The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) recently amended its Cloud First Policy to provide clearer instructions on policy coverage, data classification, and data security.
It also covers policies on sovereignty, residency, and ownership as the government transitions to the ‘new normal’ amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a press release, DICT said that the Philippine government’s Cloud First Policy promotes cloud computing as the preferred technology for government administration and the delivery of government services.
Shifting to cloud computing is expected to foster flexibility, security, and cost-efficiency among users. Cloud computing also offers key advantages such as access to global systems of solutions, innovations, and services, as well as up-to-date cybersecurity.
The recent amendments clarify which institutions will be covered by the policy and which institutions are only be encouraged to adopt it. This distinction is absent in the former version.
As amended, the Cloud First Policy covers all departments, bureaus, offices, and agencies of the executive branch, government-owned and/or controlled corporations (GOCCs), state universities and colleges (SUCs), local government units (LGUs), and all cloud service providers and private entities rendering services to the government.
Meanwhile, the Congress, the Judiciary, the Independent Constitutional Commissions, and the Office of the Ombudsman are encouraged to adopt the Cloud First Policy, the release added.
The amendments also clarify the government’s policy on data sovereignty, a concept that was confused with data residency in the previous version.
In the latest version of the policy, the application of Philippine laws over its foreign counterparts is asserted over data owned or processed by the Philippine government or any entity that has links to the Philippines.
Additional provisions on ICT capacity building and development of essential skills to meet international and local standards are also included.
Data classifications are updated to include the following: highly sensitive government, above-sensitive government, sensitive government, and non-sensitive government data.
The new classifications provide a more consistent structure to guide the application of safety protocols on the access, storage, processing, and transmission of data in the cloud.
The DICT Secretary, Gregorio B. Honasan II, said that the department is continuously updating policies to adapt to the present times.
With the amended Cloud First Policy, it is paving the way to an ICT policy environment that is more responsive to current needs, further filling gaps in the country’s digitalisation efforts.
The recent amendments to the Cloud First Policy are expected to further enable government agencies to serve the public more efficiently.
With concise guidelines, government agencies can now implement cloud-based services that are at par with global standards.
DICT-10 has also planned a project to implement free WiFi sites in 353 locations across the country, a press release has noted.
The DICT Assistant Regional Director, Frederick D.C. Amores, shared that even before the pandemic, the department was looking to make connectivity available in various institutions.
DICT has training programmes for digital marketing and online jobs, among others.
In the coming years, the department intends to have a stronger network for government, schools, and SUCs to connect to the internet.
Among the key programmes, the DICT is promoting is the Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), which will use digital signatures.
The Director explained that there are still areas with no internet connection because they are not viable for commercial telecoms to come in while others are beset by armed conflict, making it difficult to install communication facilities.
One possible, but expensive, solution is the use of satellites to bring connectivity to those areas with no signal or connection.
DICT also proposes a broadband network for the government across the region and Mindanao. It is important to build internal capacity for the government to provide connectivity.
With the recent announcements by India’s Prime Minister on 15th August 2020, the nation plans to ensure high-speed internet connectivity via an optical fibre network for the more than 600,000 villages across India within 1000 days. The stated objective of the initiative is to convert every village into a Digital Village, enhance digital empowerment and awareness and to bridge the digital divide between urban and rural settings. The coverage aims to enable India’s digital revolution to reach the farthest corner of the nation and to foster inclusive socio-economic growth for all.
The first steps towards this pan-nation coverage came with the launch of a project to connect all 45,945 villages in Bihar with Optical Fibre Internet Service. According to Ravi Shankar Prasad, on completion, Bihar will be the first state in India to connect all its villages by optical fibre. The Common Service Centre Special Purpose Vehicle (CSC SPV) will provide 1 Wi-Fi and 5 FTTH connections for one year free of cost to identified government Institutions, primary schools, Anganwadi Centres, Aasha workers and Jeevika Didi, etc. Additionally, 1 Wi-Fi provision will be made at a public place in every village.
