The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Cagayan Provincial Office is providing free Wi-Fi access and free cellphone charging services to citizens affected by the recent flooding in Cagayan and Isabela.
According to a press release, the government has been offering the services to the public since 14 November. They are available at DICT Cagayan Provincial Office located at 2 Bagay Road, San Gabriel Village, Tuguegarao City. The department has put in place measures to observe health protocols. Nonetheless, citizens are still advised to observe physical distancing to prevent further transmission of the COVID-19 amid the calamity.
The DICT will be deploying additional assistance in communication and emergency response to the provinces of Cagayan and Isabela through the Free Wi-Fi for All Programme and the Government Emergency Communications System, the DICT Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II said.
Cagayan has already been placed under a state of calamity due to devastating floods which also caused a power outage. Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba made the recommendation to declare a state of calamity on 13 November and was approved by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan in a special session.
DICT has been ramping up the restoration and deployment of free Wi-Fi in Typhoon hit and flooded areas in the Philippines to aid the national government and local government in disaster response operations and to help citizens communicate with their families and loved ones.
Further, DICT installed free Wi-Fi and the Government Emergency Communications System on the island of Burdeos in Quezon Province as a part of the department’s disaster response initiatives in areas ravaged by Typhoons Rolly and Ulysses.
Through the request of Governor Danny Suarez, DICT installed a very small aperture terminal (VSAT) satellite in Burdeos Municipal Hall to provide Internet connectivity, which has helped citizens in Burdeos contact their families and loved ones online for free. The provisioned Internet connectivity also allowed Governor Suarez to talk to Burdeos Mayor Freddie Aman to discuss the situation in the island. The equipment used was transported to Burdeos with the help of the Philippine Air Force.
In the last two weeks, DICT was able to restore and provide additional free Wi-Fi in typhoon-hit and flooded areas across the country, including Catanduanes, Albay, Cagayan, and Quezon, among others.
Gregorio B. Honasan II noted that communication is one of the most important things during a disaster. Communication does not just allow citizens to contact their families and loved ones to inform them of their situation but also helps authorities and emergency responders in data gathering and site assessment, which will then provide the needed basis for effective decision making and execution.
“Recognising this, the DICT continues to provide assistance to areas severely affected by the recent calamities to help both the national and local government units in disaster response,” he added.
As OpenGov Asia reported earlier, countries are exposed at some point to a variety of threats like natural or manmade disasters, cyber threats, and crime, etc. The current pandemic has not only increased our realisation of the risks but has also generated a sense of urgency for individuals and organisations to be better prepared for the next critical event.
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Hong Kong’s Chief Executive recently gave her much-anticipated fourth Policy Address on 25 November 2020, one report notes. In it, she pledged to uphold “one country, two systems” and with a promise to revive the special administrative region’s economy battered by social unrest and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hong Kong’s chief executive has pledged to roll out 200 new initiatives during Wednesday’s annual policy address, with sources saying the Greater Bay Area integration plan will take centre stage – even though the city’s leader is expected to make it clear that untraced coronavirus cases must hit zero before any new cross-border measures can proceed.
Sources stated that among these initiatives is a youth employment project that aims to create thousands of jobs for young Hongkongers in the nine Guangdong cities included in the Greater Bay Area scheme, Beijing’s ambitious plan to integrate the cities with Hong Kong and Macau to form an economic powerhouse.
Job opportunities would be offered in sectors ranging from technology and finance to cultural and creative industries.
Insiders also said the CE might unveil some modest improvements to the Stock Connect schemes between Hong Kong, Shanghai and Shenzhen, such as allowing more Hong Kong-listed biotech firms to take part, and promoting private equity funds, family offices and real estate investment trusts.
HKSTP’s response to the CE’s 2020 policy address
The Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) supports various innovation and technology (I&T) related measures outlined in The Chief Executive’s 2020 Policy Address. Such measures will promote closer collaboration between Hong Kong and Shenzhen and foster the development of Hong Kong into an international I&T hub.
The Park welcomed the initiative for the Corporation to manage certain areas of the Innovation and Technology Zone in Futian, Shenzhen. This will support institutions and enterprises to start their business in the GBA, enhancing the I&T value chain and overall development of the ecosystem.
Biomedical technology is one of the strategic focuses of HKSTP. There are approximately 150 biotech companies in the Park, which have grown significantly over the past few years. With the inclusion of pre-revenue biotechnology companies listed in Hong Kong and stocks listed on the Mainland Sci-Tech Innovation Board meeting certain prescribed criteria in the scope of eligible securities under the mutual market access programmes, it will create more opportunities for local biotechnology companies to raise funds for research. The Park believes this initiative will be beneficial to promote venture capital investment and accelerate the R&D process of biotech companies.
