anticipates 4.8 million visitor arrivals in 2023, generating PHP2.58 trillion in income.
Marcos urged that the DICT embrace India’s offer to use its visa application system. The PSAC also issued “short-term” strategic recommendations, such as improving airport infrastructure and operations, promoting tourism investments, and administering the national brand or image.
She also noted that the PSAC had proposed a Value-Added Tax (VAT) Refund Programme for international tourists by 2024, as well as the elimination of the One Health Pass (OHP) or the obligation of only one form for health, immigration, and customs. The group also advocated for the “automatic” inclusion of travel tax in all airline tickets and the removal of outmoded airport advisories and loudspeaker announcements.
The Bureau of Immigration (BI) began an online visa waiver project in December to improve legal services for tourists. The programme is aimed at short-term visitors to the country. They can extend their stay for another 30 days by submitting an online application.
In January, the Philippines Bureau of Immigration (BI) plans to modernise and automate immigration-related transactions at their international airports. To improve passenger service, the bureau seeks to modernise and automate all immigration-related processes, including tourist visa extensions, online visa waiver applications, and e-payments.
Previously, the agency implemented electronic transactions and payments for immigration applications, the eTravel system and a collaborative effort of multiple border management organisations. The BI director emphasised the importance of his administration’s priorities.
The urgencies include anti-corruption, digital transformation, national security, rightsizing, and employee empowerment. He also sees a need to expand immigration’s role in national security, follow the president’s lead in increasing the bureau’s personnel complement, and promote employee welfare.
CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, is helping small to medium-sized businesses in the mining and mining equipment, technology and services sectors by offering a free online course that provides expertise and support for research and development.
Innovate to Grow is a 10-week online programme offered by CSIRO that is designed to help eligible small to medium-sized businesses in the mining and mining equipment, technology and services sectors that are in the early stages of engaging in R&D or pursuing a new idea. It will be guided by experienced researchers and innovation experts who will help participants to examine their technical or business challenges, explore R&D opportunities, and develop actionable business and funding plans.
Upon completion of the Innovate to Grow programme, participants may be able to access facilitation support through CSIRO to connect with research expertise nationally and may also be eligible for dollar-matched R&D funding.
The SME Collaboration Manager for CSIRO stated that the programme is designed to assist small-medium businesses in understanding the process of engaging in R&D by providing them with information on how to access funding, mentoring and a highly connected network through research organizations and industry peers.
The Innovate to Grow programme targets Australian companies with less than 200 employees, and currently is offered at no cost to participants. In this way, it is hoped that some of the barriers that smaller enterprises face when they have an idea they would like to pursue can be removed.
Upon completion of the Innovate to Grow programme, participants will have received assistance in defining their goals, developing a business case for R&D with the help of a university or CSIRO, and preparing a funding proposal.
Participants will also benefit from the expansion of their professional networks through connection with their peers in the cohort, sector-specific mentors, and CSIRO which has the world’s largest mineral resources R&D capability.
One company that manages the Australian Premium Iron Joint Venture participated in the Innovate to Grow program in 2021. The Principal Scientist at the firm stated that the company participated in the Innovate to Grow program as a way to refresh their knowledge about engaging with research organisations, identifying available funding options and preparing for partnerships with organisations like CSIRO or universities.
The mining industry faces many challenges, and it requires multiple elements to come together to achieve success. CSIRO plays a vital role in supporting research and development goals for the industry, he said.
The global smart mining market is projected to grow from roughly US$9.3 billion in 2019 to about US$23.5 billion by 2027, at a CAGR of 16.3% during the forecast period 2020-2027.
Smart mining is a process that uses advanced technology, information and autonomy to improve safety, reduce operational costs, and increase productivity for mine sites. Companies in the mining industry are focusing on increasing productivity by implementing advanced software and solutions. It also includes the use of remote-controlled robotic equipment for mineral and metal extraction known as telerobotic mining, which reduces the risks for miners.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on the global smart mining market, primarily due to the disruption of international trade, prolonged lockdowns and restrictions in construction, mining, and maintenance activities worldwide.
