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The Odisha Chief Minister, Naveen Patnaik, recently launched an online service for the identity verification and submission of life certificates for pensioners of the state government. The initiative was inaugurated under the state’s Digital Life Certificate system initiative. According to a report, the Chief Minister virtually launched the service while attending the orientation programme for newly recruited 153 officers of Odisha Civil Services. He claimed that Odisha is the first state in the country to implement such a digital service for pensioners.

Through the service, pensioners can now submit identification and life certificates using artificial intelligence (AI) based video-verification processes. It will be of immense help to the pensioners as they can submit their identification and life certificates digitally, without having to visit government offices and simply by using their mobile phones, Patnaik stated. This will help citizens follow COVID-19 social distancing protocols.

The facility will be available at the ‘Mo Seva Kendras’ located across the state. Patnaik also launched an E-Dairy, through which citizens can access all the information contained in the government diary, via their mobiles. These initiatives are part of the Odisha government’s 5T and ‘Mo Sarkar’ initiatives. The 5Ts stand for teamwork, technology, transparency, transformation and time-limit on which the performance of government officials and projects are judged. The ‘Mo Sarkar’ initiative attempts to bring in professionalism and behavioural changes in public offices through a direct random feedback system from citizens.

The Indian government is developing and implementing several AI-driven initiatives in education, healthcare, agriculture, and finance. Educational institutes and national agencies are launching centres and offering courses in emerging technology to help build a skilled workforce. For instance, last year, the Indian Institute of Technology Madras’ (IIT-Madras) Robert Bosch Centre for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (RBCDSAI) launched the ‘RBCDSAI Industrial Consortium’ to provide information resources on cutting-edge technologies to industries working on AI.

The consortium will help industry members learn about the scientific developments and latest trends in AI and data science through broad-based interactions with the centre and its faculty. As OpenGov Asia had reported, the centre offers two membership plans to the interested industries: platinum and silver. The membership plans will enable priority access to four RBCDSAI events, namely, colloquia, quarterly workshops, industry conclaves, and annual research showcases. The centre will organise two special half-day workshops on their voted topic of interest from a slate for its members. Additionally, platinum members will have a dedicated in-domain contact faculty at the centre for close interaction to seek suggestions on their industry’s plans. They will get to exclusively interact with the students to know more about their research and have early access to RBCDSAI publications, reports, datasets, and other research material.

The need for skilling and upskilling reached a new high amid the pandemic and in 2022, big data analytics, along with AI and machine learning (ML) are forecast to be the most in-demand skills in India, as per a news report. With rapid tech adoption across industries and entirely tech-enabled sectors such as IT and BFSI, the role of AI/ML will continue to grow in 2022, with a significant increase in the demand for related roles.

To co-create innovative technologies and solutions, the National University of Singapore (NUS) and an aviation company have launched a new digital aviation corporate laboratory. The laboratory will accelerate the digital transformation of Singapore’s aviation sector, and help redefine the air travel experience for passengers. Situated at the Innovation 4.0 Building at NUS Kent Ridge campus, the S$45 million research facility is the seventh Corporate Laboratory at NUS.

The launch of the Corporate Laboratory comes at an opportune time as the global aviation industry tackles the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. An acceleration of its digital transformation programme will help to keep the aviation company vibrant and contribute towards the development of a digital aviation and travel technology community in Singapore.

This significant collaboration will tap into NUS’ deep-tech and multi-disciplinary research expertise across artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, data science, operations research and analytics, optimisation, sleep studies and industrial design, to deliver high value and productivity improvements. The innovative technologies developed from the research will redefine the air travel experience for passengers worldwide while accelerating the digital transformation of Singapore’s aviation sector.

– Professor Tan Eng Chye, NUS President 

The partnership between supports Singapore’s ongoing digital transformation as it adopts a data-driven research approach to develop rich insights and deployable technologies. With the strong industry experience and the multi-disciplinary capabilities from NUS, the Corporate Laboratory is primed to develop innovative and exciting solutions for the aviation sector, and take them to greater heights of excellence.

The objectives of the Corporate Laboratory are to drive traveller-centric digital services, ensure security and safety in air travel, and enhance organisational effectiveness and workplace productivity for the aviation company and Singapore’s aviation sector.