On talent development, HKSTP announced earlier this year the launch of HKSTP InnoAcademy and the Technology Leaders of Tomorrow Programme, which has received an encouraging response. HKSTP will fully support the government’s Global STEM Professorship Scheme and Greater Bay Area Youth Employment Scheme, helping young talent pursue a career in the I&T sector, experience and capture opportunities offered in the region, and at the same time expand the talent pool.
HKSTP welcomes the upcoming Smart City Blueprint for Hong Kong 2.0 to further accelerate smart city development. HKSTP will continue to serve as a living lab and work alongside the government’s plan to drive the application of technologies in key areas including 5G, sensors, data, AI and robotics, and IoT, supporting relevant industries and application developers. HKSTP will also support the government’s drive for Art-Tech which will boost the application of technology in arts and creative industries.
The Chairman of HKSTP stated that under the impact of the pandemic and economic uncertainty, local start-ups have shown their capabilities and adaptability. He noted that HKSTP strives to empower partner companies to capitalise on the opportunities in the GBA and overseas, as well as to strengthen partnerships and networks.
HKSTP believes that I&T will be the driving force for industry growth in the new normal, powering the growth of new economies and the domestic and international dual circulation. HKSTP will continue its efforts together with ecosystem partners in nurturing I&T talent, accelerating R&D and commercialisation of innovation.
The 2020 Vietnam Artificial Intelligence Festival (AI4VN) opened on 27 November in Ho Chi Minh City with the theme of AI and its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jointly held by the Ministry of Science and Technology, over 500 leading Vietnamese and foreign professionals in the field attended the two-day event. AI is considered to be one of the core technologies of the fourth industrial revolution, with many countries having recognised its significant impact across all social aspects.
According to a media report, Vietnam is no exception and the event was expected to drive the development of AI in the country by connecting elements within the ecosystem, from research institutes and universities to enterprises, technology firms, start-up companies, and the AI community.
The gathering also aimed to promote the research and application of AI in various sectors such as healthcare, education, business, trade, finance, and agriculture. It was also an opportunity for business executives to adopt a pioneering role in the development and application of technological solutions to help their companies stand firm against the varied impacts of the pandemic.
During the two days, there were be six workshops on AI in banking-finance, AI in healthcare, AI in enterprises, AI in human resource training, building the AI ecosystem in Ho Chi Minh City, and computing infrastructure for AI.
The Youth Startup Forum also opened in Hanoi on the same day. Taking place amid global disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was part of an emerging nation eager to display the dynamism of its startup ecosystem among investors/investment funds, enterprises, and experts worldwide via virtual events.
Themed ‘Respond – Transform – Breakthrough’, the event was structured into 12 technology villages: Medical Technology, Agricultural Technology, Educational Technology, Tourism and F&B Technology, Frontier Technology, Financial Technology, Smart Cities, Social Impact, Student Start-ups, and Local Start-ups, Community, and International village.
There were 250 startup booths, attracting nearly 200 investors, 150 corporations, enterprises, and business accelerators virtually and physically. Addressing the opening ceremony, the Minister of Science and Technology Huynh Thanh Dat said the startup ecosystem had entered a new and important period for development, requiring efforts and coordination from government agencies, startups, and businesses.
There is also a need to work together to innovate from working methods to mindset, developing human resources, and creating a proper competitive environment. Startups should be proactive in renewing and changing the development model to create more value, he said.
As OpenGov Asia reported, the country also recently held the Vietnam Smart City Summit, which featured the participation of around 1,000 delegates via online platforms from 27 places in provinces and cities. Vietnam has proactively joined smart city networks in the region and around the world. Currently, Vietnam has three cities, having been in the ASEAN smart city network since 2018, and nearly 40 localities implementing smart city models.
The summit was a great opportunity for management agencies, experts, speakers, and enterprises from Vietnam and abroad to share and contribute their valuable experience in the building and development of smart cities.
The Chennai Municipal Corporation is deploying technologies to prevent flooding and water stagnation after cyclone Nivar hit the region last week.
It is using a three-wheeled automated tree-cutter machine in several parts of the city. Also, robotic machines fitted to mini-tractors to lift garbage, an aquatic weed harvester to remove weeds from water bodies, and amphibians used to remove silt from the canals, a news report noted.
According to Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami’s tweets, “High tech machines are being used to remove water stagnation at the flood-prone localities along the water channels such as Velachery, Adyar, and Mambalam.”
