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In Singapore, some heroes are comparatively small, silent creatures that operate behind the scenes to keep Singapore running.
We’re talking of course, about drones. Since their inception, various agencies in Singapore have been trying to use them to make tasks easier, safer and more efficient.
Let’s take a look at some of these ‘silent’ heroes and the jobs that they do – some of them are on trial, yes, but hey, it’s always fun to take a glimpse into the future.
Supporting anti-dengue operations!
With Singapore facing a record number of dengue cases this year, it is a priority to eliminate dengue hotspots this year. Some of these hotspots though are located in areas that might be challenging to carry out anti-dengue operations.
One example? Private residential estates.
To solve this, NEA has been using drones to check for mosquito breeding. The drones can fly over houses, and look out for potential breeding sites, such as the roof gutters in private estates.
Making building inspections SUAVE
Building inspections can be dangerous and time-consuming affairs, where there is a risk of accidents and falls. Not to mention, a lot of equipment and manpower is needed to ensure this happens safely.
SLA’s way of overcoming this? Flying drones equipped with an algorithm called SUAVE (Smart Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Enhanced) which analyses buildings for defects and potential maintenance issues. Small cracks, debris, water ponding, you name it!
The results are pretty impressive – the use of drones saves up to 80% for time and only uses 60% of the cost required for a conventional inspection.
Island hopping, drone style
Most drones rely on 4G and WiFi for operation and navigation. However, when out at sea, both of these signals are affected by sea waves, weather conditions and passing ships.
That said, SLA and GovTech is running trials with a way to get past this, by deploying a large drone that uses TVWS (TV White Space), which, at the risk of sounding very nerdy – is the inactive space found between channels actively used in UHF and VHF spectrum with frequency spans from 470 MHz – 790 MHz.
In real-world terms, this means that the drone can theoretically be piloted for a range of 10 km, and can stream live images of the remote Southern Islands using TVWS. This is something that many commercial drones can’t do.
Currently, SLA officers have to travel by boat and on foot to carry out manual inspections on the general upkeep of the islands i.e. grass cutting, housekeeping, pest control, arboriculture and horticulture works.
If it all works out, this drone can help inspections on the island to be done remotely and also more efficiently.
Keeping us safe, from the skies
We might not have those police helicopters as they do in the United States, but the police here are developing drones that give operators a clear picture of the ground situation instead.
These drones have a range of a few hundred metres, and are equipped with cameras with high powered zoom lenses – they are kinda like a hawk patrolling its grounds. In addition, they are also capable of missions up to 30 minutes, reducing the need for manpower.
Singapore deployed them this year in a trial, monitoring industrial areas on the western part of the island, as well as areas that are susceptible to crimes such as housebreaking and theft.
Keeping calm and swimming on
Unlike all the other drones we’ve mentioned earlier, the NUSwan is a swimmer, not a flyer.
Beneath their elegant exteriors, they have propellers instead of legs and can operate for hours without the need for sustenance. They’re also built to survive close encounters with boats – talk about durability!
These robot swans patrol Singapore’s reservoirs and keep us safe by assessing pollution and the drinkability of water. Sensors located in the NUSwan measure oxygen levels or chlorophyll, and stream these in real-time back to a central command centre – which can also control them remotely.
Yes, that’s right – an army of Robot Swans – it’s no wonder they decided to film Westworld in Singapore.
It’s amazing how fast technology develops! Just a decade ago, few of us would have imagined the uses that drones have today. With that in mind, what the future for us will be equally mind-boggling.
What we do know though, is that they’re here to stay. The next time to see a drone out in public, don’t be alarmed!
Chances are, like us, they’re just doing their job.
Photo Credit: GOVTECH
Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) in education have the potential to enhance how education is provided, financed, and managed as well as offer easier access to the community.
A PPP system operates under the construct that market mechanisms, in conjunction with government inputs, are better for providing education. One of the rationales behind PPPs, which are supported by international organisations, development agencies and academics, is that competition between public and private education providers is a good way to improve the quality and efficiency of education.
PPP policy frameworks should therefore create real market dynamics in which education service providers continue to innovate and improve the quality of their services to attract learners, young and old, who are seen as benefit maximisers and well-informed consumers.
New Era of Partnerships, Building Talent Pipeline
“The structure and framework for any university to launch degree programmes can be fairly onerous, given the emphasis on quality assurance and relevance,” says Annie who is also a Professor Emeritus of Finance (Practice), Lee Kong Chian School of Business and Senior Advisor at the Business Families Institute in Singapore Management University (SMU).
However, academic-industry partnerships play a crucial role in building the future of students and facilitating the transition of young people from school to work. Students need to be exposed to a variety of jobs and workplaces to develop interest and discover where their studies and passion may lead.
Industry partnerships with different sectors offer a variety of experiences, such as simulated job interviews, career development activities, challenge-based learning projects, curriculum-aligned activities, and work-study programmes. In addition, internships have become a vital opportunity for candidates to distinguish themselves prior to full-time employment.
A PPP is mutually beneficial, allowing industry access to fresh talent and looking at the industry’s challenges from the perspective of future consumers or employees acknowledges Annie. In fact, the private sector has indicated to all institutions that they need future talent in the area of data analytics, so SMU has recently launched a track in data analytics hosted in both their business school and computer and info systems school so universities also benefit from the insights from the industry to stay relevant in our curricula.
With the help of data analytics tools, a company may take unstructured raw data and use this information to discover patterns, draw conclusions and turned into useful insights. Therefore, data analysis aids businesses in so many ways, including making educated judgments, developing a more successful marketing plan, enhancing the customer experience and streamlining processes.
Education is not only under the charge of the Ministry of Education but also needs the support of other ministries since future jobs and capacity building are expected of the Ministries of Trade and Industry, Finance, Maritime, Health and others. Partnering with the whole of government allows for students’ skillsets to be increased and all students become more relevant, valuable and workplace ready.
Prof Annie knows that no one has a monopoly on knowledge, and no one knows the exact skills which will be needed in the future. Thus, PPPs have the most value when it forms a part of “lifelong learning.”
