OpenGov recently had the opportunity to converse with Miquel
Deputy Director – Strategy & Innovation, at the Open Government of
Catalonia (AOC or Consorci Administració Oberta de Catalunya), Spain.
Talking about the functions performed by AOC, Mr. Estapé
said, “AOC promotes digital transformation of Catalonian administrations and fosters
agile, open and collaborative governments, where people enjoy quality public
services and live in an open society.”
“What makes our organisation possibly different from others,
is that we provide digital government services to all the public
administrations in the area, currently more than 2000 government organisations
in Catalonia. This includes regional governments, provincial governments, local
governments, universities and others,” he continued.
This is done in a very collaborative way. AOC also provides
training and consultancy and works together with the public administrations on
improving its services.
The government administrations in Catalonia are AOC’s
clients but at the same time, they are also AOC’s stakeholders and are
represented in AOC’s executive committee.
AOC is funded by the regional government and all public
administrations in the region. The administrations pay for some services
provided by AOC but that represents only 10% of the AOC’s budget.
Mr. Estapé has been working for 15 years with the government
of Catalonia and for the last 3 years, he has occupied the position of the
deputy director, managing operations in various areas of the organisation.
Following a mandate from a new General Manager last year to
increase investment in innovative services, Mr. Estapé has been working on
innovative projects. He leads a team to foster innovation initiatives with
potentially high impact on society.
Services provided by AOC to government administrations
The first area is related to digital identity. There are two
main systems right now. One based on the use of digital certificates and the
other using 2FA (two-factor authentication) via mobile SMS. The former is meant
for use by the public sector and companies/ businesses.
Digital certificates are based on the logic of private and
public keys. It comprises a piece of software which can be stored in a card and
the user has a password to access the private key. Every time a user submits a
form or accesses a public website, there is a process of encrypting and making
sure that everything is safe. The user uses their private key to authenticate
or sign documents. The governments have access to the public key of the user to
verify the identity.
For ordinary users, who are not technical experts and do not
have access to technical support, AOC focuses on using 2FA-based on mobile. It
works well but Mr. Estapé said that the issue with the 2FA is that the codes
are sent using SMS. There are some concerns about the security of the SMS
technology. AOC is looking for solutions to this. A new technology is being
explored, called mobile connect, which uses the SIM card of the phone as a
The second area of government-wide services AOC is
responsible for ensuring interoperability. Different administrations need to
exchange a lot of information. It was done on paper in the past, now it is
Another area is the deployment of digital services in the
cloud. AOC provides some of the services required to manage productivity, such
as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions used by the government
The final area is change management. Mr. Estapé explained,
“It’s important to have very good digital services but if you don’t have a
smart change management strategy, it’s difficult to achieve real digital
transformation. We have many training courses, so that we can make sure people
learn how to use these new services.”
AOC is conducting doing proof of concepts and pilots in
several emerging technology areas.
For instance, AOC is using chatbots to improve user support.
This involves natural language processing to understand the users’ queries and
provide the right answers.
AOC is also providing blockchain-as-a-service so that any
public administration in Catalonia can do trials, tests and proof of concepts
using the technology. Mr. Estapé explained that at the moment there is a lot of
hype around the technology, but ideas need to be tested and business cases
found which will provide real value.
Another area being explored is forecasting citizens’ needs
and providing anticipatory services. This is This is done using big data and
data science techniques to analyse the needs of users, detect patterns and
provide personalised services to citizens, especially to the socially and
This is part of AOC’s
attempts to adopt citizen-centric approach to delivering government services.
“The issue is that I don’t think governments are used to working with a
citizen-centric approach. We are trying to change the culture now,” Mr. Estapé said.
AOC is developing a systematic way to collect consumer
feedback and get new ideas from citizens. Every time a citizen conducts a
transaction, at the end there is a survey, which asks the user if they have any
idea to improve the service. Users can submit ideas, see all the ideas, vote. AOC
also launches challenges to solve specific issues that the public
administrations do not know how to solve. Ideas are sought from the community,
including citizens, public employees, government officials and so.
AOC is also analysing user behaviour when browsing public
services. Mr. Estapé said that sometimes it’s better to see what citizens
really do, rather than asking them what they want. There are tools to analyse
and record all the browsing and so on.
Sometimes for these citizen-centric services, cross-agency or
cross-government collaboration is required between governments and government
agencies at different levels. AOC was created to facilitate and enable regional
“Cooperation is one of our core values and we have a
committee made up of representatives of several public administrations. So,
this is not a project managed by one government. Having said that, there are
quite a few collaboration challenges within Catalonia and also with the Spanish
Government because there are different agendas, different objectives and it’s
not always easy to align to work together along the same path,” Mr. Estapé
That’s why AOC spends a lot of time and effort trying to get
everybody in the same boat within Catalonia and with the Spanish Government.
