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A new facility has been set up at the net-zero energy building at NUS Design and Environment (SDE). The OpenBlue Innovation Centre is a $50 million facility by Johnson Controls to create a future-ready built environment for Singapore and the region.

Supported by the Economic Development Board, the Centre is the latest to be housed at SDE4, which serves as a living laboratory to demonstrate and explore human-centric and integrated sustainable developments with public agencies and industry partners.

Other facilities at SDE4 include the 3D Scanning Laboratory, Green Building Technologies Lab, NUS-CDL Smart Green Home, and Urban Greenery Lab.

Smart, Safe and Sustainable Campus Strategy

Professor Yong Kwet Yew, NUS Senior Vice President (Campus Infrastructure), said, “NUS and Johnson Controls had collaborated on several campus projects and we are therefore very excited to extend our partnership through these new initiatives which are part of our Smart, Safe and Sustainable Campus strategies.”

“The opportunity to test Johnson Controls’ novel solutions on our campus and conduct joint research will help advance our ongoing efforts to build smarter, healthier and sustainable work, teaching and learning spaces for our staff, faculty and students.”

The NUS Kent Ridge Campus will serve as a testbed for a new breed of customisable, contact-free applications built on Johnson Controls’ OpenBlue platform.

Together with its ecosystem of partners, which includes NUS and Microsoft, the Centre is pioneering the use of a common configuration language that bridges core building technology, as well as behavioural, wellness and spatial data to develop solutions that meet new demands for safety and sustainability in connected spaces.

People-centric Integrated Design

Mr Visal Leng, President, Building Solutions, Asia Pacific, Johnson Controls, said, “The Johnson Controls OpenBlue Innovation Centre embodies our approach towards building dynamic and resilient spaces, injecting new lease of life into the built environment sector. Taking an unprecedented holistic and human-centric methodology, we are incorporating people and design perspectives, thus sparking greater innovation within industries and outside traditional boundaries.”

The Centre is expected to have more than 100 employees within four years, with strong focus on talent development with NUS at both the undergraduate and post-graduate levels. There will also be opportunities for collaboration on teaching and internship programmes.

A key area of partnership with Johnson Controls also includes joint research and innovation in the areas of built and urban environment, particularly in data analytics, sustainability and operations, as well as people and wellness.

Professor Lam Khee Poh, Dean of NUS Design and Environment, said, “We are thrilled to host the Johnson Controls OpenBlue Innovation Centre in SDE4 and to facilitate cross-disciplinary research and development initiatives across the entire NUS community. This partnership strengthens the School’s ‘Well & Green’ vision that emphasises a people-centric integrated design approach that generates sustainable and resilient value propositions in its endeavours.”

The PolyU Design Degree Show 2020, organised by the School of Design of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU Design), is open to the public until 25 October 2020. Going virtual this year given the current COVID-19 pandemic situation, the show has been specially designed to provide a 3D viewing experience, just like touring in person.

The annual show highlights student projects from both the bachelor’s and master’s degree programmes covering a wide spectrum of topics from various disciplines, namely Advertising Design, Communication Design, Environment and Interior Design, Social Design, Product Design, Digital Media, Interactive Media, Design Practices, Interaction Design, International Design and Business Management, Multimedia and Entertainment Technology, as well as Urban Environments Design. What’s new for this year is a section set up to showcase the work of doctoral degree students, making a total of about 150 projects on display in the show.

During the 3D virtual tour, visitors will see many creative and inspiring designs such as a future double-decker compartment for the ageing population, a mobile game for improving intergenerational relationships and a planter solution for sustainable living in densely populated areas, to name just a few.

The Dean of School of Design at PolyU stated that the show is a stellar highlight of the university’s teaching and learning, offering an invaluable opportunity to employers seeking the best designers; enlightening the public with world-class design, and inspiring secondary school students to pursue design as a career.

Enabling virtual viewing of different physical exhibits is unique among the world’s top design schools especially when students had to overcome a lot of challenges during this difficult moment under the pandemic.

Online guided tours are arranged with student ambassadors to walk visitors through the show and share the creative ideas of some selected projects. Several online activities are also scheduled for secondary school teachers and students who are eager to learn more about PolyU Design.

These include live online chat sessions with PolyU Design students and an online Info Talk on the bachelor’s degree programmes offered by PolyU Design. Interested schools and organisations are more than welcome to contact PolyU Design for tailoring different activities to meet their needs. In addition, a treasure hunt game has been organised with more than 3,000 souvenirs to be given away (on a first-come, first-served basis) to those who take the virtual tour.