Modern livestock development based on precision technology has become one of the options for continuously meeting household demands. Syahrul Yasin Limpo, Minister of Agriculture, advocated using the technology to improve the resilience of Indonesian cattle products.
“We have to support innovative animal husbandry techniques (and the breeders) to use KUR (people’s business credit) to meet capital demands,” Syahrul said at the kickoff of the National Technical Coordination Meeting in Jakarta.
According to SYL, the world’s cattle sector is currently in decline due to a lack of fodder because swept away by floods and extreme weather. He stressed the challenges were worldwide, with direct consequences for distribution routes and high inflation. However, he urged ministry workers to find a means to meet the meat demands of 270 million Indonesians as part of the ministry’s obligation.
Nasrullah, the Ministry of Agriculture’s Director General of Livestock and Animal Health, stated that the government had established a strategy to deal with the global food crisis. Increasing food production capacity for commodities such as cattle, buffalo, purebred chicken, free-range chicken, lamb/goat, duck, and pork is one of them. The Ministry of Agriculture continues to expand production capacity and increase exports of swiftlet nests, chickens, and chicken eggs to various Asian countries.
“Through the synergy of business players, we will create priority livestock commodities on a corporate basis, precision, and integrated with a livestock supply programme of 10 million heads through the development of goats/sheep, ducks, and chickens,” he explained.
Additionally, Syahrul encourages regional and central government cooperation and synergy to be reinforced to preserve existing output and strengthen the resilience of Indonesian cattle products. Particularly in terms of job division and work duties within each work unit. He proposes that each division’s tasks be clarified to decide the subsequent measures. Measurement is required to determine critical activities and control task efficacy.
The livestock industry has used technological advancement to modernise. In New Zealand, the government employed a new antibody testing robot to provide faster and more accurate tests for animal sickness. A 750kg high-throughput diagnostic robot worth NZ$ 580,000 (US$ 376,736.10) will improve testing reliability and precision throughout future biosecurity interventions.
The first-of-its-kind technology will aid in disease control among breeds since they will need to analyse 3,000 to 7,000 samples daily. By automating this process, farmers will profit from speedier outcomes while enhancing the well-being of the people and animals involved. The system, developed in Germany, can test up to 7,000 samples daily for antibodies to FMD and other exotic diseases.
The robot is self-sufficient and does not need constant supervision or interaction. This frees up animal health laboratory personnel for other tests and ensures stability during intense reaction periods. Even without human involvement, the robot can run experiments overnight. Delays in testing can have an economic impact because antibody testing is critical for preserving access and security of goods exports to New Zealand’s overseas markets. If an exotic disease outbreak occurs in New Zealand’s animals, automation will help the country to recover more quickly.
Meanwhile, agricultural sectors known as smart agriculture have been modernised by technology. It boosts output, addresses farm-related issues such as food demand, and makes farms more connected and intelligent. Precision farming, variable rate technologies, smart irrigation, and smart greenhouses are innovative agriculture applications that leverage the Internet of Things (IoT). The innovative farming method provides farmers with higher yields, higher-quality products, and the ability to cultivate crops regularly all year. The technology satisfies the market’s requirement for food efficiency and sufficiency.
The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has launched a mobile application for the Khelo India Youth Games 2022. The app gives participating athletes, coaches, support staff, parents of athletes, and officials from all states participating in the Games access to information about the competition, through a single platform. This is the first time that a dedicated application has been launched for the Khelo India Youth Games.
The App has a dedicated athlete login and supports the athlete right from the time of their registration into the games, through the entire course of the Games. The app gives the athlete a chance to check if their verified documents have been uploaded before the start of the Games. According to a government press release, this will ensure greater transparency for athletes in the registration process. The application is available both for Android and Apple phones and can be downloaded free of cost.
