OpenGov’s Singapore Leadership Forum was held on 12 May 2016 at the Grand Hyatt Singapore. With over 200 local delegates and speakers from the United States, Europe, Australia and Singapore, the Leadership Forum is certainly a platform to talk, share and learn.
Mr. Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director & Editor in Chief of OpenGov Asia opened the forum by discussing Digital Transformation. He surmises that Digital Transformation is not actually about the technology – it is about the people and the outcomes.
‘As leaders of government, we need to understand how our people use technology but, more importantly, we need to understand what our agencies are trying to achieve. We now live in an era of digital Darwinism, where technology changes constantly. Our people – all use new technology in their private lives – understand and embraces new technology very quickly and as soon as it comes on the market. However, our agencies are lagging behind – in some cases, years behind.
And while we need to transform digitally within our agencies, we need to choose our technology carefully, as our people are increasingly changed fatigued. As government agencies, we make changes to our technology regularly – and we absolutely need to do this. The problem is that while we change the technology, we do not place enough emphasis on the people or on the outcome and this results in not enough adoption. Therefore, when the next trance of technology comes along, people are tired of the constant ‘change’ and refuses to embrace these improvements even further. This affects the value proposition and the return on our investment.
What we need to strive for, is an evergreen state – where technology changes are seamless. This means that rather than doing the annual ‘update’ or ‘upgrade’ to our systems (and therefore risk downtime), our technology changes seamlessly, moves with the times and the latest available.
As government agencies we need to make decisions about what we are investing in and what are we using the technology for. We need to understand what do we have today and what do we need for the future. Rather than accepting the status quo, we need to question what has changed in our agencies; our policies; our practices – and make decisions regarding new technology based on these needs. We can either be observers or changers.
Investment dollars in government budgets are finite. Therefore, we need to value every step of our technology journey and ensure that our investments are justifiable. As government officials, are you asking these questions?
So, as we move our agencies through this digital transformation journey, let’s focus on outcomes. Before making investment decisions, we should observe what our agency’s need; we should spend time on ideation or brainstorming the future; we should build prototypes and test and gain feedback for our new ways of working. This is design thinking, and this is what leading transformations, whether digital or otherwise, is all about.’
Keynote presentation by none other than the Mr. Chan Cheow Hoe, Government Chief Information Officer (CIO), Assistant Chief Executive, Government Chief Information Office, Infocomm Development Authority who continued the talk about the unfolding journey on Digital Transformation in Singapore.
He talked with passion about ‘A vision to create a better living, more opportunities and stronger communities by harnessing technology.
He focused on how Singapore is thinking ahead at all stages and is not reacting to the circumstance. By using every tool in its armoury – Singapore is staying ahead of the changes in demand. Examples such as, NEA on mosquito population growth due to damaged drains, and the Beeline Mobile App from crowd sourcing to name a few. He out lined in detail on what is all about on –
“Delivering smart nation with innovation solutions.” He outlined the key challenges –
· Changing paradigm in citizen demands
· Innovative, disruptive and practical
· The data conundrum
· The pursuit of talent
· Changing mindset
· Staying relevant, staying agile
More to come on this…
So what else –
In our current digital world, users want information now. The advert of smart-phones has delivered a culture where we demand information or services wherever we are and whenever we want. Have 15 minutes spare? – we are likely to be on social media connecting with friends and family. Planning to travel? – we use travel apps to plan and book. Sitting chatting with friends listening to music? – someone may want to know more about the song or the artist and we search. This digital age has made the here and now all about the individual – and just as individuals demand information and services from the private sector, so too they demand it from government. Government is now obliged to provide services in the way our citizens want to receive them. Long gone are the days of waiting until 9:00 am Monday morning, travelling to a government office, getting in a queue and waiting to be served.
Delegates attending the Leadership Forum overwhelming agreed that digital transformation and the need for government to connect better was very important. And while citizens are demanding this from us, government can use this digital age to gather information and get insights from its citizens. Not only can government meet the demands of citizens, we can ‘push’ services that we know our citizen’s needs. Just had a baby? – government could ‘push’ to the parents the ability to register the baby’s birth and receive a birth certificate. Passport expiring? – government could remind the citizen of the expiring passport and enable an online renewal process. As government officials and citizens, we can identify moments of time when citizens need government services and build services around these.