That’s one area always taken into consideration every time a new initiative is launched,
or new services deployed.
What does Open Government mean?
When asked the question above, Mr. Estapé responded, “For
me, it’s what creates trust, accountability and collaboration with citizens.
The outcome of a good Open Government policy is that citizens trust the
government, they have accountability about government actions and they are
really keen on collaboration with the government, because they are engaged with
the government. So basically, Open Government is fundamental for a democratic
There is a new regulation in Spain requiring opening up a
lot of public information. Mr. Estapé said that it was a big challenge about
how to open up so much information to the public. AOC has a shared digital
service where all the public administrations in Catalonia can open all the
information, proceedings, processes and so on. All this information is opened
in a very structured way standard way for ease of access of the citizens.
Through an open data platform, information from all the
local public entities in Catalonia is consolidated. All this information is
available and compliant with all the international standards about
interoperability and so on. AOC is also providing some visualisations of big
data and easy-to-understand reports so citizens can understand how institutions
are spending their money etc.
Instead of the town halls publishing the information on
their own website, they are using AOC’s shared service and 50% of the
information is published automatically. An estimated 1.5 million euros are
being saved every year.
AOC also applies the ‘once only’ principle. It means that
all Catalonian public administrations have the duty to submit information to
the regional and federal governments. This includes information on personnel,
budgets, debts, subsidies and so on and it ensures that the same information is
not collected multiple times at multiple points.
One of the big challenges has been managing all the
negotiations with the central government and local government to open up all
their databases. “We have much more power because we represent all the public
administrations in Catalonia. Basically, the challenge is a change of culture.
We call this the “Gollum barrier” – after the character from the Lord of the
Rings, who just doesn’t want to let go of his precious ring.”
“We are the owners of government data – we have been
spending all our lives preserving and protecting the government data, and now
there is a new regulation saying all this data should be open. But then they
suffer from some kind of paranoia when someone wants to have access to this
data. The challenge is how to change the mindsets of public employees and
managers to embrace the values of sharing information, open data and
In the new normal, everything is moving online, including employee workloads, leadership insights, and how the services and businesses interact with customers or clients. Organisations must undergo a digital transformation to create entirely digital processes, better experiences and streamlined operations.
Successful digital transformation allows all processes and systems to communicate with one another. Users have a single source of truth, updates occur in real-time, and data is integrated.
The transformation enables organisations to effortlessly pivot when necessary because all their systems and teams are interconnected. Everything can be done quickly and without impacting the operations – whether it is to add more users, connect new business software or begin automating tasks.
In a cloud-first strategy, organisations are not merely adding a new layer of technology when they transform. They are expanding their IT capability in an entirely new way. Data and systems are hosted in the cloud, allowing for a seamless, effective and adaptable connection of all their IT.
Increasingly, companies of all sizes are aware of the potential and power of the cloud. Due to the increased security, scalability and convenience, more businesses and services are moving their apps and data onto the cloud.
Within this suite, that offers consumers a significant advantage is cloud communications. As remote and hybrid work models become the norm, cloud communication is quickly gaining importance.
The OpenGov Breakfast Insight with Indonesia’s top public sector leaders on 1 December 2022 at the Westin Jakarta provided the current information on the benefits of the most recent cloud technology that can help the nation’s public, education, financial services and healthcare sectors.
The Cloud at the Heart of the Digital Transformation
Mohit Sagar, CEO & Editor-in-Chief OpenGov Asia, believes cloud-based strategies are being adopted and implemented by companies of all sizes to spur growth and increase profits. Cloud has fundamentally altered business communications.
Cloud transforms how people communicate, collaborate and conduct business in today’s digital world. It has sparked advancements in machine learning, the Internet of Things (IoT), devices, healthcare and autonomous vehicles.
“The cloud offers cutting-edge features and functionality that let staff members collaborate and communicate in ways – and places – they never imagined,” says Mohit. “Organisations can outsource systems management tasks like provisioning, switching, data storage, and security to cloud communications providers.”
Moreover, with remote and hybrid models, employees report higher productivity and greater satisfaction.
Nonetheless, according to Mohit, even though remote and hybrid models are becoming increasingly popular, they will not be successful if they are not based on the right technology. Cloud communications are a crucial component of any hybrid or remote work environment.
With cloud-based communication tools, staff can easily switch to working remotely, teams can keep meeting, and operations can go on as usual.
“Technology for collaboration will be more crucial than ever with employees working in different time zones and locations. Hence, teams have the resources to connect with coworkers across boundaries thanks to cloud communications,” Mohit explains.
Organisations can make the most of their resources with cloud communications, which can quicken implementation, increase flexibility, and provide limitless high-volume information exchange. Moreover, cloud communication security features guarantee adherence to data privacy laws.