Featuring state-of-the-art equipment and facilities, such as a cabin simulator and a cockpit simulator with Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technologies, the Corporate Laboratory will leverage NUS’ wide and deep research expertise across its faculties and research institutes to embark on research activities in the following areas:

  • Revenue Management and Dynamic Pricing: Developing better techniques by using data-driven methods in demand-modelling, fare pricing and seat allocation to enhance operational efficiencies.
  • TransformingCompetency and Skill Development: Developing intelligent and quantified pilot and cabin crew training methods, leveraging eye-tracking, AR and VR, as well as post-flight feedback technologies to encourage employees to embrace continuous learning through training.
  • Employee WellnessDeveloping intelligent fatigue and alertness models using wearables to improve and enhance safety, performance, and productivity.
  • Passenger Comfort, Sleep and Cabin ServiceDeveloping real environment cabin simulators to enhance customers’ comfort, sleep qualities, as well as developing specifications of new product and service protocols for enhanced and unparalleled customer service.

As reported by OpenGov Asia, the National University of Singapore (NUS) Department of the Built Environment has established a new research centre to augment the digital capability of Singapore’s construction industry, accelerate 5G training and promote the adoption of 5G technologies in Smart Facilities Management (FM).

As Singapore pushes to offer nationwide 5G coverage by 2025, the centre for 5G Digital Building Technology aims to play an important role in Singapore’s digital research. It has set its sights to be a leading centre in digital building technology through high impact research, broad-based education, and implementing best practices. It will harness 5G connectivity, cloud-based digital twin and robotics for Smart FM and Built Environment industry applications and seek to transform the way people design, deliver and manage Singapore’s built environment.

The 5G Centre is uniquely positioned at Singapore’s first new-built net-zero energy building. This allows its researchers the ability to test and develop 5G digital technologies, which typically consumes a high amount of energy, within a net-zero energy environment. This is significant as more businesses will increasingly adopt 5G technology along with the nationwide coverage by 2025, and buildings are expected to be more energy-efficient by 2030 to mitigate climate change.

Vietnam, which is pursuing a policy on the development of digital technologies, has set the goal of having ten technology firms with annual revenue of over $1 billion by 2025. Last year was an eventful one for the information and communication technologies (ICT) industry as Vietnam began building a legal framework to promote digital technology. The total revenue of Vietnam’s ICT segment was estimated at an all-time high of VND3,462 trillion (US$151 billion), growing 9% year on year. The ICT segment alone contributes over US$136 billion to the sum, increasing by some US$11.5 billion from last year, according to data from the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC).

Under a plan, MIC in 2022 will draft a Law on Digital Technology to institutionalise guidelines and policies of the Party and the State on digital technology development. Other tasks for 2022 are building and protecting the growth space and developing a digital economy based on research, creation, production, supply, and indigenously-developed technology products and services. It’s expected that by 2025, the ICT industry will shift from outsourcing and assembling to designing and manufacturing technology products locally. The Ministry aims for the sector to master or invent technologies with local content of over 45%. Vietnam plans to have 100,000 digital technology firms by 2025 and have at least 10 firms compete in global markets with revenues of over US$1 billion. It also wants to have 10 localities with revenues of over US$1 billion from ICT and 10-12 IT zones.

Though it has gained achievements, the ICT industry faces several challenges. The robust development of digital technology requires regular adjustment of the legal framework to create favourable conditions for digital technology firms to grow. Over 90% of digital firms in Vietnam are small and medium enterprises. Therefore, they have limited resources to invest in research and development for new products and services. They are also facing a shortage of highly skilled IT workers. Moreover, some localities lack the capital to support digital businesses and develop their information and communications industries.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic sped up digital transformation, helping the ICT industry grow steadily. Vietnam currently has some 64,000 digital businesses, a 10% increase from 2020. Further, the number of labourers in the industry grew 8% year on year to over 1.4 million people. With their revenues totalling US$18.8 billion, Vietnamese ICT companies account for 13.8% of the information and communications industry’s total revenue.

Vietnam is expected to be the fastest-growing e-commerce market in Southeast Asia by 2026, with e-commerce gross merchandise value (GMV) reaching US$56 billion by 2026, 4.5 times the estimated value of 2021. Vietnam is at the forefront of driving change and seizing opportunities to thrive based on digital transformation in a post-pandemic future. A study surveyed about 16,700 digital consumers and more than 20 C-level employees in six Southeast Asian countries, including 3,579 survey participants from Vietnam. The report described Southeast Asia as a leader of digital transformation in the Asia-Pacific region and Vietnam as one of the best performers. In Vietnam, seven out of ten consumers have digital access, and the country will have 53 million digital consumers by the end of 2021.

China is ramping up efforts to roll out the digital yuan to the broader population, as the country’s technology giants jump on board. However, one of the challenges is how to make Chinese citizens who already use two dominant mobile payment systems run by these same tech firms, begin paying with the digital yuan. Also known as the e-CNY, it’s designed to replace the cash and coins already in circulation.