So, while delegates agreed that digitally transforming our service delivery mechanisms, they discussed a number of challenges faced by government. Two significant challenges discussed where that change takes too long in government, and we lack skilled resources to deliver this change. These are not new challenges unfortunately. Other challenges discussed were that our legislative base need amending before we can introduce new ways; and, as government agencies, we need to ensure that the confidentiality of citizen’s information is protected at all times.
We cannot sit back and do nothing because we are faced by challenges. As leaders of government, we need to work within the constraints placed on us and determine a path forward. As I mentioned above, this is not an option – we are obliged to serve our citizens.
Technology progression – not just about technology
The 2016 OpenGov Leadership forum in Singapore was an opportunity for Singaporean government officials, ICT vendors and invited overseas guest to discuss the latest progression in technology.
Surprisingly, the overwhelmingly consistent message is that technology solutions are not just about the technology itself – it’s actually about people.
Delegates attending the forum heard from a number of local and international speakers and spent time in discussion tables conversing about different technology subjects. Listening to the conversations and the presentations I was surprised at how often the ‘people’ aspect was mentioned.
In years gone by, technology ‘events’ such as these would focus on the latest solutions – from full Enterprise Resource Management solutions, to cloud-based solutions, to software as a service. It seemed, back then, that technology could help us change everything.
This year, the discussion focused on technology as an enabler and that the priority was people – how people use technology, what they need to use it for, how can it benefit their quality of life.
Cat Matson, the Chief Digital Officer for the City of Brisbane discussed enabling technology to enhance the existing liveability of Brisbane. She has a number of foundational building blocks to her program and none of them are a technology platform. Instead, she is focussed on capability; innovation; engagement and collaboration. She wants to know ‘what’s the best way to solve this problem’.
Paul Bartley from the Program Support Centre in the US, discussed his priority of understanding his customer’s needs and the drive behind the need, before designing a solution.
Brian Heatherich from Lockheed Martin, discussed workplaces as a service – understanding how employees need and want to work and using technology to enable this.
And rather than government agencies just adopting big data because the private sector are, agencies are now asking what questions do they really need answered?
These discussions are really positive. It is great to hear conversations about people – what people want from government and how do we deliver this through a technology-enabled solution. By asking these questions, we can deliver good solutions and invest government funding in a more directly beneficial and relevant way.
I would encourage these discussions to continue – by putting our citizens first we can only be ‘better’ governments.
The Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) of Singapore and Mexico’s National Institute for Transparency, Access to Information and Personal Data Protection (INAI) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), highlighting the growing significance of international cooperation in the digital age. This marks a significant milestone as the first such collaboration between Singapore and a Latin American country’s data protection authority.
The collaboration acknowledged that data governance and the seamless flow of information across borders are imperative for fostering global trade in the digital economy. Recognising personal data protection as a shared concern, the MoU aims to build trust and facilitate secure cross-border data flows between the two nations.
Commissioner of PDPC, Lew Chuen Hong, and Commissioner Josefina Román Vergara of INAI Mexico formally sealed this partnership, signifying a commitment to navigating the complexities of the digital age together.
The collaboration’s focal points include the development of compatible data transfer mechanisms that will serve as the foundation for trusted cross-border data flows. Technological innovation also takes centre stage, with both authorities pledging to cooperate in fostering advancements that enable these secure data exchanges.
Beyond this, the MoU sets the stage for an exchange of information, sharing best practices, and collaborative research on emerging privacy and data protection issues and trends.
Commissioner Josefina Román Vergara of Mexico’s INAI perceived this collaboration as a pivotal stride toward a future where nations work hand in hand to confront the challenges of the digital era. “By focusing on the development of compatible data transfer mechanisms, technological innovation, and information exchange, through this MoU we are not only shaping our digital futures, but also setting a standard for global cooperation,” she remarked.
Singapore’s PDPC shares a similar sentiment, expressing its commitment to facilitating responsible cross-border data flows. The MoU with Mexico’s INAI is viewed as a significant leap forward in bridging the fragmented global landscape for personal data protection. Commissioner Lew Chuen Hong emphasised the importance of the collaboration, stating, “We look forward very much to working closely with Mexico on this.”
