made by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT)
highlighted two trainings it conducted to address digital inclusion. One is for
Women and Mobile while the second one is for Children and Mobile Technology.
The DICT hosted back-to-back trainings in
line with the celebration of the National Information and Communications
Technology (NICT) Month 2018, with the theme, “Thrive Through Disruption:
Inclusivity, Empowerment and Sustainability”.
The first training is for Women and Mobile:
Bridging the Gender Gap which was on 27 June 2018. The second training is for
Children and Mobile Technology a 2-day event on 28 to 29 June 2018. Both
trainings were held at the Cocoon Boutique Hotel, Quezon City.
The aforementioned courses were done in
cooperation with the Asia-Pacific
Telecommunity (APT) and GSMA, both are globally recognised
organisations committed to developing innovative interventions through policy
and regulation addressing society’s technology gaps and inequalities.
The APT is a key organisation of
governments that spearheads development and innovation programs, in cooperation
with the ICT industry key players and stakeholders.
The GSMA represents the interests of mobile
operators worldwide, uniting nearly 800 operators with more than 300 companies
in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset and device makers, software
companies, equipment providers and internet companies, as well as organisations
in adjacent industry sectors.
The DICT recognises gender gap exists in
several forms including digital divide. For them, it must be ensured that embracing
ICT is inclusive to avoid societal imbalance, which is most apparent in
unserved and underserved communities. In these areas, telecommunications play a
pivotal role in magnifying the opportunities that technologies bring in the
DICT Undersecretary John Henry Naga said, “The
increased occurrence of women being marginalised in cyberspace has also been
While qualified access to information,
brought about by emerging trends such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data
and Machine Learning, promises a brighter future through more informed
decision-making, it is imperative that the government declares policies and
issuances that will facilitate the use of ICT most notably by those who are in
Global best practices are then needed to be
localised in order to fit consumer demands particular to a demographic region,
such as mobile applications typically used by the younger generation.
The use of the Internet, especially for the
younger generation, has been defined mostly by the applications used by
consumers. To address issues concerning cost, availability and coverage, appropriate
mechanisms have been established.
Enjoining the industry in telecommunications
reform is key to realise the broadband vision with emphasis on the digital
literacy among children.
Equal access to opportunity must be given
importance to address digital inclusion. Having this will bridge the
countryside and narrow the digital divide.
In view of this, ICT development must be
continuously pushed across different nations and cultures, especially the use
of Internet in educating the youth and mainstreaming gender equality for a
truly digital economy.
announcement from the DICT highlighted the month-long celebration of the 2018
National ICT Month this June. A line up of events addressing the three key
messages of the theme, which are Inclusivity, Empowerment, and Sustainability,
were made available for the people to learn from and participate in. The
schedule of activities can be found here.
As part of its comprehensive digital transformation strategy and its ambitions to be a regional digital powerhouse, the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) has placed smart cities and commercialisation of 5G at the top of their priority list.
Vietnam has seen a rapid blossoming of its city areas with the urbanisation rate shooting up from 19.6% in 2009 (629 urban areas) to about 39.25 by the beginning of 2020 (835 urban areas in December 2019). After Vietnam joined the ASEAN Smart Cities Network 2 years ago, the Vietnam Smart City Development Project (2018-2025) was released with a vision until 2030. The project has three priority areas – programming smart cities, managing smart cities and smart urban utilities.
Minister of Construction, Pham Hong Ha, said Vietnam will implement the tasks and solutions set in the Vietnam Smart City Development project. These include a legal framework for the development of smart cities as well as management of tools, institutions and mechanisms for cooperation between ministries and branches, between the central and local government, to ensure smart cities throughout the country and avoid waste in using resources.
Concerning connectivity, within the final months of 2020, all three major mobile carriers in Vietnam announced trials of commercial 5G services, making Vietnam one of the first countries in the world to roll out the latest generation of wireless technology. This is expected to boost the digital economy.