According to another report, PolyU Design has been an important hub of design education and research for Hong Kong since 1964. The school thrives on its geographical position in bridging the East and the West, allowing its students to develop their design strengths with a uniquely international cultural awareness at both professional and social levels.

In the 2020 Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings by Subject, the school is ranked world’s top 15 in the area of art and design.

The School nurtures around 1,100 students every year in a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, with more than 40 PhD candidates. For our undergraduate programmes, we offer a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) Scheme in Design in five major disciplines. The Master of Design programme includes specialisms in Design Strategies, Design Practices, Interaction Design, International Design and Business Management, Urban Environments Design, while the Master of Science programme specialises in Multimedia and Entertainment Technology.

The show features projects which include furniture for micro-apartments, a film about a revengeful stuntman and a game about vertical farming are among the 18 diverse student projects in this school show by PolyU Design. The featured projects were completed by 25 students studying across the “wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes” at the PolyU Design school, which forms a part of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

A national digital health skills and training plan was released on 14 September 2020 to help the Australian health workforce use technology and further drive the digital transformation of health services to meet community demand.

As with every other sector, the adoption of technology is critical for the healthcare system and the Roadmap sets out how the Australian health workforce of more than 767,000 registered healthcare providers (as at March 2020) can be transformed over the next decade.

Image credit: National Digital Health Workforce and Education Roadmap, Release.

The development of the National Digital Health Workforce and Education Roadmap acknowledges people are the health sector’s most valuable asset and that we need to shape education and training to meet their needs and to support the provision of the best care possible to patients.

The current Australian Government has invested in a range of areas to expand the use of digital health, including workforce training, incentives to providers, and support for telehealth, My Health Record and electronic prescribing.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of these systems to ensure the delivery of quality patient care during an emergency. A dramatic expansion in the use of telehealth has been a key element of the fight against COVID-19. Between 13 March and 9 September, 29.6 million Medicare-eligible telehealth services were delivered to 10.4 million patients, resulting in $1.52 billion paid in Medicare benefits.

As part of the COVID-19 National Health Plan, the Australian Government also fast-tracked the start of electronic prescribing. This gives prescribers and patients the option to use an electronic prescription, sent by text message or email, as a legal alternative to a paper prescription.

The e-prescription contains an electronic token and other instructions which can be shown to or forwarded to the dispensing pharmacist, who scans the token to reveal the prescribed medicine.

The Roadmap is a key element of the National Digital Health Strategy and was developed following a summit late last year attended by healthcare educators, professional bodies and employers.

The Minister for Health thanked the Australian Digital Health Agency and all of the individuals and organisations who contributed to the development of the Roadmap.

The National Digital Health Workforce and Education Roadmap

The digital transformation of health services can only occur with a skilled, digitally capable workforce. Confident and efficient use of health technologies by all workers in the Australian health sector is critical.

The Snapshot Summary of the Roadmap highlights the need for it. It notes that current and emerging technologies present health leaders with an array of opportunities and challenges. These technologies are expected to profoundly change how healthcare is delivered, and in doing so, change the tasks and functions performed by the health workforce.

The development of a roadmap acknowledges that Australia must shape how education and training enable the health workforce to realise the benefits of technology whilst recognising that people are the health sector’s most valuable asset. To do this effectively, clarity must be provided on what is expected from the wider health workforce in this age of digital disruption, whilst acknowledging the differences in maturity across the health system.

The Digital Health Workforce and Education Roadmap identifies the impacts of digital health adoption on the health workforce and the enabling education programs required to build digital health capability across Australia. As a key part of this, the roadmap considers the contexts and settings within which the health workforce operates and the different digital roles that are required now and into the future. The roadmap also starts the process of developing a clear workforce and education development pathway to help deliver the changes required.


The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) of New Zealand made available a series of webinars to enhance online teaching practice and meet the requirements of tertiary learners.

Paora Ammunson, TEC Deputy Chief Executive for Learner Success said, “New Zealand has considerable experience when it comes to delivering learning online. With COVID-19, we were looking at ways we could build on this ability with resources and tools that may help tertiary education organisations (TEOs) deliver their teaching online.”

These videos support the tools and resources drawn from New Zealand and Australia and the rest of the world that may be of help for TEOs’ online delivery. The series has subject matter experts from the Open Polytechnic, TANZ e-Campus, University of Newcastle Australia and Southern Institute of Technology’s SIT2LRN share practical advice and case studies to improve online teaching practice.

The TEC was taken encouraged by the strong level of interest in the webinars, especially from NZIST subsidiaries and private training establishments. In fact, over 70 per cent of attendees surveyed said they would share the video of the session they joined with a colleague.