The project will be executed with the combined efforts of the Department of Telecom which has already connected 1.5 lakh Gram Panchayats across India with optical fibre internet service, along with Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology and Common Service Centres (CSC).
The CSC has 34,821 Centres throughout Bihar and it will utilise this workforce to not only implement this project but also make it professionally run to provide Optical Fibre Internet Services for common citizens at every village of Bihar. This project will be completed by Q1 of 2021 at an approximate cost of Rs. 1,000 Crore (US$ 137 million).
The day was considered historic, as not only for the state of Bihar but for the entire country as the government is taking major steps to make its villages the mainstay of AtmaNirbharBharat (self-reliant India).
India is one of the leading countries in the world in terms of digital transactions. In August 2020 alone about Rs 3 lakh crore (USD 40 billion) worth transactions were made through UPI. While India has been aggressively pushing digital commerce and e-transactions, the pandemic is driving education, healthcare and daily life online. With the huge increase in internet demand to live life across India, it is necessary to ensure that even villages of the country have good quality, high-speed internet.
The approach is outcome-based with special focus on utilisation of the BharatNet with Service Level Agreement (SLA) commitment. On completion and running, a socio-economic impact assessment would be carried out by national premier institutions to understand the benefits and success of this pilot project. There will be a comprehensive Consumer Redressal Mechanism; a full-fledged customer care service shall be established by CSC-SPV for redressal of consumer grievances.
Speedier connectivity would provide many online benefits as well as access to global markets for all sectors. This project will boost digital services like e-Education, e-Agriculture, Tele-Medicine, Tele-law and other social security schemes. Real-time data on weather, education, business, health and safety will allow India and Indians to thrive in a COVID-19 era.
The management of critical events is becoming an increasingly important and widespread practice. From significant weather events, natural disasters and global pandemics, critical events create operational disruptions and have an enormous financial impact.
The COVID-19 pandemic is perhaps the aptest example of this. Some nations have buckled under the pressure generated by the economic upheaval and setbacks the virus has caused. Other nations, like Malaysia, have risen to the challenge and have employed technology in innovative and efficient ways.
For example, in March 2020, the Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA) rolled out a digital tracking device to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the state. The digital surveillance solution gave the state disaster management committee the “scalable capability” to monitor the disease at all points of entry in Sarawak.
Under the solution, all those entering Sarawak were issued a QR-coded wristband based on two categories: person under investigation (PUI) and 14-day stay home notice. Wearers were required to report their situation twice daily by scanning their wristband’s QR code to submit the information.
Data collated will allow the state disaster management committee to make informed decisions and to conduct random checks on the wearers. The wearers’ location enables the committee to establish hotspots, a key strategy to curb further spread of the disease, the SMA General Manager had said in a statement.
At the time, various tracker systems had been deployed in China, Singapore, South Korea and Hong Kong where the data collected was crucial in managing the shape and evolution of the virus’ spread.
The state disaster management committee had earlier enlisted SMA to develop a digital system to track persons undergoing self-quarantine for Covid-19. Ultimately, this solution will be integrated into the ‘Permission to Enter/Exit’ system to effectively monitor Sarawak’s entry points.
This move resulted in the state, and Malaysia, being lauded for its efforts in combating the virus. On 22 September 2020, the Sarawak State Disaster Management Committee’s (SDMC) utilization of technology to curb the Covid-19 pandemic was recognised as the committee was awarded the Malaysian Technology Excellence Award (MTEA) by Singapore Business Review 2020 in Kuala Lumpur.
SDMC’s initiative for the development of two key applications, namely i-Alerts and enterSarawak, and the seamless integration of both systems was acknowledged by the judging committee from Deloitte Asia Pacific, KPMG Malaysia, BDO, Crowe Growth Consulting as well as Ernst & Young Advisory Services as riding the disruption wave and leading the technological revolution by leveraging on technology as a key catalyst to control the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in Sarawak.