According to a news report, unlike previous technologies most of which had to be imported, Vietnam has gradually mastered and is now capable of producing 5G equipment, a strategically important step in Vietnam’s development of information and communications technology. State-run enterprise Viettel was the pioneer in announcing commercial 5G trials in late November with coverage in the Hoan Kiem, Ba Dinh, and Hai Ba Trung Districts of Hanoi. Owners of 5G-enabled devices can now use the service for free at a speed of up to 1.5 gigabits per second, far higher than 4G.
Both these priorities – smart cities and 5G – are in line with the MIC as well as the Hanoi People’s Committee, and the implementation of these priorities rests with the Hanoi Department of Information and Communication. In a report presented at a conference on reviewing tasks in 2020, the department said it had helped the Hanoi People’s Committee set up a plan on IT use in Hanoi in 2020 as well as IT use in state agencies, further developing digital government and ensuring cybersecurity in 2021.
The municipal authorities were handed over a plan to implement Decree 45 on administrative procedures for the electronic environment and to set up a program on digital transformation in Hanoi by 2025 with the vision until 2030. The agency also played an important role in the construction of infrastructure items at the software park in Dong Anh district.
In terms of post and telecommunications, the agency advised municipal authorities on the regulation on managing, building and using technical infrastructure works for common use, and upgrading and rearranging telecom cables on poles.
The department coordinated with specialised agencies to implement Decree 92 on fighting against spam messages, e-mails and calls. Nguyen Thanh Liem, director of the Hanoi Department of Information and Communications, affirmed that Hanoi has pioneered eliminating spam calls and messages. One of the outstanding telecom achievements of Hanoi in 2020 was the trial of 5G services and the installation of public wifi at tourist sites and historical relics in the city.
Hanoi aims to improve its image in information technology applications in 2021. With new infrastructure items such as the smart operation centre, the cybersecurity monitoring centre and shared software systems, information technology applications in the city will be better in the near future.
Deputy Minister Pham Anh Tuan directed the department to build an action plan based on the key orientations shown in Instruction 01 from MIC. He also urged then to complete the Vpostcode map with the addresses of every household. This is considered the foundation for e-commerce development and management.
Across the world, communities are fighting to restore tree cover. Biodiversity loss and efforts to mitigate climate change are driving forces for this renewed interest in forests. However, the high costs in developing economies and poor political resolve in wealthy nations continue to hinder reforestation efforts.
Fortunately, various governments are stepping up and petitioning start-ups and tech firms to use drone reforestation to radically reduce reforestation costs. These developments allow private companies to play a forward role in forest revitalisation and climate change mitigation.
New Drone Technology
Drones are unmanned aircraft wildly ranging in size and controlled by human operators on the ground. They are one of many new technologies that scientists and policymakers alike are actively using to mitigate climate change. Many of the innovative start-ups touting this technology hope to use their tech in developing nations across the world.
Thailand, for example, is one of the economic powerhouses of Southeast Asia. It is home to more than 68 million people. It is also employing drone technology to meet its emissions targets and reforest its lands. Since 1961, forest cover in Thailand has declined from 53.5% to 31.6%, with significant portions of the deforestation occurring in wildlife hotspots located within Thailand’s rainforests.
Much of the country’s deforestation has been to accommodate not only the industry but rapid population growth. In 2014, due to a renewed dedication to reforestation, the Thai government swiftly and randomly evicted thousands of people to conduct reforestation efforts. While reforestation is a necessary endeavour, the rights of many Thai were violated in the name of environmental protection.
However, recent political developments in Thailand point to a renewed interest in bridging the gap between reforestation and population growth. Through “community forestry,” thousands of communities now manage the forests around their homes in line with conservation measures.
Moreover, Thailand has established rapid reforestation campaigns through the use of drones. Sustainable, cooperative reforestation will help Thailand meet its emissions targets and grow its economy through eco-tourism, restoring the nation’s biodiversity and improving human rights for its minority communities.
