Innovate or get left behind. Businesses today know it and have seen it happen with their own eyes. From Amazon to Uber and Netflix, we have all seen new or small companies disrupt or vanish within months. Leveraging technology is key. Firms of all sizes and industries need to use new technology to create advanced business models that create greater value for their customers.
Governments, too, are on board. From Singapore’s Committee on the Future Economy to the ASEAN Economic Community formed in 2015 and India’s Innovation Growth Programme, government leaders and influential organisations in the region are increasingly enabling companies of all sizes to develop innovative capabilities, make better use of technology, and implement new business models in order to stay relevant and competitive.
The opportunities are there, but what do business leaders need to consider when embracing this revolution? Here’s a checklist to kick things off:
Start with the customers (and their data)
With the expansion of digital lifestyles, customers today are spoilt for choice and have higher expectations than ever before. It is essential for businesses to understand the ever-changing needs of their customers and put them at the center of decision-making. How do they do this? It all starts with the data.
Today, all organisations (big or small) should have the capabilities to embrace a data-driven model where employees can extract insights from data and create a holistic picture of their customer segments. In fact, according to a recent Forrester report, customer insight-driven companies are growing significantly faster than their competitors as they are able to optimise every aspect of their business. With the right tools that can utilise data generated from disparate sources, customer data can easily be transformed into the greatest business asset ever.
Transform company culture
Collaboration is the key to success. All stakeholders, departments, and employees within a business need to be aligned in order for creative disruption to take place. Nothing can happen in isolation.
Marketing comes to the forefront in this process, with the most knowledge on customer behavior and touchpoints, lines of business have a clear view on overall business objectives and challenges, IT has the engineering and knowledge to implement advanced technologies, and every employee has a role to play in developing company culture and their own individual skills. Everyone needs to work together.
At the same time, it is essential for business leaders to embody the spirit of innovation, encourage company-wide adoption of disruptive technologies, and focus on the upskilling of every individual worker in order to create an innovative company culture. It starts from the top, but needs to trickle down to everyone.
Embrace the skills future
The people make a company. No matter how smart the technology, strong companies are built on skilled employees who know how best to leverage information and technology for greater business value.
However, as reported by recruiting experts, Hays, today there is still an IT skills gap in Asia Pacific and it is essential that current employers provide the right training and opportunities for employees to hone their skills. At the same time, businesses need to work together with the public sector, academic institutions, and talent placement organisations to ensure the right people are given the right opportunities and placed in the right jobs.
From a business perspective, the onus is on leaders to ensure their teams are given opportunities to upskill, collaborate, and stay in-tune with innovative technologies and new business processes.
Find the right partner
One way for companies to get smarter is to find the right technology partner to drive their data strategies.
With the growing demand to process and analyse massive volumes of data, the right technology will enable companies to leverage various data types and unlock insights and value. The right partner can help bridge the IT skills gap by expanding the skillsets of employees through training and support. The right partner should no longer just be in charge of infrastructure or implementation, but should be fully aligned with business objectives, strategies, and needs in implementing the technology. The right partner should help drive businesses to ask more questions of their data, find more meaningful answers, and make smarter decisions.
There is no doubt that the future of any businesses today lies in disruption or destruction. Only then can companies effectively embrace much needed technological change in this digital era.
This article was first published in The Business Times.
In coping with the current crisis, the need for accurate and actionable information is paramount for an effective response – but there has never before been a scenario like the current COVID-19 pandemic. In case of a critical event, whether it is an active shooter, natural disaster or pandemic, access to information is vital.
One crucial lesson that emergency responders have learned from simulations is that information is often too fragmented to provide actionable intelligence: the larger the incident, the more complicated it is to collect and assess information and coordinate a response.
There are, however, many tools available to tame this complexity for more rapid and effective response and to minimise impact on responders. These generally address four stages of response management.