The exciting thing about lifelong learning, Annie believes “…is that when you get your degree, you think you’re done, but you’re just getting started. Even as you gain experience and learn on the job, you’ll need to keep reinventing yourself and the skills needed to extend your runway will keep changing.”
Passion extends beyond degrees and ongoing learning is a crucial element to keep employees engaged That’s why higher education now permits a variety of pathways to marry passion with career aspirations and is no longer a paper chase, she explains.
Two good cases to illustrate the value of PPP in the context of SMU’s innovative programmes that Prof Annie is very proud of are the partnership approach in launching the International Trading track and the Maritime Business Operations track under the Finance and Operations majors in SMU’s business school.
In accordance with the creation of a strong Singaporean core, wholesale trade and maritime businesses have been focusing on both skillset development and attracting new talent supply to ensure a pipeline of sustainable human capital. So, the trading and maritime sectors do need to build a case for making the jobs in their sectors more appealing – particularly with the assistance of government grants and scholarships.
Companies can play a crucial role by showing how an organisation can provide a feeling of purpose with support and development opportunities available to make building a career in their organisations appealing and attractive to the candidate
A part of Annie’s challenge in the early days was to set up an International Trading Institute (ITI) where students could take for-credit classes under the business school and get a certificate of completion for the non-credit practice-oriented sessions, learning from practitioners in the evenings.
“My goal at SMU is to link external relevance to internal degree requirements while upholding the quality assurance requirements of the education system. Different industry partners help us with this mission to co-create and deliver the applied learning content with us.”
SMU is therefore a strategic asset for the country and both the tracks had, over the last decade, created a pool of more than 300 alumni who are knowledgeable about wholesale trading, largely in the commodities trading space and maritime operations. Now, there is available talent who are able to speak and work with more confidence up and down the trade value chain and contribute to Singapore’s relevance as a trade and maritime hub.
Another great example of PPP was manifested during the last three years of the COVID-19 crisis which saw a spate of job cuts and many experienced PMETs were laid off. Annie worked with her teams at ITI and BFI to design a nine-month Business and Digital Transformation programme which combined in-class training modules with a capstone project for candidates who are matched to SMEs to also deliver a project for these sponsoring companies. Candidates have a chance to learn and apply the knowledge and sponsoring companies also benefit from the capstone projects delivered. In addition, 70% to 90% of the programme fees are supported by SSG grants, while WSG grants provide funding support towards the candidates’ commensurate salaries.
All these partnerships were possible because a pool of companies is available and can be accessed to match the candidates as a result of SMU’s external network of trusted companies, which was strengthened by the BFI that Annie had set up 10 years ago with the support of SMU’s senior leadership. Many of Asia’s SMEs are family owned with different sets of challenges and aspirations other than the usual business issues. In addition, many of these business families have longer horizons and they are the ones that countries depend on to build businesses sustainably as they think beyond current generations.
Therefore, business families with an entrepreneurial spirit, not only make money but also contribute to changing the world through their businesses and other new ventures, including building social enterprises and philanthropic activities.
By addressing business family-specific issues such as succession, family governance, entrepreneurship and wealth management, BFI aims to strengthen the ecosystem of entrepreneurial business families and stakeholders in their creation of sustainable impact by leveraging SMU’s core competence as a thought leader. In turn, BFI has been a strong partner to the LKYGBPC. Many of LKYGBPC’s sponsors are family-owned businesses, such as Wilmar International and Frasers.
In addition, many of these family enterprises have footprints beyond Singapore and are always on the lookout for quality start-ups to invest in or be part of their accelerator programmes. Innovation is essential for a company to improve its operations, introduce new and enhanced products and services to the market, raise its efficiency, and most crucially, boost its profitability.
Annie feels that her journey in academia is more about building entrepreneurship and Technology, Talent and Trust (3Ts) are important drivers in helping companies in their transformation journeys. As such, public-private-people partnerships are even more relevant in today’s challenging and uncertain times to build back better and broader for everyone.
According to Annie, the road to digital and business transformation success is paved with courageous actions by caring and forward-looking leaders. The right leaders will build a firm sustainably and attract the right people, the right leaders will inspire and motivate the right people to learn, improve and grow.
“Developing people is my calling but learning to develop people is everyone’s responsibility. And because the world is bigger than yourself, you need to be big-hearted, purpose-oriented, and have an open mind to be successful on any path you choose,” Annie concludes.
Singapore and the United Kingdom held the 7th UK Singapore Financial Dialogue, where they renewed their commitment to deepening their financial partnership, which was agreed upon in 2021. They also discussed sustainable finance, fintech, and innovation.
The two sides signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the UK-Singapore FinTech Bridge, which is based on an agreement signed in 2016, which removes barriers to fintech trade by opening new regular talks between regulators and businesses. The FinTech Bridge will build on the active interest of fintech players in the areas of payments, regulatory technology, and wealth management. It will also provide a structured engagement that will aid the development of policy actions, enhance assessments of emerging issues, such as the development of distributed ledger technologies and data sharing, and support trade and investment flow between respective markets.
According to a press release, the countries recognised the importance of the UK-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement (DEA), which was signed earlier this year. They exchanged views on recent developments in the fintech sector, including advancements in crypto-assets, and agreed on priority areas for further cooperation. They shared their latest assessments of market developments, opportunities, trends, and longer-term expectations for the crypto-assets sector.
Further, the risks and challenges relating to financial stability and regulatory arbitrage were discussed. They shared their progress in strengthening rules on consumer protection and developing the regulation of stablecoins. Both sides agreed there is a strong need to support the safe development of a digital assets ecosystem while ensuring that risks posed by digital assets are consistently managed.
They will continue to actively participate in the shaping of robust global regulatory practices through engagement within international multilateral fora such as the Financial Stability Board (FSB), the Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures (CPMI), and the International Organisation of Securities Commissions (IOSCO).