Other nations are using drone tech to reforest their lands as well. For example, Madagascar which is home to over 25 million people and located off of the coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean, has lost more than 40% of its tree cover since 1960.
The island has a unique geographic history, separating from the main continent of Africa more than 88 million years ago. As such, many of its species are endemic to the island. Madagascar has such stark biodiversity that it is home to nearly 3% of all animal and plant species in the world, including the lemur and the baobab tree.
Deforestation causes immense harm to the Malagasy people as well. It disrupts local rainfall patterns, destroys water tables and expedites the loss of topsoil. These factors can cause poor agricultural yields, leading to food and water insecurity and ultimately further deforestation.
The government of Madagascar has recognised the issue and is engaged in a reforestation campaign to plant four million hectares of trees across the island, in part using drone technology.
Forest decline is a complex issue. Political, social and economic developments, however, can prevent massive declines in the rate of deforestation. New developments in technology, particularly the new possibility of rapid reforestation with inexpensive drone technology, offer the thrilling possibility of restoring forests across the world.
Instead of violating human rights to get there, drone reforestation can plant trees while ensuring impoverished communities receive the benefits of climate stability and water and food security.
The production and import of phones using 2G and 3G technology will stop from the beginning of July, according to a new circular from the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC)
Circular No 43 about national technical regulations on terrestrial mobile communication equipment, which takes effect from 1 July, states all mobile phones manufactured or imported into Vietnam must use evolved universal terrestrial radio access (E-UTRA) or 4G technology.
This means all mobile devices with simply 2G, 3G, or combined technology will not be produced and imported into the country. The ministry notes that phones that were produced and imported before July will still be allowed to be sold.
The circular is considered a step towards turning off 2G in the first quarter of 2022 as well as a part of the programme to universalise smartphones. Previously, Hoang Minh Cuong, Director of the Telecommunications Department under MIC, said that the production of phones with 2G technology had decreased significantly. The number of phones fell by 6-7 million units from the end of 2019 to the end of the third quarter of 2020.
Cuong said that the other 12 million phones were expected to be wiped out in the first quarter of 2022. Vietnam aims for all residents to use smartphones by 2025 with the strategy of providing Made-in-Vietnam smartphones costing less than US$50. Many phone producers and network providers have signed up for the plan.
Vu Hoang Lien, President of the Vietnam Internet Association, said that the universalisation of smartphones was a bold effort to promote national digital transformation, the digital economy, and e-government. A market research study by Adsota showed that about 44.9% of the Vietnamese population used smartphones in 2020. Vietnam was piloting 5G services and targeted to universalise 5G in the 2023-25 period.
As OpenGov Asia reported earlier, MIC placed the commercialisation of 5G and smart cities at the top of its priority list. Moreover, within the final months of 2020, all three major mobile carriers in Vietnam announced trials of commercial 5G services, making Vietnam one of the first countries in the world to roll out the latest generation of wireless technology. This is expected to boost the digital economy.
Unlike previous technologies most of which had to be imported, Vietnam has gradually mastered and is now capable of producing 5G equipment, a strategically important step in Vietnam’s development of information and communications technology. State-run enterprise Viettel was the pioneer in announcing commercial 5G trials in late November with coverage in the Hoan Kiem, Ba Dinh, and Hai Ba Trung Districts of Hanoi. Owners of 5G-enabled devices can now use the service for free at a speed of up to 1.5 gigabits per second, far higher than 4G.
Further, with exceptionally fast speeds, low latency, and high density (up to one million devices in one square kilometre), 5G is expected to revolutionise the fields of advanced technology, healthcare, transport, and education. It will lay the foundation for Vietnam to master and apply new technologies as well as succeed in its national digital transformation drive.
The UK and Japan have inked a £12 million (US$ 16.39 million) robotics deal, a research and technology collaboration anticipated to improve and automate existing decommissioning and fusion energy production processes applied to nuclear facilities.