Corporation officials said that these machines were used throughout the night to make way for the smooth flow of water. “We have deployed amphibians and robotics machines to remove silt in water bodies in almost all the zones. These machines were all working throughout the night with two officials present,” a government official said.
The robotic tractor was used at the Mambalam canal, while the Adyar Creek was being dredged using an amphibian. The civic body is deploying ‘super recyclers’, which are fitted into huge tankers.
“They also have very broad pipes and more powerful motors, unlike the normal sewage removal machines used in the city. Up to 12,000 litres of water can be sucked out in about 20 minutes with these machines,” the official said, adding that in most of the broad roads, they use this machine and less manual work was involved.
The corporation has distributed six motorised tree-cutters in the city. “Three have been given to the central zone, two to the north zone and one to the south zone,” the official said. The machines were used in several areas such as Adyar, Nungambakkam and Ashok Nagar where several trees fell.
The cyclone has left Chennai with an excess of 36% rain for the season so far. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecast that a low-pressure area may form this week. Weather trackers said there are chances of it intensifying into a cyclonic storm.
The forecasting, planning, and management of critical events help authorities prevent disruption of life and damage to property. Governments rely on several, specific systems for critical event management. Such programmes are essential to national well-being, especially with the increase in natural disasters. But, more often than not, they operate in isolation of each other. According to world experts in Critical Event Management – Everbridge, this approach can create duplication in information and processes, data contradictions, and, when unchecked, could lead to loss of life and damages.
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The Everbridge front-end alerting gateway can be deployed as a standalone solution through to more sophisticated hybrid or multi-channel systems. This combines cell broadcasts or location-based SMS technology to send targeted alerts to mobile phone users, through secondary channels including mobile apps, emails, SMS, voice calls, sirens, radio, television, social media, and opt-in address-based systems.
New Zealand tech companies are experiencing significant growth driven by rising export revenue. Thie trend seems to be due to an increasingly diverse international market that is driving demand for NZ designed and manufactured tech products according to a recent report.
Technology Investment Network (TIN) Report conducts independent market research and collates information from approximately 1000 companies, reporting on the largest 200 (TIN200). The research is collaborative with widespread industry support and participation.
Key sections of the report include analysis of ownership structure, market sector analysis, profiles of the industries fastest-growing companies, economic impact review, analysis of R&D, profiles of promising early-stage companies and a look at which New Zealand regions have the greatest growth in technology.
The report launched earlier in November shows export revenue for the TIN200 companies rose by 10.6% to a total of $9.4B this year. The report reflects, to some extent, the impact that the pandemic has had on the tech sector’s performance in 2020. None the less, the overall TIN200 trend indicates strong growth despite adverse tough economic conditions globally.
With the impact of the pandemic starting to take global effect in the final quarter, total TIN200 revenue reached $12.7B. This is up 8.3% – or $972m – on 2019, but a dip in overall revenue growth, dropping below the $1B recorded last year.
According to the findings, ICT firms show strength yet again, lifting both their TIN200 presence and profitability. With 101 companies now in the TIN200 (up from 94 last year), ICT continues to be the driving force behind the New Zealand tech sector, growing its revenue by 11.4%, comparative to the 8.3% overall growth of the TIN200.
A strong indicator of the promise the group holds, and by extension the sector, is the annual revenues of the companies. In 2015, only 38 tech companies in New Zealand had revenues over $50m; in 2020, this has grown to 56 companies.
Companies with revenue of over $50m accounted for 70% of growth in the TIN200. Able to scale further and explore new market opportunities from a position of strength, these companies are in a good position to grow.
Over 4,000 new jobs were created by the group in 2020, an 8% increase from 2019. With this, the total number of NZ tech sector-generated jobs internationally was 55,167 – of which over 50% are employed in New Zealand. These employees earned about $4.5B in wages; another first for the TIN200, with the average wage for a TIN200 employee topping $82,000.
In a COVID-19 socially-distanced world, contactless transactions are the norm, driving mobile and digital solutions. Not surprisingly, Fintech was the fastest-growing sector on the TIN200 for the fifth consecutive year. With a 5-year CAGR of 31%, new entrants and booming demand, much will be expected of the NZ Fintech sector in 2021 and beyond.
Revenue growth from Public Companies in 2020 was exceptionally strong, with the 25 listed companies on the TIN200 representing nearly two-thirds (62%) of the total revenue growth – an impressive growth rate of 20% on last year.
With 120 of the TIN200 companies headquartered in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city continues to be the powerhouse of the NZ tech sector. The capital region performed well too, with companies in the Wellington region generating over 23% of the TIN200 revenue and registering the fastest growth rate at 10.6%.
