Data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) have the potential to have a huge transformative impact on the public sector, given governments’ access to massive amounts of data and their operations affect the citizens.
A progressive, safe, secure, comfortable and happy country is what the Philippine public sector seeks to achieve through innovation and ongoing ICT growth. By better harnessing the power of data through a robust data and AI strategy, the government can accomplish its goals and mandates.
It is globally acknowledged that the huge amounts of digital data created by citizens’ actions are a very valuable resource. However, this constantly growing data resource is not being used to its full potential currently. Agencies have a hard time getting the most out of their data because their systems are old and their analytics skills are limited. They have a lot of data but not much insight.
Data will become an even more valuable commodity as the Philippines accelerates its digital transformation efforts to have a “One Digitised Government.”
Learnings from global best practices for advanced data analytics and AI in the Philippines was the focus of the OpenGovLive! Virtual Breakfast Insight on 14 July 2022 for senior digital executives from the Philippine public sector.
Developing a Data-Driven Public Sector: The Road Ahead
To kickstart the session, Mohit Sagar, CEO and Editor-in-Chief, OpenGov Asia, delivered the opening address. He believes that many people struggle with the associated, but unnecessary, challenges of big data, such as high costs, poor data quality and inconsistent data sources and formats, without reaping any of the enticing benefits.
“Public sector agencies require a multifaceted approach, including the ability to quickly integrate new data, make accurate, multilevel forecasts and provide data-driven insights for policymakers,” claims Mohit.
Agencies are expected to make decisions based on what is best for individuals, families and communities. Following this imperative, leaders in the public sector have worked tirelessly to improve outcomes for those they serve during the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are many lessons to be drawn from COVID-19, he says, but one of the most important is the significance of being able to use data to prepare for potential scenarios and inform decision-making.
Analytics assists these leaders in making difficult decisions by allowing them to act on evidence – that is, data. They can be confident that their decisions will result in the best possible outcomes thanks to analytical insights.
As governments focus their efforts to mitigate the negative economic impacts of the pandemic, the expectation of better services, sound fiscal policy, execution and transparency will only grow. It is now more important than ever for the public sector to use a data and advanced analytics infrastructure to fully understand current challenges related to revenue impacts, citizen-centric services, economic development, and financial transparency.
Agencies should take advantage of the opportunity afforded by the pandemic to address long-standing data issues. Expanded data infrastructure will not only provide a foundation for sound decisions and actions but will also create an organisation capable of responding quickly to the ongoing effects of COVID-19, as well as any future emergencies.
Moreover, improving data sharing between government agencies will significantly improve their ability to generate data-driven insights.
At the end of the day, Mohit concludes, the aim is to better serve citizens by deploying the best technology and tools available. To make these transitions and transformations easier, he advises delegates to work with experts.
Analytics and AI Solutions in Government and Public Sector
“Public Sector agencies are complex ecosystems of decisions that require increasing levels of automation,” says Amir Sohrabi, Regional Vice President, Emerging EMEA & Asia.
The amount of data in the public sector is exponentially increasing. Simultaneously, the capacity of agencies should increase to cope with the expansion. Ultimately, citizens will never accept the justification that their public safety agency simply had too much information to deal with.
Irrespective of their mandates, government organisations are subject to investigations and monitoring. Of course, finding fraud, waste, or abuse pays off financially for portfolios with substantial expenditures including health, tax, and social benefit programmes. In other areas, the return on investment for improved audits, inceptions, and investigations might be more difficult to assess.
Amir has shared how agencies like to engage in “continual evolution of capability.” These are to re-use and adapt rather than re-invent; fast problem-solving implementations; continuous innovation; partnerships in the delivery of outcomes; cost-effectiveness; short, sharp milestones with clear and measurable results; and easy to use, easy to learn.
With the fast-paced rollout, each implementation requires a relatively simple approach for the user experience. Moreover, data and analytics are crucial to the company’s digital development. Additionally, digital transformation helps businesses maximise their transactions and operations; without digital transformation, a business can’t meet its clients’ needs.
“Governments still face mission-critical decisions. What began as operations research in government 70 years ago is today called analytics. Now, AI helps make smarter decisions by learning and automating human tasks,” Amir explains.