The TEC will continue working with subject matter experts in New Zealand and Australia, to ensure TEO’s have access to best practice advice and resources.

Earlier at the ned of July 2020, Minister of Education, Hon Chris Hipkins, announced a long-term recovery plan for the international education sector that includes a $51.6 million investment from the COVID recovery and response fund to help reset New Zealand’s international education sector.

The Plan consists of three concurrent workstreams that focus on stabilising the international education sector, strengthening the system and accelerating the transformation of the sector as signalled in the 2018 International Education Strategy. The government is investing:

  • $20 million in support for state and state-integrated schools for the remainder of 2020 to continue to employ the specialist international workforce to continue teaching and providing pastoral care to international students who remain in New Zealand.
  • $10 million for Private Training Establishments (PTEs) including English language schools to buffer the sharp decline in revenue and maintain a foundation of PTEs for the recovery phase.
  • $10 million to develop new future-focused products and services to drive growth in our system onshore and offshore, to ensure a more resilient sector. This will include:
  • Allowing students to begin studying from their home country to provide greater flexibility for learners and make our international education sector more resilient to shocks such as COVID-19.
  • A unified digital platform to provide a single strong New Zealand brand and presence to enable providers to deliver study programmes to more people offshore.
  • $6.6 million to continue the pastoral care and other activities for international students, subject to the proposed cancellation of the Export Education Levy for 2020/21.
  • $3 million for marketing and brand promotion activities to keep New Zealand’s education brand visible in key markets while travel is restricted.
  • $1.5 million for English Language Schools to deliver English language training to migrants to help them to succeed in our schools and communities.
  • $500k to develop a quality assurance process to ensure the ongoing quality of a New Zealand education being delivered offshore, through NZQA.

In a recent article, OpenGov Asia shared how New Zealand has been recognised internationally throughout the pandemic for efforts in fighting COVID19, and in particular, it has been recognised for its’ impressive leadership from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Key leadership practices which are leading to New Zealand’s success is the government’s willingness to let themselves be led by expertise, its efforts to mobilise the population and to enable coping, all of which leads to increased trust in leadership which is needed for transformative, collective action such as the pandemic demands.

In the same vein, the New Zealand government announced the launch of a new online, phone and onsite service in response to the economic impact of COVID-19.

Chris Hipkins, Chairs of the Employment, Education and Training Committee said that the government has created up an all-of-government group focused on employment, education and training (EET) to support the COVID-19 recovery. This is one example of the initiatives that the new group taking a co-ordinated and strategic approach to job support will be rolling out as they rebuild.

NUS and ST Engineering are collaborating on a S$9 million, multi-year advanced digital technologies research programme to further their common goals of building a people-centric, smart future for Singapore and beyond.

Research efforts of this new programme will focus on technologies related to Smart Cities covering five areas: resource optimisation and scheduling; prescriptive analytics; decision and sense-making; reasoning engine and machine learning; as well as digital twin.

The research areas are aligned with NUS’ efforts as a driving force behind smart city innovations, leveraging its deep expertise that crosses over multiple domains and faculties.

Professor Chen Tsuhan, NUS Deputy President, Research & Technology, said, “This new collaboration will combine NUS’ expertise in the science of cities with ST Engineering’s industry knowledge to co-create people-centric Smart City solutions that will form the foundational systems to bring about not just impactful, but radical, change to the lives of people in Singapore and the world.”

The two key research projects are:

Enterprise Digital Platform (EDP)
As the backbone of smart city solutions, the EDP is a flexible, modular and scalable artificial intelligence (AI) platform that will support all the AI methodological areas, enabling the synthesis of disparate data sources and other internal or external systems, to orchestrate cross-vertical data and insights from customers and partners.

All AI models derived from research projects under this programme will be integrated onto a common AI engine stacked within the EDP, paving the way for future-ready platforms that catalyse technology transformation and create new information-based revenue streams.

Urban Traffic Flow Management
In this project, researchers develop algorithms tot alleviate traffic congestion by using a holistic urban traffic flow smoothening approach based on traffic data analytics and AI technologies.

Examples include traffic state estimation and prediction, in addition to effective active traffic control and management strategies identification and implementation.

This will have future applications as autonomous vehicle technologies, 5G infrastructure and machine-to-machine (M2M) technologies start to mature and proliferate.

These research areas support ST Engineering’s focus on developing differentiated and people-centric, smart city solutions that meet the present and future needs of cities around the world.