In the first, they gather data from various sources to help assess the context and severity of a critical event, calling upon analytical tools to digest and correlate data to help response teams understand what is happening now and what could or will happen later. A second stage locates assets, employees or vital equipment. In a third stage, these systems offer emergency responders and organisations the tools to act by informing people of actions to take, mass-scale notifications for people in affected areas and tools for collaboration between response teams. The final stage enables responders and others concerned to review and evaluate the critical event so that future response can be improved.
Incident response management platforms are often homegrown among responsible agencies and organisations, but technology providers exist to support efforts. Some of these technologies consolidate functionality for all four stages into a single system. Everbridge, for example, began with a focus on multi-modal text messaging after the tragic events of 9/11 and expanded into a platform used in 2012 to notify 10 million people after Hurricane Sandy, and in 2013 by the city of Boston after the Boston Marathon bombings.
As reported, Increasingly these platforms are embracing IoT systems and devices, given the expanded capability among a wide variety of endpoints that responders can use to connect directly with critical information, guidance and communication with those affected by an emergency. In particular, IoT can play an essential part in the information-gathering process. In a 2019 study, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) examined the possibilities of the use of IoT in emergency situations and identified a number of use cases such as emergency calling, mission-critical communications for situational awareness or to protect responder personnel, essential logistics support public warning systems and automated emergency response.
In smart buildings and smart cities, sensors can provide details about temperature, toxic gases and other hazardous conditions. Smart streetlights can analyse traffic congestion and plan evacuation routes through AI analytics. Body cameras can relay live intelligence from public safety workers to the Incident Command Center (ICS), while crisis teams can use IoT wearables to warn and guide civilians.
Artificial intelligence technology is used in several ways to diagnose, respond to or predict coronavirus spread. The radiology department of the Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University in Wuhan, China, has modified its AI-driven software to detect cancer in CT lung scans to detect COVID-19-related signs of pneumonia. This is to aid the overworked medics in triage, while in the United States, the Boston Children’s Hospital has created an AI-driven coronavirus map.
The Chinese search engine Baidu has made its Linearfold algorithm available to researchers and medical teams to fight the outbreak to assist in the analysis of the virus, while across the world researchers are turning to AI technology to predict its spread.
Even when everybody understands that it is vital to track data on people’s condition and location during the current times, but it has a definite privacy impact.
The privacy issues are relevant to technology providers, which also see a growing trend among companies that want to know which employee is in which location. In the case of the COVID-19 outbreak, employers may want to see which employee has been in close proximity to a person who has tested positive for the virus.
However, technology’s role in containing and mitigating the virus in the absence of a rapid and reliable diagnostic tool cannot be undermined. It lets governments respond and recover from the global pandemic which would have been a more herculean task than it already is.
Technology providers who are seeking to improve response, stewardship of sensitive data and transparency of processes moving forward must understand that establishing trust and confidence amongst people is of paramount importance.
While the global pandemic has not completely vanished, economies around the word are gradually opening and getting their employees to get back into the physical office.
With the risk of the virus still looming large, ensuring the safety of employees is mission critical for organisations – especially in certain industries where remote working is not a viable option.
In order to better understand the process of critical event management, OpenGov Asia spoke with Graeme Osborn, Vice-President, International Critical Event Management for Everbridge.
The discussion revolved around how different industries and organisations are formulating their return to office plans.
Graeme shared that it is a challenging time for all organisations and they are all following different approaches to deal with the current critical event.
While some do not anticipate having their employees back before the end of the year, others are coming up with new ways of tracking and ensuring the safety of their staff.
One industry that is particularly struggling is the construction industry, as unlike the office space the construction sites are not technologically enabled.
Traditional ways of doing everyday activities have to be altered in a manner that keeps physical contact between the workers to a minimum.
The office ecosystem is facing a different kind of challenge as employees are more resistant to being traced. With that in mind, employers are exploring new ways to ensure safety at work without constantly keeping an eye on their staff.
One of the ways of doing this is contact tracking. Graeme emphasized that contact tracking is very different from contact tracing.