He shared an example from Belgium where VAT Carousels Fraud cost the Belgian government one billion euros. “This fraud typology is a high-velocity fraud. Carousel frauds are like floods. It is futile to believe that after the storm we can put back water in the riverbed with buckets. What is required is to develop dykes to avoid overflows,” Amir believes.
The Tax Department was awash in VAT Carousels Fraud data. The solution was to detect organisations likely involved in VAT carousels. The SAS Hybrid method was able to detect questionable behaviour or VAT returns early. It integrates network analysis, business rules, predictive modelling and anomaly detection. These approaches allow for network discovery and monitoring. Accurate models have an 80% true positive rate, and SAS Hybrid proved to be the appropriate tax auditor. Currently, the VAT carousel scam is down by 98%.
Analytics was important to attaining this result; models are reliable with 80% true positive rates and give ultra-early detection from the first VAT declaration. VAT Carousels are regulated; thus, the system identifies dubious foreign corporations for the international partnership.
Amir also cited the Cleveland Clinic which is using analytics to monitor, treat and stop the spread of COVID-19, maximising the use of medical resources to save lives during a global epidemic.
In times of crisis, it is crucial to optimise medical resources. To help hospitals anticipate patient traffic, bed capacity, ventilator availability and other factors in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Cleveland Clinic and SAS have developed cutting-edge models.
The models, which are openly accessible via GitHub, offer hospitals and health departments rapid, accurate information to optimise healthcare services for COVID-19 and other patients and to forecast effects on supply chain, finance and other crucial sectors.
Even in the Philippines, these models can aid hospitals, healthcare facilities, state departments of health and governmental organisations in predicting the effects of COVID-19 and preparing for the future.
Data is now available everywhere, waiting to be analysed. It is the result of the actions and reactions of the devices and machines that were used. This constant flow of data places a new level of intelligence within our grasp. But it also raises the bar for people to harness it and create value with and from data.
“Analytics can achieve the specific business goals,” concludes Amir. “It can transform a world of data into a world of intelligence!”
By automating most of the time-consuming and repetitive tasks, data analytics not only improves problem-solving abilities but also makes them a whole lot faster and more effective.
The goal of SAS is to make it easier for more people to use powerful analytics every day, to shorten the time it takes to go from data to insight and encourage people to make bold discoveries that move the world forward. In this scenario, analytics is used to break down barriers, encourage ambition and get results.
“Using AI to discover fraud has facilitated organisations to expand their internal security and make their operations easier. Due to its increased efficiency, Artificial Intelligence has become an important tool for stopping financial crimes,” says Gerard McDonnell, Regional Solution Director – Fraud & Security Intelligence, SAS.
The foundation of the government solutions they offer to agencies is data, discovery and deployment. These are the key areas where SAS concentrates and adds value to government finance, health care, public safety and criminal justice, social services, education, infrastructure and transportation, defence and national security, as well as smart cities.
To increase citizen involvement, increase government efficiencies and fulfil public safety commitments – all these areas of government use analytics and even real-time data streams from sensors, video feeds, and social media.
AI can be employed to examine a huge volume of transactions to identify fraud trends, which can then be applied to real-time fraud detection.
When fraud is suspected, AI models can be used to rate the likelihood of fraud, reject transactions outright, or flag them for more investigation. This enables investigators to concentrate their efforts on the most promising cases.
For the transaction that has been detected, the AI model can additionally provide cause codes. These reason codes help to expedite the investigation by directing the investigator as to where to look for flaws. When investigators assess and approve dubious transactions, AI may learn from them as well, adding to its knowledge and avoiding trends that aren’t indicative of fraud.
Gerard shared some solutions:
- A single extendable, flexible, and responsive platform
- Maximum automatic throughput to minimise resource-intensive manual processes
- Multiple data visualisations tailored for business areas and specific use cases
- Networks built and risks evaluated in near to real-time; data updated at the fastest possible speed
- Intelligence automatically processed and integrated
- Enable highly skilled analysts to tune, adapt and enhance
- Comprehensive, flexible & automated intervention/case pack production
Identifying criminal networks and fraud quickly and efficiently is critical. Thus, data analytics solutions that help them identify tax evasion and fraud promptly are a must.