Regarding digital payments, Singapore provided updates on the progress of its review of e-wallet caps and the expected next steps. The event covered the recently released consultation, with the UK providing views on the key proposals. Singapore also updated on the new digital banks that recently launched their operations in Singapore.
Moreover, the sides have agreed to a roadmap for activities in sustainable finance, fintech and innovation, and other areas of mutual interest, leading up to the next Dialogue scheduled to take place in London in 2023.
The Financial Dialogue was co-chaired by the Deputy Managing Director (Markets and Development) of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), Leong Sing Chiong, and the Director General (Financial Services) of HM Treasury (HMT), Gwyneth Nurse.
Two industry-led UK-Singapore business roundtables on sustainable finance and FinTech took place on 24 November 2022. Industry participants from both countries participated in this discussion. The sustainable finance Roundtable examined the implementation challenges faced by corporates in meeting their net zero targets, and how the financial industry could help to address these challenges. The FinTech Roundtable discussed the opportunities and challenges faced by FinTech firms, and how these firms could better access overseas markets, including by partnering with financial institutions.
The global spread of COVID-19 has been a disaster of unparalleled proportions. Not only has it halted the world economy, but it has also made even the most optimistic leaders reconsider how soon things would return to how they were before the outbreak.
Even as the pandemic disrupted businesses and services around the world, a sudden and dramatic increase in internet consumption was observed. Businesses had to shift to digital communications and tools as the key medium for maintaining productive and interesting relationships with their many stakeholders – internal and external.
While the private sector was quicker to alter procedures in the early phases of the pandemic, the public eventually successfully adapted and innovated to continue citizen service delivery. Of course, early on, most governments rapidly put into place digital communication and emergency response platforms.
By allowing users to access their data and applications from any internet-connected device, cloud computing expands the scope of digital transformation beyond simple technology adoption to encompass a comprehensive redesign of all related procedures, resources and user interactions.
The cloud and digital transformation are now inextricably linked. Organisations across the board need to adopt a cloud-first strategy if they want to ensure the longevity of their operations and realise their transformation objectives.
Most organisations and agencies have benefited from the digital change, but some industries are behind the curve. To keep up with the fierce competition in their industries, they must guarantee the reliable operation of the cloud communication platforms that serve as a direct line of contact between the organisations and their consumers and aid in the promotion of their offerings.
The OpenGov Breakfast Insight on 25 November 2022 at M Hotel Singapore provided Singapore’s public, education, financial and healthcare sectors with the advantages of the most recent cloud technology.
Simplifying Things via Cloud Communication
Mohit Sagar, CEO & Editor-in-Chief, OpenGov Asia believes that the cloud has transformed the way organisations communicate, cooperate and carry out many other critical business and service functions.
Cloud communications are voice and data communications solutions that organisations employ to manage cloud-hosted applications, storage and switching.
“Cloud communications services are becoming an increasingly intrinsic choice for organisations looking to streamline their operations and enable their remote workforces to stay connected and productive,” observes Mohit.
Cloud communications enable organisations to interact with their employees and customers over many channels, including email, audio calls, chat and video. All of these leverage internet-based connectivity to minimise faulty connections and lag in communication.
This communication model has become the go-to option for addressing the growing need for efficient internal communications in the hybrid workplace. As numerous workers are returning to the office, and for many of those who have remote work capabilities, hybrid work arrangements are swiftly becoming the new standard.
Organisations are figuring out ways to make hybrid work as interesting and effective as they can. Leaning into what is working, changing what is not working and adapting as lessons are gained are the first steps in creating an effective hybrid strategy, work environment, and culture.
Employee access to the system from anywhere on any device is the need of a mixed work environment. Regardless of the apparatus they are using or their location, employees need to be able to connect to the system.
“User-friendly features in cloud communications make it simpler for staff to become used to the technology,” Mohit explains. “Up until now, better work-life balance, more effective time management, control over working hours and location, prevention of burnout and higher productivity have been the main benefits of hybrid work.”
Having the appropriate tools to be productive at work, feeling less a part of the organisation’s culture, poor cooperation and relationships, and disturbing work processes are some of the biggest obstacles to hybrid work.
Apart from the initial expenditure, virtual meetings result in reduced expenses because of the decline in maintenance and transportation costs. Moreover, integrations of cloud telephony enable companies to place and receive calls from any device that is connected to the Internet.
This means that cloud communications can potentially maximise resources for organisations. Procedures, implementation and adaptability can all be accelerated with a cloud communications strategy, which also offers limitless high-volume information transmission.
According to Mohit, cloud communications must have robust security components to ensure compliance with data privacy laws and the security of all stakeholders. “To assist in safeguarding data in the cloud, emerging cybersecurity tools should also be taken into account.”
These include Artificial Intelligence (AI) for IT Operations (AIOps) and Network Detection and Response (NDR). Both programmes gather data on the security and stability of cloud infrastructure. After data analysis, AI notifies administrators of any unusual behaviour that might represent a threat.
Ultimately a well-thought-out cloud communication strategy with strong security features can serve organisations and gain a competitive advantage in an increasingly digital landscape and VUCA environment.
According to Lucas Lu, Head of Asia, Zoom, if communication fails to give the greatest possible experience, everyone suffers – from employees to consumers to investors. And neglecting to address this essential avenue has ever-worsening implications.
Organisations are going through some significant changes, he explains. The first is in the general business environment. Organisations are under tremendous pressure to boost efficiency, adapt fast as competition rises and keep up with the rapid pace of innovation and technological advancements.
This problem is becoming even more pressing because of economic uncertainties. Furthermore, solving these problems requires effective communication between consumers, prospects and staff.
The workforce is likewise seeing a paradigm shift. People desire the option of remote employment and are asking for the cutting-edge equipment and communication systems they need to do their jobs.
HR managers concur that a high-performing workplace’s future requirements would include collaboration, regular communication and a mentorship culture between managers and teams. “You run the risk of losing the ‘War for Talent’ if you don’t deliver,” Lucas asserts.