The scope of the MoU extends beyond the technical aspects of data transfer and innovation. It encompasses the continued sharing of experiences and the exchange of best practices on data protection.
Both countries commit to providing mutual assistance in cross-border personal data incidents that contravene their respective data protection legislations. This not only reflects a commitment to data security but also establishes a framework for cooperation in addressing challenges that may arise in the enforcement of data protection laws.
As the digital landscape evolves, Singapore’s PDPC remains dedicated to actively collaborating and strengthening global cooperation on personal data protection. The renewal of the MoU with Australia’s Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) at the 60th Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities (APPA) Forum in Sydney underscores Singapore’s commitment to fostering international partnerships in safeguarding personal data.
These collaborative efforts by Singapore’s PDPC with Mexico’s INAI and Australia’s OAIC highlight the shared recognition of the global nature of personal data protection. In an era where information knows no borders, such collaborations set the stage for standardised practices, innovation, and mutual support in addressing the challenges posed by the digital age.
Digital collaboration, according to PDPC, is critical for modern organisations seeking to thrive in a dynamic and interconnected world. It not only improves efficiency and productivity, but it also allows for global connectivity, fosters innovation, and promotes flexible work arrangements, all of which contribute to the success and competitiveness of businesses and teams.
The National Cybercrime Threat Analytics Unit (NCTAU), a vertical under the Indian Cybercrime Coordination Centre (I4C), identified and recommended action against over 100 websites engaged in organised investment or task-based part-time job frauds The I4C is a Ministry of Home Affairs initiative designed to address cybercrime in the country through a coordinated and comprehensive approach.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), exercising its authority under the Information Technology Act of 2000, has blocked these websites. These platforms, which posted task-based illegal investment-related economic crimes, were found to be operated by foreign entities. They used digital advertisements, chat messengers, and mule or rented accounts as part of their operations.
Additionally, it has come to light that the gains from these large-scale economic frauds were laundered out of India through various means, including card networks, cryptocurrency transactions, overseas ATM withdrawals, and international fintech companies.
In this regard, numerous complaints were lodged through the 1930 helpline and the National Cyber Reporting Portal (NCRP), highlighting the substantial threat these offences posed to citizens, along with concerns related to data security. Typically, these frauds entail the following steps:
- Targeted digital advertisements are launched on major search engines and social media sites using key phrases like “work-from-home” and “ways to make money from home” in multiple languages. These advertisements originate from overseas advertisers and predominantly target retired individuals, women, and unemployed youth seeking part-time employment.
- Upon clicking the advertisement, an agent initiates a conversation with the potential victim through a messaging service. The agent persuades the individual to perform various tasks, such as liking videos, subscribing to channels, rating maps, and similar online activities.
- After completing the assigned task, the victim is initially rewarded with a commission. Subsequently, the victim is urged to invest more capital with the promise of higher returns for additional tasks.
- Once the victim, having gained confidence deposits a larger sum, the deposits are subsequently frozen, resulting in the victim being deceived.
As a precautionary measure, the government has advised citizens to exercise due diligence before investing in any online schemes that promise exceptionally high commissions and are promoted over the Internet. Furthermore, when an unfamiliar individual contacts someone through an online messaging service, individuals should avoid carrying out financial transactions without proper verification.
The name of the receiver mentioned in the Unified Payments Interface application should be verified. If the recipient appears to be a random person, it could be indicative of a mule account, and the scheme may be fraudulent. Likewise, individuals should scrutinise the source from which the initial commission is received.
Citizens are strongly advised to abstain from conducting transactions with unfamiliar accounts, as they may be implicated in activities such as money laundering and potentially even terror financing. Engaging in such transactions could result in the blocking of accounts by law enforcement and other legal actions.
Establishing a ‘Cyber Safe India’ is one of the Ministry of Home Affairs’ top priorities. In a recent press release, it reiterated that it is dedicated to combating cybercrime and safeguarding individuals from cyber threats. Citizens are encouraged to promptly report the phone numbers and social media handles used by fraudsters to the National Cyber Reporting Portal (NCRP).