Data Science Practices That Have Helped Us and May Resonate
Governments may utilise AI to create better policies, make better decisions, enhance citizen participation and communication, and boost the effectiveness and efficiency of public services. While AI has huge potential benefits, realising them will not be simple.
“People who lack an aptitude for data are a hindrance to the advancement of data science,” says Joy Bonaguro, Chief Data Officer, State of California, USA.
Government use of AI trails that of the private sector; the field is complex and has a steep learning curve; and the purpose of, and context within, the government are unique and present several challenges.
Joy emphasises that an organisation should identify its objective and how it wants to improve and then analyse the facts to determine whether to implement a new plan. Thereafter, the organisation must establish an action plan to put its decision into effect.
She added that this step aims to establish clearly defined objectives for what must be done, by when, by whom, why and what the expected consequence(s) will be.
To elaborate, Joy uses the truffle pig problem – the single most significant obstacle to adoption is identifying strong data science initiatives. Thus, strategies are required to comprehend the issues of change management.
An individual will identify themselves with a truffle pig problem if they keep on asking the following:
- Can I have a dashboard?
- Can you build a warehouse?
- Can you automate this process?
Further, data science is challenging for a variety of reasons and teams are under constant pressure to deliver insights fast despite the inherent complexity of the discipline.
Data analytics has existed for a while in a variety of forms, but organisations are discovering more complex and timely ways to use data analytics to improve their operations. Businesses can use data analytics to find new opportunities, save money and make decisions more quickly and efficiently.
The potential applications of data analytics are as varied as the companies that employ them. They can range from the straightforward creation of the key performance indicators from the underlying data to the statistical analysis of scientific findings to evaluate hypotheses. Businesses may also use data analytics to forecast market trends or sway customer behaviour.
Moreover, data analytics for audit is the science and art of finding and analysing trends, deviations and inconsistencies in data that underlies or is connected to the audit’s subject matter, as well as extracting other important information for the audit’s planning and execution.
The primary motivation for employing data analytics for auditors is to raise the calibre of audits. It enables auditors to more efficiently audit the massive volumes of data stored and processed in larger companies’ IT systems. Data from clients can be extracted, modified, and analysed by auditors.
They can better grasp the client’s information and recognise the hazards by doing this. Data analytics tools can transform all the data into pre-structured forms or presentations that are clear to auditors and clients, and even generate audit programmes tailored to client-specific risks or provide data directly into computerised audit procedures, which enables the auditor to reach the result more quickly.
After the educational discussion, delegates participated in poll-based discussions. This session is intended to provide live audience engagement, stimulate participation, provide individuals with real-world experiences and aid in their professional development.
Delegates were asked what their organisation’s most critical area of focus for digital transformation is, and the majority answered citizen-centric services.
Some felt that it is important for the government to talk to people about their needs and get them involved in making policies and designing and delivering services. Others said that cloud adoption and data management as storing data in the cloud offer an automated backup strategy, professional support and easy access from anywhere.
On their top motivator for digital transformation, a majority of delegates indicated that it was public expectations for data-driven decisions to continue to climb and that digital change equals corporate transformation.
Data has long been acknowledged as a government asset, but it can now be shared and used more easily both inside government and among people, entrepreneurs and researchers to solve persistent civic problems.
The third poll asked the delegated what are their challenges in facing digital transformation. The majority indicated that it was driving the adoption of new tools and processes while others answered lack of change management strategy.
The difficulty of adopting new technologies is not limited to the digital workplace or organisational communication solutions. Regardless of the technology, implementing a new style of working into people’s life involves effort.
Effective change management and user acceptance begin with the realisation that there is a process for change management and that approaching it mindfully and intentionally can generate excellent results. Changes must be placed in the correct corporate context, linked to a plan and conveyed consistently throughout the process.
Regarding the major obstacle organisations are encountering when using AI strategy, most answered it to be the lack of properly skilled teams as the companies with mismatched talent strategy could be in danger due to a lack of digital capabilities.
Inquiring about their biggest challenge in using cloud-based services, budget and procurement were the main issues followed by security/trust in cloud services.
The cloud’s promise is clear as it shows its benefits over conventional solutions in terms of processing power, organisational effectiveness and financial efficiency.
