Part 2 of a two-part interview
In the first part of the interview, Mr. Randeep Sudan, Adviser on Digital Strategy and Government Analytics with the World Bank talked about leveraging the Singapore experience and data analytics. One of the most critical aspects of the data chain is security. We asked Mr. Sudan what are the challenges faced by governments on this front and what are they doing about it.
Mr. Sudan said that we need to be mindful of the fact that cybersecurity is not just for government data. It also applies to data with the private sector. There are weaknesses in the private sector infrastructure, which hackers exploit and then use it for sending out malicious data or carrying out distributed denial of service attacks. China has the reputation of being highly capable in the area of cybersecurity. Nonetheless it faces issues of securing large amounts of data in the private sector and in government.
“Unless one is able to deal with data security comprehensively, one cannot really improve the trust level and cybersecurity in any country. It is a job which the government cannot do alone. It has to get more stakeholders involved in this,” Mr. Sudan reminded us.
Going forward, one way of doing this could be a greater reliance on cyber risk insurance and reinsurance. If companies are buying insurance, then their levels of premiums will depend on the levels of risk to which they are exposed and there’s a market mechanism to assess those risks and monetise them. Currently, the market mechanisms are weak in most countries.
Role of international cooperation for enhancing cybersecurity
It’s a borderless world when it comes to cybersecurity. Many countries are trying to forge partnerships internationally for addressing it.
Mr. Sudan talked about several examples of international cooperation, while saying that more needs to be done. The Korean Internet Security Agency (KISA) has established a Global Center for Cybersecurity for Development (GCCD) to help developing countries on cyber security issues. The UK Government has helped establish the Oxford Cyber Security Center that is working with countries across the world on cyber security issues. Interpol has a centre in Singapore, the INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation. It tracks threats and shares information. ENISA, the European Union Agency for Network Information Security Agency, shares data across Europe. The US also has programmes for data sharing.
Risks for developing countries
KISA has a direct link into all the ISPs in Korea, so that they are able to monitor the traffic coming in and out of the country, and have a better understanding of the threat landscape. Besides establishing sophisticated monitoring capabilities Korea is now getting into AI to see how these threats can be better identified, predicted and pre-empted.
This level of sophistication requires capabilities and investments. Such investments do not come cheap. Mr. Sudan said that developing countries often struggle with this. Because firstly, there is a lack of availability of skills. Secondly, the institutional and regulatory structures are weak. Then there is a lack of awareness of the serious nature of threats. See for example how the Bangladesh Central Bank lost $81 million on account of a cyber heist.
In addition, the decisions are siloed. “If you have the education department putting up their data centre, the health department putting up their own data centre, the capability to deal with cybersecurity issues gets diluted to an extent that it exposes the whole system to risk. The more you digitise, unless the security part is taken care of, the more risk and complexity you are introducing into the system. And to manage this complexity in a decentralised way with each ministry managing cyber security threats independently makes things difficult. It might be easier to manage the cyber security function centrally with complementary management of the function at the agency level. And of course, you cannot keep all your eggs in one basket, you need to have secure backups in different places,” Mr. Sudan explained.
Korea has government data centres which are entirely in the control of government and are shared across agencies. These multiple data centres provide redundancy and backup capabilities to mitigate cyber risks.
Estonia has gone a step further and started experimenting with data embassies. The thinking is that in case their systems are completely compromised in Estonia, they should still continue working as a government. Estonia established its first data embassy in Luxembourg and is looking at other options of replicating data and keeping it in data embassies abroad, so that no matter what happens to Estonia as a physical entity, it can still function as a virtual government.
Major countries like India while pursuing digitisation aggressively, need to do a lot more on cybersecurity. It has to be ensured that cybersecurity is built into everything digital. The architecture needs to make things secure. There should be metrics to measure and systems to test security at each stage.