“This collaboration with NUS will allow us to delve deeper into the application of AI in new domains to catalyse the pipeline of next-generation technologies and solutions that address the evolving urban challenges that cities will continue to face,” said Mr Harris Chan, Chief Digital Officer and Chief Technology Officer at ST Engineering.

Casuarina Senior College students will soon have access to cutting edge science and technology facilities, with construction about to begin on a new STEM centre. The CSC Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Centre will be the third to be built by the Territory Labor Government, to support growing worldwide demand for skills in these fields.

It follows the $15.9 million science centre opened last year at Darwin High School and the $12.7 million centre at Taminmin College. Existing, unused classrooms will be repurposed as the new STEM centre, which will offer two new learning areas; a MAKER space for digital printing and laser cutting; a digital room; and a refurbished workshop to support student learning by providing interactive, engaging classrooms that make science and technology learning fun.

A Berrimah company has been awarded the tender and construction is expected to begin soon. The new STEM centre comes in addition to other recent investments in CSC, including a $940,000 library upgrade, and $200,000 for the installation of solar panels under the Territory Labor Government’s Rooftop Solar in Schools program.

The Northern Territory Minister for Education stated that up to 75 per cent of the world’s fastest-growing professions are in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and the Territory Labor Government is investing to ensure NT students are well equipped for jobs in these fields. The Government promised to invest in STEM in the Territory and is delivering, she added.

Since coming to government, the government has opened to $12.7 million STEAM Centre at Taminmin College, which has enabled the teaching of national award-winning programs, and the $15.9 million STEAM Centre at Darwin High School.

A five-year STEM in the NT strategy has also been developed to support students across the Territory to build stronger STEM skills. Now, students in Darwin’s northern suburbs will also have access to state-of-the-art facilities, to foster the scientists and engineers of the future.

Many school kids in the Minister’s electorate of Casuarina attend CSC, and, thus, the Minister was pleased that the Government has been able to deliver significant investment in the school, including a recent $940,000 refurbishment of the library, which has created the school’s contemporary new Resource Centre offering 28 new computers for students to access online resources and learning.

Solar panels installed under $5 million Rooftop Solar in Schools program will also save the school tens of thousands in electricity costs going forward that can be directed back into learning.

The NT Government is committed to developing STEM knowledge at all ages. In June 2020, the University of Melbourne developed the NT Pre-School STEM Games for the NT Government. The programme was designed to build children’s curiosity for STEM through fun-based learning.

The resources support the Government’s 2018-2022 STEM in the NT Strategy, and selected Territory pre-schools trialled the Pre-School Games before resources were distributed to all NT government and non-government pre-schools, long daycare and family daycare services.

Based on the four core components of STEM learning, the games include:

  • Science Games– which prioritise children developing transferable, scientific process skills.
  • Technology Games – which encourage children to be inventive in identifying and using tools to make work easier, and to explore coding.
  • Engineering Games – to encourage children’s creativity as they respond to fun challenges requiring innovative thinking and reasoning.
  • Mathematics Games – that strengthen opportunities for preschool teachers to recognise and respond to the diverse mathematical competencies and language that children demonstrate as they transition into preschool.

As well as supporting the growth of STEM skills and dispositions, the games have been tailored to suit the Territory’s unique environment, with some best played during the dry season and others during the wet season. In addition to helping build a child’s curiosity for these fields, the resources support educators and preschool staff to implement STEM playfully in the early years.

The University of Hong Kong (HKU), on 14 September 2020, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with The Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI) to jointly cultivate future FinTech talents. The Commissioner for Innovation and Technology witnessed the signing ceremony at the University of Hong Kong.

Under the agreement, HKU’s Department of Computer Science from the Engineering Faculty and ASTRI will together develop the Technology Oriented Practitioner (TOP) programme, a Work-Study Scheme for first-year students enrolled on the MSc programme in FinTech and Data Analytics at HKU, with ASTRI providing paid full-time employment for up to 30 students for a nine-month period and assigning them to one of ASTRI’s many ongoing FinTech projects, such as a smart credit assessment that helps SMEs secure loans or an AI-driven data analytics platform that empowers more effective risk management, keeping our society safer and smarter.

The Dean of HKU Engineering stated that FinTech is one of the fastest-growing areas in businesses today. The university recently launched a Bachelor’s degree in Financial Technology [(BASc (FinTech)] and a brand-new interdisciplinary Master’s degree in Financial Technology and Data Analytics for 2021, designed to nurture financial technologists and entrepreneurs with essential knowledge in both finance and technology.

Through the Work-Study Scheme, HKU students can gain practical experience, understand the latest technological developments in the industry and the requirements of the market, and be better prepared to contribute to the development of the FinTech industry in Hong Kong and the region.