The cloud story is the best example of how technology empowers people in their daily lives and at work. With cloud, businesses can now reallocate resources from maintaining IT systems and infrastructure to other tasks that boost business performance, like innovation or research, because it offers both agility and stability.
Mohit emphasised that technologies are designed to answer complicated issues, hence technology is becoming increasingly simple. Moreover, the appearance of devices is becoming as essential as how they function.
The legacy of a person is about living and being alive. It is about gaining knowledge from the past, living in the present and constructing the future. The concept of legacy is a potent life tool for individuals of all ages and a catalyst for social and digital transformation.
Organisations that opt for cloud migration can gain a technological advantage by enhancing their offerings to stakeholders. Everything will go well as the organisation, whether in the public or private sector, reaps the benefits of cloud services. Multiple teams can access and manage their work across the enterprise. Thus, there is a high level of coordination between groups, which promotes work efficiency.
“Cloud is a necessity and having the right partnership matters in digital transformation,” Mohit concludes.
Amir believes that analytics and AI solutions in the public sector are just around the corner due to the connectivity and compute power, putting the attainment of a higher degree of intelligence well within grasp. Thus, consumers are now expected to use data to generate value as well.
The rate of development is astounding today. With the help of technological advancements that are now able to teach and train machines to perform jobs that in the past were either impossible or required an exceedingly long time to complete.
“Analytics is how AI can assist businesses in achieving unique company objectives. SAS will assist in finding new connections as well as recognise patterns that haven’t been seen before; automate the work; learn new things about the world with the help of analytics and statistics,” he ends emphatically.
Singaporeans, particularly those who enjoy benefiting from and contributing to the wisdom of the crowd or sharing their thoughts on government policies, will undoubtedly enjoy CrowdTaskSG, a newly created crowdsourcing web service that taps Singaporeans’ collective knowledge.
Citizens will discover many possibilities to contribute their ideas and feedback to government entities on CrowdTaskSG. Citizens can take part in various tasks, such as surveys on government policies and national identity. Citizens may also be assigned duties to test prototype items, such as new government websites, and provide comments on areas for improvement.
The portal is a one-stop shop, collecting duties from across the government and making them easily accessible to those who are interested. With their Singpass account, all Singapore citizens and Permanent Residents aged 18 and over can use the portal.
Aside from hearing people’s ideas, the procedure is intended to be enjoyable. The app’s goal is to be as enjoyable as popular online games. Users can earn virtual coins by completing activities on CrowdTaskSG and trade them for real-world rewards such as coupons.
Recognising that Singaporeans are the ultimate users of government services, agencies have begun including the public early in the workflow of product or policy production to ensure that their opinion is considered from the outset. GovTech believes that citizens are co-creators in building a strong society.
The current crowdsourcing scene may be seen as fragmented, making it difficult for Singaporeans to have an overview of all the options available, while agencies struggle to discover the correct target participants. CrowdTaskSG addresses these difficulties by consolidating all government crowdsourcing jobs on a single website.
To reach their desired demographic, agencies can also use the tailored assignment tool. For example, if they want to test how user-friendly a product is for elderly users, they may quickly screen for older volunteers.
The CrowdTaskSG team is also trying to expand the number of tasks available, such as polls and A/B testing, and is reaching out to other agencies to learn how the platform can better support their crowdsourcing initiatives.
In addition, GovTech is all about using technology to make everyone’s lives better. CrowdTaskSG is based on the idea that Singaporeans are not only people who benefit from things but also people who can make important contributions.
The agency is asking everyone in the country to help solve problems by using their knowledge and skills. They are hoping that the input and ideas of the public will be the best part of the government’s next digital product.
Meanwhile, OpenGov Asia reported earlier that more users are finding it easy to do business in their native language now that Singpass supports Singapore’s four official languages, which are English, Tamil, Malay, and Chinese. By choosing their preferred language in the app’s settings, more users can enjoy the convenience of doing transactions in their native language. It was also the job of the legal divisions and other government departments to make sure that the texts follow the rules that are already in place.
Even though the multilingual feature has been successfully released, more work needs to be done. When a spreadsheet is used to help with translations, translators can’t see how the app looks and what is being translated side by side. This can slow down translations.