Recent trends in IT services development could offer a part of the solution. Mr. Sudan said, “If we look at microservices, this whole approach of DevOps for example, the advantage is that one doesn’t need to secure the whole system. The parts which are vulnerable can be secured in the best possible way. An added advantage is that such a strategy can bring the cost down.“
Talking about the criticality of cybersecurity, Mr. Sudan added, “All said and done, there are very serious consequences if data security is compromised. If people’s bank accounts are compromised or the electricity networks suffer a serious outage, it can create social chaos on an unprecedented scale. You don’t need a terrorist attack. A cyber breach would be enough to knock out the social system. So, it’s a question of social order, development, security. These are all intertwined.” The cybersecurity function has to be systematically addressed both as a horizontal across agencies and organisations – both public and private and as a vertical to mitigate such risks.
Digital ID is one of the foundational elements of a digital economy. It is a key enabler for the fast developing world of FinTech. Mr. Sudan said that being able to uniquely identify each individual is critical. Many years ago, Singapore realised this and the government centralised data on citizens, companies and geospatial data. These were the three core databases that were identified as absolutely important.
Mr. Sudan brought up the example of the Indian Unique ID, Aadhaar, as a great initiative on this front.
In his view, it is the most sophisticated ID system in the world at the moment. He said, “You don’t even need to carry a card. Your biometrics is your identification. Moreover, the system architecture is very good. It only gives information which is needed. If someone in the US wants to buy alcohol, they ask to see the drivers licence to verify age. A drivers licence shows a lot of details, including address, date of birth, and full name. All this information is not required for checking if a person is above 18 years or not. In the Aadhaar system the system would simply say whether a person is 18 and older with a simple yes or no. It doesn’t reveal any of the additional, unnecessary information. Information provided is on a need to know basis.”
ID data is secured and access is only through a query engine which is not allowed to alter in any way the core data.
Of course there are new approaches to secure digital IDs that are emerging and use blockchains. We have to see how these approaches play out as they mature. Developing countries will have to be mindful of such approaches in addition to ID systems like Aadhar while determining how best to go about creating digital IDs.
Digital transformation- top-down or bottom-up?
“My experience is that it has to be both top-down and bottom-up,” Mr. Sudan responded.
Defining standards has to be top down. Similarly, cybersecurity strategy and establishing national digital infrastructure like high speed networks has to be done from the top. So also legal and regulatory provisions to safeguard data privacy for example.
But the bottom-up aspect of citizen engagement, feedback from citizens, customising services for citizens is also important. And the private sector will increasingly have a role there because most of the platforms where the citizens are most comfortable in interacting are platforms with the private sector.
In Korea the government is using Kakao Chat for delivering government services. Mr. Sudan narrated another experience form a trip to China, “I was recently in China. And I had a meeting with Tencent. I realised that many of the Chinese government services are on Wechat. The point of delivery is a private sector platform, not a government website. For example, citizens can schedule their hospital appointments and pay for hospital expenses using WeChat.”
“The Tencent executives told me that in the case of a car accident, if the photographs of the accident are sent from the cell phone an insurance claim can be settled in 30 seconds. Backend algorithms, and visual analytics are now able to assess the damage very accurately. Based on the huge volume of data collected on past accidents the algorithms have become quite reliable,” he added.
In addition to users’ convenience using these platforms, there is another reason why governments should work with the private sector to deliver services. In many cases large digital platform companies have superior security as compared to what government might be able to muster.
The private sector also by and large has much better flexibility. If security technology changes or a new threat is found, the speed of response is likely to be significantly better in the private sector. Of course one cannot generalize this for all cases, as there are many examples where data with the private sector has been breached.
“I feel that on balance, it might be better for the government to work with the private sector, after assessing the systems and processes in place for ensuring data privacy and data security compliance.” Mr. Sudan commented.
The Institute for Digital Molecular Analytics and Science (IDMxS), which aims to promote the science of analysing biological molecules (biomolecules) using information technology and data science, was recently established by Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore). This could pave the way for real-time environmental or health data monitoring and analysis, like how real-time traffic data can be obtained on mobile devices.