India is actively prioritising cybersecurity readiness and advocating for enhanced protection among citizens, government personnel, agencies, and organisations. The country is spearheading efforts to fortify digital defences, ensuring a resilient and secure cyber landscape across all sectors.
OpenGov Asia reported that the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology’s National e-Governance Division conducted a comprehensive CISO Deep-Dive Training Programme, part of the Cyber Surakshit Bharat initiative, to enhance cybersecurity awareness and empower government officials across India against escalating cyber threats.
Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin attended an event in Bangkok, focusing on the collaboration between a tech giant and the Thai government to advance the nation’s digital economy. The Premier highlighted the company’s technological prowess in AI and Cloud services, which aligns with the government’s commitment to inclusive digital development under the theme “Leave No Thai Behind.”
The Prime Minister also mentioned the government’s Cloud-First policy to foster a robust AI-based economy, integrating Public and Private Clouds with high data management standards. The Ministry of Digital Economy and Society has been tasked with spearheading these efforts through practical applications and improving public services through technologies such as Generative AI.
The Prime Minister conveyed his positive views on the enduring collaboration between Thailand and the tech giant, which cultivates a favourable setting for the growth of AI and Cloud technologies, aiming to guarantee that every Thai reaps the benefits of these digital evolutions.
The Prime Minister pointed out the government’s proactive digital-first policies and Thailand’s position as an attractive destination for global business investment. A notable outcome of this collaboration is the MoU announced at the APEC meeting in San Francisco, covering the expansion of digital infrastructure, responsible Cloud and AI use in government services, a Cloud-First Policy, and the enhancement of digital skills in Thailand.
With the signing of the MoU, the Thai government are poised to collaborate, charting the course for the nation’s digital transformation through comprehensive efforts focused on workforce empowerment, sustainability, and cutting-edge digital infrastructure. This agreement solidifies the vision of an AI-driven Thailand at the forefront of digital innovation.
The MoU seeks to bolster Thailand’s economic edge while fostering a digitally advanced ecosystem. Emphasising the creation of high-value jobs and sharpening the nation’s competitive edge, the partnership aims to position Thailand as a regional leader in digital prowess and sustainability.
Prime Minister Thavisin, while participating in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in San Francisco, held discussions with the company, outlining the strategic objectives embedded within this collaborative venture.
The Prime Minister reiterated Thailand’s commitment to sustainable progress and renewable energy and aligned these ambitions with the company’s overarching vision, “This collaboration will strengthen our country’s economy while enhancing our digital capability.”
A wide spectrum of topics emerged during their discussions, including the blueprint for a digital-first Thailand, steering the nation towards an AI-empowered future, equipping Thai citizens for the evolving landscape of work and life, and propelling Thailand towards a leadership role in green growth initiatives.
Aligned with the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society’s digital government and cloud-first strategies, the company commits to close collaboration with Thai government bodies to propel smart digital infrastructure development across critical sectors like agriculture, healthcare, tourism, and education.
The collaboration seeks to pave the way for data centre investments to amplify cloud and AI utilisation in Thailand, while concurrently enhancing the nation’s cybersecurity posture with the company’s global best practices and expertise.
Furthermore, the partnership intends to integrate AI into government projects and public services, paving the path for establishing an AI Centre of Excellence to expedite ongoing public-sector AI initiatives, define comprehensive AI implementation plans, and foster innovation across multiple industries.
Policy and regulatory frameworks for responsible AI use in Thailand are also on the agenda, coupled with the company’s commitment to upskilling 10 million Thais, ensuring they are equipped with crucial skills for the future.
Noteworthy environmental initiatives are also part of the plan, with the creation of a sustainability sandbox aimed at expediting Thailand’s journey towards net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2065. This endeavour encompasses scalable initiatives catering to the public sector, large enterprises, and small businesses.
The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) intends to gradually substitute Closed Loop Delhi Metro Smart Cards with Open Loop National Common Mobility Cards (NCMC). The move allows customers to use the same card for both metro and bus journeys nationwide within the NCMC-compliant system. The transport card enables users to make payments for various services, including transit fares, tolls (toll tax), cash withdrawals, and more.