Singpass is one of the eight national strategic projects overseen by GovTech that help Singapore achieve its goal of becoming a “Smart Nation.” Over 2,000 government and business sector services are accessible conveniently and securely online and in person thanks to a Singaporean resident’s digital identification.
The Ministry of Finance has announced it would develop a foundation for a modern and transparent digital financial ecosystem based on big data and open data by 2025. The initiative will be carried out under the Ministry’s digital transformation plan aimed for 2025, with orientations to 2030. It was newly signed by Finance Minister Ho Duc Phoc.
By 2030, the Ministry strives to establish a developed digital financial ecosystem with enhanced cybersecurity and efficiency. The overall objective of the plan is to accelerate digital transformation in tandem with building a sustainable, advanced, and globally-integrated national financial system. The move is expected to boost growth, enhance the resilience of the economy, and maintain macro-economic stability and financial security.
The Ministry will apply fourth industrial revolution technologies and leverage the progress that’s been made with the development of the e-government to transform the finance sector. It will offer more digital financial services to bolster the digital economy and digital society. The finance sector will play a vital role in creating, connecting, and sharing data, digitising platforms, and optimising the digital information of the government, people, and organisations.
The Ministry will cut down the number of public administrative procedures, and reform, simplify, and standardise public financial services to reduce costs and improve service quality and productivity by 2025. Accordingly, the delivery of most public administrative services will be shifted online, providing citizens with a paperless and convenient experience. The Ministry also intends to step up the implementation of the National Single Window system and the ASEAN Single Window system to facilitate trade.
Further, the Ministry has plans to set up a modern, public, and transparent digital financial platform by 2025, based on big data and open financial data. By 2030, the Ministry claimed a digital financial ecosystem will be formed in all fields, ensuring administrative effectiveness and the safety of information. Civil servants and public employees will be trained in digital skills to facilitate the process.
The rate of financial technology adoption in the country is gradually and significantly increasing. The number of subscribers of the government’s Mobile Money initiative has quadrupled since the service was launched in January this year. 67% of these subscribers reside in rural, mountainous, border, island, and remote areas.
As OpenGov Asia reported, subscribers with at least one Mobile Money transaction by the end of June exceeded 1.72 million, accounting for 97.3% of the total. Additionally, the number of households with fibre optic connections in the first half of this year increased by 9% compared to the same period of 2021 and by 17% against that of 2020. According to the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC), the goal of having 75% of households using fibre optic services this year is achievable. Vietnam also aims to have more than 50% of the population own digital payment accounts.
In deploying Mobile Money, the government has taken advantage of existing infrastructure and data and telecommunications networks. This has reduced social costs and expanded cashless payment channels on mobile devices. Industry experts have stated that the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need to universalise digital payments. Regardless of an Internet connection or bank account, and with just phone numbers, users can easily make cashless transactions through their Mobile Money account. The pandemic also greatly boosted the e-commerce market, with non-cash payments accounting for 70% of total retail transactions in Vietnam last year.
While nursing education mainly consists of classroom teaching and clinical practice, face-to-face teaching and clinical placements at medical institutions have been affected as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, to develop the training and learning experience of nursing students, a research team led by Dr Justina LIU, Associate Professor of School of Nursing, and Dr Kitty CHAN, Senior Teaching Fellow of the same school, has developed a virtual learning system “Virtual Hospital” that uses virtual reality (VR) technology to offer an innovative experiential approach to nursing education.
Virtual Hospital is the first-of-its-kind virtual learning system in Hong Kong that simulates the complex and chaotic environment of a real-life hospital ward. With a total of 11 games, the system provides five scenarios, namely “Clinical Practicum Orientation”, “Challenges of Delirium”, “Managing Multitasks”, “Prevention of Errors” and “Potential Heart Attack”.
Over 1,200 combinations of randomised situations and multiple choices make it difficult for students to predict the tasks they will be handling, while they are required to provide instant responses to multitasks and make appropriate nursing decisions through assessing a patient’s condition and interpreting their medical information.