The technology, protocols and best practices that safeguard cloud computing environments, cloud-based applications and cloud-stored data collectively constitute cloud security. Understanding exactly what needs to be secured and the system components that must be managed is the first step in securing cloud services.
As an overview, cloud service providers are responsible for backend development against security vulnerabilities. Clients should concentrate primarily on the proper service configuration, safe use habits, and selecting a security-conscious provider.
“Clients should also confirm that any end-user networks and hardware are properly secured,” Mohit says.
Every step taken to secure the cloud aims to facilitate data recovery in the event of data loss; guard against malicious data theft on networks and storage; prevent human error or carelessness that results in data leaks, and minimise the effects of any data or system compromise.
The transition to cloud-based computing has resulted in a significant evolution of traditional IT security. While cloud models offer greater convenience, always-on connectivity necessitates new security measures. There are a few ways in which cloud security differs from conventional IT models as a modernised cyber security solution.
According to Nathan Guy, Zoom Phone Leader, Asia Pacific, Zoom, the macro business environment has significantly changed. Businesses are under tremendous pressure to increase productivity, adapt quickly as competition heats up and be productive to keep up with the rapid pace of innovation and technological advancements.
This problem is becoming even more pressing because of economic uncertainty. Without effective communication between customers, prospects and employees, it will be impossible to address these issues.
Nathan highlighted that the workforce is also experiencing a generational shift. People prefer the option of remote employment. And they are asking for cutting-edge equipment and communication systems as they need to do their jobs.
With every new tool and app that is made available, communication becomes more complex and confusing. Employees, clients, and potential customers are just a few stakeholders with 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,’ says Nathan.
Among the routes they take are keeping up with currently used systems deemed adequate; embedded communication tools included with other software packages; exploring multiple solutions depending on the situation; among others. “These strategies are meant to provide the organisation with fundamental communication.”
Such methods allow for some flexibility but also change the environment for prospects, employees and customers. People are compelled to alternate between various solutions based on their needs.
Some consumers “separate” from a favourite brand after just one disappointing interaction. Today’s harsh reality is that communication is a critical path activity; your business will also fail if it fails. A path that is crucial to the business failure.
Nathan believes that organisations must go beyond essential communication to universal communication. Creating intuitive connections to all parties – employees, customers, and investors – regardless of location, device, or business activity – will have a tremendous advantage in this uncertain business environment.
“You do this by combining the connection needs of the individual and organisation by delivering a consistent and quality experience for all participants, making human connection effortless, and enabling rapid innovation to maintain relevance,” says Nathan.
These steps could result in:
- Meeting both the organisations’ core business needs and the demands of their customers;
- Refocusing internal resources away from administering communications and towards new services and capabilities; and
- Improving the agility and the perceived value both in the company and the market
An organisation’s reputation is directly linked to the quality of its communication services. In addition to the fact that employees, clients, and customers can work from anywhere, people returning to the office do not want them to be disappointed by the home office environment to which they have grown accustomed.
Expectations have increased; a session that fails due to dropped participants or subpar audio/video is unacceptable and embarrassing. Organisations must adapt to this new hybrid environment and guarantee that everyone receives high-quality service regardless of circumstance or location.
“When communications are disrupted in today’s world, business transactions become impossible,” claims Nathan. “Organisations can eliminate a work-limiting unpredictability risk by doing this. They provide a controlled experience by enabling the staff to work without concern about the underlying technology.”
By using a top-notch infrastructure specially built to prevent failures, Zoom will protect organisations from communications breakdowns. Organisations could troubleshoot the underlying cause of environmental problems and take preventative measures. This allows the workforce to concentrate on their work without unneeded interruptions or uncertainty. Hence, employees will have confidence that the communication system they provide will work as expected.
Differences in network performance and bandwidth can seriously impair audio and video quality and lead to intermittent problems, preventing some users from participating fully. Even with severe packet loss, organisations can use Zoom to deliver a productive meeting experience. This makes it possible to eliminate local network and infrastructure variability, which is crucial when doing business internationally.
More complexity is being added to communications. “Now you have workers returning to the office, frequently in a hotel setting, as well as those travelling or working remotely,” says Nathan.
Three main contexts have been produced as a result: remote, office and mobile. Unfortunately, all too frequently, people are forced to juggle a patchwork of disjointed point solutions created during the pandemic. This includes a personal cellphone, a videoconferencing option for small meetings and another tool for significant events.
Nathan believes that employees and clients must learn to use a different interface. Even if the organisations stick with a single vendor, many have expanded through acquisitions, leading to various products with no shared characteristics.
“There’s no doubt that communication platforms are a big part of how hybrid teams work,” Nathan asserts. “A modern communications platform like Zoom could help boost productivity, add to what can be done, and show how engaged employees are.”