With every new tool and software that is made available, communication becomes more difficult and complex. Employees, clients and potential consumers are just a few of the stakeholders who have preferences and expectations about how, when and where they conduct business.
Due to this, many businesses choose their battles carefully when it comes to facilitating communication. They follow a variety of routes, including:
- Maintaining already-established systems that are deemed adequate
- Making use of the fundamental, built-in communication capabilities that are provided with other software packages, even if they don’t entirely satisfy the organisation’s demands
- Using different approaches based on the circumstances. You might, for instance, employ one communication tool for internal cooperation and another for clients, investors, and outside events
“All these strategies are meant to provide organisations with fundamental communication,” says Lucas. “These methods provide some flexibility, but they also change the environment for prospects, employees and consumers. People are compelled to alternate between various options based on their needs as a result.”
This causes unneeded annoyance, rework, expenditures and misunderstanding. Employees may feel alienated and impatient. Customers’ interactions with the brand are disorganised and unprofessional. And various instruments frequently make business slower.
In this uncertain business environment, organisations that can move beyond basic communication into universal communication have extraordinary potential. They can develop intuitive connections to all parties, employees, customers and investors, regardless of location, technology or business activity.
This will be accomplished by integrating the individual and organisational connection demands that will result in a) Delivering a consistent and quality experience for all participants, b) Making human connection effortless, and c) Enabling rapid innovation to maintain relevance.
These results may:
- Satisfy both the primary business requirements and the consumers’ expectations
- Redirect internal resources from managing communications to new services and capabilities; and
- Increase the marketability and perceived agility within the organisation and in the market.
An organisation’s reputation is directly related to the quality of its communication services. In addition to the fact that employees, clients and customers can work remotely, those returning to the office do not t want to compromise on the at-home office environment to which they have grown accustomed.
Organisations must adapt to this new hybrid environment to guarantee that everyone receives high-quality service regardless of circumstance or location. Expectations are simply greater and it is unacceptable if a session fails due to dropped participants or subpar audio or video.
“With Zoom, you may use a top-notch infrastructure that is specially made to prevent failures to safeguard your company from communications disruptions. You eliminate a work-limiting unpredictability risk by doing this,” Lucas says confidently.
When communications are down nowadays, it is impossible to conduct business. Hence, organisations may provide a controlled experience by enabling their staff to work without being concerned about the underlying technology. Additionally, they can analyse the underlying cause of any problems in their surroundings and take preventative measures.
With this, employees can concentrate on their work without unneeded interruptions or ambiguity and will have faith that the communication solution their organisation has deployed will work as planned.
“Partnering with Zoom enables quick innovation to keep up with the times. You can take advantage of a constant flow of fresh features that correspond to actual user requirements,” Lucas says. “Moreover, by frequently communicating with their support group, organisations will rapidly realise what is possible.”
Fireside Chat: How to Prepare for the Transition to the “Cloud Culture”
Geetha Gopal, Head of Infrastructure Projects Delivery and Digital Transformation, Panasonic Asia Pacific believes that every day, new technologies emerge and the culture of change is driving a paradigm shift for which an organisation must be prepared.
“As the COVID-19 outbreak rocked the world and we were unsure of what to do, our investments in technology became our strength,” says Geetha.
As the trend toward digitisation of remote work transforms the traditional office culture, a cloud culture has evolved. Likewise, cloud computing has become a competitive advantage for these organisations.
Every step toward better efficiency in the manufacturing sector increases competitiveness. Because of this, the industry’s embrace of cloud communications has become a crucial turning point. Cloud communications have changed the game for manufacturing by enabling increased efficiency while lowering IT expenditures.
“Cloud computing is the future, and organisations are successfully transitioning from the traditional office culture to the cloud culture,” Geetha says firmly.
Streamlining operations using scalable technological solutions for essential tasks and process optimisation not only helps reduce costs but also frees up time for businesses to devote to value-adding endeavours.
This is crucial now more than ever as operations teams struggle to keep up with the quickening speed of product and investment strategy development being observed among clients.
The new service-focused, client-centric operating model for investment operations will be made possible by technology, data and scalability. Organisations need to realise that the greatest way to prepare for the future is to create it as they deal with this period of constant innovation.
As a result, operations leaders who are taking steps to redesign, reinvent and adapt their operations may ultimately be in a stronger position.
Geetha emphasises that collaboration, communication and connectivity are crucial for success in today’s work environment. The key to maximising these contacts is digital communication. “For efficient communication and productivity, your company primarily depends on specific systems, platforms, and applications.”
More organisations are understanding the enormous advantages of migrating their systems to the cloud as technology continues to progress. In addition to allowing organisations to remain relevant in a competitive market, innovation plays a vital role in economic growth. Innovations are required to solve key problems.
One of the tactics that may be employed to save money while maximising organisational resources and extending communication skills and reach is advance planning.
An advantage of cloud communications for aiding staff members in a hybrid workforce is the reduction in time spent travelling to the workplace. Employees can save time travelling with the hybrid model simultaneously offering the chance to be more productive.
Despite the importance of enabling technology, it is the human workforce that will not only execute the organisation’s digital transformation strategy but also ensure its long-term success.
Guaranteeing that personnel are up to the task, however, needs not only technical training but also a radical transformation in thinking and decision-making.
It is important to focus on organisational culture by changing the management programme and making concerted efforts to close the gap between the internal aspect and employees.
Organisations that are unable to develop and achieve new goals that will assist their employees and business to thrive are those that are unwilling to alter existing practices.
“The pandemic can no longer be an excuse or the reason – remote work is here to stay. If we want skilled employees then we need to concentrate on their needs – we must empower our employees,” Geetha concludes.
Lucas believes that every problem has a solution since most organisations fail to connect their strategy to their innovation objectives. “Change is a constant process, and what we say today might leave a legacy tomorrow. Any plan for digital transformation, in our opinion, must be built around digital innovation.”
The road of digital transformation must involve a competitive advantage that can only be sustained by introducing innovations and contemporary methods if it is to stay modern and please clients with cutting-edge goods and services.
