A wastewater treatment plant being built to service a smart city development in western Sydney will use digital twin systems that monitor temperature and moisture to produce recycled water on demand for greening, cooling and household uses.
Construction of the Sydney Science Park recycling plant started last week at Luddenham within the planned Western Sydney Aerotropolis. The plant will eventually be able to produce 2.4 million litres of recycled water a day, enough for 40,000 people, but that has the capacity to be scaled up, according to Sydney Water’s growth planning and community frameworks manager.
The official stated that while water recycling is traditionally done at large centralised plants, the SSP plant will be located in the community it will service and sit within the urban form of the Science Park. The plant will use a membrane bioreactor system, which the official makes for a smaller footprint and less noise and smell.
Sydney Science Park’s smart systems include digital twins which will allow the plant will interact with the environment via moisture and temperature sensors to inform the amount of recycled water that will be produced and deployed. “So if you’re coming up for a heatwave on Sunday, you’re not sitting there storing the tanks in the water for Sunday, you’re getting it into the ground now,” the official said.
The system’s computer modelling coupled with real-life environment predicting what’s going to happen to determine the operation of the plant and how it’s producing its water. Excess wastewater that isn’t used for the Science Park will be piped to Sydney Water’s St Marys treatment facility.
Urban living lab
The Science Park, being delivered by a private firm on 287 hectares of land as a mixed-use smart city, has been designated as an urban living lab by the CSIRO. The Urban Living Lab concept is based on using local community knowledge coupled with scientific expertise to try new ways of doing things and measure outcomes in a real place. As a designated CSIRO Urban Living Lab, Sydney Science Park aims to create a more liveable, sustainable and resilient city, and water is at the forefront of this.
To partner with Sydney Water and have recycled water being used not only in homes but in public spaces is a first for greenfield development and will create a much greener and cooler environment at Sydney Science Park.
Sydney Water’s Managing Director noted that the partnership meant Sydney Water would be able to provide sustainable and resilient water services as well as trialling new smart technologies for future use.
Sydney Water currently has 14 water recycling sites and is investing $1.3 billion on infrastructure projects in the Western Sydney Aerotropolis Growth Area between 2020 and 2022. It and will have invested about $3 billion in infrastructure across Western Sydney Parkland City by 2026.
The Smart city strategic framework of Sydney identifies the 5 outcomes to be achieved with smart, ethical and secure use of data and technology, underpinned by smart infrastructure:
- Supporting connected and empowered communities. The city government co-creates the design and provision of city services and facilities with local communities. And empowers them to make more effective decisions by using open data and having the skills and tools to innovate and thrive.
- Fuelling global competitiveness and attracting and retaining global talent. Digital disruption is embraced to foster an innovation ecosystem, cultivate a culture of experimentation and sustain Sydney’s position as a global magnet for talent.
- Futureproofing environment and bolstering resilience. Data is used purposefully to monitor, predict and manage city conditions and the impacts of shocks and stresses on our city and community. New technologies that accelerate the city’s progress to a carbon-neutral future are embraced.
- Cultivating vibrant, liveable places. Data and technology are used to help optimise street space allocation and prioritise active transport, improve the planning, building and maintenance of infrastructure, assets and systems, and enhance the experience of the physical city.
- Providing customer-centric efficient services. Data is used to understand the community’s needs and preferences to enable the provision of joined-up, personalised and responsive services. Smart technology and operating models are embraced to provide the efficient services local communities expect.
The Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) plans to use Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based technologies to limit road accidents and improve passenger safety in buses. According to a report, the corporation recently floated a tender for the implementation of an AI-powered Collision Warning System (CWS) and Driver Drowsiness System (DDS) for 1,044 buses. CWS will provide features like forward-looking collision warnings (FLCW), lane departure warnings (LDW), and virtual bumper. It will also generate real-time alerts. This is probably for the first time in the country a state-run bus corporation is using technology on a large scale to reduce accidents. Other state-run bus corporations are also waiting to adopt this system.