It was noted that the majority of existing VR learning systems are skill- and procedure-focused and adopt a single patient management setting. The PolyU-developed Virtual Hospital requires students to handle multiple beds and take care of multiple patients at the same time. Unexpected incidents and clinical pitfalls are generated to test the student’s ability to apply their knowledge and prioritise nursing tasks amid various disruptions within a limited time.
Through VR experiential learning, students can improve the soft skills that are essential for their clinical practice, including situation awareness, flexibility to handle emergencies, as well as decision-making and communication skills.
Virtual Hospital allows users’ responses and decisions to be displayed on a TV monitor for group participation, while their communication with the virtual patients can be recorded for review. By answering multiple-choice questions, the student can reflect on the judgements and decisions made. In addition, the game data and the automated assessment function of the system also provide convenience for teachers in tracking students’ progress and evaluating learning outcomes.
Since its launch in January 2022, Virtual Hospital has benefited over 450 nursing students. With Virtual Hospital, students are provided with a cooperative case-based learning opportunity. Supplemented with current practice on patient simulators, it is hoped that Virtual Hospital can further help students master the skills necessary for clinical nursing and most importantly for reducing errors in actual clinical situations.
The team is pleased that the virtual learning system has received positive feedback from students, and looks forward to incorporating interprofessional and interdisciplinary elements in the future, as well as introducing the system to other nursing institutions in Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area.
A Year-3 student from PolyU School of Nursing noted that she was impressed by the fidelity of the Virtual Hospital in terms of the environmental details. The VR learning experience strengthened her confidence in clinical practice as the system allowed every student to deal with nursing problems on their own, which helps them better prepare for the stressful work situation faced by nurses in the real clinical environment, she said.
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency or CISA has announced the “Protecting U.S. Elections: A CISA Cybersecurity Toolkit,” which provides state and local election officials with free services and tools to improve the cybersecurity and resilience of their infrastructure.
“I am very proud to announce another valuable resource that can help officials further reduce their cyber risk and improve their security posture,” says Jen Easterly, Director, CISA.
She added that the state and local election authorities must deal with challenges to their infrastructure daily from things like insider threats, malicious actors, and foreign involvement. This is just another tool to aid them in their continuous efforts to maintain the security and resilience of the American election processes.
CISA regularly collaborates with state and local election officials to safeguard their systems as the principal federal agency in charge of election security. In addition, CISA provides several services, information products, and other resources.
As the principal federal agency in charge of overseeing national election security, CISA has assembled a toolkit of free services and tools through the Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative (JCDC) to assist state and local officials, election officials, and vendors in enhancing the cybersecurity and cyber resilience of the U.S. election infrastructure.
The free tools, services, and resources offered by CISA, JCDC members, and other members of the cybersecurity community are included in this toolbox. These free resources were assembled by the JCDC of CISA, which collaborated with organisations from the public and private sectors, including the election community, and JCDC alliance members. The toolkit’s broad categories are arranged to assist election officials: Utilise an Election Security Risk Profile Tool created by CISA and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to evaluate their risk; locate tools for securing voter data, websites, email systems and networks. Also, safeguard assets from assaults such as phishing, ransomware, and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS).
The most recent tool that CISA and its partners have created to aid the election community is the toolkit. To counteract the disinformation, CISA’s website provides a wealth of information and advice on topics ranging from cybersecurity to physical security for polling places and election officials.
The organisation collaborates with election authorities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the territories to provide cybersecurity services, technical help, and guidance as well as to frequently share relevant and useful information and intelligence.
The following steps should be taken to create the cybersecurity baseline before employing the toolkit to handle risks, according to CISA: Use the free CISA Cyber Hygiene Services Vulnerability Scanning; prioritise patching known exploited vulnerabilities; maintain updated systems and software, adhere to best practices for password management, such as using multifactor authentication and a password manager; and create offline backups of your data.
Meanwhile, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is seeking public input on how to safely progress and adopt the Privacy-Enhancing Technologies (PETs). This can enable the future by embracing data-driven technologies like AI while safeguarding privacy.
PETs are tools that let researchers, clinicians, and anyone with permission glean insights from sensitive data without ever having access to the data itself. The fundamental value of PETs lies in their ability to keep data “hidden” from researchers while allowing analysis of that data.