The Chief Executive Officer of ASTRI stated that the agency is fully committed to building a bridge of talent between academia and the industry and are thrilled to be offering this opportunity to future talent in Hong Kong to gain invaluable work experience at such a crucial part of their studies.

Being a world-leader in FinTech is vital to Hong Kong’s future success and a crucial aspect of the role it plays in the Greater Bay Area, making the most of the city’s unique advantages. ASTRI is, therefore, thrilled to be making such an important contribution to the development of future talent.

The TOP programme is among ASTRI’s many commitments to developing talent in the I&T sector, particularly FinTech. Working with the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, ASTRI launched the FinTech Career Accelerator Scheme in 2016, aiming to cultivate the future talent necessary to sustain Hong Kong’s banking, finance and business services, as well as preserving our city’s competitiveness as an international finance hub.

Students receive an internship at financial institutions or technology companies and in the past four years, more than 500 have taken part. This year, the HKMA received more than 1,400 applications, nearly twice as many as last year.

The ASTRI University Advisory Council (AUAC) has partnered with top universities in Hong Kong to harness knowledge and nurture talent through strategic collaboration with students, providing them with hands-on experience.

Earlier this month, ASTRI launched it’s Graduate Programme 2020, providing full-time employment to graduates and an opportunity to work closely with its award-winning researchers. ASTRI also offers a three-month blockchain accelerator programme, in partnership with the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park and Molecular Hub, as well as summer internships, which took in 42 students from 15 universities across the world in 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted most processes online, therefore, the Southern Leyte provincial government plans to invest in computers, printers, modems, routers, and other related accessories for distribution to the 19 local government units (LGUs) in the region.

According to a press release, the move is part of the government’s Pangandam sa Bag-ong Panahon COVID-19 recovery initiative, in particular, the Manpower Re-Engineering Program “Bag-ong Abilidad sa Bag-ong Normal” project.

The Head of the Provincial Systems Administrator’s Office (PSAO), Vitto Tomol, who also handles the computer-driven project, noted that training centres in all the 18 towns and one city of the province will be established in line with ‘new normal learning’. Interested residents can gain access to modular, online training courses offered by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

Citizens that were displaced due to the pandemic will be offered priority enrollment. It will help them to acquire skills or get certificates needed to set up a business or get employment, although concerned LGUs may welcome any other interested individuals in their areas.

Two months after being launched, however, bidding for the essential gadgets, which has a budget of PH₱ 1.9 million (US$ 39,288), was not carried out on schedule because of the high demand for laptop computers, the Head reported at the Media Briefing/Kapihan sa on Wednesday.

Another concern that is being worked out was on the matter of internet connectivity, and this would be closely coordinated with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), which has plans to put up free Wi-Fi access in public places, schools among them.

Four LGUs- Tomas Oppus, Sogod, Liloan, and Saint Bernard- have maintained a functional 4TechEd Centre may proceed with the short-term training courses, although there is still a need to enhance connectivity in these places.

As OpenGov Asia reported earlier, DICT expanded its Free Wi-Fi for All Program in Zambales. The initiative is designed to improve access to online learning and healthcare programs by installing Wi-Fi hotspots with free internet. DICT has installed twelve hotspots in schools, hospitals, and quarantine facilities in the province.

The DICT Secretary, Gregorio Honasan II, explained that the efforts in Zambales showcase DICT’s initiatives to facilitate faster internet access for the educational (online and blended learning) and healthcare sectors in the province. In January, he signed a memorandum of agreement (MoA) with the Zambales Governor, which aimed to amplify the cooperation and collaboration on ICT connectivity projects, governance, and training programs.

The Governor gave his support and placed total confidence in DICT. He added that the partnership would open many opportunities for Zambales. The internet would enable the community to explore and discover the potential for growth and prosperity in the field of ICT.

The Department aims to provide internet connectivity in underdeveloped communities as well as in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas. The distribution of the free Wi-Fi hotspots is in line with the Free Internet Access in Public Places Act.

The distributed Wi-Fi Hotspots will run at 40 Mbps, which is impressive when compared to the common household spend of (up to) PH₱ 1,900 (about US$ 39) on a 20 Mbps connection. There is no longer a digital divide as an estimated 4,922 free public Wi-Fi Hotspots have been made available. The regions of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao are now connected online.

Earlier in March, DICT activated thirty-one Wi-Fi sites in the provinces of Albay, Isabela, Lanao del Sur, Palawan, and Davao City. 41 access points are already fully functional in the provinces of Batangas, Pampanga, Quezon, and Cagayan.

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