In the former process, leverage points of information are used to understand the potential impact of the virus. Other ways include heat detection, daily health surveys, self-health certification etc.
He expounded further on the process approach involved in contact tracking. Once the application is installed by the employee, the app keeps track of whoever they encounter within a 2-meter radius. If at any point someone reports an infection, everyone they contacted and others in the organisation are informed of it through the application.
In case of a self-report, the app not only alerts the employees and the control team, it also helps contain the exposure quickly by scanning the exposure area within the organisation.
Critical events or disasters are never over; there is one after another and multiple critical events can hit us at the same time. Many parts of the world are dealing with floods, typhoons, bushfires alongside COVID 19.
Graeme highlighted in order to effectively manage multiple critical events, two aspects are very important: 1) Planning (having all the information and resources readily available) 2) Testing out the systems and processes that have been planned.
It is also important to understand that when an organisation is hit with a natural disaster or any other critical event, business continuity, life safety of employees, cybersecurity and operations are threatened.
Therefore, an organisation’s critical event management approach should unify all these business components rather than them operating in silos.
As the executive leader of an organisation, the CEO is ultimately the person responsible to lead its critical event management initiatives.
In the times of crisis and immense pressure, s/he is the one who will take the decision for the whole organisation. As such, it is very important for the CEO to be ahead of the critical event management approach.
Contrarily, when one looks at governments and public sector, it is very difficult to pinpoint any one agency or organisation to be responsible for handling critical events management as with pandemics and disasters multiple public utilities are impacted (health, transportation, food supplies, education, communication etc).
Of course, there is a collective responsibility of all the different agencies focusing of these aspects individually; and they must be directed by the leader of the country to ensure the safety of all citizens.
He concluded by emphasising that irrespective of the type of organisation it is imperative to have an integrated approach and clear leadership to effectively tackle critical events.
OpenGov Asia had earlier shared an interview with Graeme Orsborn on the value of Critical Event Management for any organisation as well as the basics steps to take in order to put in place a successful critical event management plan and how that applies in the global COVID-19 crisis today.
The coronavirus pandemic has been a sobering wake-up call to swiftly abolish corporate inertia plaguing critical event management.
COVID-19 has brought into sharp focus two primary goals – how to keep employees safe with minimal businesses disruption.
This was particularly telling in a recent high-level meeting with around 30 senior executives from major brands from Australia and other Asia-Pacific countries.
Only 7 per cent said they had a scalable solution to deal with the next critical event – bushfires, tsunami, terrorism, earthquake, flood or another economic or life-threatening situation – in a post-COVID world.
Yet, 89 per cent said critical event management was important to their business outcomes.
Most were in the dark and had no idea where to begin but all understood the dire consequences of doing nothing.
The current pandemic is an opportune time to ask if your organisation can quickly identify threats and assess the risk environment, then easily identify and locate the impacted people, assets, operational functions which could potentially be impacted.
It may be 2020 but many organisations still rely on a manual call tree to disseminate accurate information to ensure staff safety. This may be acceptable in small organisations but even they struggle to keep the basics, such as mobile phone numbers, up to date.
The process of managing a critical event is often very manual, even disjointed (some large organisations still have employee details spread across multiple Excel sheets and even in binders).
It’s often siloed using multiple applications, and it takes a significantly long time to work through. Why?
An organisation needs to know what’s happening and why it’s happening – what is the threat and the nature of the threat. What’s the potential impact? Is it related to physical security, inclement weather, or is it digital disruption due to a cyberattack or ransomware?
Is that an IT outage or application latency?
Is it a localised or national disaster?
How many different sources of data are being used to monitor threats? How effective are they and is any of it automated or filtered, and tailored to your specific business?
And can the sources of information be trusted?
Based on all that organisations need to understand and locate what and/or who’s impacted – their people, assets, and operational functions.
This is especially challenging if some staff members are on the move or the risk event is changing – as we’re faced with in the current pandemic.