The tender is likely to be finalised by the end of June 2021, the report said. KSRTC officials said the FLCW system will identify an impending collision and inform the driver that they have entered an unsafe distance zone. An official noted that this would help the driver prepare to take the necessary action to avoid a collision. The system will provide real-time alerts to warn the driver against impending collisions. AI-based camera sensors will provide the detection of a vehicle from a sufficient range of at least 150m at any speed so that it can effectively warn the driver.
When minimum safe distance is not maintained, an alert will be generated. This minimum safe distance is based on a calculation of the time-to-collision (TTC) with the vehicle ahead including 2/3 wheelers, pedestrians, and cyclists. The officials added that the alarm will be initiated at a TTC of up to 2.5 to 3 seconds, be operational at a vehicle speed range of up to at least 120kmph, and generate both visual and audible alarms. It will also notify the driver when lane marks are not available.
DDS will check its drivers from dozing off at the wheel. It will monitor the driver’s eye movements and sound a warning alarm in case they appear sleepy. AI-based CCTVs will watch the facial behaviour of the driver. It will also alert the KSRTC central control room if the driver ignored the alert. This will be helpful for night services, said an official.
In April, OpenGov Asia reported that the Indian Institute of Technology, Ropar (IIT-Ropar) had developed an algorithm for driver drowsiness detection using machine learning and computer vision. The researchers said they used computer vision algorithms to extract facial features such as eye closure and yawning as well as machine learning techniques to effectively detect driver’s alertness. It is an industrial and academic challenge to develop drowsiness detection technologies.
Multiple techniques have been developed in recent years. One method is where the driver’s operation and vehicle behaviour can be monitored by the steering wheel movement, accelerator or brake patterns, vehicle speed, lateral acceleration, and lateral displacement. Another set of techniques focuses on monitoring the physiological characteristics of the driver such as heart rate, pulse rate, and electroencephalography. The third set is based on computer vision systems, which can recognise the facial changes occurring during drowsiness.
The first method is limited by the type and model of the car. The second method though with more accurate results has widely been downplayed due to the impracticality in deploying it on a large scale, as well as its intrusive nature. The third method is a very promising one, which the researchers have followed and developed a model on the same.
Creating an internationally recognised and sought after tech hub is central to President Joko Widodo’s vision of ushering in a fourth industrial revolution built on advanced technology and human resources in time for 2045 when the country will celebrate 100 years of independence.
Indonesia’s new capital city would be modelled on Silicon Valley, functioning as a hub for digital and tech industries as well as housing the government. It will be completed in 11 years and will focus on the manufacturing of unmanned aircraft and nano-satellites.
President Joko Widodo made the appeal to reform the country’s science and technology policy at this opportune time. The National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN) was recently restructured as an independent state body, and the technology ministry was incorporated into the Ministry of Education, Culture, Research, and Technology. In the first phase of three years, infrastructure such as tollways, water and electricity systems and earthquake-proof buildings would be built.
In Sukabumi, West Java, the Bukit Algoritma (Algorithm Hill) megaproject embodies the same concept. An Indonesian politician from the Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) is leading this project. The ambitious initiative aspires to be a hub of research in neuroscience, nanotechnology, quantum technology, solar cell technology, and space exploration, similar to Silicon Valley located in California. The project is expected to take 11 years to complete starting this year.
If the government and private sector want to turn Bukit Algoritma into a science and technology industrial zone, they need to come up with a specific industry to cultivate, possibly by utilising the existing oil palm plantations. This could lead to a regional vision of creating renewable energy and other derivative products in order to support a zero-waste industry.
Technology developers should be placed in the hub so that innovations could be made between them, especially start-ups. Such strategic steps would encourage and hasten the development of start-ups. However, a single technology centre, even as large as Silicon Valley, will not be enough to meet markets throughout Indonesia, which is an archipelago.