IDMxS, NTU’s newest national Research Centre of Excellence (RCE), is funded with a total investment of over S$160 million over 10 years, with the majority coming from NTU and the National University of Singapore and S$94 million coming from the Singapore Ministry of Education.
Digital molecular analytics, a novel scientific discipline that analyses individual molecules to discover, identify, and measure biomolecules with extraordinary accuracy, is at the core of the work done at IDMxS.
Such a science will open many new areas of research, such as the creation of diagnostic testing capabilities that may then inspire the creation of new technologies and commercial spinoffs, including blood testing kits that can generate findings instantly using nothing more than a smartphone camera.
The interdisciplinary centre is anticipated to house 100 full-time researchers and employees with backgrounds ranging throughout the spectrum of engineering and science, from optics, computer science, and artificial intelligence (AI) to biology, medical technology, and chemistry.
Postgraduate students from NTU will have exceptional chances for interdisciplinary education and training that spans the molecular sciences and information technology through the graduate programme of IDMxS. More than 30 PhD students will receive support from the Centre, four of whom have already begun their studies. As clinical diagnostics become more digital, IDMxS will also create continuing education programmes aimed at developing and modernising the healthcare workforce.
By fusing the fields of biology and information technology – which have each recently undergone revolutionary changes – IDMxS will create the new science of digital molecular analytics. The objective is to develop tools that can track environmental data, such as air and water quality, and health information, like viral infections or molecular signatures that signal the existence of a disease, in real-time. To develop innovative solutions for issues with health, sickness, and environmental monitoring, this process begins with the development of fundamental science.
The ability to simultaneously gather a variety of data types from a biological sample and use tools like AI and machine learning algorithms to analyse and interpret the enormous volume of data that would otherwise be impossible for humans to make sense of is at the core of IDMxS’ digital molecular analytical strategies. The research centre intends to someday spin out solutions like widely used software using digital molecular analytics.
Moreover, making blood sample test kits is one potential use for digital molecular analytics that IDMxS is investigating. The goal of this research is to create a tool that can recognise the various chemicals responsible for illnesses, infections, and diseases.
This suggests that a physician might someday be able to take a blood sample, analyse it with a smartphone camera, and obtain an accurate, real-time reading next to the patient at the doctor’s table. A similar idea might do away with the necessity for additional time-consuming laboratory tests.
The extensive surveillance of illnesses spread by insects like dengue and malaria is another project that is now under development. Researchers can one day create an imaging system that can swiftly detect and monitor dengue among the mosquito population by recognising and analysing the chemicals that make up the dengue virus. Such studies might also be used to track other airborne infections and infectious diseases, in addition to insect-borne diseases that affect urban health.
In a bid to become a digital airline, the Vietnam Airlines Engineering Company Ltd (VAECO), a subsidiary of Vietnam Airlines, has signed a cooperation agreement with private players to deploy an aircraft maintenance and engineering management software system. Under the agreement, the system will provide technical management tools, manage the maintenance programme more closely, and more efficiently synchronise data. This will contribute to reducing maintenance costs and time, improving the operational readiness factor for the fleet.
The software also provides tools for planning, controlling maintenance procedures, and managing human resources to optimise production processes. It will minimise labour costs for recording and data entry and work control, leading to an overall increase in labour productivity, by an estimated 15-20%
The software provides synchronous information about failure status, maintenance history, and the status of spare parts. This enables technicians to make effective and timely repair decisions. It is expected to reduce flight stoppages, delays, and cancellations.
Furthermore, the system will shorten the aircraft maintenance time and create favourable conditions for the airline to concentrate human resources to expand the outside maintenance market share. The Deputy General Director of Vietnam Airlines, Nguyen Chien Thang, noted that the new technology will make an important contribution to helping VAECO become a leading aircraft maintenance service provider in the region while accelerating digital transformation.