Trying to correlate the two may involve accessing multiple systems and having multiple applications running at the same time.
How many different systems do you currently have that stores information about your people or assets?
And is this information integrated with your threat data to determine who or what might be impacted.
Before employees can safely to return to the office, organisations must have the capability to effectively respond to another wave or if a worker tests positive.
Critical event management systems can’t be a one-way street as staff need the ability to confirm, acknowledge or respond to alerts, information, safety check-ins, and questions or polls – no matter where they are or what device they use.
It’s time organisations stop outsourcing employee safety and well being to spreadsheets or pieces of paper. Drowning in data during a pandemic without a single source of truth will surely sound the death knell for any business.
This is an Expert Opinion by Kok Ping Soon, Chief Executive of the Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech Singapore)
As our healthcare frontline workers mounted a medical response when COVID-19 hit our shores in January, the Singapore Government was concurrently launching a technological response – far broader and deeper that what we did for SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) in 2003.
Compared to SARS in 2003, when communication channels were largely driven by broadcast news and radio, we now have digital platforms to push out information quickly; channels such as the Gov.Sg Whatsapp channel and the COVID-19 Chatbot have provided the public with timely daily updates on the pandemic.
We also launched digital platforms for citizens to get personalised and granular information – ranging from where they can collect their masks (MaskGoWhere website), to what financial support they can get (SupportGoWhere website) to the crowd level at places of interest (SpaceOut portal).
Safe distancing enforcement at public parks is now supplemented with robotics and drones for greater effectiveness and safety. The largely manual contact tracing regime used during SARS is now augmented with digital tools such as TraceTogether and SafeEntry to improve the accuracy and speed of identifying close contacts.
COVID-19 has demonstrated the importance of investing in digital capabilities. Over the past few years since the launch of the Smart Nation initiative in 2014, we have established a nationwide fibre infrastructure, nurtured a vibrant tech ecosystem, and also invested in building technology expertise and tools within Government agencies. These investments have started to bear fruit, and have allowed Government agencies to react to and manage the pandemic more effectively.
The new possible: Singapore’s digital landscape
During this COVID-19 period, our businesses and citizens are taking to digital tools at an unprecedented pace. Companies – that did not imagine remote work was possible – are now operating with majority of their workers tele-commuting. Our workforce, and even our seniors, are now experts at conducting meetings via Zoom, WebEx and Skype. Use of SafeEntry is a now a staple for everyone, with over two million users checking in/out on a daily basis; more than 1.1 million people are now receiving their latest COVID-19 updates via the Gov.Sg Whatsapp channel. A McKinsey study found that consumer and business digital adoption has vaulted five years forward in a matter of eight weeks.
With the gradual re-opening of Singapore’s economy into a post-COVID-19 world, we will accelerate investments to empower citizens and businesses with more digitally-enabled possibilities.
As the implementing agency for the Digital Government Blueprint, the Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech Singapore) will increase the pace of digitalisation in government by Humanising our frontend services, Engaging our community, and Modernising Government infrastructure to “H.E.M.” in the digitalisation gains from COVID- 19 to create a more digitally empowered nation.
“HEM-ming” in the new possibilities
Firstly, we aim to humanise our frontend services to create a more unified and pleasant experience when citizens transact with the Government.
We have made good progress in making our government digital services more user-centric. Citizens and Businesses’ satisfaction with government digital services has improved by eight percentage points in 2019 to reach 86 per cent and 77 per cent respectively – an all-time high since 2012.
This year, we will be making an even bigger push in humanising our services as more service-journey projects transit from design and development to minimum viable products (MVPs).
Over $118 million of projected ICT contracts in this FY is earmarked to develop better citizen and business facing applications. The current “Moments of Life” app will undergo a product refresh to evolve into a go-to app for all things related to the government in a citizen’s life in Singapore, such as birth, graduation, and marriage.