Indonesia’s objective of becoming a technological centre in Southeast Asia faces numerous challenges. Besides Indonesia’s progress in each of its disruptive technologies, the country still has a long way to go. Foreign investment is constrained, there are skills shortages, and the financial system is still developing. Better IT innovation and agility, as well as product and service innovation, are other success drivers.
Nonetheless, Indonesia is poised to become one of the world’s most important digital economic powerhouses, and 5G will be essential not just in accomplishing this aim but also in unlocking digital opportunities and growth. According to an article from OpenGov Asia, the Association of Indonesian Cellular Operators (ATSI) is now working on establishing its first 5G coverage by 2023, with major cities and tourist attractions expected to be among the first to adopt the technology. ATSI plans to perform frequency auctions next year in order to set up 5G networks in 2022.
Despite Indonesians massive growth, the country is dwarfed by the neighbouring Asia and South East Asia countries. India and China have massive investments from domestic and international sources with a huge skilled employee force and significant tech head-starts. Malaysia and Singapore are far more advanced economies, well along with their digital paths. Additionally, India, Malaysia and Singapore have a language advantage as English is the widely spoken and the medium of instruction in higher learning institutions and in business.
However, digital transformers in Indonesia have already seen benefits for their efforts, particularly in areas of digital experiences and digital operations. Indonesian firms successful in their digital transformation report improved operational efficiency and most often as reasons for success. This will serve as a beacon for others.
Singapore’s Punggol city sector will now be treated to smarter and more sustainable services for public waste collection and recycling under a new contract awarded by the National Environment Agency (NEA) to a waste management service provider.
As part of transformation efforts in the waste management industry, NEA encourages the use of innovative concepts and technologies to improve productivity and sustainability in the collection of refuse and recyclables in public tenders.
The waste management service provider will expand the scale of its digitalisation and automation initiatives to the city-Punggol sector. Technologies with the Internet of Things (IoT) attributes will be used to capture real-time information on the amount of refuse and recyclables collected and generate fault alerts for the provider to carry out corrective maintenance on its refuse storage equipment. This will minimise any inconvenience of faulty equipment to the public.
Also, a new fleet of trucks will be introduced for the collection of refuse, recyclables and garden waste. This includes 14 electric vehicles (EVs), which make up almost 20% of the fleet that will be deployed. The service provider will be rolling out ergonomic trucks for better worker comfort and safety. These trucks are fitted with a two-step low entry cabin which makes getting in and out of the truck much easier and safer for the crew. In addition, three recycling trucks will be fitted with side-loaders, which increase collection efficiency as larger 2,200L side-loader recycling bins will be deployed in HDB estates. The lower number of collection rounds and truck trips enhances productivity and reduces the overall carbon footprint of waste collection services.
A key sustainability initiative for households by the waste management service provider is its ‘ezi’ mobile application with engagement-based programmes to encourage and incentivise household recycling. Residents in the City-Punggol sector can make use of the ‘ezi’ mobile application to locate the nearest Cash-For-Trash stations. The app also has other features such as tips on recycling, educational games and information on upcoming recyclables collection events.
They will also provide an on-site food waste treatment system at Geylang Serai Market to treat food waste generated there. The centre was selected as it has sufficient space to house the food waste treatment system and generates a sufficiently large quantity of food waste to reap economies of scale. The food waste collected from the premises will be converted into non-potable water, thereby reducing the amount of food waste sent to the incineration plants.
The city-Punggol sector covers the Hougang, Macpherson and Punggol-West Single Member Constituencies (SMC)s, parts of Mountbatten and Potong Pasir SMCs, Sengkang Group Representation Constituency (GRC), and parts of Aljunied, Ang Mo Kio, Jalan Besar, Marine Parade, and Pasir Ris-Punggol GRCs.
There are about 266,800 premises – comprising 250,000 households and 16,800 trade premises which include hawker and market stalls, shops, places of worship, and government buildings.