The award was received by the General Manager of the Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA) on behalf of the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee. He stated that the agency aims to be the leader in the Digitalisation of Malaysia; being at the forefront, realising The Right Honourable Chief Minister of Sarawak’s vision of a robust Digital Economy.
As strategised by SMA, the applications, which focus on data interoperability, allows for the harmonised approach of collecting and transmitting data between stakeholders, decision-makers and the public. This empowered the State to channel all relevant information via a single and globally interoperable information structure thus avoiding the unnecessary complexity in systems and improve overall efficiency.
The uniformity of these platform creates speed, systemization and standardization which improves overall efficiency across the entire disaster lifecycle thus allowing enterSarawak to be seamlessly applied across 33 Immigration, Customs, Quarantine and Security centres (ICQS) in Sarawak immediately during MCO creating touchless border security while i- Alerts acts as the Core Integrated Disaster Management Platform for SDMC.
The open standards for the system also ensure enhanced scaling and improved efficiency of the timeliness of the transfer of information. Furthermore, by making full use of existing data in the disaster management sector, i-Alerts can adopt mechanisms that ensure resource verification, findability, accessibility, interoperability, reuse and leverage the growth of existing Government Open Data initiatives.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog) will organise a mega virtual summit on artificial intelligence (AI), Responsible AI for Social Empowerment 2020.
RAISE 2020 will be held from 5-9 October. It will be a global meeting of minds to exchange ideas and chart a course for using AI for social transformation, inclusion, and empowerment in areas like healthcare, agriculture, education, and smart mobility, among other sectors.
The summit is a first of its kind, a global meeting of minds on AI to drive India’s vision for digital transformation. The event will witness robust participation from global industry leaders, key opinion makers, government representatives, and academia.
According to a press release, at the summit, delegates and experts in research, policy, and innovation on AI will come together from across the world. Keynote speeches and panel discussions will frame the summit, on cross-sector subjects like leveraging AI for pandemic preparedness, the impetus that innovation places on digitisation, inclusive AI, and partnerships for successful innovation.
The RAISE 2020 Summit will also feature startups working in AI-related fields. Startups chosen through the AI Solution Challenge will showcase their solutions in the AI Startup Pitchfest. This is part of the government’s continuing support to tech entrepreneurs and startups by providing exposure, recognition, and guidance.
Speaking about the Summit, Ajay Prakash Sawhney, the MeitY Secretary, noted that AI has emerged as a catalyst across industries and can play a transformative role in accelerating development. The summit will explore in-depth, the role of AI in accelerating social empowerment. RAISE 2020 has tracks like AI for health, agriculture, education, skilling, mobility, fintech, research, inclusive AI, the future of work, and responsible AI. The summit will serve as a platform for the meeting of some of the best minds in the world on AI.
Home to the world’s third-largest startup ecosystem, elite science and technology institutions like the IITs, robust and ubiquitous digital infrastructure, and millions of newly-minted STEM graduates every year, India is well-positioned to become a global leader in the development of AI, the release claimed.
Industry analysts predict that AI could add up to US$ 957 billion to India’s economy by 2035. The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, plans to leverage AI for inclusive development, representing the country’s ‘AI for All’ strategy. The country aims to stand out in the international community not just as a leader in AI but also as a model to show the world how to responsibly direct AI for social empowerment.
Amitabh Kant, the CEO of NITI Aayog, explained that from agriculture to fintech and healthcare to infrastructure, AI is a transformative force. India is uniquely positioned to become the AI laboratory of the world and contribute to inclusive development and growth through empowerment. The summit aims to help create a data-rich environment, which is a stepping stone to eventually transform lives globally.
In August, NITI Aayog, in collaboration with the National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM), launched the ATL AI Step-Up Module for students, which will drive AI education and innovation across the country. The initiative was launched after the AI project, ATL AI Modules by the Atal Innovation Mission.
