Recently OpenGov spoke to Mr Lup Yuen Lee, Chief Technology
Officer at UnaBiz[f1] ,
the exclusive network operator of Sigfox’s low-power
wide-area network (LPWAN) in Singapore and Taiwan. UnaBiz is the
first IoT-dedicated network operator in Asia to roll out a nationwide[PB2]
Recently, UnaBiz enabled full indoor coverage of the Sigfox
IoT network at all 4 terminals of Changi Airport. Smart solutions providers and
system integrators have developed Sigfox-enabled solutions such as temperature
sensors and other applications for the Smart Airport.
Taipei City Government last year to build an IoT Innovation Lab. It is working
with Airbus to advance research in
digitalization of aircraft maintenance operations through the adoption of IoT
solutions. In collaboration with bike-sharing company, oBike, UnaBiz is rolling
out geolocation services for one million bikes on Sigfox Global LPWAN.
In a wide-ranging discussion, Mr Lee talked about different
types of IoT applications and their network and power requirements and shared
his views on the complexities of IoT development.
Deep vs Wide IoT
Mr Lee explained that there are two classes of IoT, ‘deep’
IoT and ‘wide’ IoT. Amazon Echo and Alexa are examples of deep IoT. Deep IoT
devices require high bandwidth and power supply.
With the Amazon devices, the voice command goes to the cloud
for processing and generating an output command. This has high computation power requirements and
hence, these devices don’t work well on a low-bandwidth network or low battery
power. As a result, they tend to stay fixed in offices or homes.
UnaBiz looks at wide IoT, which refers to devices that are very
light, battery-powered and operate on pervasive networks. They can work anytime,
anywhere in Singapore and do not rely on WiFi or the cellular network.
“We don’t think everyone will be able to afford an Amazon
Echo. It is a very powerful device but it is not cheap, because there’s so much
complexity inside it. In short, we’re just trying to be a very simple kind of
IoT network, where you press a button and it triggers the backend. The device does
not need to pair with Bluetooth or WiFi. It is simple and fuss-free, even for
the elderly,” Mr Lee added.
Subscription also tends to be easier, and there is no need
to worry about SIM cards because all the devices have a built-in ID. The ID
indicates that the device belongs to a certain company, and all messages can be
directed there, without any routing elsewhere. The packets are a mere 12 bytes,
so bandwidth requirement is limited and users are not expected to pay an
exorbitant price to use the network.
energy-efficient IoT solutions
When Sigfox was created in Europe, it was for primarily for outdoor applications, for low-power sensor kind of networks that need to send data intermittently. UnaBiz has been working on such applications that help collect data on outdoor environment, such as the weather and haze conditions. UnaBiz has been exploring indoor applications as well, such as tackling rodent infestations in F&B or retail shopping malls.
The trouble with
rat traps is that if a rat gets caught, it has to be gotten rid of immediately.
Otherwise the rodent will decompose, and the other rats will disperse. So how
can building owners know if there is a rat stuck in the trap and alert someone
to clean it up. Doing regular manual checks is simply a waste of manpower.
“The problem with
this kind of use case is that the rats run around in very strange places, deep
inside the building. You cannot guarantee that there’s WiFi network in air con
vents, ducts etc.,” said Mr Lee.
solution needs to be able to penetrate into distant locations, without being
constrained to just public areas or by WiFi coverage. Sigfox was found to be a
good solution because of its pervasiveness. One base station can provide
coverage for the whole building.
Lee said, “We’re actually trying a few types of tracking solutions. You can
install a GPS module, however as we all know, running GPS on any device uses up
a lot of power.”
“The second idea
being explored is WiFi geolocation –
like an Android or iPhone which can use WiFi hotspots for locations –
but if you think about it, they might not work in the wild in areas such as a
reservoir because there is no network there, or in secluded areas such as big
drains or canals for flood monitoring, on the rooftops of buildings with solar
panels to monitor power storage and usage (UnaBiz is currently working with Sunseap on power metering), or at the basements of industrial buildings
for monitoring water leakage.”
The third alternative
would be to use the Sigfox network for geolocation.
Mr Lee said, “You
can either use a high-power one which will drain your battery faster or you can
choose something like Sigfox geolocation which requires no power, as long as it
transmits one message a day.”