Currently, Vietnam Airlines is the airline with the largest fleet in Vietnam, with more than 100 aircraft including Boeing 787, Airbus A350, A321, A321neom, and ATR72. The airline is constantly modernising its fleet, as well as improving its aircraft maintenance capacity and mastering new technologies.
In January, the airline launched two e-commerce platforms VNAMAZING, VNAMALL as well as its Vietnam Airlines Gift Card. The services were the first of their kind in the domestic aviation sector. VNAMAZING offers online tourism services including tour and accommodation bookings. VNAMALL provides a wide range of aviation and non-aviation goods and services.
As OpenGov Asia reported, the Vietnam Airlines Gift Card is a product available on VNAMALL, which can be used to exchange airline tickets or avail of business class upgrade benefits on flights operated by Vietnam Airlines, Pacific Airlines, and VASCO. An official from Vietnam Airlines said that the airline considers e-commerce development one of its top priorities.
In August, the carrier announced that passengers using the airline’s air service can now access a free-of-charge news-reader application called PressReader for Vietnamese and international publications. The application provides more than 7,000 digital newspaper and magazine titles available in over 70 languages. According to Vietnam Airlines, passengers can use the application 24 hours before the scheduled departure time and 24 hours after landing.
To use the app, passengers must download the Vietnam Airlines app, choose the PressReader button, and verify their booking code and flight information. Articles can be read online or downloaded for offline reading.
Most recently, Vietnam Airlines launched an online check-in service for passengers departing from Phu Bai airport in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue. The move increases efficiency and improves customer experience and convenience. Passengers are now able to check in via the official portal or the Vietnam Airlines application within 24 hours to one hour ahead of departure.
The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) announced the launch of a S$5 million Virtual Production Innovation Fund to support the local media industry in developing the capabilities needed to harness virtual production technology to maintain the local media industry’s competitiveness as the international partner of choice to create premium IP.
To enable the camera to capture actors and visual effects in real time, virtual production technology uses LED panels to produce realistic background landscapes for television or movie sequences driven by video game engines. The site, road closures, location costs, permits, weather, set construction, and space rental will no longer be necessary for production.
With the help of technology, Singapore has a rare chance to get over some of its physical constraints, like the lack of suitable locations for on-location filming and room for large sets.
The ability of the storytellers to reproduce historical sites or any other environment will allow them to generate content that was previously impossible. This will revolutionise the creative process of storytelling.
The adoption of virtual production by the media sector is further encouraged by the strong signals emanating from international media giants that this technology will be widely employed in the creation of movies and television shows and will become the standard in the next years.
To strengthen capabilities in virtual production and ensure that the media companies and talent can keep up with international production methods to remain competitive, IMDA will pursue a two-pronged strategy to prepare the media sector for the future.
The National Film and Television School (NFTS) in the UK has collaborated with IMDA to adapt the school’s Certificate in Virtual Production course to the requirements of the sector to train media professionals to use this technology.
From December 2022 to April 2023, fifteen professors, trainers, and media professionals from Singapore will participate in virtual lectures and undergo hands-on training at NFTS’s virtual production facilities.
Over the course of the following 12 months, several masterclasses and workshops given by professionals from the business will be offered. A Singapore-based firm that specialises in developing immersive experiences, held a display to exhibit how virtual production can enhance imaginative storytelling.
Hands-on demonstrations will be given by guest speakers from virtual production leaders. They will discuss and explore best practices in the workflow to inventive ways to use different technology in storytelling.
Local businesses can also test out virtual production to realise their creative ideas for brief pieces of content, such as music videos, short films, and brand advertisements, among others. Companies can submit their suggested content concepts from now until February 15, 2023.
The capacity to best utilise virtual production technologies to realise a project’s creative vision will be taken into consideration while evaluating proposals.