As OpenGov Asia reported, the AI Step-up Module provides a comprehensive set of learn-it-yourself advanced modules to those who want to expand their knowledge base after becoming familiar with the basics of the AI technology.
The Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) is collaborating with a communications service provider in Malaysia to promote corporate innovation among businesses in Malaysia, from start-ups or large corporations, to stimulate the ecosystem and spur the country’s digital economy.
The partnership was formalised with both parties signing a Memorandum of Understanding detailing the framework for its cooperation. Through the year-long collaboration, the parties will jointly develop mentorships and programmes to provide coaching to start-ups and corporates embarking on their digital transformation journeys.
Additionally, both parties will facilitate events and engagements that will foster a conducive environment for networking and collaboration between start-ups as well as larger corporations to generate business leads for the industry and accelerate corporate innovation.
The Chief Executive Officer of the leading converged solutions provider in Malaysia stated that, in this challenging and increasingly competitive business environment, the company firmly believes that innovation will be a key success factor in re-evaluating business models and digital transformation strategies.
Their collaboration with MDEC is, therefore, an important one as it allows the firm to collectively provide the right tools, support, and resources, to bring together the best of technologies to help businesses to always be ahead in a changing world. The parties will further explore and co-create initiatives to fuel corporate innovation in Malaysia.
Meanwhile, MDEC’s CEO lauded the firm’s proactive stance in supporting organisations to take the digital leap and heighten their readiness for IR4.0. She further encouraged Malaysia-based MNCs to join the effort to build the nation’s digital ecosystem and support local digitally-empowered businesses to grow globally.
The company possess market knowledge, resources, established networks, and the validation that all businesses aspire to attain; tech start-ups possess the agility and novel ideas that corporations value, she said. MDEC aims to harness these complementary strengths to both advance the nation’s digital agenda and foster the creation of local deep-tech solutions that could shape the way the most pressing global issues are solved.
As the first of their joint initiatives, the two parties will be launching a digital Design Thinking workshop for MDEC’s corporate partners in October 2020. The two-week workshop aims to promote the use of Design Thinking as a methodology to deeply understand problem statements of companies and challenge assumptions in an attempt to solve them creatively and innovatively.
According to another article, MDEC and Malaysia’s leading communications provider have a new history of innovative partnerships. The two have been collaborating on several fronts since 2019, with a shared goal of accelerating the digitalisation of the businesses in Malaysia in line with the Government’s digital economy agenda.
Some of the telecom’s key initiatives include the ecosystem development of IoT in May 2019, which saw the launching of the firm’s immensely popular IoT Challenge and the launch of its second installation on 4 September.
MDEC was also a key partner for the firm’s Market Access Day, the largest pitching session that provided a platform for 100 start-ups to showcase their ideas to approximately 70 of Malaysia’s leading corporates, venture capitalists and angel investors, for business matching and networking opportunities.
Recently, the firm was identified as a Technology Solutions Provider by MDEC for the SME Digitalisation Grant under Budget 2020, which enabled Maxis to offer the widest range of connectivity and digital solutions to help SMEs achieve their digitalisation aspirations.
Meanwhile, through its flagship community programme, eKelas, the company is currently working with MDEC to repurpose the latter’s STEM content and develop learning videos for eKelas students. Concurrently, it is supporting MDEC’s various initiatives under its #mydigitalmaker movement via content sharing and capacity building in Computer Science.
While glass is a sound-proof material, researchers at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) have discovered a way which allows sound transmission for glass, opening a new horizon for the potential development of smartphones and other electronic devices that can function underwater, while also offering greater flexibility to building design.
Using the theory of local resonance, a research team led by Prof. WEN Weijia from the Department of Physics has found that by crafting a structured pattern of openings in between glass panes, the sound waves’ mode of vibration will be altered, allowing sound to pass through.