“For Sigfox, it’s
easy, just one base station can penetrate the whole building indoors. There’s
no need to shift the base station around and you do not need to put in additional
“When we talk about networks, power and costs matter. If the
rat trap needs to be hooked up to the mains, then it’s not going to work. You
cannot be assured that there will be power source anywhere you go- so it has to
be battery-powered. Battery power means that it has to be a very low power kind
of network, WiFi will probably drain it because it consumes too much power,” he
The reason why Sigfox is so energy efficient is that the way
it transmits in the form of a broadcast, sending out very small packets, as
mentioned earlier. Every time a message is sent, three packets are sent at
three different frequencies (this is called frequency hopping). When running on
unlicensed frequencies, some of the packets might get blocked. If one is
blocked, the others can still go through, ensuring that the message is
“Because it is ‘broadcast’, the communication is very simple
There’s no need to negotiate – 3G and WiFi networks need to authenticate with
the hotspot. They need to make sure the password is correct. After that they
need to keep the session alive, whereas Sigfox can shut down after each broadcast,
reducing power consumption,” Mr Lee said.
Therefore, Sigfox is ideally suited to applications that
need to be delivered at a very low cost, have less frequent communication
requirements, and require exceptional battery performance.
There are numerous smart cities applications that requires
such monitoring sensors where deployment need to be pervasive. If we think of waste
management, building management, critical infrastructure monitoring, and imagine
the need to put a sensor on all the fire hydrants, all AED (Automated external defibrillator)
devices, all the power meters, all of the trees in Singapore, the cost and
simplicity of deployment becomes crucial.
And how does Sigfox achieve wide penetration? Because it is
an ultra-narrow band technology. Transmissions on wireless networks are divided
into different channels. With Sigfox the communication channels are very
narrow. Each message is 100 Hz wide. Because these channels are so small, the possibility
of interference is very low.
Other networks like LoRa have the advantage of being able to
send bigger packets, but bigger packets also impliy higher risk of
Barriers to take-off
in IoT technologies
IoT technologies have been around for a while. And there is
a market for interesting applications. Even if it is a small market like
Singapore, technologies developed here can be exported worldwide.
Then what is holding back development and deployment?
Mr Lee has been an Adjunct Lecturer at Temasek Polytechnic School of Informatics & IT since April 2015, teaching and mentoring the next
generation of ICT professionals in networking and IoT technologies. From his teaching experience, he realised that working on IoT
technologies is quite difficult.
“Because it involves a whole range of skills. You have to
know about hardware. You have to know about these devices. You have to know
what powers these devices, what is the transmission range of these devices.”
“Next you have to go up in the cloud. These things will
transmit to some base station, the base station will be connected the cloud.
You have to figure out how the data goes into the cloud. Then how do you build
a cloud that can handle all these devices. It’s quite easy to handle one device
at a time, for prototyping. But to handle hundreds of thousands of devices is
quite challenging,” he explained. It is very difficult to find people with that
wide a skillset.”
Then there is the question to how to analyse all the data
from the devices
“Very few jobs in Singapore that have that kind of data processing
requirements. We are one of the first to actually do this kind of large scale
analytics. We need tools to be able to massage the data.”
Mr Lee also said that today we see a lot of devices created
just for the sake of it. These are examples of technology looking for a problem
to solve. Identifying problems is a crucial step.
He provided an example of a very real problem UnaBiz is
trying to address.
At a home for patients suffering from disabilities, some of
the residents go out for work. The officials want to make sure that they report
to work on time and that they also come back on time. It is about ensuring that
they are safe and are not getting lost. The home cannot afford to give the
residents expensive phones or trackers. Even if they do, the devices will run
out of battery when their clients do not return.
UnaBiz proposed using one of its motion-triggered Sigfox
devices. Residents can carry the device around and everytime they move, it
sends a message to the cloud. Then, an algorithm is used to do machine learning
and figure out where the person is. Being mindful of privacy concerns, the technology
is kept accurate to a radius of around 1 km, which is enough to know if the
person is safe, without pinpointing their exact location.
This is only one example of tracking solutions for
non-motorised assets. Other use case include tracking bicycles, people, pets.
The device must be affordable and accessible for the mainstream users to adopt
and benefit from.
accelerating IoT development and deployment would require connecting the people
with expertise in devices and in cloud computing with the business people,
placing them all on one team. This would enable the creation of solutions with
real value, solving real-life problems.