For businesses, the GoBusiness portal will evolve into a key platform for business-related transactions with the Government – to help companies start a business, grow a business, and to apply for a licence. With information conveniently available from your phones and laptops, we aspire to let citizens continue to transact and run errands as per usual, while reducing the frequency of in-person appointments.
Citizen-centric digital services will also become more pervasive. Beyond using SingPass to log in to government services and now for SafeEntry check-in, users can look forward to more value-added services such as using SingPass Mobile for digital signing of documents, and biometric login.
Second, we will engage the community in partnership to co-create and drive adoption in the usage of digital solutions. COVID-19 has shown us that no one has the monopoly on wisdom to deal with a national crisis; we are only as strong as our ability to work together.
In May, we conducted a COVID-19 Idea Sprint, which attracted over 300 participants who suggested more than 70 proposals – with ideas ranging from designing wearables for contact tracing to developing personal risk scores based on proximity data.
To fortify our engagement with the tech community, we have soft-launched a new Singapore Government Developer Portal. This is a centralised resource to help industry and developers learn more about our tech products. Developers, suppliers and industry partners will be able to find key information on product features, use cases and technical specifications to co-create solutions with us.
Finally, we will continue to modernise Government infrastructure. We will speed up the migration of government ICT systems onto the Government Commercial Cloud. More applications will be re-platformed and re-factored to leverage cloud native services to increase their agility and scalability. We will also invest aggressively in data analytics, artificial intelligence and sensor projects to enable data-driven decision making in improving services and operational effectiveness.
We will also spend $300 million to design, implement and operate a new software-defined Government Wide Area Network to support increased computing needs, and another $300 million to strengthen the Government’s cybersecurity posture with automated system reviews, cybersecurity monitoring and digital forensics capabilities.
Engineering Digital Government, Making Lives Better
To support these plans, we will deepen our engineering capabilities within GovTech. We are hiring over 400 engineers in software development, cybersecurity, data analytics and infrastructure to augment our current engineering workforce of 2,200.
As I often share with my colleagues, GovTech’s purpose in “Engineering Digital Government” so as to “Make Lives Better” has never been stronger. We will strive to push Singapore to be at the forefront of digital technology, and as one people, weather this storm together.
Power generation is the lifeline of cities. All activities come to a standstill even when there is a temporary power cut.
And although electric power has made modern life so comfortable, it comes with a great cost to the environment.
Traditionally electricity generation takes place in fossil fuel/ nuclear power plants that have huge detrimental impact on the ecosystem.
In the process of power generation, these plants emit copious amounts of greenhouse gasses (carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide) that degrade the air quality in the atmosphere.
The next innovator in OpenGov Asia’s Change Makers of Tomorrow series, came up with an eco-friendly method of electricity generation – from plants themselves.
Bioo is dedicated to generation of electricity from nature through unique technologies and patents of its own.
Pablo Vidarte, the CEO of Bioo told OpenGov Asia that the journey began with a vision to use nature and its organic processes as the biofuel to power batteries of the future without harming plants or any other kind of living being.
Pablo and his team collaborated with university nanotech experts to work out a prototype that could successfully utilise the tech envisioned by them.
After almost a yearlong of trials they came up with a range of products that work on the unique Bioo technology.
Bioo currently has two major lines as a part of its current business model.
1) Bioo Installations: Installations that use the proprietary technology of transforming plants into biological switches that can activate music, lights, and even screens in public spaces, making them look more attractive.
Two products that are currently under development are:
- Bioo Panel: A vegetal panel that is installed under the ground and that supplies power to lighting systems of parks and gardens. It enables constant electricity production during the day and at night along with saving up to 60% of irrigation water. Additionally, it is visually in line with the landscape.
- Bioo Sensor: The innovation is an alternative to the current chemical batteries used in irrigation sensors in agriculture industry that need replacement every 6 – 18 months. Thanks to the large existing need for a solution, major firms in the sector are interested in such an application, with the global market being measured in 7.9 billion euros.