Customers will benefit from the convenience of using their bank-issued NCMC card for making fare payments, ensuring a seamless and efficient transaction process. The NCMC system actively encourages a cashless environment, aligning with modern payment trends and contributing to a more secure and streamlined travel experience. Additionally, users can easily recharge their NCMC online or at designated recharge points, providing a hassle-free and straightforward approach to managing their cards. This integrated set of features enhances the overall ease and efficiency of utilising the NCMC system for transportation needs.
DMRC has communicated that it is not encountering any delays or challenges in implementing NCMC, citing compliance with guidelines from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Additionally, other metro rail systems are gradually transitioning from the Closed Loop Card System to NCMC.
NCMC, issued by banks, is a prepaid and secure dual EMV card that ensures a high level of security and reliability in transactions. It is linked to the Paytm Payments Bank wallet, offering versatile utility for various purposes such as travel, in-store payments, and online shopping, among others.
NCMC is universally accepted for all retail point-of-sale (POS) devices, providing a broader scope of usability. In contrast, closed-loop cards are limited to acceptance only within their specific operating environments.
Launched in 2015, the Digital India programme is a comprehensive initiative aimed at ensuring digital access, inclusion, and empowerment, fostering a knowledge-based economy and a digitally empowered society by uniting a myriad of ideas for widespread development and efficient service delivery to all citizens.
In line with the Digital India vision, the National Common Mobility Card (NCMC), introduced in 2019 as part of the “Make in India” initiative by the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs (MoHUA), seeks to address cash payment challenges in transportation, establishing an affordable and reliable system spanning all modes of transit.
The project’s ultimate objective is to introduce the “One Nation One Card” for seamless transit transactions while extending the utility of NCMC for low-value offline retail transactions, furthering the objectives of the Digital India initiative.
Countries across the world are integrating technology into public transportation systems, enhancing travel experiences by making them more convenient and efficient. Earlier this year, the Viet-Smart Travel Card was launched by the Tourism Information Technology Centre (TITC) under the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism.
Developed under the “Vietnamese Card – One National Card” initiative led by the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Smart Travel Card provides users with the convenience of one-touch and online payment capabilities. Apart from transportation and tourism, it seamlessly integrates into healthcare, banking, trade, and education services.
The Smart Travel Card is incorporated into the “Vietnam Travel” application. By downloading the app, tourists not only acquire smart travel cards but also unlock a wide array of technological features. These include the capability to book airline tickets and hotels, purchase e-tickets, access digital tourist maps, and search for businesses offering travel-related services.
In August, the Nelson City Council in New Zealand unveiled the Ebus OnDemand application, providing passengers with a convenient and efficient means to request bus rides through a mobile app or by calling a dedicated number.
As OpenGov Asia reported, the OnDemand service aims to broaden access, serving a larger population through flexible operations tailored to passengers’ preferred travel destinations rather than adhering to a fixed route that may only cater to certain areas of the community. The service expands travel possibilities, reaching destinations as far as Marsden Valley Road and Monaco. Passengers benefit from precise arrival information, significantly reducing waiting times and enhancing overall travel experience.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong officially unveiled the National AI Strategy 2.0 (NAIS 2.0) at the inaugural Singapore Conference on AI (SCAI). This comprehensive strategy is designed not only to address contemporary challenges but also to uplift the collective economic and social potential of Singapore over the next three to five years.
Singapore’s journey into AI began in 2019 with the inception of the first National AI Strategy. This initial strategy laid out plans to deepen the integration of AI into various sectors, from Education to Healthcare and Safety & Security. Notably, the nation invested in critical enablers to fortify its AI ecosystem. Since then, Singapore has witnessed remarkable breakthroughs, leading to new products, capabilities, and interactions.
The renewed NAIS 2.0 acknowledges the opportunities and risks that AI presents in a society where digital technologies are an integral part of everyday life. Mastery of AI, according to Deputy Prime Minister Wong, holds the key to empowering businesses and citizens, unlocking new job opportunities, and driving the next wave of economic growth.
However, the responsible and sustainable management of AI is imperative to mitigate potential negative effects or misuse, such as cyber threats and misinformation, ensuring that AI engagement is safe and trustworthy for everyone.