During a global pandemic, mundane public policy decisions can become literally a matter of life and death. Governments and officials looking to protect the public and combat the spread of COVID-19 have discovered that digital technology is one of the essential instruments at their disposal for improving outcomes for citizens.
Slowing — and, ultimately, reversing — COVID’s spread in any population requires massive, coordinated execution of case reporting, contact tracing, and isolation and treatment of infected individuals. The greatest success stories of 2020 have featured governments that quickly implemented large-scale public programs using technology to track and trace cases, then made that data available to researchers and health care professionals. Singapore has been a particular standout, pulling testing data along with anonymized tracking data from a network of apps to successfully identify, isolate, and treat new cases quickly.
Even as they struggle through the global health crisis, public officials must face the looming challenge of post-COVID economic recovery. Most public authorities are basing recovery plans on the same kinds of digital tools they are using to fight the pandemic. The adoption of cloud, big data, and AI technologies will be vital to many countries’ economic success.
Singapore: A study in success
Long before the threat of COVID-19, Singapore’s public sector had invested in technology and digital initiatives. The Smart Nation Office, formed under Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in 2014, served as a nexus for digital transformation. Ministries and local agencies could rely on Smart Nation for the data and tools they needed to be more productive and to better engage their citizens. When the pandemic began, Singapore was already well-positioned to be one of the first countries to develop a successful, nationwide contact tracing app and token program.
As the world moves into the economic recovery phase of the COVID crisis, the tech infrastructure that Singapore built to serve its citizens may do double duty as a framework to support economic traction. Its programs encourage businesses, both local and foreign, to adopt technology. The Government Technology Agency of Singapore, known as GovTech, is functionally CIO for the whole government: GovTech’s digital initiatives, such as the National Digital Identity, the Government QR Payment, the Government Technology Stack, and the Data Science and AI Capability Framework, encourage businesses and business owners to use technology, and data in particular, to gain a competitive advantage.
Singapore, however, is not typical in the region in terms of executing digitalization strategy. Its comparatively small geographical size and political stability enhances its ability to execute its national technology blueprint. Can other ASEAN countries apply lessons from Singapore to achieve similar outcomes?
The data governance challenge
Public authorities generate an incredible volume of data, and their main challenge is finding, analyzing, and using their data. Valuable data stores reside in different departments and ministries, and often use incompatible formats or technologies. Having the ability to share information across agencies, providing access control to different levels and functional roles of stakeholders, while respecting data privacy and fighting bureaucracy, could fundamentally transform the way civil service or government organizations serve the public.
To reach that goal, the first step is to accept the need for more advanced analytics. Raw data in isolation is of no value. It must be cleaned, curated, and analyzed before anyone can use it to make meaningful decisions.
Organizations must build a centralized data hub to provide stakeholders access to this data, along with systems for data governance and data quality. With multiple sources feeding into a shared data center, incomplete, invalid, or otherwise faulty data could impact decision-making throughout the network. Data quality must become an integral part of overall data management, from onboarding new data sources to managing and maintaining data already in the hub.
Governments need the ability to understand data — where it is located, managed, and stored — to ensure their country’s digital sovereignty.
A citizen-centric approach
At the same time, governments need a citizen-centric approach to meet the population’s expectations — and to govern the country. Here, again, Singapore provides an excellent model. For example, they responded to the public desire for a better way to manage changes of address by building a single, central platform that communicates with all the services that need this information: driver licensing, taxes, and so on. Listening to the needs of the people led to an elegant solution.
Imagine what governments could do to enhance innovation and economic growth with the corporate sector. In most countries, a business owner must work with multiple departments or bureaus to register a business, file for incorporation, establish a taxable entity, and on and on. Today, we take for granted these long and tedious procedures. But that need not be the case forever.
Health care and education are two sectors in which advanced adoption of technology illustrates the benefits of focusing on data analytics. All around the world, we are seeing how protecting the population has technology at its core, from the efforts to control the spread of an epidemic to the day-to-day tracking of risk factors and early detection of disease.
A solution is more than a tool
Today, several jurisdictions have publicly funded plans to invest heavily in artificial intelligence infrastructure, such as the European Coordinated Plan on Artificial Intelligence, the China New Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan, and the Singapore National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Strategy. But without an instant assessment of data health and accuracy, even the most accurate AI models cannot produce trustworthy results.