Households living in HDB flats, condominiums that have not opted out of the public waste collection scheme and landed homes in all sectors of Singapore, will continue paying the same monthly household refuse collection fees of S$8.25 and S$27.47 (both fees inclusive of GST), respectively. The next review will be carried out in the second half of 2021, with fees to be effective for the period from 1 January 2022.
As for trade premises, the waste management service provider will write to business owners to inform them of their new refuse collection fees, which will depend on their daily refuse output. Owners of trade premises can also reach out to the company for queries.
The Hong Kong Monetary Authority recently unveiled its Fintech 2025 strategy which aims to encourage the financial sector to adopt technology comprehensively by 2025 and provide fair and efficient financial services.
The authority’s Chief Executive said at a press conference that the strategy comprises five focus areas – all banks go fintech, future-proofing Hong Kong for central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), creating the next-generation data infrastructure, expanding the fintech-savvy workforce, and nurturing the ecosystem with funding and policies. “Fintech is, without doubt, a key growth engine for the financial industry in the post-pandemic era, and now is the right time to double down on our efforts to grasp the opportunities. Fintech 2025 sets out our vision in this regard,” the HKMA CE said.
To promote all-around adoption of fintech by Hong Kong banks, the authority will roll out a Tech Baseline Assessment to take stock of the banks’ current and planned adoption of fintech. This would help identify fintech business areas or specific technology types which may be underdeveloped and would benefit from the authority’s support.
In addition to the continued effort on wholesale CBDCs, the authority has been working with the Bank for International Settlements Innovation Hub Centre in Hong Kong to research retail CBDCs and will begin a study on e-HKD to understand its use cases, benefits and related risks. HKMA will embark on this study to see whether there is a case for Hong Kong to issue a retail e-Hong Kong dollar, the official noted.
The authority will also work with the People’s Bank of China in supporting the technical testing of e-CNY in Hong Kong with a view to providing a convenient means of cross-boundary payments for both domestic and mainland residents.
Hong Kong’s existing data infrastructure will also be enhanced, which would include building the Commercial Data Interchange, digital corporate identity and distributed ledger technology-based credit data-sharing platform to facilitate consent-based data sharing.
To groom more fintech talent, the authority will collaborate with various strategic partners through developing fintech-specific training programmes and qualifications, as well as promoting joint projects between the industry and academia. The Industry Project Masters Network scheme will be piloted in September to provide internship opportunities to postgraduate students to work on banks’ fintech projects on federated learning and other artificial intelligence technologies.
The authority and industry key players will establish a new Fintech Cross-Agency Coordination Group to formulate supportive policies for the city’s fintech ecosystem. Preparatory work for the Hong Kong Growth Portfolio, which seeks to reinforce the city’s status as a financial, commercial and innovation centre, is underway. The authority will also enhance its Fintech Supervisory Sandbox and is exploring with the Innovation & Technology Commission the possibility of providing funding support to qualified fintech projects.
“I urge all stakeholders to join forces with the authority. Together, we can take our city’s fintech ecosystem to new heights,” the HKMA CE added.
Another report notes that according to the PBC’s annual payment system report, in 2020, banks in the Chinese mainland handled a total of 354.73 billion in non-cash payment transactions, amounting to US$627.3 trillion. Of these transactions, 235.23 billion were electronic payment transactions, worth a total of US$423.69 trillion. The data showed that nearly 70% of the non-cash payments were made via electronic means last year, indicating that electronic payments have high recognition in the mainland.
More countries are starting to innovate their transportation sector by adopting automated vehicles or self-driving cars. Reports indicate that an autonomous vehicle start-up recently secured multimillion-dollar funding to boost its production and operations in the country.
An autonomous car is a vehicle capable of sensing its environment and operating without human involvement. A human passenger is not required to take control of the vehicle at any time, nor is a human passenger required to be present in the vehicle at all. An autonomous car can go anywhere a traditional car goes and do everything that an experienced human driver does.