Fireside Chat: How to Prepare for the Transition to the “Cloud Culture”
According to Deddy Kartika Utama, Head of Information Security, Ministry of Home Affairs (Kemendagri), policies regarding political and general governance and regional autonomy are developed, determined and implemented by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The Ministry also plays a role in establishing regional and village administration, governing issues, regional finance, demographics and civil records.
Given the number of parties involved and the nature of the hybrid organisation, including the Ministry, maintaining consistency may prove difficult. Because of this, compelling and trustworthy means of communication are crucial.
Cloud communications, Deddy emphasised, continue to be the preferred method of meeting the growing demand for efficient organisational communications, considering the advent of the hybrid workplace. With cloud computing and communications, organisations can quickly expand or contract to meet fluctuating demand.
In the public sector, by using internet-based connectivity to reduce lag time and unreliable connections, organisations can communicate with their team and customers through various channels, including email, voice calls, chat and video.
Through the advancements in IT, organisations now have access to a flexible, instant, scalable, stable, and conveniently located environment. Organisations that switch to cloud-based communication technology can take advantage of full cloud communication’s mobility, scalability, security, reliability, and cost-effectiveness.
The rapid development of cloud computing services and collaboration technologies has apparent benefits for remote and hybrid workforces. It enables teams to work together and achieve their shared goals even when they are not physically present in the same office.
“Using a cloud collaboration strategy, coworkers can work together on documents stored in the cloud while having access to the same files and making changes to them in real-time,” Deddy explains. “One method for cutting costs while maximising organisational resources despite growing communication capabilities and reach is to concentrate on the quality of the technology.”
By utilising the cloud, businesses have found cheaper alternatives while ensuring that their customers can access their data and systems from any location at any time. Transitioning from traditional to cloud office culture is exciting and promising. To protect the organisations and their operations, a solid security foundation must first be established.
According to Deddy, the potential of cloud computing is becoming increasingly apparent to various organisations, and it is also growing. “Organisations are already transitioning from the traditional office culture to the cloud culture, and doing so is profitable. They can save money and space by switching to cloud technology.”
Nathan emphasised the significance of cloud security, albeit that most organisations are already utilising cloud computing in some form. “Organisations are still hesitant to move more data and applications to the cloud due to security, governance, and compliance concerns when storing their content in the cloud.”
By partnering with Zoom, the human connection could be simplified and security could be included. Organisations can capitalise on the habits and competencies individuals have developed over the past two years. Additionally, they will ensure consistency across multiple use cases.
“By partnering with Zoom, businesses will be able to maintain their relevance through rapid innovation. They have access to a constant stream of new capabilities that reflect actual user requirements,” Nathan claims.
According to Mohit, a critical component of cloud security is the protection of data and business content such as customer orders, secret design documents and financial records, among others.
Preventing leaks and data theft is critical for maintaining customer trust and safeguarding assets that contribute to competitive advantage. “The ability of cloud security to protect your data and assets makes it critical for any organisations that are transitioning to the cloud.”
Development partners can assist organisations in meeting a broader range of customer needs, resulting in increased market reach. As a result, when developing cloud applications, make sure to include platform or integration capabilities as well as a partner strategy.
“Your cloud partner strategy should be based on business potential, engineering capability, and platform marketing. A balanced strategy will enable a larger partner ecosystem, more comprehensive customer solutions, and increased revenue potential,” Mohit concludes.
The Department of Architecture under the National University of Singapore College of Design and Engineering (NUS CDE) opened the Architectural Conservation Laboratory (ArClab), a unique living laboratory housed in a conserved building which will serve as a site for researchers, graduate students and built heritage professionals to conduct a wide range of teaching and research activities on sustainable development of the built environment.
ArClab was established in January 2022 to achieve four key goals:
- augment the training capabilities of Singapore’s building industry in built heritage conservation;
- develop innovative use of technologies to enhance conservation;
- conduct high-impact research into broader conservation issues; and
- promote climate resilience and net-zero retrofit in historic buildings.
Over the next four to five years, ArClab will undertake the restoration of 141 Neil Road, a historic townhouse in the Blair Plain Conservation Area. The Portabella family, who owned the house, had recently donated it to the University, along with a gift of S$2 million, to support its repair and conservation works.
The Head of the NUS Department of Architecture and UNESCO Chair on Architectural Heritage Conservation and Management in Asia noted that as the first of its kind in Southeast Asia, the ArClab aims to be an exemplar and pedagogical demonstration of sensitive repair and conservation, adaptive reuse of heritage, and sustainable management of the historic environment.
The building’s conservation process will provide opportunities for both teaching and research. Using the conserved townhouse as a living lab, ArClab will showcase a new model for learning about the historic environment, building professional capacity to manage historical resources, and promoting historical and environmental studies.