Under the project, called LongOps, research will be undertaken about large-scale decommissioning processes in nuclear and fusion facilities. These protocols will be undertaken in a time-intensive manner in order to be accomplished safely. This will be done by leveraging robotics and digital twin technologies to ensure that the project will not pose any risk to human health.
Once implemented, the project will focus on studying long-reach robotic arms that can provide faster delivery and safer decommissioning of nuclear facilities at Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO) Fukushima Dai-ichi reactors in Japan. It will likewise support decommissioning at Sellafield in the UK.
The 4-year research collaboration will be funded equally by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the UK’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and the TEPCO in Japan. The project will be led by UKAEA’s Remote Applications in Challenging Environments (RACE). It will also spearhead design strategies and deliver new robotic capabilities with global potential.
Amanda Solloway, UK Minister for Science, Research and Innovation, emphasised the importance of the UK-Japan alliance. She mentioned that: “to unlock the amazing potential of nuclear power, it’s critical that the UK works hand in hand with international partners to safely decommission nuclear sites while backing pioneering research into fusion, which could offer a limitless source of clean energy.”
Harnessing Digital Twin technology
The focus of the LongOps programme is with regard to the deployment of Digital Twin technology. This system uses virtual models to pair online and physical worlds in a bid to produce a detailed analysis of data. It is a formative technology for the Internet of Things innovation that enables optimisation of operations, increased productivity and the capacity to do tests in the virtual world before the development of new applications in the physical world. With this innovation, authorities can accurately forecast potential issues on maintenance and operations.
By using Digital Twin technology, authorities in project LongOps can create software that will allow RACE to show how machines in the decommissioning processes are used and controlled during operations.
All developments from LongOps will be used to upgrade, maintain and dismantle nuclear fusion equipment, including the Joint European Torus. In addition, the robotics deal is seen to usher direct benefits to the UK and Japan by increasing employment opportunities, enhancing “fusion-adjacent” technology and upgrading scientific and engineering processes. This transfer of knowledge harnessed from the LongOps project can show the commercial potential of investments in fusion and robotics programmes.
“This innovative research alliance with Japan will ensure we share our expertise in robotics to address complex challenges such as nuclear decommissioning while helping to secure highly skilled jobs across the country as we build back better from the pandemic.”
The LongOps project is part of the £450 million (US$ 614.87 million) investment earlier pledged by the UK Government in the robotics and autonomous systems (RAS) projects since 2014. The investment helps connect various UK RAS businesses and government to work together in developing smart technologies that can provide improved productivity and more benefits to society.
The UK and Japan join a slew of countries and organisations that have made significant investments in the field of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI). As earlier reported by OpenGov Asia, a tech company in Malaysia has put up a highway monitoring system that uses AI and innovative technology in its Smart Surveillance System. This move is in line with efforts to ensure the safety and satisfaction of travellers. It also complements efforts made under the Industrial Revolution 4.0 roadmap earlier introduced by the government.
The country’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), recently announced that it might issue a digital version of the rupee. Advancements in the payments sector are pushing central banks to digitalise, and banks around the world are examining whether they could leverage technology and issue fiat money in digital form.
In a booklet, RBI said that private digital currencies have gained popularity in recent years but in India, regulators and governments have been sceptical and are apprehensive about the associated risks. Nevertheless, RBI is exploring whether a digital version of fiat currency will be necessary and if it is, how to operationalise it.
The booklet covers the development of payment and settlement systems in India from the beginning of 2010 till the end of 2020. According to a news report, a digital version of the rupee is one of the many ways that the RBI is considering increasing the adoption of digital payment systems in India. The booklet also mentions methods to make digital payments offline via mobile phones through “stored value component on cards”.
For digital currencies, the bank said CBDC (Central Bank Digital Currencies) will be legal tender and a central bank liability in the digital form. It is in the form of electronic currency, which can be converted or exchanged at par with similarly denominated cash and traditional central bank deposits. CBDC will be controlled and regulated by the bank, unlike most cryptocurrencies, which are not in the hands of any authority.