Additionally, IMDA is working to organise an industry challenge with an internationally renowned gaming company. This challenge will encourage organisations to experiment with and use the cutting-edge real-time 3D creation tool developed by this gaming company. Currently, the aforementioned tool powers globally popular video games.
Teams whose concepts are shortlisted will receive personalised coaching and training from the gaming company. In addition, they will receive prize money from IMDA to assist with content creation.
Since virtual production technology has advanced in recent years, the country is now able to produce visual effects in real-time without building actual sets, thereby overcoming the constraints of scale, complexity, and space.
India will Chair the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI), an international initiative to support the responsible and human-centric development and use of artificial intelligence (AI).
The Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), Rajeev Chandrasekhar, represented India virtually at the GPAI meeting held in Tokyo for the symbolic takeover from France, which is the outgoing Council Chair.
Chandrasekhar stated that the country would work in close cooperation with member states to put in place a framework to fully exploit the power of AI for the good of consumers across the globe. This means ensuring there are adequate guardrails to prevent misuse and user harm.
According to the Minister, India is building an ecosystem of modern cyber laws and frameworks based on three principles: openness, safety, and trust and accountability. With a National Programme on AI and National Data Governance Framework Policy (NDGFP) in place as well as one of the world’s largest publicly accessible datasets programmes in the works, the Minister reiterated India’s commitment to using AI to catalyse innovation and create good, trusted applications.
The NDGFP strives to ensure equitable access to non-personal data and improve institutional frameworks for government data sharing, promote principles around privacy and security by design, and encourage the use of anonymisation tools. It also aims to standardise the way the government collects and manages data. The NDGFP along with an envisaged Indian Data Management Office (IDMO) shall catalyse the next-gen AI and data-led research and startup ecosystem.
Through the datasets programmes, anonymised non-personal data will be available for the entire AI ecosystem. The AI market globally was nearly US$ 59.67 billion in 2021 and is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 39.4% to reach around US$ 422.37 billion by 2028. With the rapid growth of AI and machine learning (ML), experts predict that most businesses will shift to AI-powered systems, apps, security systems, data analysis, and other applications in the future. AI is expected to add US$ 967 billion to India’s economy by 2035 and US$ 450–500 billion to India’s GDP by 2025, accounting for 10% of the country’s US $5 trillion GDP target.
A government official outlined India’s priorities as Chair GPAI next year, stating that the country would focus on promoting greater involvement of the global south in the conversation regarding the use of AI for solving societal problems. The country has also emphasised the need for the responsible and ethical use of AI.
GPAI is a congregation of 25 member countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, and Singapore. In 2020, India joined the group as a founding member. It is a first-of-its-type initiative that aims to better understand the challenges and opportunities around AI. It works in collaboration with partners and international organisations, leading experts from industry, civil society, governments, and academia. These stakeholders collaborate to promote the responsible evolution of AI and guide the development and use of the technology, grounded in human rights, inclusion, diversity, innovation, and economic growth.
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) recently announced that a PolyU-supported start-up has successfully developed the Nano Multi-rings Defocus Incorporated Lens for controlling the progression of myopia (or short-sightedness).
The start-up collaborated with the State Key Laboratory of Ultra-precision Machining Technology (The Hong Kong Polytechnic University) (SKL-UPMT) and the School of Optometry of PolyU to create the new solution by integrating DISC technology and Ultra-precision Nano Multi-rings Machining Technology, offering children and adolescents a convenient, non-invasive and effective option to delay myopia progression.
PolyU holds the patents for both DISC technology and Ultra-precision Nano Multi-rings Machining Technology. The launch of the Nano Multi-rings Defocus Incorporated Lens signifies the University’s long-term commitment to driving research and innovation and its continuous effort in facilitating knowledge transfer and research commercialisation by supporting cutting-edge technology start-ups.
PolyU’s School of Optometry invented the novel DISC technology, which is proven to retard the myopia progression of children by 60%. The method produces a clear image on the retina and a defocused or blurred image in front of the retina simultaneously, enabling children to have clear vision while controlling the development of myopia. Based on this technology, the DISC-SH soft contact lens was introduced in 2018.