The Deputy Dean (Research), the NUS College of Design and Engineering noted that ArClab is a timely endeavour that gathers expertise in engineering, design and architecture from the NUS College of Design and Engineering to preserve our history and build skills to address Singapore’s unique urban sustainability concerns.
Speaking at the opening of ArClab, the Minister for National Development and Minister-in-charge of Social Services Integration noted that he is excited to see ArClab become an engine to develop the knowledge of conservation practices and skills locally; develop heritage capacity building in Singapore and the region; support building owners in the maintenance and restoration of heritage buildings; grow Singapore’s overseas presence in built heritage and break new ground internationally and see how sustainability and liveability can be imbued inbuilt heritage.
Bring cultural heritage to life
One of the oldest buildings in the entire stretch of Neil Road, the historic house was built as part of the Everton Estate in the 1880s. The historic building contains a collection of decorative tiles depicting English Art Noveau and Chinese motifs. It is adorned with several auspicious Chinese character plaques in clerical and cursive font styles.
Housed within the historic building, ArClab will be a dynamic “classroom in the city” for students taking graduate programmes and doctoral studies in built heritage management. They will play a significant role in the repair and conservation works.
Students will learn and conduct research on areas such as traditional building materials and craftsmanship; the use of innovative technologies for repair works, energy efficiency and comfort; and net-zero retrofit in historic buildings. ArClab will also design and deliver advanced courses for professionals working in the field of built heritage.
The research will be conducted alongside teaching activities in the conserved building. NUS researchers will carry out various projects, including conducting research, documentation and restoration of Singapore’s heritage using innovative technologies such as 3D modelling; developing an integrated approach for energy efficiency and net-zero retrofit of Singapore’s historic buildings; testing and developing traditional building materials and techniques as well as using innovative technologies for conservation and repair works in the Singapore context; and estimating the impact of the high-density urban surroundings on the microclimate of historic districts.
A broad range of advanced equipment will be available for researchers and students to conduct holistic research and training.
The Indonesian government supports accelerating digital transformation in education by encouraging teaching staff to hone their digital skills. Research in 2020 showed that digital skill improvement could contribute IDR 4,434 trillion to Indonesia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2030.
In light of this, the Ministry of Communication and Informatics (Kemkominfo) is eager to accelerate technology advancement in every sector to support Indonesia’s 2045 vision to become a sovereign and independent country.
The government recognises that educators need to have digital proficiency to overcome and adapt to teaching and learning that has transitioned from offline to online.
“We need to pay special attention to education and proficiency in digital technology. The 2020-2024 RPJMN (National Medium-Term Development Plan) has seen that digital transformation in national strategic sectors needs to be implemented and accelerated,” said the Director of Digital Economy of the Ministry of Communication and Information, I Nyoman Adhiarna in his remarks at the Digital Transformation Education Sector online seminar.
Based on the Ministry of Communication and Informatics development plan, education is one of the strategic sectors that will support national economic growth in 2020-2024. Moreover, the Directorate of Digital Economy endorses the plan as a programme enabler to support the Ministry of Education and Culture.
Throughout 2022 Kominfo has organised digital technology adoption programmes in the education sector in various locations in Indonesia. Covering Bali, Bintan Regency, Batam City, Sorong Regency, Biak Numfor Regency, Klaten Regency, Kendal Regency, Kuningan Regency, Medan City, Padang City and Tual City, Nyoman explained.
Meanwhile, the Regional Secretary (Sekda) of the Government of Kuningan Regency, West Java, Dian Rahmat Yanuar said the education sector digital technology adoption programme would expand teachers’ skills and knowledge and increase their confidence.
“The pandemic era was a challenge, as well as a momentum for us to declare ourselves to be more competitive in the future complex challenge, therefore teachers are required to adapt faster,” he shared.
New Curriculum to Boost Digitalisation
Kemkominfo has collaborated with the Ministry of Education and Culture (Kemendikbud) in driving the “Merdeka Mengajar” (Independent Teaching) platform as a new curriculum. The Executive Director of CERDAS, Indra Charismiadji, explained the new “Merdeka Mengajar” curriculum concept focuses on the learning process of students.
“The essence of differentiated learning is that it focuses on students as every student cannot be the same. Teachers need to know how to deal with these different students,” expanded Indra.
Other participants emphasised the importance of teachers providing relevant context in the learning process. Educators have to adopt different approaches when writing in academic media and on social media. They can become teacher influencers by trying new things.
The seminar entitled “Digital Transformation of the Education Sector” was organised by the Ministry of Communication and Information to celebrate National Teacher’s Day. The Ministry worked with provincial, district/city governments and all public and private schools to broaden the activities outreach.
The webinar discussed various problems in the learning system. In the event, participants discussed how to accelerate technological advancement and agreed that it requires teachers to adapt and maximise the use of technology to make better school learning.