Only by measuring the level of trust and clarity of data across the entire organization and putting the citizen first can public service players have the 360° view of their data they need to offer the services that citizens have a right to expect.
In coping with the current crisis, the need for accurate and actionable information is paramount for an effective response – but there has never before been a scenario like the current COVID-19 pandemic. In case of a critical event, whether it is an active shooter, natural disaster or pandemic, access to information is vital.
One crucial lesson that emergency responders have learned from simulations is that information is often too fragmented to provide actionable intelligence: the larger the incident, the more complicated it is to collect and assess information and coordinate a response.
There are, however, many tools available to tame this complexity for more rapid and effective response and to minimise impact on responders. These generally address four stages of response management.
In the first, they gather data from various sources to help assess the context and severity of a critical event, calling upon analytical tools to digest and correlate data to help response teams understand what is happening now and what could or will happen later. A second stage locates assets, employees or vital equipment. In a third stage, these systems offer emergency responders and organisations the tools to act by informing people of actions to take, mass-scale notifications for people in affected areas and tools for collaboration between response teams. The final stage enables responders and others concerned to review and evaluate the critical event so that future response can be improved.
Incident response management platforms are often homegrown among responsible agencies and organisations, but technology providers exist to support efforts. Some of these technologies consolidate functionality for all four stages into a single system. Everbridge, for example, began with a focus on multi-modal text messaging after the tragic events of 9/11 and expanded into a platform used in 2012 to notify 10 million people after Hurricane Sandy, and in 2013 by the city of Boston after the Boston Marathon bombings.
As reported, Increasingly these platforms are embracing IoT systems and devices, given the expanded capability among a wide variety of endpoints that responders can use to connect directly with critical information, guidance and communication with those affected by an emergency. In particular, IoT can play an essential part in the information-gathering process. In a 2019 study, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) examined the possibilities of the use of IoT in emergency situations and identified a number of use cases such as emergency calling, mission-critical communications for situational awareness or to protect responder personnel, essential logistics support public warning systems and automated emergency response.
In smart buildings and smart cities, sensors can provide details about temperature, toxic gases and other hazardous conditions. Smart streetlights can analyse traffic congestion and plan evacuation routes through AI analytics. Body cameras can relay live intelligence from public safety workers to the Incident Command Center (ICS), while crisis teams can use IoT wearables to warn and guide civilians.
Artificial intelligence technology is used in several ways to diagnose, respond to or predict coronavirus spread. The radiology department of the Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University in Wuhan, China, has modified its AI-driven software to detect cancer in CT lung scans to detect COVID-19-related signs of pneumonia. This is to aid the overworked medics in triage, while in the United States, the Boston Children’s Hospital has created an AI-driven coronavirus map.
The Chinese search engine Baidu has made its Linearfold algorithm available to researchers and medical teams to fight the outbreak to assist in the analysis of the virus, while across the world researchers are turning to AI technology to predict its spread.
Even when everybody understands that it is vital to track data on people’s condition and location during the current times, but it has a definite privacy impact.
The privacy issues are relevant to technology providers, which also see a growing trend among companies that want to know which employee is in which location. In the case of the COVID-19 outbreak, employers may want to see which employee has been in close proximity to a person who has tested positive for the virus.
However, technology’s role in containing and mitigating the virus in the absence of a rapid and reliable diagnostic tool cannot be undermined. It lets governments respond and recover from the global pandemic which would have been a more herculean task than it already is.
Technology providers who are seeking to improve response, stewardship of sensitive data and transparency of processes moving forward must understand that establishing trust and confidence amongst people is of paramount importance.
The latest solution by a firm within the Hong Kong Smart Government Innovation Lab is now ready to be acquired by companies and institutions.
The platform, called DragOnce, allows both IT and non-IT users to digitise their processes, including workflows, without coding, and it supports both web or mobile apps. In addition, the company provides implementation services which can help the Government to digitise the processes in a rapidly using the DragOnce platform.
The platform allows users of different roles to streamline the business approval process, control records access permission control, set scheduling jobs, notifications, reminders, upload or download files, pre-defined tailor-made reports or charts, etc. It supports better controlling for Government staff to manage internal processes at scale. The deployment supports both cloud or on-premises use. The solution’s existing clients consist of several governmental agencies including OGCIO, HKPC, Cyberport, HK Electric, HKUST and more.