The Ultra-precision Nano Multi-rings Machining Technology, developed by SKL-UPMT, merges advanced optics design, ultra-precision machining and ultra-precision measurement technologies, and ultra-precision mould-making to apply DISC technology in spectacle lens production. By employing an ultra-precision process, the new spectacle lens provides added comfort for wearers, while offering more stable vision. The non-invasive design also makes it more suitable for children of different ages.
The Visiting Chair Professor of the School of Optometry of PolyU and Co-founder of the start-up noted that the partnership with SKL-UPMT and the School of Optometry to launch the new Nano Multi-rings Defocus Incorporated Lens resulted in a breakthrough in DISC technology. This initiative helps address the spiralling myopia problem among children, especially in markets with a relatively high ratio of myopes such as Hong Kong, Singapore and mainland China.
The Professor of the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering and Director of SKL-UPMT at PolyU stated that ultra-precision machining technology is a multi-disciplinary advanced manufacturing technology, which is the backbone of crucial industries like optometry, semiconductors, advanced optics, aerospace, energy, biomedical and new materials development.
He noted that SKL-UPMT is at the forefront of the development and application of technologies and have a proven track record in designing and implementing new methods, process, systems and facilities in ultra-precision machining and ultra-precision measurement.
The locally developed Ultra-precision Nano Multi-rings Machining Technology was extended to fine-tune and manufacture optometric products and will continue to create new technologies and solutions for diverse industries to benefit society. In doing so, Hong Kong and mainland China’s competence and strategic advantages in design and advanced manufacturing will be furthered, he said.
The Nano Multi-rings Defocus Incorporated Lens is expected to be rolled out in Hong Kong and mainland China soon. The company will continue collaborating with PolyU to develop new myopia control products based on DISC technology to protect the vision health of children and adolescents.
Founded by PolyU’s professor and alumni, the start-up has received financial support from the PolyU Micro Fund and the PolyU Tech Launchpad Fund. In 2018, the company secured a licence from PolyU for commercialising DISC technology, which the start-up manufactures and distributes DISC lenses at its authorised optometric clinics and fitting centres.
Four industry titans in technology have been given contracts for the Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability (JWCC), according to the Department of Defense (DoD) of the U.S.
JWCC is a multiple-award contract vehicle that will give the DoD the chance to obtain commercial cloud capabilities and services directly from the commercial Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) at the pace of mission, at all classification levels, from the corporate headquarters to the tactical edge.
With this Indefinite-Delivery, Indefinite-Quantity (IDIQ) contract vehicle, cloud services can be provided more quickly and at commercial cost, if not better.
The following capabilities will now be available to warfighters under a single contract thanks to JWCC: global accessibility, readily available and resilient services, centralised management and distributed control, usability, commercial parity, elastic computing, storage, and network infrastructure, advanced data analytics, fortified security, and tactical edge devices.
Those interested in knowing more about JWCC, register for the JWCC Customer Portal or contact the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) Hosting and Compute Center (HaCC), can visit this website.
To make cloud purchasing, provisioning, and onboarding simpler for DoD clients, DISA has created user-friendly cloud accelerators.
In addition, the DoD MIIs build a national network of public-private partnerships, establish an industrial common for manufacturing R&D, and advance workforce education and development while accelerating new technologies using federal funding combined with matching investment from academia, industry, and state governments.
The network strategically coordinates resources to solve important technologies and create interconnected manufacturing systems by marshalling the greatest talent from around the nation. The nine MIIs supported by the DoD are under the direction of ManTech, the DoD Manufacturing Technology Program.
Finding industry partners, including small enterprises, that have cutting-edge technology that could help the warfighter is essential to the DOD MII mission. DoD makes investments in these sectors of advanced manufacturing through the MIIs.