For every change, there is a call for managerial backing to be successful and transformative. Zoom is happy to discuss how digital transformation budgets differ from traditional business or IT budgets to meet the demands of any organisation.
Lucas believes that cloud computing is transforming not only how many organisations access and store data, but also how many of these businesses run. It provides greater protection, flexibility, data recovery, minimal to no maintenance and ease of access.
“Although many people used to hesitate the cloud computing, they have now realised how important it has become to organisations,” Lucas has observed.
Mohit believes that changes in computers and how technologies are distributed are altering the ecosystem, especially for those who work in a hybrid environment. He encourages delegates to start establishing a strategy to utilise the cloud’s benefits for their businesses and services. “Organisations should determine the types of cloud services for which you require solutions, then meet with cloud service providers to determine the best long-term match.”
Both public and private organisations benefit from the adaptability, efficiency, scalability, security, improved collaboration and cost savings that cloud computing offers. “The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated cloud adoption, but it is anticipated that cloud computing is here to stay, especially since hybrid work assumes a central role,” Mohit concludes.
Scientists from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore (NTU Singapore) have created a method to transform wastepaper from cardboard boxes and single-use packaging into a vital component of lithium-ion batteries.
The NTU researchers used a process called carbonisation, which turns paper into pure carbon, to transform the paper’s fibres into electrodes that can be used to create rechargeable batteries for electric cars, medical equipment, and mobile devices.
Paper is used in many aspects of daily life, from gift wrapping and crafts to a wide range of industrial uses, including heavy-duty packaging, protective wrapping, and the filling of voids in construction, according to Assistant Professor Lai Changquan of NTU’s School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering and the project’s coordinator.
However, besides incineration, which produces high levels of carbon emissions because of its composition, not much is done to manage it when it is disposed of. “Our method to give kraft paper another lease of life, funnelling it into the growing need for devices such as electric vehicles and smartphones, would not only help cut down on carbon emissions but would also ease the reliance on mining and heavy industrial methods,” says Ass Prof Lai.
The team heated the paper to high temperatures to carbonise it, which turns it into pure carbon, water vapour and oils that can be used to make biofuel. As carbonisation occurs in the absence of oxygen and produces very little carbon dioxide, it is a more environmentally friendly method of disposal for kraft paper than incineration, which releases a lot of greenhouse gases.
The carbon anodes created by the research team also demonstrated superior durability, flexibility, and electrochemical properties. According to laboratory tests, the anodes are at least twice as durable as the anodes in today’s phone batteries and could withstand 1,200 charges and discharges.
The NTU-produced anode-based batteries could withstand physical stress better than their rivals, absorbing crushing energy up to five times better. In comparison to current industrial techniques for producing battery anodes, the NTU-developed method also employs less energy-intensive processes and heavy metals. This newest technique, which uses a cheap waste material, is anticipated to lower the cost of manufacturing lithium-ion batteries because the anode accounts for 10% to 15% of their overall cost.
Using wastepaper as the raw material for battery anodes would also reduce reliance on traditional carbon sources, such as carbonaceous fillers and carbon-yielding binders, which are mined and then processed with harsh chemicals and machinery.
In 2020, paper waste, which includes discarded paper bags, cardboard, newspaper, and other paper packaging, comprised nearly one-fifth of the waste generated in Singapore. A separate 2020 NTU study discovered that kraft paper bags, which account for most of Singapore’s paper waste, have large environmental footprints when compared to cotton and plastic counterparts, due to their greater contribution to global warming when incinerated and the eco-toxicity potential in their production.
The current innovation, which provides an opportunity to upcycle waste products and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels while accelerating our transition to a circular economy, green materials, and clean energy, reflects NTU’s commitment to reducing our environmental impact, which is one of four grand challenges that the University seeks to address through its NTU 2025 strategic plan.
The NTU team will carry out additional research to increase the material’s capacity for storing energy and lower the amount of heat energy needed to turn paper into carbon.
The public sector across the world is undergoing the most extensive digital transformation ever. The urgency with which citizen services must be updated and improved during the previous two years is a direct result of global events. Moreover, the expectation for instantaneous, significant, and individualised digital experiences has also been increased by the epidemic.
As a result of the pandemic, governments have had to rethink services with more innovation and creativity to meet the increased need for faster time-to-value structures that are more agile and collaborative. On the other hand, many organisations in the public and nonprofit sectors felt pressured to improve their digital services to meet rising expectations.
Singaporean government agencies have done an excellent job of providing citizens with cutting-edge, trustworthy digital services in the fields of healthcare, education, and social support. These agencies provided residents with seamless service by utilising cutting-edge digital tools and services such as telemedicine, intelligent chatbots, mobile apps like TraceTogether and distance learning.
While there is still a way to go in transforming many offline services, there is much potential to innovate and provide residents with more user-friendly services. When looking for government services, citizens do not want to fill out numerous forms and browse multiple websites. People have come to anticipate a level of service that is both consistent and easily accessible via the internet.
It is becoming increasingly apparent that government agencies need to better use innovative digital tools and platforms to foster more strategic and all-encompassing community interaction. While this transition is underway, efforts are being made to make sure that those folks who are not technologically savvy are not left behind.
The OpenGov Breakfast Insight on 23 November 2022 at the M Hotel Singapore provided the most up-to-date information on how government agencies may develop seamless, personalised, citizen-centric digital experiences.
Digital Government Provides Simple, Secure, Citizen-Centric Services
According to Mohit Sagar, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of OpenGov Asia, the ultimate test of digital government success is the importance of simple, seamless and secure citizen-centric services.
Adopting a human-centred strategy for every step of the digitalisation process, making sure that the citizens were served with compassion rather than being overly thorough when digitalising every analogue process cannot be overstated.
“We must strive for human-centeredness in our digital government by incorporating service journey mapping and reimagining services and processes along the way to meet citizens and businesses where they are,” believes Mohit.
By adopting agile technological development, organisations are better able to respond to rapid changes and provide better solutions for the current situation.