The solution was developed to applied in the areas of Broadcasting, City Management, Climate and Weather, Commerce and Industry, Development, Education, Employment and Labour, Environment, Finance, Food, Health, Housing, Law and Security, Population, Recreation and Culture, Social Welfare as well as Transport.
The solution uses the latest in Cloud Computing, Internet of Things (IoT), Mobile Technologies and no-coding platform/HPaPaaS.
Public Sector Use Case 1:
The firm helped digitise over 100 forms in 3 months instead of one year by coding. The e-forms and processes are maintained by the organisation’s staff. After being deployed with the DragOnce platform, the IT team can easily digitise all paper forms with an agile methodology and consolidates all forms in a unified platform. A unified platform allows organisations to centralise all forms into one single data source, lowering the data integrity problem caused by the manual error.
Since there is no one-size-fits-all solution in terms of a single org chart structure for every enterprise, the DragOnce platform is designed to handle any structure of org chart and allows administrators to set permission controls on each level of user. With the permission controls, organisations can easily control the data accessibility on all end-users and ensure data security. This costs between HK$500,000 to HK$1.3 million.
Public Sector Use Case 2
The firm in need approached the tech company seeking an internal procurement system that could emancipate them from the manual purchasing process (excel spreadsheets, email, phone calls, sign-on print-out papers, etc). The system needed to be able to handle vendor management, quotation requests, purchase requests, purchase orders, approval processing, delivery schedule checks, purchase invoice checking and inventory management.
The platform developed by the tech firm met these requirements and allows for multiple-level approval, permission controls on end-users and dynamic workflows. After implementation, the system speeds up processes three times and allows users to easily monitor the status of procurement processes and vendor management. The cost is between HK$500,000 to HK$1.3 million.
Private Sector Use Case 3: Electric Utility Company
This electric utility company requires massive amounts of workflow data to be handled daily business processes. Thanks to the effort of the firm’s IT Team, the workflow request from the employees can be managed, but still, there are plenty of IT application requests from various Business Units and it is time-consuming to get through the traditional Software Development Life Cycle to deploy one application.
The company needs a solution to lower the workload for the IT team. DragOnce offers end-user computing solutions to them. This company needs a no-code platform to tackle the problem of numerous workflow requests on IT.
With a no-code platform, all employees can build their internal mobile applications easily without spending lots of developing time and no programming language is required.
End-user computing empowers the companys’ employees. When everyone, even non-IT employees, can build their application with few clicks, the IT team can finally focus more on critical projects. This not only results in higher productivity of the IT team but also encourages innovation in the company. All employees can now make use of their innovative ideas to build their own systems based on their understanding of the business flow. Thanks to end-user computing, the system created is 100% suitable for the end-users. The cost is between HK$500,00 to HK$1.3 million.
While the global pandemic has not completely vanished, economies around the word are gradually opening and getting their employees to get back into the physical office.
With the risk of the virus still looming large, ensuring the safety of employees is mission critical for organisations – especially in certain industries where remote working is not a viable option.
In order to better understand the process of critical event management, OpenGov Asia spoke with Graeme Osborn, Vice-President, International Critical Event Management for Everbridge.
The discussion revolved around how different industries and organisations are formulating their return to office plans.
Graeme shared that it is a challenging time for all organisations and they are all following different approaches to deal with the current critical event.
While some do not anticipate having their employees back before the end of the year, others are coming up with new ways of tracking and ensuring the safety of their staff.
One industry that is particularly struggling is the construction industry, as unlike the office space the construction sites are not technologically enabled.
Traditional ways of doing everyday activities have to be altered in a manner that keeps physical contact between the workers to a minimum.
The office ecosystem is facing a different kind of challenge as employees are more resistant to being traced. With that in mind, employers are exploring new ways to ensure safety at work without constantly keeping an eye on their staff.
One of the ways of doing this is contact tracking. Graeme emphasized that contact tracking is very different from contact tracing.
In the former process, leverage points of information are used to understand the potential impact of the virus. Other ways include heat detection, daily health surveys, self-health certification etc.