As the athlete registers for the games and arrives at the Games venues in Madhya Pradesh, they can check the status of the issuance of their sporting kits, the hotel where they will stay, transportation plan for athletes to and from the venue, as well as have important contact numbers where athletes can connect in case of an emergency. Further, to ensure that athletes have immediate responses to queries raised by them during the Games, a chatbot has also been created. For sports fans, the application gives access to match schedules, medal tally, addresses of Games venues, and the photo gallery.
The Khelo India Youth Games are held every year. They are national-level multidisciplinary grassroots games held in January or February for two categories: under-17 years school students and under-21 college students. This year, the Games will be held in Bhopal from 30 January to 11 February. The competition has been divided into twelve different verticals, including developing state-level Khelo India centres, talent identification and development, sports for women, and the promotion of sports amongst people with disabilities.
The government has launched several applications and online services to promote athletics. For instance, the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) launched the National Anti-Doping Agency app. It provides athletes with a one-stop solution for all anti-doping-related information. The app helps athletes understand anti-doping rules and regulations and provides a platform for athletes to report any potential anti-doping violations.
The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports launched the Fit India App to encourage people to adopt healthy and active lifestyles. The app provides offers a range of features such as fitness challenges, workout routines, health tips, and a record of daily physical activity. The app also provides users with a dashboard that helps them track their progress and set goals for themselves. Its age-appropriate fitness protocols, approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO), test the fitness level of the user. Based on the results of the fitness tests, the app gives users a fitness score that tells them how fit they are and then further suggests activities to improve their health and fitness level.
Automated elections are cost-effective because they can accommodate up to 1,000 voters per clustered precinct instead of 500 voters per precinct in manual ballots, necessitating paying more workers. Therefore, Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. of Cavite 4th District advised his colleagues in the House of Representatives to employ the Automated Elections System (AES) in the Barangay (village) and local council Sangguniang Kabataan (BSK) elections on October 30 this year.
In House Resolution 717, which he submitted on Wednesday, Barzaga asked the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms to launch an investigation into the Electoral Reform Act. The viability and feasibility of executing automated BSK polls are discussed.
“It will not only result in faster outcomes and the announcement of victors, but it will also eliminate human involvement or error and confusion in the evaluation of ballots on an experimental basis on the BSK Elections in major barangays, ideally in Metro Manila,” he convinced.
There are 42,022 barangays in the country as of October 2022, each with one punong barangay (local official) and seven Sangguniang Barangay (village council) members, one SK chairperson and seven representatives.
There will be two polls for the BSK elections, one for ordinary voters aged 18 and above and another for SK electors aged 15 to 30. The lawmakers suggested repurposing and adjusting the existing Vote Counting Machines (VCMs) to accept two ballots from registered voters. Then, the devices can independently summarise the Barangay and SK elections’ scores.
The BSKE, scheduled for October this year, will use a manual election system in which voters will write the names of candidates on ballots. Historically, manual elections can encounter issues such as imprecise counting, perception, and appreciation of votes. The integration of votes in larger Barangays usually takes two to three days, as opposed to automated elections, which immediately transmit the results to the canvassing centre upon closing of the voting.
Barzaga stated that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) was praised for conducting the national and municipal polls on May 9, 2022, for having the fastest results and largest voter turnout since the Philippines adopted the AES in 2010, and that the public has accepted the outcomes of the elections. The 2022 national and municipal elections were attended by 55,290,821, or 84.10 per cent of the 67,745,526 registered voters.
The resolution also said that the Comelec owned the 97,000 reconditioned vote-counting machines (VCMs) it purchased in 2016 and leased more VCMs for the 2022 elections and that a portion of these machines will be used in the BSK Elections in the pilot barangays. Barzaga believes voters are well-versed in using AES since The Philippines have used the technology in the national and municipal elections in 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and 2022.
Meanwhile, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has indicated that it is open to holding automated village votes. Comelec chairperson George Erwin Garcia noted that they would investigate the possibility of executing a pilot test of barangay and SK election automation in specific areas/precincts. He mentioned that Barzaga contacted him about the proposition earlier this week.