To ensure that no citizen is excluded, governments are adopting an omnichannel approach to provide seamless, personalised delivery and/or communication of key government services across multiple agencies via digital, phone and physical channels that integrate high-tech functions.
In meeting the public’s expectations for inclusive, equitable and accessible digital services, government agencies are modernising their technology infrastructures. Access to equal and inclusive online and in-person services is a significant focus as they increase their emphasis on the customer experience.
Having rich analysis, content management and hyper-personalisation tools allow both private and public organisations to make their services accessible to everyone.
The public deserves an intuitive digital experience, so the government organisation must make its services available to everyone using tools for hyper-personalisation, content management and rich analysis.
“The Singpass app is the best example of this in Singapore which the government made to ensure a more inclusive and diverse public service,” Mohit shares. “With such solutions, platforms and apps, Singapore’s public sector enjoys high levels of citizen satisfaction, which bodes well for the future.”
A successful digital government will measure citizen satisfaction through key digital services provided by the government and pinpoint areas that need improvement. The main goal is to promote an innovative culture and use new technologies to improve the lives of the citizens.
It is becoming increasingly important that a government comprehends the user experience and impact of its digital services as more people interact with it through websites and mobile applications.
Governments are placing extra emphasis on digital transformation. Offering a seamless digital experience makes sure that the public sector can continue to serve the citizens and be useful and accessible in the future. “An organisation can easily stagnate without a concerted effort when it comes to digital transformation.”
Shashank Sharma, Head – Digital Experience Business, Adobe South East Asia recognises that the pandemic increased the need to modernise and innovate more quickly than ever before. It also raised the bar for agile open team structures across all industries, including telcos, intending to have faster go-to-market than in the financial and public sectors.
“We’ve been pushed to think creatively and with ingenuity. But the biggest problems we face in the public sector or public service agencies are outdated systems,” says Shashank. “There are legacy systems and databases that are siloed between various government agencies.”
The COVID-19 crisis highlighted the importance of a broad-based strategy for digital transformation. The trade-offs between policy goals may have changed as the health and economic crisis developed.
The fact is that most local governments rely on siloed software systems with data stores that are frequently redundant for decades. The systems never interact with one another or exchange data. Although it might have appeared that this was the best way to maintain the accuracy of the data in each system, in practice it results in duplicate data, errors and workflow issues.
Citizens now have high expectations for government services because they have been enjoying an exceptional digital experience in the private sector where their needs are met immediately – anywhere, anytime on any device.
The term “citizen-centric” refers to a change in the focus of service delivery from the interests of the government to those of the citizens. Although the quality of public services may be comparable across socioeconomic classes, citizens may draw different conclusions about service because of differences in how those services are perceived and expected to perform.
To make digital transformation work for growth and well-being, policies are required. Cross-cutting concerns like gender, skills, digital governance, and data governance must also be considered.
A country can create a coordinated, whole-of-government approach to digital transformation with the aid of a government digital policy that takes into account all citizens’ needs and preferences.
Establishing a governance framework that supports coordination, articulating a strategic vision, evaluating important digital trends and policies and developing and implementing a comprehensive strategy are all necessary steps in the process of reevaluating current digital policies.
To ensure equity and inclusiveness in the projects and services that are delivered, the government is looking to change the policies that affect people’s lives. “As more and more digital services join the public sector, you can be sure that the guidelines will increase.”
John Mackenney, Practice Director – Digital Strategy APAC at Adobe, discussed the company’s creation of a Rapid Response Programme and COVID resources hub. These were designed to assist the government in adapting to the needs of their workforce and the people they serve when the pandemic hits in 2020.
“At Adobe, partnering across industries to improve digital customer experiences is a significant part of who we are. And we have partnered with governments to unleash creativity, accelerate document productivity, and power the digital business with our platforms,” John reveals.
They have accomplished a goal worth celebrating after a year. In all 50 states of the U.S., Adobe is now collaborating with the federal government as well as with specific agencies at the state, county and city levels – from e-signatures to powering customised communications to constituents.
According to John, citizens expect more individualised digital experiences since they demand more open, dependable, accessible and responsive service. Governments, therefore, must empower citizens and concentrate on increasing public satisfaction while lowering service costs.
Governments today have become more citizen-centric, data-driven, proactive, and responsive to help citizens and businesses, especially during difficult times.
“Making data available that can enhance experiences and economic outcomes is one of the government’s initiatives, as is ensuring that citizens receive consistent and understandable information,” John asserts.
Most countries are concentrated at the emerging level when it comes to customer experience. There is no centralised customer portal for any state, but leaders set themselves apart by customising the user experience (top services, searches, portals) and by digitising high-priority applications.
Moreover, countries are predominantly at the emerging maturity level, like customer experience. Overall, they discovered that most government websites are designed with desktops in mind rather than mobile. As most constituents will attempt to access government websites and information via their mobile device, this is at odds with an accessible strategy. Mobile site speeds typically lag desktop site speeds by 44%.
“We have the widest range of scores across all states in our digital social equity dimension,” says John.
In terms of digital equity, more than half of the states are in the early stages and by focusing on user experience (high contrast, readability, large text, text-only pages), as well as by providing a wide range of language options and services, websites can be made much easier to understand.
Three crucial capabilities are needed to deliver personalised experiences. The first is the data and insights about citizen journeys through both assisted and unassisted channels. Connecting data from various government agencies makes insights accessible to all.
The collaboration and content come in second. Creating content more quickly and widely across all channels (online and off) will maximise cooperation between departments and within agencies when reusing materials.
The third is the journeys – where governments customise the experience on the terms of the citizens and use context to make sure each journey is pertinent, unique, and accessible.
Personalisation of government services, according to John, is enabled by email and web personalisation tools. Both tools enable government agencies to better adapt to citizen needs.
Any personalisation strategy must provide genuine value to citizens and should ideally achieve the following: Make it easier for citizens to find relevant information: make useful information available to citizens who may not be aware of it; reduce information entry that is repeated or unnecessary and assist citizens with complicated transactions.