Kominfo has given digital transformation top priority at the Indonesian G20 Presidency Summit in 2022. Mira Tayyiba, secretary general of the Ministry of Communication and Informatics, is concerned about the issue of digital transformation. The forum working groups discussed several digital issues, such as employment, discussing digital, education, health, and other topics.
The School of Business and Management of The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST Business School) and The Institute of Sustainability and Technology (IST) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to foster the partnership on ESG initiatives through education and technology. Both parties are working to accelerate the transition to a circular economy and drive innovation towards a net-zero future.
The Founder & Faculty Advisor of IST, Adjunct Professor of the Department of Management at HKUST and the Dean of HKUST Business School signed the MoU to affirm the strategic partnership. Industry leaders and business elites representing over 100 organizations joined to show their overwhelming support and commitment to sustainability.
The Chief Secretary for the Administration of HKSAR stated that Hong Kong, as an international financial centre connecting global capital with opportunities, has a unique role to play in addressing the world’s most pressing environmental and social challenges brought about by climate change.
By making a thorough effort including the issuance of green bonds, implementation of the Green and Sustainable Finance Grant Scheme and nurturing of talent, and leveraging its close partnership with relevant stakeholders, the HKSAR Government aims to develop Hong Kong into a green and sustainable hub in the region.
The Founder & Faculty Advisor of IST, Adjunct Professor of the Department of Management at HKUST said that to nurture the next generation of ESG talent, IST is working with HKUST to co-create a series of globally recognised executive training programs to inspire purpose-driven business management.
While striving for net zero by 2050, Hong Kong is uniquely positioned to maximize synergies with GBA cities to play a strategic gateway role as a regional green finance hub for sustainable investments and cross-border carbon trading. By deploying catalytic capital, innovation can be fuelled, and triple returns can be empowered via a thriving ecosystem for decarbonization technologies to accelerate the transition to a circular economy. By leveraging innovative technology, education initiatives and strategic collaboration, the net zero targets can be achieved.
The President of HKUST stated that the two parties both aim to guide the city towards a net-zero, sustainable future through education and technology. Through their core missions in research, teaching, and innovation, the next generation of talent is being nurtured into responsible professionals and leaders and contributing to solving pressing environmental and social issues.
The Dean of HKUST Business School noted that this partnership with IST supports Hong Kong’s brown-to-green transition through talent development and technology deployment. Marking a key event under this partnership, the ESG Forum familiarised participants with key aspects of ESG management through expert insights covering strategy, risks, benchmarking, and future trends. HKUST looks forward to pursuing a broad range of sustainability-related opportunities in training, research and development, and community engagement with IST.
An ESG Forum was held after the MoU signing ceremony. Various renowned academics and industry veterans participated in the forum, exchanged their views, and shared insights on ESG and sustainability.
About the Institute of Sustainability and Technology
To nurture the next generation of ESG talent, IST is partnering with HKUST Business School to co-create a series of globally recognised training programs for business executives. Catering to the diverse context of Asian markets, IST seeks to establish robust impact measurement and management methodology as well as ESG ratings and benchmark standards for different sectors across Asia Pacific. To promote thought leadership and best practices, IST sponsors interdisciplinary research studies to provide compelling data to advance the agenda for sustainable development. For more details about the Institute, please visit
Seven intelligent robots have been installed in the wards of Yishun Community Hospital (YCH) to welcome patients and bring supplies to the bedside. These brand-new Temi Robots, known as Angel, were introduced to support nursing care so that nurses could focus their time and energy on clinical tasks while still giving patients a personal and meaningful touch.
These robots are loaded with patient education materials that patients and their caregivers can easily access, in addition to providing announcements and reminders throughout the day in all four major languages.
They also have a variety of features like games and entertainment, teleconference tools, and translation capabilities. YCH hopes to further improve patient engagement and satisfaction in its wards with the new addition.
A pilot project using Nao Robots was also used by YCH in previous years to assist dementia patients in their rehabilitation. Robot Therapy, which was started by the staff at YCH in 2018, is now a part of the therapy-related services offered there.
YCH, which is conceived of as a healing space for patients, offers intermediate care for recovering patients who do not require the intensive care services of an acute-care hospital. With rehabilitation and therapy at the heart of the hospital’s mission, the team was eager to investigate the potential of the innovation, Robot Therapy.
Because they can perform a wide range of tasks with little to no value added, hospital robots offer a reliable solution, freeing up doctors, nurses, and surgeons to focus on more high-value work. Robots have become an integral part of the healthcare industry, with many hospitals now using them to perform both surgical and administrative tasks.
In addition, prior to the arrival of Nao Robots in Singapore, a few local nursing homes used Paro, a robot that mimics the appearance, movement, and sounds of a baby seal. The therapeutic robot seal’s use is like animal therapy in that the robot helps to calm elderly people who have dementia or a loss of cognitive function.