Autonomous cars create and maintain a map of their surroundings based on a variety of sensors situated in different parts of the vehicle. Radar sensors monitor the position of nearby vehicles. Video cameras detect traffic lights, read road signs, track other vehicles, and look for pedestrians. Lidar (light detection and ranging) sensors bounce pulses of light off the car’s surroundings to measure distances, detect road edges, and identify lane markings. Ultrasonic sensors in the wheels detect curbs and other vehicles when parking.
Sophisticated software then processes all this sensory input, plots a path, and sends instructions to the car’s actuators, which control acceleration, braking, and steering. Hard-coded rules, obstacle avoidance algorithms, predictive modelling and object recognition help the software follow traffic rules and navigate obstacles.
The high-tech start-up in Singapore specialises in providing “vehicle agnostic” driverless software solutions for the urban environment and strives to be a leader in Asia-Pacific. The company is headquartered in Singapore, with offices in Malaysia and India. It is currently in discussions to expand to Europe and other APAC countries. The tech company is developing a component-based driverless software solution, which turns certain vehicles into autonomous vehicles, able to be deployed in different applications, such as first/last-mile transportation, logistic transportation, & utility solutions.
The tech company aims to revolutionise how people move around by building a brand-independent, cost-effective, fully autonomous and internet-enabled vehicle platform.
The tech’s target markets are the following:
- Hotels, resorts and theme parks
- Industrial parks, commercial offices and residential estates
- First and last-mile solutions
The company plans to use the new capital to accelerate the development, commercialisation, and international expansion of its driverless product. This involves deploying the solutions for public transportation and the urban environment, falling in line with the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint goal to achieve a cleaner and greener transport system in the city-state by 2030. The tech company is planning to replace existing infrastructure and develop innovative business solutions to make transportation sustainable through the adoption of clean and environmentally sound technologies.
Singapore’s Sustainable Blueprint says that integrated planning entails planners making use of digital planning tools to model future land-use scenarios using data from the whole of government. Singapore also embraces new and innovative technologies to explore new frontiers where no other city has gone before. The country embarked on ambitious projects such as the underground Deep Tunnel Sewerage System that crisscrosses the country to channel used water to centralised water reclamation plants. Singapore will be one of the first countries in the world to implement satellite-based electronic road pricing to manage traffic congestion.
Dynamic urban governance, meanwhile, means leading with vision and pragmatism, underpinned by a culture of integrity in the public service, and strong institutions with well-thought-out systems and processes. Government agencies engage the public and community groups, giving people a stake in their city’s long-term good. The agencies also work with the private sector to address certain gaps efficiently.
The Philippines’ Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said that it is enhancing “e-Presyo,” the agency’s online price monitoring system that was created in 2015, The e-Presyo is a repository of all prevailing prices of basic necessities and prime commodities (BNPCs) that are being monitored by the DTI nationwide. It allows consumers to access the system and check stores selling products that are lower than the suggested retail prices (SRPs).
With the constant advancement of technology, the DTI said it is targeting to optimise the collecting, processing, and storing of real-time prices/inventory of BNPCs within the new Supply Chain Analytics (SCAn) System. To further enhance the e-Presyo, the DTI partnered with the University of the Philippines Public Administration Research and Extension Services Foundation, Inc. (UPPAF), a grantee of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The enhancement of e-Presyo will be commenced in two phases. Phase 1 was completed last March 30 that transferred the BNPCs’ SRPs to the SCAn Application while Phase 2 will focus on the complete migration of the agency’s data and programming of the enhanced features of the system. The DTI is set to meet with its stakeholders on the enhancements to update them on the changes and improvements of the said system, said the DTI’s Consumer Protection Group.
Amid the ongoing enhancement of e-Presyo, DTI reminded the public and business establishments to regularly check the prevailing prices or price freeze of the basic necessities through the e-Presyo page particularly the Price Freeze tab.
The DTI has continued its digital transformation by incorporating online marketing and e-commerce in its training and seminars for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) as part of the preparation for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).
The agency said that they are preparing the MSMEs for the 4IR with the help or initiative of the government from the national down to the local level, said the DTI-Pangasinan Director. The Director added that the agency is focused on information dissemination and preparation of concepts or conceptualisation on how 4IR will affect the MSMEs.