John suggests that governments should personalise the experience of their citizens for three reasons:
- Time savings due to content accessibility will result in increasing service usage due to streamlined application procedures;
- Time savings and compliance through the fusion of information from various government agencies;
- Time savings by delivering the most pertinent content.
Personalising citizen experiences will enhance the interaction with government services, resulting in quicker and more satisfying decisions and outcomes. “Increased use of government goods and services, then citizens satisfaction follows from this,” concludes John.
According to Lucy Poole, General Manager – Digital Strategy, Architecture and Discovery Division, Digital Transformation Agency, Australia, to facilitate improved decision-making, streamlined engagement, increased efficiency, and the rollout of a slew of new digital government services to citizens and businesses, it is essential to recognise data as a critical enabler and to share this data on a whole-government basis.
“Public service organisations must deal with too much complexity and rapid change to effectively respond with what they already have on hand,” Lucy feels.
However, these very same organisations are in a prime position to connect with ecosystem allies who have access to a wealth of resources and skills. This will lead to the operations, services and technologies being expanded into partner organisations.
The Australian government is looking into different ways to build trust, which is crucial as countries recover from the global pandemic and prepare for new challenges. This citizen trust is essential for ensuring the success of a variety of public policies that rely on the public’s behavioural responses.
In this context, the importance of data sharing cannot be underestimated. The pandemic has demonstrated that accelerated data sharing is feasible. The current challenge for government leaders is to institutionalise these data-sharing advancements to support the upcoming innovation wave and the general welfare.
“Governments should start by assuming that the public will find value in data and that it should be shared,” Lucy asserts.
The Australian government has pledged to lead the world’s digital economy and society by 2030 and rank among the top three digital governments by 2025.
With its vision for 2030, the way the government helps its people transition into adulthood, start higher education or training, start a family, retire, take care of a loved one and go through other significant life events is being reexamined and improved.
Additionally, the public will have the option to share information across pertinent services and personalise services. By pre-filling and submitting their forms upon request, pre-evaluating their eligibility and initiating automatic payments, will offer a seamless experience.
Personalised government services will benefit those who need them most while also being more convenient for everyone.
The country aspires to improve its ability to collaborate with its organisations and community to enable better service outcomes. “To streamline our engagement and free up the public to concentrate on achieving the results they are passionate about; we will use technology-enabled platforms,” Lucy opines.
To achieve this, the Australian government is looking to make the appropriate investments in digital and ICT-enabled infrastructure at the appropriate time and approach. The Digital Transformation Agency of Australia will help agencies to harness the true potential of advanced technologies.
The Digital Transformation Agency provides strategic advice and assurance to the Australian Government on its digital and ICT-enabled investments to help drive the transformation of public services.
Some of the benefits and challenges of coordinating investment across government are that government employees and contractors must possess the necessary skills to spearhead the government’s efforts to transform into a digital economy. Using both established and emerging technologies, they must aid in building better services.
“To make training, hiring and career development for the Australian Public Service easier, we will identify and describe the digital skills we need. This includes initiatives to find new talent through cadetships, graduate placements, and internships,” Lucy explains.
These digital skills are being ingrained throughout the government. The investment is a part of the modernisation fund established by the Australian Government in partnership with the Australian Public Service Commission.
“We anticipate that as new skill requirements materialise, this capability will change,” says Lucy. “Cybersecurity and cloud computing management, as well as design and research skills, are emerging needs. To support Australian small and medium-sized businesses in the future, the nation needs to pinpoint areas where they can develop new capabilities.”
The delivery of digital transformation will be led by Australian businesses and their workforce. They will purchase cost-effective technology from around the world and implement it using Australian skills and ingenuity.
“We will manage risks for the government and our business partners through the way we interact with our suppliers, and we are changing our sourcing policies to make the government more business-friendly,” Lucy says. “This method of modern procurement is collaborative and iterative. It enables the government to purchase goods and services with less risk and for a better price.”
Shashank noted that all delegates agreed to prioritise digital experiences and he encouraged them to begin their seamless journey. Data connectivity, he is convinced, enables governments to drive relevant, personalised interactions and is becoming increasingly important in the realm of innovation. “It adds value to citizens.”
Governments should put the interoperability of services to make sure that the data and citizens relate to the digital journey. Essentially, interoperability is the fundamental capability of various computerised goods or systems to connect and exchange data with one another without hindrance in either implementation or access.
Shashank reiterated that equity and accessibility considerations for a digital journey are vital to success as were empowering policies and trust in the government.
“A key component of the developing global economy, which is increasingly dependent on connectivity, data use, and new technologies, is digital trust,” says Shashank. “Technology needs to be secure and used responsibly to be trusted.”
Mohit underscored the importance of a skillset in the digital journey. Relevant expertise will assist businesses and services in generating leads, increasing demand and attracting traffic. “With the appropriate strategy and execution, the right skill set will help people in all roles understand how their contributions can more effectively drive success.”
Moreover, he recognises the importance of cloud technology. The cloud allows organisations to scale and adapt at a rapid pace, accelerating innovation, driving business agility, streamlining operations and lowering costs.
Finally, in this ever-evolving landscape and VUCA environment, partnerships are essential and inevitable. Through the right alliances, every organisation will be able to reap the benefits of digital transformation.
“Because digital partnership enables them to modernise legacy processes, accelerate efficient workflows, bolster security, and increase profitability,” Mohit concludes.
Sector-specific Industry Digital Plans (IDPs), which have been at the centre of the SMEs Go Digital initiative since its 2017 launch, will be gradually updated to include a wider range of solutions. By doing so, the IDPs will strengthen their digital capabilities and remain relevant to the changing needs of small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs). The updated IDP model’s initial beneficiary is the food services industry.
IDPs offer SMEs a step-by-step guide to identifying appropriate digital solutions and related training programmes to equip staff with the necessary skill sets at each stage of their digitalization journey, aligned with the Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs) for each industry.