The Nao robot, on the other hand, came with higher expectations: it can express emotions like laughter or sadness during interactions; it can interact and communicate with patients in different languages; and it has optic, audio, and impact sensors and motors to detect surroundings, interpret detection, and activate programmed responses.
Various interaction and language modes can be programmed into the Nao robot. The YCH Robot Therapy team took advantage of this by incorporating the robot into specific therapy sessions. This increased efficiency freed up nursing time, which could then be used for other care activities. Nao robot therapy sessions were trialled with 48 patients from the Dementia ward in October 2018.
Patients with Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia (BPSD) require more care and attention, so this was chosen as the pilot ward. By introducing the Nao robot, YCH has increased patient engagement, motivate them to engage in social activities, and shorten the time required for social activities so that caregivers could concentrate on other care-related tasks.
The implementation process was divided into three stages: training staff, selecting suitable patients and assessing seniors who participated in the Robot Therapy programme using the Observed Emotion Rating Scale.
Singhealth asserts that the COVID-19 pandemic, which hastened the adoption of these solutions and accelerated the digital transformation of healthcare systems globally, has sparked a tremendous interest in digital technology and virtual health solutions.
A group of clinician innovators from SingHealth sought to ascertain whether digital interventions are more affordable and provide patients with greater value and benefits in anticipation of this continuing upward trend, and they discovered that this may not always be the case for some eye conditions.
Both in normal circumstances and in times of crisis, Thai people are known to generate a lot of innovative ideas and continue to develop products that make their lives better. This encompasses and encapsulates the nation’s most recent campaign, Innovation Thailand, which promotes Thai creativity to a global audience.
The Innovation Thailand Alliance consists of partners from a variety of sectors including government agencies, private organisations, educational institutions, and civil societies. Through it, the National Innovation Agency of Thailand (NIA), is expanding the scope of its Innovation Thailand platform.
The fundamental goal is to use national/local ideas to revitalise the nation by promoting awareness of and pride in inventive Thai works. Allies will serve as ambassadors in the effort to promote Thailand as an innovative nation. They will be able to exchange knowledge and skills with one another at the same time.
All stakeholders are enthusiastic to help Thailand achieve its goal of being one of the world’s top 30 innovative nations by 2030 and turning Thailand into an innovation-driven country.
Innovation Capabilities of Thai People
The National Innovation Agency’s mission is to support and develop Thailand’s innovation system to promote economic restructuring and competitive enhancement.
“We began the Innovation Thailand campaign before COVID-19 because we faced a significant challenge in terms of how not only Thai people but also global clients, perceive the nation’s unique products and services,” explains Dr Pun-Arj.
Even though this may not be directly related to innovation, the NIA has attempted to communicate and brand national innovation in such a way that it can be easily connected not only with Thais but also with international customers – this is how they started the Innovation Thailand platform.
Thailand is a tourist destination and one of the top three in the world, which has caused the country to innovate their lifestyle as well as their livelihood.
Thai culture places a high value on craftsmanship and attention to detail. Thai innovation for artful living is a process created exclusively by the fusion of modern technology and knowledge passed down from one generation to the next.
“We have created ingenious solutions through this method that enhances the standard of living in terms of society, prosperity, health, safety, and the environment,” Dr Pun-Arj furthers.
They began to construct a community to exchange ideas, develop, and manage innovation that would result in delivering some information or any significant strategic movement that the government could initiate.
They are recruiting more Chief Innovation Officers from not only the private sector but also the public sector and universities, as part of their primary target group.
Dr Pun-Arj is looking to enhance the opportunities brought in by innovation, particularly at the regional level in the city. This is because they are working not only on economic development but also on the skillset of the social innovation division and platform.
“As a result, our primary focus is on regionalisations of innovation possibilities, as well as startups – innovation-based firms,” reveals Dr Pun-Arj.
He believes that every successful community is built upon a robust and well-functioning infrastructure. Hence, Thailand’s industries and infrastructure will be modernised to meet upcoming challenges.
“In the past, one of our five-year priorities included buildings which we identify as system integrators. As the system and ecosystem become more robust, we are transitioning from system integrators to full core facilitators.”
He emphasised the need to consider the impact of being a system integrator before transforming themselves into focal facilitators. Furthermore, the country wants to make better use of the enormous resource of innovation in universities to conduct research and technology in collaboration with other organisations across the world.
Through the City Innovation Index, which focuses primarily on districts and cities, the NIA promotes and monitors the constant innovation and evaluation of diverse organisations. Periodically, they performed surveys in particular industries to evaluate and propose answers for the difficulties they face.
A strong innovation strategy will evaluate the overall objectives, the target portfolio for innovation initiatives, and the process for allocating the necessary resources. The portfolio clearly defines innovation-critical benchmarks and bounds. Therefore, the nation will become democratic and transparent.