NAIS 2.0 is framed by the vision “AI for the Public Good, for Singapore and the World.” The strategy revolves around two key goals: Excellence and Empowerment. Under the banner of Excellence, Singapore aims to selectively develop AI peaks to advance the field and maximise value creation.
This involves directing AI towards addressing pressing global challenges, including population health and climate change. On the Empowerment front, the strategy aspires to equip individuals, businesses, and communities to use AI with confidence, discernment, and trust, making AI the great equaliser in preparing for an AI-enabled future.
The strategy outlines 15 key actions across various systems and enablers that Singapore will undertake over the next three to five years. These actions encompass building a trusted and responsible AI ecosystem, driving innovation and growth through AI, and ensuring that people and businesses can engage with AI effectively.
Simultaneously, the launch of the inaugural SCAI underscores Singapore’s commitment to navigating the challenges of AI development. Themed “For the Global Good,” the conference aims to convene over 40 distinguished experts from academia, industry, and government. The goal is to identify critical questions in the realm of AI that, once answered, will enable the responsible development and deployment of AI for the benefit of societies globally.
Singapore’s NAIS 2.0 and the SCAI mark a significant stride toward harnessing the potential of AI while acknowledging the responsibilities that come with it. With a vision focused on the public good and a commitment to excellence and empowerment, Singapore is poised to navigate the intricate landscape of AI, ensuring that this transformative technology contributes positively to society and the world at large.
A National AI Strategy is paramount for a country, offering a strategic vision that guides the integration and development of AI. This comprehensive approach is instrumental in fostering economic growth and competitiveness by attracting investments, promoting innovation, and creating job opportunities.
Positioned as a leader in AI research and development, a nation with a well-defined strategy elevates its technological standing globally. Beyond economic benefits, such strategies address specific societal challenges, such as healthcare and education, improving citizens’ overall quality of life.
Establishing a robust regulatory framework, fostering talent development, and promoting ethical AI principles are integral components of these strategies. They also facilitate international collaboration, ensuring the exchange of knowledge and joint efforts in addressing global challenges.
To encourage spatial planning by India’s village councils (gram panchayats), the Ministry of Panchayati Raj has introduced Gram Manchitra, a geographic information system (GIS) application. The tool enables and aids gram panchayats in undertaking planning at the local level using geospatial technology.
The application serves as a unified geospatial platform to better visualise and monitor the various developmental projects to be carried out across different sectors. It functions as a decision support system to formulate Gram Panchayat Development Plans (GPDP).
It offers various planning tools that use GIS technology to assist gram panchayat officials in formulating practical and attainable development plans. These features make up the decision support system during the development plan preparation, including tools for identifying potential project sites, tracking assets, estimating project costs, and assessing the potential impact of projects.
Moreover, the Ministry has introduced mActionSoft, a mobile-based solution designed to help capture photos with geo-tags (GPS coordinates) specifically for projects with tangible assets as output. The geo-tagging of assets occurs at three stages: before the commencement of work, during the work, and upon the completion of the work. This establishes a repository of information encompassing all projects and assets associated with natural resource management, water harvesting, drought-proofing, sanitation, agriculture, check dams, irrigation channels, and more.
Assets that are geo-tagged through the mActionSoft application are accessible on Gram Manchitra, contributing to improved visualisation of diverse developmental projects within the gram panchayats. The assets created under the Finance Commission are geotagged along with photographs by the panchayats. The GIS data of these geotagged assets on the panchayat map is accessible and visualisable through the Gram Manchitra application.
Agricultural activities play a significant role in boosting incomes for residents in villages nationwide. The government invested in modernising and digitising these operations, aiming to enhance productivity and promote sustainability.
Earlier this year, the government launched the Unified Portal for Agricultural Statistics (UPAg Portal) to optimise and improve data management. As OpenGov Asia reported, the portal standardises data related to prices, production, area, yield, and trade, consolidating it in a single location. This eliminates the necessity to compile data from multiple sources. The portal can also conduct advanced analytics, providing insights into production trends, trade correlations, and consumption patterns.