The concept is similar to playing the flute, where players can change the tone by adjusting the position of holes on the instrument. The glass with inlaid cavities can also transmit different sound frequency through the adjustment of those cavities’ shape and size.
The finding, made in collaboration with researchers from Chongqing University and Shenzhen Fantwave Tech. Co was recently published in top physics journal Applied Physics Letters.
Prof. Wen stated that the discovery overturns the concept regarding the use of glass in acoustics and provides a theoretical basis for new applications. If holes or openings in glasses are no longer required for sound transmission, manufacturers can design more long-lasting water-proof mobiles or electronic devices.
Interior settings which require both transparency and sound transmissions – such as those of the bank teller counters or prison reception cells, may also find our technology useful.
As a renowned scientist in advanced functional materials, Prof. Wen’s discoveries span across microsphere and nanoparticle design and fabrications, soft matter physics, smart materials, metamaterials, electronic materials and microfluidics, many of which were eventually transferred into commercial products.
A thermal sensitive nano gel which he discovered in 2009 for example, has recently been applied in the production of a smart glass which transparency changes automatically according to the ambient temperature and solar radiation intensity. This automatic atomizing glass can block up to 70 per cent of the sunlight, effectively reducing the indoor temperature by 5 to 8 degrees and minimizing energy consumption by air conditioning.
Sunlight-blocking glass has been a product made of well-known technology, but for installation on a building, they all require power in changing opacity. The material developed by Prof Wen was the first one that allows the glass to serve such purpose without needing external power.
The smart glass is now deployed in at least 8 mainland cities and provinces including Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing and Guangdong on facilities ranging from schools and hospitals to residences and exhibition halls.
In the paper’s abstract, it is not that the team is introducing a kind of acoustic metamaterial, which can greatly enhance the transmission at subwavelength ranges and keep its hyaline and air-proof characteristics simultaneously.
In contrast to the state of the art, this originally conceived passive metamaterial makes full use of the resonance of glass plates without any complex or expensive materials. The team’s work provides the design of the decorated window, numerical simulation, and experimental demonstrations for this kind of metamaterial and analyses the underlying physical mechanism.
Furthermore, they show that more transmission peaks can be realized by introducing multilayer resonance coupling of this decorated window. This meta-window should have many potential applications where both the sound and visible light transmission are required without any ventilation.
Businesses, farmers and researchers in the Shoalhaven region will benefit from cutting-edge technology and research with the launch of a new industry hub in Nowra on 24 September 2020.
The Morrison Government has provided $2 million to establish the Nowra Agri-business Innovation Hub at the University of Wollongong’s Shoalhaven campus to connect the regional agri-business sector with the latest technologies and research.
The Senator for New South Wales stated that the launch of the hub would kick-start a new chapter of innovation and growth in the region.
The hub will ensure that local students, businesses and entrepreneurs can access the expertise, equipment and innovation that will help them succeed, she said. The Shoalhaven region has a strong history in agribusiness, manufacturing and defence industries, as well as a skilled labour force.
The research conducted in the university’s facilities will provide advice and technical assistance for those businesses to explore new technologies and drive growth.
The Minister for Education stated that the Government was committed to enhancing collaboration between universities, industry, businesses, government and the wider community.
The research done by Australia’s universities can lead to the development of new products and innovations that drive job growth, business opportunities and productivity gains, he said. As part of its Job-ready Graduates reforms, the Government is providing $900 million to establish the National Priorities and Industry Linkage Fund to fund partnerships between universities and industry.
The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wollongong stated that the hub will provide the community with access to tools and support to create a thriving economic future. The University has always served its communities and this was recently demonstrated in the assistance it provided to students and businesses across the South Coast and Southern Highlands throughout Australia’s bushfire crisis and the pandemic, he remarked.
The university is determined to continue to value-add to local communities economically, environmentally, socially and culturally by investing in research and innovation.
“So, it is fitting to be partnering with the Australian Government to officially open this Industry 4.0 Hub at a time when Australia’s economic recovery is based on our success at growing new businesses, creating jobs, and supporting existing businesses,” he concluded.