He expounded further on the process approach involved in contact tracking. Once the application is installed by the employee, the app keeps track of whoever they encounter within a 2-meter radius. If at any point someone reports an infection, everyone they contacted and others in the organisation are informed of it through the application.
In case of a self-report, the app not only alerts the employees and the control team, it also helps contain the exposure quickly by scanning the exposure area within the organisation.
Critical events or disasters are never over; there is one after another and multiple critical events can hit us at the same time. Many parts of the world are dealing with floods, typhoons, bushfires alongside COVID 19.
Graeme highlighted in order to effectively manage multiple critical events, two aspects are very important: 1) Planning (having all the information and resources readily available) 2) Testing out the systems and processes that have been planned.
It is also important to understand that when an organisation is hit with a natural disaster or any other critical event, business continuity, life safety of employees, cybersecurity and operations are threatened.
Therefore, an organisation’s critical event management approach should unify all these business components rather than them operating in silos.
As the executive leader of an organisation, the CEO is ultimately the person responsible to lead its critical event management initiatives.
In the times of crisis and immense pressure, s/he is the one who will take the decision for the whole organisation. As such, it is very important for the CEO to be ahead of the critical event management approach.
Contrarily, when one looks at governments and public sector, it is very difficult to pinpoint any one agency or organisation to be responsible for handling critical events management as with pandemics and disasters multiple public utilities are impacted (health, transportation, food supplies, education, communication etc).
Of course, there is a collective responsibility of all the different agencies focusing of these aspects individually; and they must be directed by the leader of the country to ensure the safety of all citizens.
He concluded by emphasising that irrespective of the type of organisation it is imperative to have an integrated approach and clear leadership to effectively tackle critical events.
OpenGov Asia had earlier shared an interview with Graeme Orsborn on the value of Critical Event Management for any organisation as well as the basics steps to take in order to put in place a successful critical event management plan and how that applies in the global COVID-19 crisis today.
A real estate investment trust that invests in carrier-neutral data centres and provides colocation and peering services is building a new data centre in Hong Kong, its second in the administrative region.
HKG11 will be a 21,000 square metres (210,000 square feet) building and hold up to a 24MW of IT capacity. It is expected to be online in mid-2021, around the same time as Digital Realty’s upcoming Seoul facility in South Korea.
In 2012, Digital Realty acquired its first Hong Kong data centre on the Tseung Kwan O industrial estate, HKG10, capable of up to 18MW of IT capacity.
Its planned sister facility, HKG11, is located at the nearby but separate Kwai Chung district in Hong Kong and will operate as an auxiliary to HKG10.
The Chief Executive Officer of the firm stated that its investment in Hong Kong is another important milestone on its global platform road map, enabling customers’ digital transformation strategies while demonstrating its commitment to supporting their future growth on PlatformDIGITAL.
As the firm continues to expand in Asia, the launch of the second facility in Hong Kong underscores its importance as a major data hub, providing customers with the coverage, capacity, and connectivity requirements to support their digital ambitions.
The HKG11 facility will be built up to a total of 12 floors, eight of which will be dedicated to customer deployments.
The firm’s MD for the Asia Pacific region noted that Hong Kong is a regional leader in cloud readiness and has significant potential for further cloud adoption along with a strong base of customers with an appetite for digital technologies.
He stated. “We are delighted to launch our new facility, which will go a long way towards meeting the rapidly growing demand and bringing value to customers across the region, especially from China.”
Aside from Hong Kong, Digital Realty is also establishing facilities in Tokyo, Osaka, Singapore, Sydney, and Melbourne.
Hong Kong – a data centre hub
In February 2020, OpenGov Asia reported that a major telecommunications company, currently operating one of the largest globally connected IPv4+IPv6 networks in the world, completed a round of upgrades and improvements to their Hong Kong data centre.
The aim is to boost network performance for end-users throughout China and across the APAC region.
The addition of new local and international connectivity partners has improved network performance and reliability for businesses seeking to reach one of Asia’s busiest centres or international finance, trade, and enterprise.
The data centre market in the Asia Pacific has been forecasted to reach US$32 billion by 2023, behind only North America in terms of regional revenue.
According to the findings of a data analytics and consulting company, the surge in spending during the next four years will stem from enterprise customers “increasingly migrating” existing resources to data centres to “reap benefits from data”.