Bioo uses the organic substances that are present in the soil naturally as well as those expelled by the plants through the roots. Something that happens immediately after the photosynthesis process.
These organic substances are then broken-down using microorganisms in the soil which eat them. Once the organic substances are broken, they set electrons free along with hydrogen which is naturally released during photosynthesis.
These free electrons are then used to generate electric current. And the hydrogen merged with atmospheric oxygen is used to generate water. There is no damage to the plant in this process, and in fact, the microorganisms are fed and water is generated in the process of creating electricity.
Pablo also shared that in future, Bioo will focus on creating products and installations for smart cities that consider plants as not just decorative objects but with a utility aspect as well.
Pablo and his team have been recognised for their sustainable, out of the box thinking at various platforms.
They were selected as the most innovative company of the year by the European parliament. They are also one of the top 59 finalists at the 10th Lee Kuan Yew Global Business Plan Competition.
Organised by Singapore Management University (SMU) Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, this international competition is focused on urban innovations and solutions created by student founders and early-stage startups based on the theme “Reimagine, Smart, Sustainable and Resilient Cities”.
The top 59 finalists from around the world will convene in Singapore sometime second quarter of 2021, to compete for prizes worth up to S$1.5 million at the finals.
OpenGov Asia feels honoured to learn from the new generation of innovators like the Bioo team and hopes to encourage more innovative minds to think differently.
Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to transform financial institutions (FIs), disrupting every aspect of financial services, from the customer experience to financial crime.
One of the most compelling use cases for AI is in the battle against financial crime. AI has two primary benefits for the banks engaged in this battle: it can increase the effectiveness and efficiency of financial crime investigations, and the institutionalise risk management.
Financial institutions can employ AI to analyse large amounts of data, to filter out false alerts and identify complex criminal conduct. It can identify connections and patterns that are too complex to be picked up by straightforward, rule-based monitoring, or the human eye.
This raises four fundamental questions:
- Are financial institutions ready to embrace advances in ML to help uncover emerging patterns for preventing fraud?
- How can financial institutions harness expanded data typologies generated by new authentication processes for better fraud detection?
- How can financial institutions manage the data orchestration challenges to leverage different data sources, integrate with other information, and factor in decision making across the entirety of the customer journey?
- Are financial institutions benefitting from better data orchestration?
Enhancing Anti-Money Laundering Monitoring and Driving Operational Efficiency
Digital transformation and artificial intelligence are undeniably changing the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) landscape. The need to modernise AML processes, coupled with a regulatory push towards innovation, is driving financial institutions to enhance AML monitoring & drive operational efficiency.
The manual and semi-automated nature of current AML compliance efforts slow down processing timelines and impact business productivity.
The immense volume of data that financial institutions are expected to comb through to meet regulatory requirements to detect and report suspicious activity becomes a daunting challenge.
The data is usually diverse and subpar. It’s common for systems to use only a subset of available data when generating alerts. Traditional transaction monitoring systems are unwieldy to maintain and rely on rules and thresholds that are easy for criminals to test and circumvent.
Investigation processes tend to be highly manual, from gathering the supporting data for a case to submitting a complete SAR (suspicious activity report). Meanwhile, the money launderers are working night and day to remain hidden, constantly engineering new ways to conceal the flow of funds.
Traditional Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Combating Financing of Terrorism (CFT) tools and tactics take longer and cost more than they should.
To fortify the defences more efficiently and rapidly, financial institutions need ways to:
- Automate tasks that formerly required human intervention, such as disposition of alerts
- Detect more risks and effectively prioritise them with sophisticated analytics techniques
- Provide richer context for investigations with access to more comprehensive insights
Financial institutions need to consider harnessing advanced analytics and AI technologies to enable a proactive, robust and unified strategy for enterprise-wide fraud and security intelligence.
Management must align fraud and cyber teams to increase cyber resiliency and minimise risk. They must deliberate how high-performance analytics and multiple detection methods can be used to monitor wider areas of risk in large volumes of data.