The hub is expected to provide further details on research engagement and translation in the first half of 2021.
Applying digital transformation to the agriculture sector is paramount. Invest NSW notes that agricultural technology (Agtech), is predicted to become Australia’s next $100 billion industry by 2030. The sector is fast becoming a vital part of the NSW economy and a growing source of both income and investment.
Thriving agtech clusters, world-class life sciences institutions and high-quality produce, make NSW the ideal environment for agribusiness innovation.
A rising middle class, especially in the Asia Pacific, is moving from a simple diet to one that’s much higher in the kind of agriculturally-intensive foods in which Australia and NSW specialise. At the same time, demand for locally-grown sustainable food is growing in the domestic market.
Global warming and diminishing natural resources present obstacles to meeting this changing demand. So too does the rising cost of energy, labour, fertiliser, seeds and herbicides. These challenges have created a perfect environment for Agtech to grow.
NSW is at the forefront of using technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, big data and the Internet of Things (IoT) to increase agricultural productivity. However, agtech isn’t just changing the face of farming; it’s helping save farming land. Technological advances ensure we can produce, supply and store food sustainably.
The Ho Chi Minh (HCM) City Business Association recently unveiled a digital transformation program for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to help improve their competitiveness.
The program will be implemented in collaboration with the HCM City Computer Association and its members as a part of the city government’s efforts to help SMEs gain better access to digital transformation solutions at reasonable costs. Under the scheme, a committee for digital transformation under the management of the HCM City Business Association and a digital transformation training centre for enterprises will be established.
According to a press release, a portal will be built to support the digital transformation efforts, and a digital transformation solution package called Service Catalog will be established to support businesses. The business association also introduced two basic digital transformation packages, the X-Starter (for start-ups) and X-SME (for SMEs), to be provided by reputed members of the computer association.
Speaking at a press conference held to announce the program, Chu Tien Dung, the chairman of the HCM City Union of Business Associations, stressed the importance of good infrastructure and a legal framework for digital transformation.
Enterprises have recognised the importance of technologies in their operations and management. Digital transformation will be the element to help them improve their competitive capacity and develop sustainably. “The association is willing to support and assist enterprises in undertaking digital transformation if they face any hurdles in implementation.
The chairman of the computer association, Lam Nguyen Hai Long, noted his association is working with other business groups in the city to publish a catalogue of IT products for enterprises’ digital transformation efforts. He recommended that the city should provide free IT infrastructure for SMEs, and IT enterprises should offer digital transformation services at reduced prices.
The city should choose local enterprises to provide technologies for the program because similar projects are already being carried out by IT enterprises in other provinces and cities, he added.
HCM City aims to become a smart city with e-government, e-enterprises, and an electronic society by 2030, and set up a database by that year to assist with this. By 2030 it also aims to push all public services online and provide them on multiple platforms, including mobile devices. The e-economy is expected to account for 40% of the city’s economy.
The rate of individuals and enterprises having electronic accounts for payments will exceed 85%. To obtain these goals, the city will strengthen communications and improve the awareness of its workers, the public and enterprises, and create shared databases.
Experts said the digital transformation would affect all areas of the economy like health, education, transport, finance-banking, tourism, agriculture, logistics, environment, and energy.
Earlier, the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) launched a campaign to review and remove malware nationwide this year. It aims to enhance the country’s network security, as OpenGov Asia reported.
The campaign intends to reduce the malicious code infection rate by 50%. It also aims to cut the number of Vietnamese IP addresses in ten popular botnets – a collection of internet-connected devices infected by malware that allow hackers to control them – in half.
The National Digital Transformation Program notes that ensuring network safety and security is key to digital transformation. All IT equipment, products, software, information systems, and investment projects have mandatory components on network safety and security. The ministry has clarified cyber safety and security as a prerequisite for e-government development and digital transformation.