By 2023, Asia Pacific will account for nearly 30 per cent of the global data centre market, behind North America with 34.2 per cent but ahead of Western Europe on 24 per cent.
The lead analyst on the report stated that the data centre and hosting market growth in the Asia Pacific will be driven by growing demand for cloud services and digitisation from both enterprises as well as the investors.
Investment will continue in new data centre projects by existing and new entrants with a view to expand their presence in the region and serve additional customers.
In addition, with the commercial availability of 5G services in the next 1-2 years, data consumption is expected to grow multiple-folds.
This will result in constant connectivity requirements as well as data centre supported features, for supporting the critical business applications and activities of the enterprises.
The coronavirus pandemic has been a sobering wake-up call to swiftly abolish corporate inertia plaguing critical event management.
COVID-19 has brought into sharp focus two primary goals – how to keep employees safe with minimal businesses disruption.
This was particularly telling in a recent high-level meeting with around 30 senior executives from major brands from Australia and other Asia-Pacific countries.
Only 7 per cent said they had a scalable solution to deal with the next critical event – bushfires, tsunami, terrorism, earthquake, flood or another economic or life-threatening situation – in a post-COVID world.
Yet, 89 per cent said critical event management was important to their business outcomes.
Most were in the dark and had no idea where to begin but all understood the dire consequences of doing nothing.
The current pandemic is an opportune time to ask if your organisation can quickly identify threats and assess the risk environment, then easily identify and locate the impacted people, assets, operational functions which could potentially be impacted.
It may be 2020 but many organisations still rely on a manual call tree to disseminate accurate information to ensure staff safety. This may be acceptable in small organisations but even they struggle to keep the basics, such as mobile phone numbers, up to date.
The process of managing a critical event is often very manual, even disjointed (some large organisations still have employee details spread across multiple Excel sheets and even in binders).
It’s often siloed using multiple applications, and it takes a significantly long time to work through. Why?
An organisation needs to know what’s happening and why it’s happening – what is the threat and the nature of the threat. What’s the potential impact? Is it related to physical security, inclement weather, or is it digital disruption due to a cyberattack or ransomware?
Is that an IT outage or application latency?
Is it a localised or national disaster?
How many different sources of data are being used to monitor threats? How effective are they and is any of it automated or filtered, and tailored to your specific business?
And can the sources of information be trusted?
Based on all that organisations need to understand and locate what and/or who’s impacted – their people, assets, and operational functions.
This is especially challenging if some staff members are on the move or the risk event is changing – as we’re faced with in the current pandemic.
Trying to correlate the two may involve accessing multiple systems and having multiple applications running at the same time.
How many different systems do you currently have that stores information about your people or assets?
And is this information integrated with your threat data to determine who or what might be impacted.
Before employees can safely to return to the office, organisations must have the capability to effectively respond to another wave or if a worker tests positive.
Critical event management systems can’t be a one-way street as staff need the ability to confirm, acknowledge or respond to alerts, information, safety check-ins, and questions or polls – no matter where they are or what device they use.
It’s time organisations stop outsourcing employee safety and well being to spreadsheets or pieces of paper. Drowning in data during a pandemic without a single source of truth will surely sound the death knell for any business.
Governments are exceptional institutions that did not slow down during the pandemic. Although not all of their services were essential during the crisis, some were in high demand by default.
All over the world, governments are packed with great volumes of data that is hard to make sense of in their current setting. Primarily because it is unstructured but also because much is on legacy systems that are not accessible or compatible to modern infrastructure.
Merely hoarding data is not useful nor valuable. Data needs to be organised, analysed and should make sense if crucial decisions are based on it.
In light of this, OpenGov Asia held another Virtual Breakfast Insight: High-performance Digital Government – Intelligent Cloud Data Management Strategies on 25 June 2020.
The high-level session had a cross section of chief information officers and IT heads from various government and public sector organisations in Singapore, Malaysia and India. All joined in to discuss Simple, Scalable and Seamless Cloud Data Management for a high-performance digital government.
Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director and Editor- in-chief at OpenGov Asia opened the session with thought-provoking insights into Cloud Data Management.
Mohit explained that data management is a process that might look like a herculean task especially in such a busy time for the government. Breaking it down in smaller bits makes it easier to implement and practice.
He advised the delegates to set manageable goals for future and focus on those rather than trying fix the mountains of unstructured data from the past.