China’s digital yuan is a form of central bank digital currency (CBDC) which many other central banks around the world are also working on — though the Chinese central bank is way ahead of its global peers. To date, the PBOC has been piloting the digital currency, and tens of millions of digital yuan have been handed out to citizens in a handful of cities in China. Chinese authorities are now stepping up their ambition to expand the use of e-CNY to more citizens even though a nationwide rollout date has not been set.

The PBOC launched an app to allow users in 10 areas, including major cities Shanghai and Beijing, to sign up and use the digital currency.  Perhaps the most significant push came when a popular social media and mobile payment app would support the digital yuan. While the PBOC has used digital yuan lotteries to effectively hand out free money and get users on board, a Chinese analyst questioned what will entice citizens to continue using the digital yuan after they’ve spent that money.

China’s central bank previously stated its intention to make the digital yuan available to visitors to the Beijing Winter Olympics. The venues for the 2022 Games in Beijing will be able to use the e-CNY app there. For the foreseeable future, even if there is an uptick at the Winter Olympics, the transaction turnover rate of the central bank digital RMB is likely to be very tiny in comparison to popular payment platforms

However, over time, there may be some niche areas where the digital RMB could see greater use, such as paying certain types of government-related bills, or for things like transportation, particularly if the central bank offers incentives like red envelopes and other inducements.

Meanwhile, China’s “zero Covid” approach has led to strict measures to try to stamp out the virus in China — that means very few foreign visitors will be attending the Winter Olympics in Beijing. Though the Olympics were originally viewed by Chinese authorities as a chance to showcase the potential use of the currency in an international setting, few non-Chinese citizens will likely use the digital RMB wallet at the Games.

For the internationalisation of RMB, it is a natural process and the goal is not to replace the U.S. dollar or any other international currency. The goal is to allow the market to choose and to facilitate international trade and investment.

As reported by OpenGov Asia, China Association for Science and Technology (CAST) has provided continuous support to release the potential of digital innovation and foster new drivers of growth. CAST urged to enhance digital literacy of the general public to achieve inclusive development goals beneficial to all. CAST called on efforts to deepen international cooperation and build a global network on digital governance.

The nation is already a leader in the 4th generation of the industrial revolution. Digital transformation is of great importance for the survival and development of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and special assistance will be provided for SMEs to enhance their intelligent manufacturing capacity. Experts from China and abroad discuss the endless frontier of digital technology and inclusive development as a solution to the digital divide.

Accounting professionals will get more support in upskilling and redesigning their job roles to meet the challenges of a post-COVID-19 world. The Singapore Accountancy Commission (SAC) and the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), supported by Workforce Singapore (WSG) and SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG), launched the Jobs Transformation Maps (JTMs) for In-house Finance & Accounting (F&A) functions and Accounting Practices.

JTMs identify key technologies that are driving change; the impact on individual job roles; and the pathways for employers to transform jobs and for workers to acquire requisite skills as existing job roles evolve and new job roles emerge. The JTM studies indicate the need to embrace technology and acquire new skills at all levels to remain competitive and relevant in today’s increasingly complex business and regulatory environment.

With the emergence of new job roles, there is a strong demand for accountants qualified in diverse areas. Professionals who commit to continuous learning, and firms that prepare for the future of work by investing in technology, redesigning jobs and training staff will benefit by remaining relevant in the long run.

The JTM studies indicate the need to embrace technology and acquire new skills at all levels to remain competitive and relevant in today’s increasingly complex business and regulatory environment. Professionals whose jobs are less impacted by technology will benefit from the automation of some tasks to enhance their ability to focus on higher value-adding tasks requiring judgment, deep technical knowledge and business acumen.

Job roles that focus on process-oriented tasks will benefit from greater automation for improved efficiency and accuracy; job redesign to allow employees to add greater value to the business; and training in skills in demand. New initiatives will be launched to support employers and employees in their efforts to be competitive and ready for the future of work.

Accounting Practices will see accelerated growth in demand for manpower due to increasing digital maturity of both clients and accounting practices; rise in clients’ demand for advisory services; and increasing emphasis on non-financial metrics in valuing businesses. Increased demand is expected in Tax, Risk Advisory, Mergers and Acquisitions, Financial Forensics and Business Valuation.

The JTMs also indicate the need for upskilling in technology and soft skills. Technology skills that are increasingly in demand include the application of Artificial Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Data Analysis and Interpretation, and Robotics and Automation. Soft skills required include adaptability, creative thinking, and customer orientation, amongst others.