The founder and managing director of TIN felt that the TIN200 companies are well-positioned in terms of scale, growing profitability and global spread to absorb the negative impact of COVID-19. The ongoing double-digit export growth with the accompanying increased employment allows the sector to take advantage of the opportunities for growth as a result.
The large potential for online shopping is currently driving significant momentum for businesses to ramp up their digital transformation efforts.
This was the message that the Minister of Trade, Agus Suparmanto, conveyed as the chief speaker at the 2020 Digital Marketing & Human Capital Award, which was held by BusinessNews Indonesia earlier this week.
Minister Argus said that digital transformation requires a change in mindset. This aligned mindset coupled with technology and the streamlining of business processes will help help the nation survive the COVID-19 pandemic and simultaneously restore the national economy.
Argus believes that to be able to carry out digital transformation, business actors are required to have reliable employees with abilities that meet the needs of the digital era. The demand for such transformation then shifts the concept of employees from employees-as-resources to employees-as-company assets (human capital).
“The right business strategy today is to view employees as valuable corporate assets to be invested through various development and coaching programs to provide more benefits for the employees themselves and the company,” explained the Minister of Trade.
Currently, online shopping is still people’s primary choice during the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, this business model is one of the main ways businesses have been able to survive during the crisis.
This year online sales recorded record increases and set new benchmarks. Data from the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology shows that sales of products on social media and e-commerce portals in 2020 amounted to IDR 446.75 trillion (US$ 31.65 billion). This value represents an increase of over 400% compared to 2017 which amounted to IDR 124.9 trillion (US$ 8.88 billion).
The Minister of Trade went on to explain the four strategies to survive and increase sales in the current pandemic conditions.
First, by going digital to reach a wider market.
- Second, implementing multimedia marketing through various platforms such as websites, digital applications, including print and electronic media, whose purpose is to provide information to consumers.
- Third, provide product guarantees to build consumer trust. Fourth, promote empathy in marketing communications.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Indonesia’s trade balance has shown good performance. Cumulatively, the trade balance for January-October 2020 reached USD 17.07 billion and is the highest achievement in the last five years. This achievement is partly supported by the increase in Indonesia’s export performance.
The export value in October 2020 reached USD 14.39 billion, an increase of 3.09 % compared to the previous month. Meanwhile, imports reached USD 10.78 billion or decreased by 6.79% compared to the previous month.
The Minister of Trade was encouraged that during this season, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) have begun marketing their products in a hybrid, namely online and offline. That way, the contribution of the sector to the national economy will be maintained.
Argus confirmed that the Ministry of Trade will continue to strengthen public markets, both physical and non-physical. One of the non-physical efforts is through increasing the capacity of human resources (HR) in public markets, especially traders, through the Market School program.
The Market School initiative is one of the non-physical revitalization efforts undertaken by the Ministry of Trade as a learning medium for traders who aim to increase knowledge as well as the competence of traders. In addition, the market school is a way for traders to ensure that healthcare protocols are followed in the markets.
Meanwhile, the ministry confirmed that the synergy between agencies encourages the recovery of the export market for creative products. The Minister of Trade emphasised that the cooperation of various parties is needed in encouraging the recovery of the export market for Indonesian creative economy products, especially during the. To that end, the Ministry of Trade will continue to improve synergy with related agencies and institutions.
Two tech firms operating under the Hong Kong Smart Government Innovation Lab recently announced that they have launched a new solution which is now ready to be acquired by companies and institutions.
Solution one – Roborn Platform as Superior Service (RPass)
Well-connected and with better coordination, that Platform as superior service (RPass) is a special class of distributed Robotic administrations that gives a stage of freedom enabling clients to create, run, and oversee robotic applications without the multifaceted nature of the control system but keeping all robots automatically connected.
The solution was designed to be applied across the various environment.
The solution employs the latest in the Internet of Things (IoT) technologies.
The company can integrate any robots or vehicles into the system and have deployed these robotic products in a variety of government projects.
About distributed Robotic administrations
Robotics and Automation Systems are now ubiquitous: intelligent robots help human beings in everyday life; the Internet connects factory automation systems to customers and providers to build the so-called “Virtual Factory”; “Web Robotics” is a new fascinating frontier for research and entertainment, one academic paper notes.
It continues to detail how new trends have been made possible by the evolution of the PC (in terms of cost, power, and robustness) and the Internet (in terms of security, speed, and reliability). This evolution has dramatically influenced the way robotics and automation systems are conceived and developed today.