Conversations with some research institutes earlier this year shed light on how the DoD and the country are benefiting from the pace of technology.
Combining silicon integrated circuits with semiconductor lasers is known as silicon photonics – a speciality of the American Institute of Manufacturing — Integrated Photonics.
Compared to conventional electronics, this technology allows for faster data transfer over greater distances while making use of the advantages of high-volume silicon production.
COVID sensors are some of the most fascinating applications for photonics. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act provided funding for sensors that can identify COVID-19 from a drop of blood in less than a minute.
In various sensor regions of the chip, there are proteins linked to SARS-CoV-2 and eight other viruses. Antibodies to those viruses will bind to the proteins in a blood sample and be found if a person has been exposed to any of the viruses.
On the other hand, additive manufacturing creates parts that can be formed of ceramics, rubber, metal, plastic, rubber, and polymers. The ability of the military to build parts additively improves its capacity for swift and agile operations, particularly in hostile circumstances.
The qualification and certification of processes and materials are other areas of emphasis for some manufacturers. The primary obstacle to manufacturers fully embracing additive manufacturing is a lack of training and certification.
The manufacturing sector also examines how the supply chain’s capacity compares to the need for components made additively.
Together, these initiatives are assisting the U.S. in strengthening its manufacturing sector and taking the lead in global competitiveness.
Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IIT-Madras) have developed an ocean wave energy converter that can generate electricity from sea waves. The team successfully concluded the trials for the device in the second week of November.
According to a statement by IIT-Madras, the device was deployed about 6 kilometres off the coast of Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu, and around 20 metres deep. It targets generating 1 megawatt of power from ocean waves within the next three years. The product has been named Sindhuja-I, which means ‘generated from the ocean.’
The system has a floating buoy, a spar, and an electrical module. The buoy moves up and down as the wave moves up and down. In the present design, the buoy has a central hole that allows a long rod called a spar to pass through it. The spar can be fixed to the seabed, and passing waves will not affect it, the buoy moves up and down and produces relative motion between them. This relative motion is used by an electric generator to produce power. In the present design, the spar floats, and a mooring chain keeps the system in place.
The project will help achieve several objectives, including goals set in the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and India’s targets to carry out deep-water missions, promote clean energy, and achieve a blue economy. The project could help India meet its climate change-related goals of generating 500 gigawatts of electricity by 2030 through renewable energy.
The device will be deployed in remote offshore locations, which require reliable electricity and communication either by supplying electric power to payloads that are integrated directly in or on the device or located in its vicinity as on the seabed and in the water column. Targeted stakeholders are the oil and gas, defence and security installations, and communications sectors.
A faculty member from IIT-Madras who has been working on wave energy for over a decade, Abdus Samad, led the mission. He established a state-of-the-art Wave Energy and Fluids Engineering Laboratory (WEFEL) at the Institute. His team designed and tested a scaled-down model. The lab is also researching other applications for this technology such as producing power for smaller devices for the ocean like navigational buoys and data buoys, among others.
Samad explained that India has a 7,500-kilometre-long coastline capable of producing 54 gigawatts of power, satisfying a substantial amount of the country’s energy requirements. Seawater stores tidal, wave, and ocean thermal energy. Among them, harnessing 40 gigawatts of wave energy is possible in India, he said. Efficacy-wise, it can be installed anywhere within 10 to 6,000 metres of water depth. It’s not dependent on bathymetry, does not harm sea life, includes no digging of the sea bed and is easily deployable, and portable. This will generate power around the clock, with almost negligible battery storage. Samad said it would be an excellent choice for sea surveillance, offshore desalination, coral reef regeneration, offshore communication, and drone charging/underwater vehicle charging.
Even single devices in different locations along the Indian coastline can generate large quantities of clean power. The team is contemplating placing multiple devices in an array configuration for maximum wave power extraction from the location, Samad noted. Their vision is to make India sustainable by tapping marine energy and net-zero carbon emissions to mitigate climate impact.