The Accountancy Job Redesign Initiative is launched today by WSG, SAC and the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) to enhance the roles of F&A professionals and improve the productivity of F&A functions by leveraging on technology. Enterprises with In-House F&A functions and Accounting Practices will be able to review accounting work processes to streamline transactional or repetitive tasks and improve productivity, increase job value and attractiveness through job enrichment and implement accounting technology solutions.

As reported by OpenGov Asia, Workforce Singapore (WSG) and the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) have introduced an HR Tech Transformation Programme (HRTTP), as well as an HR Job Redesign toolkit. These two initiatives are part of the recommendations under Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower’s HR industry transformation manpower plan and HR JTM.

Launched in conjunction with the HRTTP, the HR Job Redesign Toolkit looks to enable enterprises to self-help at scale for HR job roles to enable digital transformation, and job redesign at their workplace. This toolkit is a broad-based interactive tool to support HR in job redesign methodology and change management with downloadable templates and will help HR professionals apply HR technology to different HR practices, and understand its benefits and potential.

The Chief Minister for the state of Rajasthan recently approved a proposal to collaborate with leading information technology (IT) companies to develop and deploy training programmes to students in artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, robotics, and virtual learning at the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Advanced Technology. According to a news report by The Times of India, Gehlot in the budget announced the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Advanced Technology would be set up in Jaipur for IN₹2 billion (US$26.9 million). The centre will conduct certificate courses and multidisciplinary research on cutting-edge technology and will be used to make the general public aware of new innovations in emerging technologies.

The government aims for the centre to be a high-level institution where the latest information technology training programmes will be conducted for the youth of the state by world-class IT companies. To facilitate and encourage these companies to start their own training facilities in the state, the Chief Minister has approved providing well-equipped training institutes and maintenance facilities free of cost.

Various quality training courses in three categories will be conducted in this institute by reputed IT companies as training partners. The first will be a premium course, which will be fee-based. The second course will be subsidised by the state government, in which 100 children will be selected for each of the training partners. The third course will be based on e-learning and will be free of cost, the course material will also be provided for free.

The AI market in India could grow at a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20.2% and reach US$7.8 billion in total revenues by 2025. The country has been heavily investing in developing AI/ML courses and solutions. Last year, OpenGov Asia reported that the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore (IISc), in collaboration with a private player, announced it would establish a state-of-the-art AI/ML centre at the IISc campus. Spread across approximately 140,000 square feet, the centre will offer bachelor’s, master’s, and short-term courses in areas AI/ML, deep learning, fintech, reinforcement learning, image processing, and computer vision.

The centre will also promote research and innovation in AI/ML and develop the talent pool from across the country to provide cutting-edge solutions to meet the industry’s emerging and future requirements. According to a statement, as IISc continues to deliver on its mandate to provide advanced scientific and technological research and education, its partnerships with forward-thinking institutions will help it scale up substantially and position India as a deep tech innovation hub.

Another public organisation, the Indian Institute of Technology in Roorkee (IIT-Roorkee), said it would set up a new school for AI and data science. The course will invite renowned experts in the field of AI to participate in designing relevant curricula as well as faculties and mentors who will encourage innovative research ideas to the students. These experts will also facilitate student scholarships and faculty exchange programmes. AI-driven technologies are rapidly transforming the world. Academic collaborations between international faculty and institutes can help solve ongoing global challenges like climate change, resource sustainability, and information security.

The National Tax Research Centre (NTRC) is further developing the functionalities of its existing online incentives application portal for investors to allow electronic submissions in the future of reports, enabling the government to better review and analyse the economic impact of investment incentives. In a report to the Finance Secretary, Carlos Dominguez III, the NTRC said the portal, the Fiscal Incentives Registration and Monitoring System (FIRMS), is currently being used by potential investors to submit their applications for incentives in any of the investment promotion agencies (IPAs). Under Republic Act (RA) No. 11534 or the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Law, the NTRC serves as the secretariat of the reconstituted Fiscal Incentives Review Board (FIRB) and is tasked to craft the application forms of business enterprises who wish to avail of tax incentives.

Dominguez chairs the reconstituted FIRB, with Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez as co-chairman. As per a press release, Dominguez ordered all agencies attached to the Department of Finance (DOF) to implement their respective digital transformation programmes long before the pandemic. The NTRC launched the FIRMS on 14 June 2021 to comply with the provisions of the CREATE Law. On top of being an application portal, the FIRMS will be used by the IPAs and the FIRB to review, approve or reject, and monitor activities and projects.