The PC and Internet revolution promises easy peripheral integration, and universal access to shared data and resources, inexpensive reconfiguration of distributed systems. In reality, much research and development effort remain a need. Thus, Distributed Computing is the research field where new techniques, models, and methodologies are studied and experimented with to reach such goals.
Solution two – Deep Learning for Advanced Computer Vision SDK (DLACV)
The firm’s product, DLACV, is a mature and reliable technology that saves time, costs and improves quality. Over the last few years, deep learning methods have been proven to be superior to the latest machine learning techniques in many fields, and computer vision is one of the most prominent cases.
The solution employs the latest deep learning schemes used in computer vision problems, such as object detection, facial recognition, motion and activity recognition, and human pose estimation, including convolutional neural networks, deep Boltzmann machines and deep belief networks, and stacked noise reduction autoencoders.
The solution was developed to be applied across a variety of environments and in Transport.
The solution employs Artificial Intelligence (AI), Deep Learning, Machine Learning as well as Video Analytics.
- Computer vision + robot navigation
- Computer Vision in Metrology
- Computer vision for screen readers
- Computer vision for intruder detection
- Computer vision for assembly verification
- Computer Vision for Code and Character Reader (OCR)
- Computer vision defect detection
About the Smart Government Innovation Lab
In 2018, the Government established the Smart Government Innovation Lab to explore hi-tech products such as AI and relevant technologies, including machine learning, big data analytics, cognitive systems and intelligent agent, as well as blockchain and robotics from firms, especially local start-ups.
The Lab is always on the lookout for innovation and technology (I&T) solutions that are conducive to enhancing public services or their operational effectiveness. I&T suppliers are encouraged to regularly visit the Lab’s website to check on the current business and operational needs in public service delivery and propose innovative solutions or product suggestions to address them.
The National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) recently launched the FutureSkills PRIME Beta Platform, as part of its efforts to foster an ecosystem that enhances digital talent in the country.
The programme will be offered as an online platform to encourage remote and self-paced learning. Many awareness-building modules will be free to access, allowing maximum participation. Under the programme, 412,000 learners have subsidised access to certified courses in any of the ten identified emerging technologies. These include artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of things (IoT), Big Data analytics, robotic process automation, additive manufacturing/3D printing, cloud computing, social and mobile, cybersecurity, augmented/virtual reality, and blockchain.
Debjani Ghosh, the President of NASSCOM, said, “FurutreSkillsPRIME is yet another milestone for building digital talent as a competitive advantage for the industry. Reskilling and automation emerging as the future drivers of the industry, we aim to craft a new wave of growth and innovation through a digitally skilled pool of professionals.”
FutureSkills PRIME is a part of the government’s commitment to make India the global hub of talent in emerging technologies. The initiative has funded the creation of a digital learning platform, where participants can be ‘digitally fluent’ and get certified in industry-validated and government-approved courses.
The programme also aims to benefit aspirants from tier-II and tier-III cities, including those from small and medium enterprises and women and youth who want to participate in the gig economy from their homes/remote locations.
According to a media report, some of the key features of the project are:
‘Aggregator of Aggregators’ Framework: An online aggregator platform with expanded catalogues and multiple skilling options, facilitating self-paced, and continuous learning.
Diagnostics: Registered candidates will get a diagnostic of their aptitude and capabilities to guide their choices of learning content on the portal.
Industry-Driven: Content will be created/curated directly by the industry, ensuring its relevance to the job market.
Micro-credentials: The programme framework is focused on creating a new skilling paradigm that creates value at every step.
Multiple Choice of Courses: Learners can go through courses that are online or blended, self-paced or instructor-led, paid or free, and formal or non-formal.
Government Officers Training (GOT) and Training of Trainers (ToT): The network of CDAC & NIELIT centres across India will be leveraged to train government officers and master trainers.
NSQF Alignment: Course content eligible for incentives are provided by expert training providers and will be aligned to the NSQF approved National Occupational Standards & Job Roles (level 5 and above), thus ensuring a level of standardisation and quality.
Skills Passport: A unique concept of ‘skills passport’ is an integral feature of the programme and any learning that an aspirant acquires during their re-skilling/up-skilling journey will be recorded and recognised.
Skill wallet and incentives: The skills wallet is an online digital wallet that keeps track of candidate registration and redemption of incentives. This will be introduced early next year.
Soft/professional skills: The platform will also provide learning content on professional skills. People must learn how to work with each other and with machines.
A phase-wise roll-out of additional modules on the platform will include a host of industry-aligned paid certification courses, SSC NASSCOM-validated assessments, virtual instructor-led modes of learning, government incentive scheme registration, diagnostic tools, virtual labs, among others.