It encourages MSMEs to adapt to the changes. There is the need to upgrade skills and upgrade knowledge as part of adoption to it, the DTI added. The agency said most of the MSMEs now have their cell phones as means of transactions and communications with their clients, and they are also urged to use their social media accounts in marketing their products.
For micro businesses, they are still very small so having their website is not yet advisable but instead, their social media accounts could be their marketing tool, advised the DTI. They further said that telecommunication and internet services in the country, especially in rural areas where there are also MSMEs, remain a challenge to digitalisation.
Along with the promotion of 4IR should be provisions and logistics for MSMEs like the internet connectivity, stability of electric power because if the power is unstable, it will also affect their production. MSMEs need the support of the government, businesses and the people as well. The government is doing its best to adapt especially during the new normal brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the 2019 Export Congress, the President and Chief Executive Officer of a Business Analytics and Strategy company stated that the MSMEs in the Philippines need a lot of help in terms of digitalisation. MSMEs, he said, comprise 65% of employment in the country.
The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry (L&I) signed a $35 million contract with a Florida-based software company to lead the migration of the unemployment compensation system to a new cloud-based platform. The state aims to simplify the process of file unemployment claims to receive the payments.
According to a document, the current system is scheduled to go offline to allow for data migration from the old system to the new one. It is the most complex part of any system upgrade. L&I anticipates a high volume of individuals will attempt to log onto the new system immediately after it is launched. If the volume of active system users reaches a specific threshold, the system will automatically instate a virtual “waiting room”. It will place visitors into a queue and allow them into the system when other users have logged off.
This action prevents the system from becoming overloaded, which could cause slowness and crashing for all users. Individuals who do not wish to wait can try to log on again later. Typically, fewer individuals try to file for their benefits later in the week and during non-business hours, so these times may have little or no wait.
For unemployed workers, employers, government staff and third-party administrators, the new mobile-friendly UC system should be much easier to use, give users provide faster access to relevant information and streamline the unemployment claim filing process.
One new feature of the new UC system is the use of the Keystone ID, a secure online account management system that allows users to log into multiple online state services with the same credentials. Some critics of Pennsylvania’s approach have warned that unemployment modernisation projects are famous for delays, climbing costs and operational issues.
The deputy secretary for unemployment compensation programs admitted that it is not easy to modernise a system, especially during a pandemic. However, one the new system is in place, it will be much easier to use, provide faster access to relevant information and streamline the unemployment claim filing process for workers, employers, unemployment program staff, as well as the third-party administrators who will be able to easily access and update more of their information.
The new system will offer a more modern interface for users with formatting similar to user-friendly websites most people use every day. The system will be mobile and tablet-friendly and will enable faster communications between users and L&I staff. To assist individuals with preparing to use the new system, L&I is continuing to host live workshops, provide video recordings of demonstrations, and offer written and visual walk-throughs of the new system.
U.S. agencies have been utilising cloud to improve their system, including U.S. Navy. As reported by OpenGov Asia, The Navy workforce will gain access to a single Microsoft Office 365 (M365) collaboration and productivity environment known as Flank Speed that will improve security starting on June 2021. It will over time also deliver additional tools to support a more productive Navy workforce.
While those commercially operated environments provided a crucial means of communication during pandemic-constricted work situations, the retirement of the previous tool clears the way for an improved, Navy-operated Flank Speed cloud. Flank Speed will be an evolving information technology initiative and the epicentre of Navy unclassified systems for years to come.
From Day One, Flank Speed users will have access to Teams, one terabyte (1TB) of OneDrive storage, and access to the full productivity suite from M365 to include Excel, Word, OneNote, and PowerPoint. Users will also retain access to old CVR accounts until it shuts down on June 15, and NMCI O365 until it reaches its end of life later this fiscal year. As network performance supports, every Navy employee will have access to the Flank Speed cloud.