RBI has established a framework to capture the location and business details of commercial bank branches, ATMs, and banking correspondents across the country. It plans to extend a similar framework to collect and maintain information about the point of sales terminals and other payment system touchpoints.
The Reserve Bank of India had earlier come out with booklets on payment systems in 1998 and 2008. It captures the transformation of India in the sphere of payment and settlement systems. It describes, inter-alia, the legal and regulatory environment underpinning the digital payments systems, various enablers, payment options available to consumers, and the extent of adoption during the past decade. This third booklet in the series is expected to serve as a reference document for those interested in knowing more about payment system developments in the country.
In the booklet’s forward, the RBI Governor, Shaktikanta Das, explained that the booklet is a narrative of how the carefully thought-out steps taken by the RBI have resulted in transforming India into a country riding the crest of a wave in the evolution of digital payments. RBI is mindful of the challenges ahead. Various initiatives are underway to realise India’s vision on payment systems.
The RBI seeks to usher in a payment ecosystem that enables safe, quick, and affordable digital payments to everyone across the country as well as in cross-border payments and transactions, he added. The factors inhibiting the digital push are connectivity issues, inadequate acceptance infrastructure, lack of familiarity with newer, alternative payment methods, delay in getting complaints resolved, and security and privacy concerns.
Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) has launched the Banking, Financial Services & Insurance Accelerator 2021 (BFSI Accelerator). The BFSI Accelerator is designed to shape the future of the BFSI industries by bridging corporates and innovators to deliver breakthrough technologies and create a wide array of new business opportunities in the world of banking, financial services and insurance.
The Chief Corporate Development Officer of HKSTP stated that at its very core, innovation allows you to unlock new business opportunities, especially when the pandemic accelerated the adoption of technologies by some 8 to 10 years. Organisations are realising that rapid innovation, now more than ever, is a must for surviving under the new norm.
The BFSI Accelerator will take stakeholders beyond the existing boundaries of traditional banking, financial services and insurance. Building on one of HKSTP’s most well-tested models, the accelerator connects the Park’s wide network of prestigious partners, industry leaders, advanced research institutions and successful enterprises to share their valuable industry insights and trends.
It further brings together the world’s best Fintech start-ups and technology ventures to create amazing business solutions that not only propel the industries and society to move forward but also enable Hong Kong to remain at the forefront of Fintech.”
With the BFSI Accelerator 2021, HKSTP offers Hong Kong’s largest innovation platform for a host of leading BFSI partners to co-create curve-jumping solutions with innovators in Hong Kong and around the world.
Fintech solutions in the fields of Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, Cybersecurity and IoT are among those being targeted in the programme to help the BFSI partners enhance four focus areas – operational efficiency, customer experience, wealth management, and regulation and compliance.
The BFSI Accelerator commenced on 25 January 2021 in three stages, to build a win-win for the industry partners and innovators and make a greater impact in business and society.
Stage 1: Global Recruitment of Solutions
The accelerator will recruit innovative solutions from Hong Kong and overseas that match industry needs and operational requirements set forth by the BFSI partners.
Stage 2: Co-creation
The accelerator will connect the BFSI partners with a selection of potential solutions to evaluate for proof-of-concept (PoC) adoption.
Shortlisted start-ups and technology ventures will be guided by mentoring from the BFSI partners. According to circumstances, HKSTP will provide a secured environment to test and validate cutting-edge technologies into market-ready applications that address specific BFSI needs and create sustained value for the industries.
Stage 3: Demonstration Day
Success stories and insights into corporate innovation will be shared at the conclusion of the programme with a Demonstration Day, scheduled for September 2021.
Applications for the BFSI Accelerator 2021 are now open. The accelerator programme encourages innovative businesses and entrepreneurs in Hong Kong and overseas to sign up on or before 26 March 2021 via the website.