President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. signed Republic Act 11935 on October 10, 2022, rescheduling December 5, 2022, BSK elections to October 30, 2023, and holding other polls every three years after that. Meanwhile, earlier this month, OFW Party List Rep. Marissa Magsino suggested that the government should change the existing law to increase voting options to prevent voter disenfranchisement of about 1.83 million OFWs exercising their right to vote. The proposed legislation would enable Filipino personnel working abroad to vote via email, web-based portals, and other internet-based technologies.
Researchers are exploring ways to improve artificial intelligence image identification accuracy on computer vision. Computer vision is an artificial intelligence topic that teaches computers to extract information from digital images. They employed an algorithm that takes the distorted image as input and outputs a clean image to the users.
The study focuses on images partially smudged or distorted due to the missing pixels. Another goal is to reduce the uncertainty estimations and inferences from the visual data acquired. The researchers then created computer algorithms to reveal the part of the signal that is marred or otherwise concealed.
“Models for doing so already exist, but quantifying the uncertainty is difficult. And you don’t want to make a mistake in a life-or-death situation,” Swami Sankaranarayanan, a postdoctoral researcher at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and the study’s lead author, explained.
So far, they have been able to reconstruct images of simple objects, such as human faces or animals. However, they wish to expand their method into more required fields, such as medical imaging, where our “statistical assurance” may be precious. If the film, or radiograph, of a chest X-ray, is blurred, they intend to reconstruct the image as accurately as possible.
They attempted to rebuild the image while preserving vital information. In the instance of a chest X-ray, this could tell whether a patient has lung cancer or pneumonia. Sankaranarayanan and his associates have already begun collaborating with a radiologist to assess whether their method for diagnosing pneumonia could be beneficial in a clinical context.
Their work is also helpful in the realm of law enforcement. The image from a surveillance camera may be grainy, but law enforcement agents can improve it using their instruments. The tools he and his colleagues are building could aid in identifying a guilty individual and exonerating an innocent one.
As a result, obtaining a more excellent grasp of that uncertainty could benefit us in various ways. For one thing, it can help us learn more about what we don’t know. MIT engineers successfully established reliable estimates of uncertainty and displayed ambiguity in a form that the average person could understand.
In a new study, Sankaranarayanan and his co-authors — Anastasios Angelopoulos and Stephen Bates of the University of California at Berkeley; Yaniv Romano of the Israel Institute of Technology; and Phillip Isola, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT — addressed the issues.
When recovering a blurred image, questions are bound to occur. How much trust can one put in the correctness of the resulting image? And, as addressed in the December 2022 study, how should the ambiguity in that image be represented? The conventional method generates a “saliency map,” which assigns a probability value between 0 and 1 to each pixel to express the model’s confidence in its accuracy.
Their approach revolves around an image’s “semantic characteristics” – clusters of pixels that, combined, have meaning, such as a human face, a dog, or any other recognised entity. According to Sankaranarayanan, the goal is to “estimate uncertainty in a fashion that relates to groupings of pixels that humans can easily perceive.”
While the usual technique may produce a single image representing the “best guess” as to what the genuine picture should be, the ambiguity in that representation is typically difficult to perceive. Therefore, according to the new article, uncertainty should be conveyed meaningfully to people who are not experts in machine learning for application in the real world.
When recovering a blurred image, questions are likely to occur. How much assurance can someone have in the reliability of the resulting image? And, as discussed in the December 2022 paper, what is the best approach to convey uncertainty in that image? The conventional method is to generate a “saliency map,” which assigns a probability value — somewhere between 0 and 1 — to each pixel to represent the model’s certainty in its validity.
Their technique is centred on an image’s semantic characteristics – groups of pixels that, when combined, convey meaning, such as a human face, a dog, or any other recognised entity. According to Sankaranarayanan, the goal is to estimate uncertainty in a fashion that connects to the groups of pixels that humans can easily perceive.
Whereas the usual technique may produce a single image representing the best guess as to what the genuine picture should be, the ambiguity in that representation is typically difficult to perceive. According to the new article, to be helpful in the real world, uncertainty needs to be communicated in a meaningful way to individuals who are not experts in machine learning.