In the face of ever evolving and increasingly sophisticated cyber crime, integrating automation, AI and Machine Learning into financial crime programmes is essential. They facilitate more efficient transaction monitoring for suspicious activities and reduce false positives.
Developing new techniques for sound compliance practices for anti-bribery and corruption laws across jurisdictions is becoming more critical as technology moves fluidly across borders and international infrastructure.
Strategies to break down data silos, adjust to shifting regulations, and safeguard against present and future risks must form an integral part of critical event management strategy.
OpenGov Asia partners with key digital solution providers to explore how financial institutions can apply real-world AI and analytics applications to ensure a world-class integrated banking system that contributes to improve customer experiences, enterprise profitability, manage risk and regulatory compliance, anticipate fraud and create value from data.
Across the globe, we are living through an unprecedented experience of our lifetimes. Experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic unfold daily these last 16 weeks has got me reflecting.
The term VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity) was introduced in early 2000 and was relatively unknown then. This acronym later became trendy in explaining the 4th industrial revolution.
But who could have imagined disruption at this scale? Post-pandemic, can we build a VUCA-ready government and business architecture?
My medical and healthcare career spans almost 30 years now and I have seen my share of wide-ranging challenges. But the challenges from this pandemic overshadows them all. The pace of growth and learning has been nothing short of warp-speed. Management concepts which took years to roll-out are now being implemented in a matter of days.
Whole-of-Government and Whole-of-Society have been advocated in recent years, but today, the COVID-19 response is witnessing an almost seamless inter-ministry and inter-agency collaboration.
The national COVID-19 front liners comprise not only healthcare staff and workers, but include others like the Royal Malaysian Police, the Malaysian Armed Forces, Civil Defence Force, the Immigration Department, various other agencies and volunteer groups.
The unprecedented amount of corporate social activity and volunteerism has been amazing. This was particularly so during the early phase of supply chain disruptions where we saw the coming together of volunteers to produce PPEs for the front liners.
Not forgetting the support and cooperation from the private sector, telcos, industry leaders, academia, civil society, community, families and individuals. Whole-of-Government and Whole-of-Society is possible after all.
With the pandemic having such a huge social and economic impact, now seems the right time to drive Health in All Policies (HiAP) to put health at the heart of government. COVID-19 has proven that health and well being require a holistic approach as they are influenced by many non-health factors including housing, water and sanitation, living and working conditions, employment, education, agriculture and food production.
Just how would the post-pandemic socio-economic policies be? Loaded with health agendas, I should hope so. The window of opportunity is wide open.
This crisis offers a unique opportunity to accelerate digital transformation. Virtual engagements and virtual work-space have expanded. Work from Home is practically possible for a larger segment of the population than initially thought. Service beyond walls is not a myth. Virtual clinic is completely acceptable today.
Systems implementation and solutions for COVID-19 are going live at a record speed. Digital connectivity has become apparent in almost every aspect of life. COVID-19 has altered attitudes and accelerated the adoption of policies that enable the business of work. All perceived roadblocks can be removed – it is a function of how strongly we want it.
With rapidly expanding knowledge and emerging scientific data, polices and guidelines are being revised and updated constantly. In the last 5 months, we have progressed to the 6th version of our national Management Guideline for COVID-19. We are living the play-book on agile policy making. Aside from Divine scripture, nothing is ever really cast in stone. Rigidity and slow decision making have little room in this pandemic.
COVID-19 brought unity and solidarity amongst public health, medical and scientific communities from across the world to fight the spread of the pandemic. No war or famine or any other disease has brought us together like this. The phrase Leaving No One Behind seems to characterize this pandemic; everyone has been touched-rich and poor, old and young, rural and urban, all races, all religions, all nations.
I have come to discover most things in government are possible when there is greater imperative – our health and well being. It has been a false no all this while. It took a virus to expose this truth.