Meanwhile, scientists from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IIT-Madras) announced a portable, point-of-use device for identifying heavy metals in both soil and water. It delivers a user-friendly, non-technical read-out value of the soil quality index on a mobile phone-like application.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has introduced an AI-based Chatbot for the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) Scheme, wherein Indian farmers receive annual income support of up to IN₹ 6,000 (US$ 72). This AI Chatbot aims to enhance the efficiency and outreach of PM-KISAN, providing farmers with prompt, transparent, and reliable responses to their queries.
Integrated into the PM-KISAN grievance management system, the chatbot is designed to empower farmers with a user-friendly and easily accessible platform. It assists farmers in obtaining information regarding their application status, payment details, eligibility status, and other updates related to the scheme. The government will make the Chatbot accessible in 22 languages spoken in the country soon.
In a bid to demystify mental illness, Castle Peak Hospital’s Mind Space Museum introduced an innovative approach using cutting-edge technology to immerse visitors into the sensory experiences of individuals grappling with mental health challenges. This immersive journey leverages virtual reality (VR) to simulate hallucinations, offering a glimpse into the world of patients navigating these profound conditions.
In a landmark collaboration supported by a charity programme, Castle Peak Hospital’s Mind Space, is heralded as Hong Kong’s pioneering Mental Health Experience Museum. This novel venture, backed by advanced technology, redefines the comprehension of mental health through a fusion of immersive facilities and state-of-the-art installations.
Mind Space stands as an embodiment of the transformative potential of technology in enhancing empathy and understanding. Powered by the latest advancements in virtual reality (VR), this museum offers visitors a revolutionary opportunity to step into the intricate world of mental health.
Beyond historical perspectives, the Brain Tour zone elucidates the scientific facets underlying mental illness. A standout feature, the Symptom Experience Rooms, employs VR to replicate visual, auditory, and tactile hallucinations, allowing participants to tangibly sense the challenges encountered by individuals battling mental health issues.
The heart of Mind Space lies in its VR simulations, meticulously designed to simulate the symptoms and experiences of psychiatric conditions. Participants are transported into a realm where they can tangibly sense the visual, auditory, and tactile manifestations encountered by individuals battling mental health challenges.
From vivid hallucinations to sensory distortions, these simulations serve as an educational conduit, providing a deeper comprehension of the often misunderstood facets of mental illness. Visitors are not mere observers but active participants, gaining invaluable insights through experiential learning
By deploying cutting-edge tech and innovative approaches, Castle Peak Hospital aims to broaden its outreach by inviting more visitors. Mind Space beckons those curious about mental health to embark on an immersive journey, accessible through online bookings.
In his Policy Address, Mr Lee said the Government attaches great importance to mental health. Hong Kong prioritises the mental wellness of its citizens and acknowledges that mental health encompasses more than just medical treatment. Embracing an integrated, multi-disciplinary strategy, the government underscores the holistic nature of mental health care.
Aligned with the community’s focus on innovation and technology, there’s a growing emphasis on integrating advanced technology into mental health services. This push aims to streamline labour-intensive operations in hospitals, elderly centres/homes, and other care facilities. By leveraging innovative technology, it seeks to empower health and social care professionals as well as frontline workers, enhancing their efficiency in daily tasks.
Moreover, this initiative aims to attract fresh talent, especially young individuals, to join the workforce in mental health services. Integrating cutting-edge technology into these fields, not only modernises operations but also presents an appealing and dynamic environment, encouraging new entrants to consider long-term involvement in mental health care.
In July this year, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) secured funding from the Research Grants Council (RGC) Strategic Topics Grant (STG) 2023/24 to drive a transformative health technology initiative.
Hong Kong grapples with a significant prevalence of major psychiatric disorders (MPDs), with conditions like major depressive disorder, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder affecting approximately 13.3% of the population. Alarmingly, fewer than 40% of patients attain full symptom relief following initial treatment.
Presently, diagnostic criteria heavily rely on cognitive and behavioural markers, presenting limitations in accurate assessment and treatment planning. PolyU’s groundbreaking project presents a pioneering approach that harnesses the power of artificial intelligence (AI) alongside genomic and biomedical technologies. The proposed AI-driven methodology promises a data-centric approach to diagnosis and personalised therapy, marking a significant leap forward in mental healthcare innovation.