20 IDPs have helped more than 85,000 companies so far take advantage of the SMEs Go Digital programme. These companies are in the following industries: early childhood, environmental services, food services, logistics (including air transport), media, retail, security, wholesale trade, sea transport (bunkering, harbour craft, and ship agency), accounting, hotel, construction and facilities management, training and adult education, land transportation, marine and offshore engineering, energy and chemical (process construction and maintenance), as well as precision engineering (computational fluid dynamics).
According to a 2021 SME survey by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), the digital solutions suggested by the IDPs have improved overall process efficiency, with nearly 85% of respondents noting time savings. The ability to be less reliant on physical labour, which in turn allowed them to retain and develop in-house expertise for other roles, was mentioned by 75% of responses.
IDPs that have been updated seek to broaden digital capabilities and maintain relevance in a world after COVID-19. Digital transformation is still essential for sustaining company performance and sustainability as Singapore attempts to restore its economy.
IMDA will collaborate with the sector lead agencies to gradually update current IDPs to increase digital capabilities at both the sectoral and business levels and ensure that they continue to be relevant to SMEs’ needs.
The following generation of IDPs will include those listed below, building on the foundation already laid by the current IDPs:
- Updated solution suite made available through the Digital Solution Roadmap;
- Integrated and cutting-edge solutions to strengthen SMEs’ digital capabilities and increase their connectivity online;
- A guide to data protection and cybersecurity measures;
- Extension and upgrading of the relevant Digital Training Roadmap to cover Change Management and be in line with the updated solutions under the Digital Roadmap.
Tan Kiat How, Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information, and Low Yen Ling, Minister of State for Trade and Industry, recently unveiled the Food Services IDP, which is the first to be updated.
The latest IDP, which was created in collaboration with Enterprise Singapore (EnterpriseSG) and IMDA, will address trends in the food services industry, such as the shift in consumer behaviour toward online ordering, e-commerce, and food delivery, as well as help SMEs in the sector overcome obstacles like a competitive labour market and rising labour costs.
Four new solution categories that are specific to the food services industry have been created to help food services SMEs access more sophisticated solutions as they continue down the path of digitalization. They are a Smart central kitchen management system, Service robotics, Food waste management, and a Connected business suite. The food services sector, which in 2021 would generate S$4 billion for Singapore’s economy and employ over 220,300 people, will continue to be crucial to the country’s economy.1
The updated Food Services IDP is in line with the Food Services Industry Transformation Map 2025, which was unveiled in May of this year and calls for developing digital champions and enhancing business competencies. The IDP will keep being updated as the market develops.
The National University of Singapore (NUS) School of Computing recently hosted the inaugural Critical Infrastructure Defence Exercise (CIDeX), which was organised by the Digital and Intelligence Service (DIS). Over 100 people from the DIS and 16 other national agencies working in the Critical Information Infrastructure (CII) sectors took part in the cyber defence exercise.
The largest Operational Technology (OT) Critical Infrastructure defence exercise, CIDeX is supported by the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA), iTrust/SUTD, and the National Cybersecurity R&D Laboratory (NCL).
CIDeX is designed to train and strengthen the Whole-Of-Government (WoG) cyber capabilities to detect and address cyber security threats to Information Technology (IT) and OT networks that control the operations of critical infrastructure.
Over the course of the two days, members of the Blue Teams, which included individuals from the national agencies acting as cyber defenders, guarded the exercise’s digital infrastructure, which included an enterprise IT network and three OT testbeds that replicated a water treatment plant, a water distribution plant, and a power grid system, from real-time simulated cyber-attacks launched by a composite Red Team made up of DIS and CSA personnel.
Attacks on the IT network and OT testbeds were included in exercise scenarios. These attacks included poisoning the water treatment plant, stopping water distribution, and cutting off the power supply—all of which intended to disrupt operations and have a negative impact on the way of life. By using cyber tools to track, identify, and block Red Team cyberattacks, participants improved their technical knowledge and intuition for defending cyber networks.
In order to strengthen and perfect their cyber defence competencies prior to the exercise, the participants completed a three-day hands-on training course at the Singapore Armed Forces (SAFexpanded )’s Cyber Defence Test and Evaluation Centre (CyTEC) at Stagmont Camp.
Alongside the exercise, Defence Cyber Chief (DCC) Brigadier-General (BG) Edward Chen and CSA’s Deputy Chief Executive (Development), Gaurav Keerthi, inked a Joint Operations Agreement (JOA) between the DIS and CSA. A framework for collaboration and cooperation in joint operations and capability development is established by the CSA-DIS JOA, which will help create a secure national cyberspace.
The DIS is aware of the need of cultivating close cooperation with CSA and other national agencies in safeguarding Singapore’s cyberspace, according to BG Edward, who emphasised the need for close partnership in securing Singapore’s cyberspace.
He acknowledged that the Joint Operations Agreement between the CSA and the DIS is a significant step in broadening their alliance and institutionalising their existing collaboration in areas like joint cyber training. They give the national cyber defenders a forum to practise together and improve their capacity to defend Singapore’s critical infrastructure systems by cooperating on massive cyber exercises like CIDeX.
Furthermore, CSA’s Deputy Chief Executive Gaurav remarked that cybersecurity is a collaborative effort, and the CSA welcomes the Digital and Intelligence Service to this team. The CSA has a long history of collaboration on national cyber defence with MINDEF/SAF.
Exercises like CIDeX guarantee that everyone is ready for cyber crises and emergencies. The CSA-DIS Joint Operations Agreement confirms SAF’s sustained assistance for Singapore’s cyberspace defence.
OpenGov Asia recently reported that the DIS had been launched by the Service of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). As the SAF’s fourth military service or branch, it is responsible for defending the nation from evolving and intricate digital and electronic threats in cyberspace.
The SAF’s existing command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4I) and cyber capabilities are combined and integrated into DIS, according to the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF). DIS consists of a Service Headquarters (HQ), a Digital Ops-Tech Center, four Commands, and a few Joint and Cyber Staff departments.