It may enable new types of collaboration and norms for the appropriate use of personal information. Agencies may facilitate greater collaboration across entities, sectors, and borders to address shared concerns, so contributing to the development of solutions in areas such as health care, climate change, financial crime, human trafficking, and pandemic response.
The Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA), the Department of Science and Technology Advanced Science and Technology Institute (DOST-ASTI), and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) have begun testing satellite internet service in two rural banks in Batangas province.
“PhilSA and DOST-ASTI will process data to look at the network performance against the actual connectivity needs of the banks. Information from these reports will be utilised by BSP as we move this partnership forward,” says Ma. Victoria Gazmin-Basto, Officer-in-Charge, PhilSA Space Business Development Division.
The stated banks were previously recognised by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) as being in Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDAs), where the installation of new terrestrial networks to improve connectivity may be impractical.
The provision of technical assistance to BSP is consistent with PhilSA’s mandate of assisting other government agencies or departments, as well as the private sector, in carrying out their responsibilities using space science and technology applications and satellite data.
To collect data, a Weather and Performance Monitoring System (WPMS) equipment built by DOST-ASTI was placed up near the two banks. The WPMS includes a network performance monitoring device that is linked to the satellite internet user equipment installed at the banks.
Among other things, the device measures network metrics such as upload and download speeds, throughput, latency, and jitter. Furthermore, the WPMS includes weather stations that monitor meteorological parameters such as rain, temperature, humidity, and pressure at the same time. The obtained data will subsequently be analysed to investigate and evaluate the satellite internet service’s performance and reliability under local weather conditions.
According to Bryan Paler, Senior Science Research Specialist at DOST-ASTI, his agency encourages collaboration with PhilSA and BSP to demonstrate ASTI’s locally developed technologies in applications that benefit the Filipino people.
Aside from the WPMS, they are investigating how they may put other homegrown technologies to use, such as bridging the digital divide and promoting financial inclusion. DOST-ASTI intends to capitalise on the partnership’s benefits in the future by educating people about financial literacy.
The organisations intend to use the digital TV technology and internet infrastructure that they are constructing to teach people in the unserved and underserved areas about financial literacy in addition to doing research on the usefulness and efficiency of satellite internet services for banks. The Philippine government aims to provide rural areas with cutting-edge technology while also teaching residents how to use it for their own benefit. Out of the country’s 1,634 municipalities, 33% or 533, are still unbanked and do not have access to financial inclusion services.
The Philippines believes in satellite technology’s ability to improve connectivity in rural areas, hence increasing banks’ capacity to deliver digital financial services and encourage greater financial inclusion in unserved and underserved areas. Digital financial services such as remittances, bill payments, and opening transaction accounts, among others, would become more inclusive and accessible with improved connections in rural areas.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between PhilSA, DOST-ASTI, and BSP to encourage access to high-quality financial services enabled by internet connectivity. As transactions and services move to online platforms, this endeavour will increase digital inclusion.
Internet connectivity is recognised as a crucial enabler of financial and economic inclusion, as financial activities and services migrate to online platforms. As internet connection is increased, banks and other financial service providers will be able to better serve rural areas with additional internet-connected access points, such as automated teller machines and cash agent services.
Governance and the improvement of basic public services have come a long way with the help of digital technology. Given the number of crises in 2020, digital solutions platforms and tools have been a huge help to disaster preparedness and critical event management.
A lot of earthquakes and tsunamis happen near the coast of Indonesia. One of them is Banten, which is on the southern coast of the Lebak Regency. Studies show that a megathrust earthquake could have a magnitude of 8.9 and cause a tsunami that is up to 20 metres high.
With this, the ITB team then did a service programme, which included making maps of residential areas in Cimampang and Sukarena, modelling tsunami flooding, mapping exposure with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and making public information boards, surveying village resources, and digitising evacuation route maps. ITB works with different groups to get the southern coastal community of Lebak ready by doing things that are related to the Disaster Resilient Village indicator.
Since 2021, ITB’s service programme for the people on the southern coast of Lebak has been running well with the help of many offline and online partners and one of the things that were done was to teach people how to protect themselves from earthquakes and tsunamis. To be able to prepare for disasters, education needs to be a higher priority. People also think that the parameters of the emergency response plan and the early warning system at the school are still low, so they need to learn more.