The NTRC said that in the future, FIRMS will be able to generate the electronic Certificate of Registration (COR) and Certificate of Entitlement to Tax Incentives (CETI) of approved investments. The NTRC is encouraging existing businesses already receiving tax incentives from the government to also create their accounts in FIRMS. It will soon allow business enterprises to electronically submit their reports on the financial incentives they have received, in compliance with the provisions of CREATE, the NTRC said.

These electronic submissions will enable the government to better monitor, review, and analyse the economic impact of tax incentives. Under CREATE, the FIRB shall conduct an impact evaluation, such as a cost-benefit analysis, on investment incentives to determine the impact of such incentives on the Philippine economy. The CREATE law provided for a three-tiered framework in the grant of incentives to qualified industries under the government’s Strategic Investment Priority Plan (SIPP), which aims to attract high-value, labour-intensive investments that will create more jobs and further sharpen the Philippines’ competitiveness in the global market.

Likewise, under the law, the Board of Investments (BOI) in coordination with the FIRB, the IPAs, and other stakeholders shall formulate the SIPP which will be submitted to the President for approval. Meanwhile, the 2020 Investment Priorities Plan of the Board of Investments (BOI) serves as the transitional SIPP, until such time that the initial SIPP is issued. As proposed by the BOI and approved by the FIRB, activities under the 2020 IPP may be eligible for incentives under the Tier I classification, without prejudice to upgrade to Tiers II or III if qualified under the new SIPP.

China’s growing technological expertise along its digital silk road is expected to set benchmarks for the rest of the world to follow, according to analysts. President of China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) started down the digital silk road long before the rest of the world began talking about connected smart cities and technology-driven solutions.

As China continues to expand its digital footprint in sectors as diverse as cloud computing, 5G, surveillance technology and virtual currency, observers see movement in some areas toward Chinese technological dominance.

China is already leading the world in Artificial Intelligence (AI), blockchain, 5G, and quantum technology publications and patents. Data fuels AI development and, thanks to its sprawling surveillance apparatus, China has access to immense amounts of it, so China seems well-positioned to emerge as a leader in this field.

China has already launched the biggest blockchain ecosystem in the world, connected to over 100 city nodes, and was the first country to launch widespread pilots of a digital fiat currency – the Digital Currency Electronic Payment (DCEP) system. Analysts agree that China has achieved enormous breakthroughs in some future technologies. Advancements in technologies allow China to more efficiently promote the progress of BRI, increase the bonding between China and BRI countries, and push BRI’s hard projects.

How technology will be incorporated into BRI projects will depend very much on the nature of the projects. This will differ among regions and countries.

– Research Associate, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore

China’s world-leading fibre optic industry, which is already assisting BRI countries in transforming from traditional to renewable energy supplies. Many countries aligned with BRI are rich in solar energy resources, but “lack the technologies and resources to construct renewable energy infrastructure. Through BRI, China can export advanced renewable energy technologies to BRI countries and Chinese fibre optic enterprises can enjoy local preferential policies, including tax incentives, preferential treatment for equipment imports.

In some infrastructure areas, such as high-speed railway, 5G networks, and ultra-high voltage power grids, China’s standards have become the international standards as everyone else plays catch-up. Therefore, through collaborating with Chinese enterprises, BRI partner countries can adopt the technologies that accord with the most advanced standards in their infrastructure projects.

China’s technological prowess gives it an edge to push BRI’s hard projects, such as renewable energy, transportation, infrastructure, power, and healthcare since in today’s technology-driven world, the digital realm is intimately intertwined with hard infrastructure.

Railways, ports, and electricity grids, for instance, would not be able to operate effectively today without software, sensors, and cybersecurity. China also provides a useful reference for BRI countries with its digital transformation and industrial digitalisation models. Most BRI countries are developing countries and have limited experience in dealing with digital technology but can benefit from China’s digitalisation experiences.

Given that the BRI is primarily a financing/investment mechanism, exporting technology adds a different dimension to the entire BRI assistance package. Most BRI projects have already been dependent on using Chinese equipment and labour, so any kind of tech advancement might just mean higher quality or more efficient projects.

Anything digital will tend to also require a larger investment amount, and“the financial capacity of BRI recipient markets will come into question here as well, especially if these markets are prioritising developing adequate infrastructure to meet their domestic needs first. The best way for BRI partner countries to benefit from China’s technological prowess is to partner with Chinese operators.

While the West has focused too much on profits and not enough on cash flow business and service lines, China is developing technologies to hook their services into supply chains to generate cash flow streams. This business model is relatively more sustainable than the profit-oriented ones.

OpenGov TV Speaker Panel – Know Your Customers

Part 3 of our OpenGov TV Speaker Panel series with OneConnect. Listen to experts talk about the importance of KYC (Knowing Your Customers)!