The BFSI Accelerator has gained the extensive support of high-profile BFSI institutions and enterprises, including Invest Hong Kong, The Hong Kong Association of Banks, The Hong Kong Institute of Bankers, and Insurance Authority, as well as Hong Kong Monetary Authority through the HKMA-HKSTP Fin+Tech Collaboration Platform.
Fintech is one of the key areas of strategic technology focus at HKSTP. The Corporation’s Fin+Tech ecosystem connects regulators, the banking, financial services and insurance industry, and the academia (Fin) with startups and Fintech innovators (Tech) in Hong Kong and around the world. Through the Fin+Tech ecosystem, HKSTP strives to build a solid foundation for a new era of financial services in Hong Kong, the Greater Bay Area and the globe.
Chulalongkorn University Health Service Center provides preventative healthcare under the concept “Chamchuri Health City”, following the university’s policy on wellbeing on the 60th anniversary of the Health Center. On 21 December 2020, the centre launched the “Digital X-Ray Room” (CUHC General Digital X-Ray 2020), which offers diagnostic radiology services for various diseases to members of the Chula Community.
The Chulalongkorn University President presided over the opening ceremony. In the opening speech, he stated that X-ray machines are the heart of diagnosis and the Digital X-ray room at the Chulalongkorn University Health Service Center will help provide efficient and self-reliant health services to Chulalongkorn students and personnel.
Chulalongkorn University Health Service Center also has a network connection to Chulalongkorn Hospital and nearby hospitals. This will make Chulalongkorn University Health Service Center a model for medical care for other agencies and will help expand services to the general public in the future.
The Director of the Chulalongkorn Health Center revealed that the Chulalongkorn University Health Service Center started as Chulalongkorn Health Unit, established 63 years ago in 1959. The centre never had an X-Ray machine and when patients required an X-ray or were in an accident, they had to be transferred to a hospital. The process was time-consuming and complicated and so plans for the Digital X-ray Room were drawn up.
The CUHC General Digital X-Ray 2020 project has the world-class Phillip Digital Diagnost C90, which is the latest model and the first to be imported into Thailand. It is certified by the Department of Medical Sciences and will be used for medical examinations, lung x-rays, and medical certificates for renewal of government tenure.
A Lecturer at the Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine and radiology expert said that the x-ray machine can take high-resolution images and help with the diagnostics of various organs, such as the lungs and abdomen, and bone and joint diseases inflicting the spine, knee joints, and skull.
The digital X-ray images will be transferred to a monitor so that radiologists can read the images and interpret them immediately in just a few seconds.
Chulalongkorn University dedicates itself to support the health and well-being of its personnel and students, aiming for a vigorous, healthy, and happy life on campus. Stepping up to this task is the Chulalongkorn University Health Service Center. Located at Chamchuri 9 Building, the centre provides comprehensive medical services, including preliminary care, 11 specialized clinics, dental care, physical therapy room, preventative care, physical recovery, as well as a 24-hr ambulance service for emergencies.
The digital x-ray room is now open to faculty members, staff, students, as well as residents in the Chula neighbourhood.
The value of x-ray machines has not gone unnoticed in Thailand. In late 2019, the Thai Customs Department had plans to install 23 X-ray machines at Thailand’s main international airport. The Customs Director-General stated that X-ray machine installation above the baggage carousels at Suvarnabhumi International Airport is aimed at improving the efficiency of security checks of luggage of inbound passengers and to prevent goods smuggling.
The machines improve the security check of luggage transported from inbound planes before the passengers can claim them. Previously, the Thai customs resorts to random check method by human staff this resulted in smuggled goods slipping through on occasion.
It was noted that the x-ray machines, customs officials can immediately see what is in the luggage and immediately prompt the passengers to pay the Customs duty before leaving the airport. The X-ray machines at Suvarnabhumi International Airport help with tax collection as well as prevent the smuggling of sensitive goods into the country, such as agricultural products, palm oil, fuel oil and drugs.