“I believe the government’s most essential innovation strategy focuses on three specific concerns. You must have highly strong and capable businesses of all sizes that will establish a very strong enterprise on its own. And secondly, you must have laws and regulations,” Dr Pun-Arj asserts. “In addition, governance is also required and identifying future risks.”
Thailand is struggling with several issues, including inequality, which includes limited access to public services, digital technology, education, and environmental problems. High manufacturing costs and new types of competition in the global supply chain became challenges for Thailand, with this, innovation has emerged as the country’s answer.
Additionally, there are many challenges in terms of digital transformation and government service and the nation is pushing for innovation that can deliver a good policy and deploy it into practice.
In the previous five-year plan, NIA primarily focused on the job of system integrator into four core facilitators. “That is why the short-term strategy is to train management in the methods, programmes, and activities that we have implemented over the last five years.”
NIA is primarily concentrated on strengthening the potential of regional innovation in several key sectors such as new technologies, assistance for startups, venture capital creation or investment for innovation, and internationalisation of Thailand’s innovation.
Dr Pun-Arj envisions a stronger Thai economy and society, with innovation playing a key role in propelling it. The Bio-Circular-Green Economy (BCG) model is a plan for the country’s growth and post-pandemic recovery. The BCG model focuses on four strategic sectors: agriculture and food, wellness and medicine, energy, materials, and biochemicals and tourism and creative economy.
It emphasises using science, technology, and innovation to turn Thailand’s comparative advantage in biological and cultural diversity into a competitive advantage. The primary aim is to support the sustainability of biological resources, develop local economies and communities and make Thai BCG industries more competitive and resilient to societal changes.
The approach is meant to make Thailand’s economy, society, and environment more sustainable and inclusive. “To achieve the 2030 goal, we must work incredibly hard to encourage innovation in this BCG economy. At the same time, the national policy needs to be improved.”
Dr Pun-Arj has been recognised as a pioneer in the domains of foresight and innovation management in the country. He counsels anyone aspiring to be a great innovator to fully comprehend the concepts of uncertainty and failure.
“Innovation will help us grow as a community or nation by making ourselves and others aware of the importance of innovation,” Dr Pun-Arj concludes.
A report published by CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, has detailed the successful trial of a new sensor-based platform with the potential to better support older Australians to live in their own home longer. The report, titled DACS: Smarter Safer Homes to Support Older People Living in Their Own Homes Through Enhanced Care Model, is based on findings of research to trial the Smarter Safer Homes (SSH) sensor-based platform. Developed by CSIRO, SSH was the first consumer-driven smart home technology in the world to help people live independently in their homes.
The CEO of CSIRO’s Australian e-Health Research Centre noted that trials found statistically significant evidence that older people living with SSH showed their social care-related quality of life decrease was 10 times less than the control group who experienced usual care. He said that the outcomes of the trial reveal that SSH technology is beneficial in ensuring older people can live independently in their homes for longer.
Service providers, family members and other caregivers can check a data dashboard that reveals patterns in an older person’s behaviour. Any changes in the patterns may indicate a need for action. For example, if mobility patterns change, this may suggest a fall or injury, prompting a check-in.
A co-author of the report stated that this technology in the hands of Australia’s aged care workforce will benefit older people who are living at home and receiving community care services.
The platform is perfect for connecting families living apart, as people often are these days. For example, there is a family member in Brisbane, another in Adelaide and an ageing parent living in a rural town. SSH would help the family to support their parent from a distance. In addition to community aged care support, the technology could allow the parent to stay in their home for longer if they wish. This technology takes the guesswork away from the question of a user’s family’s well-being when they are not around, she said.
Participants in the trial said they loved the safety and comfort SSH gave to them and their family, while service providers commented on the usefulness of quantitative information about a client’s functional independence over time. The platform comprises ambient sensors that collect data from the physical environment within the home and use artificial intelligence to turn that data into relevant information.
The platform includes a sensor-based in-home monitoring system (data collection), a cloud computing server (data analyses), and a client module (data presentation) with a tablet app, a family portal, and a service provider portal. The SSH platform was an output of consultations with aged care service providers who contributed to its initial design.
The Dementia and Aged Care Services (DACS) trial of the SSH platform commenced in 2019 and involved 195 participants who tested the sensors in their homes. The SSH algorithm has been licensed and commercialised by a Sydney-based provider of data analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies and deployed with numerous aged care providers in acute and post-acute care facilities.
The global smart home market size was US$86.48 billion in 2020. The market is expected to grow from US$99.89 billion in 2021 to US$380.52 billion in 2028, growing at a CAGR of 21.1% during the 2021-2028 period.
An increasing number of internet users, the growing disposable income of consumers in developing economies, the rising importance of home monitoring in remote areas, and the growing demand for low-carbon emission and energy-saving-oriented solutions are projected to drive the market capabilities.