Several government agencies and other groups took part in an evacuation drill. After the group simulation, people worked together to make tents, find places to stay, run a public kitchen, collect data on health, and do triage.
On the other hand, perceptions and understandings of the residents are strengthened through artistic expression channels after simulation activities. With help from the local government, teachers, and students, they put together materials to help keep school-based efforts to reduce disaster risk going.
By adding more art elements, the final forms of educational materials were made in a way that worked well. First, the book “Edukasi Siaga Caah Laut” has stories about how people in the area dealt with the tsunami and what they learned from evacuations and simulations of evacuations.
The second piece is a dance performance set to Sundanese Kidung that the students have written, sung, and played; and lastly, the word “Mitigarium,” which is an installation, is made of things that can be found in schools. The way things are set up shows expressions of tsunami events, evacuations, and other situations.
Furthermore, due to its location on the Ring of Fire, Indonesia is vulnerable to droughts and floods, as well as earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes. Java and Sumatra, the islands in the south and west, face a wide range of natural dangers. Most of the time, droughts and floods happen on the other islands. Heavy rains cause flooding and landslides in places in the middle of the country with steep terrain.
Indonesia is one of the countries in the world with the most earthquakes, thus, the government is coming up with new ways to get ready for these disasters. The nation’s Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysical Agency (BMKG) cited that they will maximise their digital technologies to improve their systems for collecting data on earthquakes and to get more accurate information and parameters.
A research team from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, and AI industry leaders have created a new standard on AI security in response to the demand for securing the integrity of AI programmes and building trust in AI solutions.
“By providing advice on the necessary defences and assessments to make AI applications more secure, we aim to create trust in AI for AI practitioners. At the same time, we hope that consumers will feel more confident in using AI solutions that have been certified with the standard,” says Prof Liu Yang of NTU’s School of Computer Science and Engineering, who also led the research development of the standard.
Despite the many advantages of AI adoption, cybersecurity risks like hacking constitute a serious risk to AI systems, particularly in situations where hackers may access sensitive data or cause automated systems to malfunction. However, there aren’t many rules protecting the security of AI systems.
The standard will be used to direct worldwide standardisation plans in this field through the International Organization for Standardisation (ISO), making Singapore one of the first nations in the world to steer advancements in AI security.
The new standard explains the different kinds of attacks that AI systems could face, how to measure the security of an AI algorithm, and what AI professionals can do to stop these kinds of attacks. It took a year to make, and 30 AI and security experts from business, academia, and the government helped make it.
The standard highlights four case studies where security breaches could have disastrous effects to show how important secure AI systems are. These case studies include content filters on social media platforms to flag offensive content, credit scoring systems to safeguard people and credit institutions, AI-enabled disease diagnosis systems, and systems that detect and shield computers from malicious software.
There could be serious effects on people’s lives if these AI systems fail. Users might be exposed to extremist content on social media sites, get an erroneous diagnosis, or have their credit score incorrectly determined, for instance.
Meanwhile, scientists from the National University of Singapore and NTU Singapore’s Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering (SCELSE) have developed a method to remove phosphorus from wastewater at temperatures higher than those permitted by currently used methods by storing the chemical in bacteria.
Current phosphorus removal techniques struggle to work effectively in temperatures above 25 degrees Celsius, which are becoming more common in warm countries. This is expected to occur in additional nations as a result of global warming.
Because water reclamation plants in Singapore are home to a range of microbial species, the SCELSE-developed approach, which is based on bacteria, would help to “future-proof” the removal of the toxin. This is because research has shown that at 30 and 35 degrees Celsius, it successfully removes phosphorus from wastewater.
Candidatus Accumulibacter is the name of the bacterial genus that removes phosphate from wastewater and stores it as polyphosphate granules inside itself, and it is not dangerous to the environment and to humans as well. Scientists say that their method could be used both in small reactors in the lab and in large treatment plants.
The bacteria-based technology makes it possible for biological phosphorus removal to work at temperatures as high as 35 degrees Celsius. This would help “future-proof” phosphorus exclusion, since other techniques that use biological advances only work at cooler temperatures and would be less efficient as global warming affects temperatures to rise around the world.