And this is where cloud becomes relevant. It offers a simple, seamless, and scalable solution to data storage problems.
Organisations no longer have to worry about the location of valuable data in physical data centres. Cloud enables accessing data from multiple points remotely.
However, enabling remote access to data from multiple points has not been the natural structure of government organisations. It was necessitated by the pandemic.
Mohit also cautioned the audience that security of data in cloud is very important otherwise the data is prone to breaches and misuse.
He concluded by saying that government institutions should be open to adopting new technology as it will help them become more efficient and effective in serving public.
Raymond Goh, Director of Systems Engineering, Veeam shared his view that all organisations, be it public or private, are gradually getting more inclined towards a customer/citizen centric approach in their operations. Their data management strategies are also in line with that.
Keeping data classified is highly important for the organisations otherwise it can create impediments in growth and make data complex. It can also make compliance and security hard to achieve.
Apart from making operations difficult, unmanaged data can incur unnecessary costs for the organisations and loss of customer confidence.
Raymond shared key points in the process of cloud data management from ensuring backup and recovery to the last important bit about compliance with regulations.
He then moved to articulate state the three critical aspects for organisations to focus on in their cloud data management journey:
- Digital transformation and cloud data management to go hand in hand
- Have parameters in place to measure the success rate of managing data
- The 4 C’s to enable effective data management: Cloud, Capabilities, Culture, and Confidence
Having understood the importance of Data Management in cloud, Chris Buxton, Chief Digital Officer at Stats New Zealand threw light on how management of data over the cloud can be more effective than the traditional approach to storing data.
He shared some useful insights from his experience of rapidly transitioning to a cloud-based environment.
Chris believes that managing data on cloud is not very different from the traditional way of managing data.
Additionally, it opens a new range of capability and connectedness that is not available in the old way.
In this age of technology, data is are no longer being generated manually; technology is being leveraged to collect and harvest the data from the web. This, in turn, makes collaboration and storage easier.
Conversely at the same time, huge amounts of data are being ingested – making it crucial to ensure that all the data and content all secure. As such, data security becomes an integral part of Cloud data management.
Chris re-emphasised five key areas that were highlighted by Raymond earlier: security, compliance, cost management, automation, performance and monitoring.
Chris concluded by sharing the various steps to be undertaken as organisations begin their journey towards cloud data management.
He completed the circle beginning from having a plan to governing your data.
After Chris’s presentation the session went into a more interactive phase with polling questions for the attendees.
On the first question on how long an IT outage lasts in their organisations, delegates were divided between less than 15 mins (36%) and 16 – 60 mins (26%).
An IT executive from Malaysia shared that she voted for 1- 4 hours as the average time. She opined that the duration varies and is dependent on how critical the application in question is.
Her opinion was totally in line with the findings that Raymond shared from the recent survey conducted by Veeam. On average, in most organisations, IT outage does not last more than 2 hours.
Moving forward, the next question was about the primary reasons for IT outages in an organisation. On this majority of the audience voted for Infrastructure and networking (60%).
A senior executive from insurance sector shared that they faced several IT outages when their organisation moved to a remote working model. With a staff of 3000 employees, working remotely put a lot of pressure on their networks and infrastructure.
Raymond concurred with him as the Veaam survey also showed infrastructure failure as the major reason for outages besides cybersecurity threats and application software failures.
On the final question about why digital transformation is important for an organisation, the participants, for the most part, leaned towards transforming business operations and processes (50%) and transforming customer services (35%).
A delegate from India shared that transforming business processes is definitely the primary driving force behind digital transformation. However, it is still important to be mindful of the limitations of budgets.
The survey reflected similar trends with transforming customer services to be the top motivation for digital transformation followed by transforming business processes.
The interactive Q&A session offered a plethora of reflections and insights from delegates. This rich dialogue was extremely beneficial. It allowed the participants to understand cloud data management from diverse perspectives that were set in a range of contexts and settings.
Raymond concluded the session by urging organisations to take the next step in their digital transformation journey and urged them to work towards the four C’s he mentioned in his presentation.
Delegates of OpenGov Asia’s Virtual Breakfast Insight gained key insights from the digital experts who presented. They were left better informed by the diverse perspectives of each other on digital transformation and using cloud technologies to manage their data.