Mr Francis Liang giving his welcome remarks as the Guest-of-Honour at the Taiwan Excellence 2017 Products Showcase at Communic Asia 2017 (Photo credit: Taiwan External Trade Development Council or TAITRA)
Taiwan’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) companies form a key part of the global ICT ecosystem. Taiwanese companies hold huge market shares in semiconductors, PCs, mobile devices, broadband appliances and display products and technologies.
The ICT industry today is evolving at an unprecedented pace, as we enter into the era of Industry 4.0. Governments around the world are adopting measures to prepare their economies for the ongoing transformation. Taiwan is no exception.
Taiwan recently launched its Digital Nation and Innovative Economic Development Plan (2017-2025), known as “DIGI+”. One of the plan’s main goals is to grow Taiwan’s digital economy to NT$6.5 trillion (US$205.9 billion) by 2025. The component strategies focus on infrastructure, talent, cross-industry transformation, digital rights, smart cities and boosting aiwan’s standing in the global digital service economy.
OpenGov conducted a joint email interview with Mr. Francis Liang Kuo-Hsin, Representative, Taipei Representative Office1 and Dr. Chiueh Tzi-Cker, Vice President & General Director, Industrial Technology Research Institute of Taiwan2 (ITRI) to learn about the envisaged future for Taiwan’s ICT industry.
Could you please provide an overview of the landscape of Taiwan’s ICT industry, including large corporates, SMEs and startups?
Mr. Francis Liang Kuo-Hsin:
The Information & Communications Technology (ICT) sector has always been Taiwan’s source of pride. Over the last four decades, Taiwan has been highly regarded as a vital player and major procurement centre for global ICT companies and buyers. Taiwan’s advanced research and manufacturing capabilities in semiconductors, PCs, mobile devices, broadband appliances, and cutting-edge displays, has made the country the world’s biggest supplier of these products.
The industrial clusters of electronics companies in Taiwan offer clear cost and time-to-market advantages, making Taiwan an excellent one-stop shop for procurement, design support, and rapid commercialisation of product ideas. Many of Taiwan’s biggest brands are tapping this manufacturing expertise to offer consumers innovative products and better value.
With the emergence of the Internet-of-Things (IoT) and smart technologies, Taiwan is now gearing towards shifting from high tech manufacturing to an intellectual property and innovation-driven economy. Through the Asia.Silicon Valley Initiative, our government is positioning Taiwan as the regional link that connects Asia to Silicon Valley players, as well as a global hub for tech entrepreneurs.
Dr. Chiueh Tzi-Cker:
According to the latest official statistics report from the Ministry of Economic Affairs, R.O.C, the number of companies in Taiwan is 1,416,738 including 32,757 large corporations (2.31%) and 1,383,981 SMEs (97.69%). Taiwanese startups totaled 98,320. The numbers are as of end 2015. The report underscores the importance of ICT industry in Taiwan as its gross production amounted USD92,300 million, contributing 16.5% of the total GDP in Taiwan.
What are your views on the prospects for Taiwan’s ICT industry going forward? What are the priorities and major challenges?
Mr. Francis Liang Kuo-Hsin:
Part of Taiwan’s strategic priorities to build a sustainable economy includes investment in industrial innovation, as summed up in Taiwan’s “5+2 Industrial Innovation” plan.
The 5+2 refers to the seven vital sectors of Taiwan’s economy: biotech and pharmaceuticals, green energy, national defense, smart machinery, and the IoT, as well as the ‘circular economy’ and agricultural development. The concept of ‘circular economy’ was adopted by Taiwan from the Netherlands and is based on principles of restoration and regeneration, aiming to keep products, components, and materials at their highest utility and value.
Overall, Taiwan’s key aims are to spur innovation, enhance employment and income distribution, and bring a more balanced regional development for Taiwan across different sectors.
Under the pillar for IoT is a flagship program called the Asia Silicon Valley Development Plan, which aims to establish Taiwan as the hub between the Asia region and Silicon Valley, particularly in IoT development, and for making the country a global center for tech entrepreneurship. The plan supports Taiwan’s goals of increasing its global IoT market share from 3.8% in 2015 to 5% in 2025, which according to Gartner’s projections could be worth US $11 trillion by 2025. Taiwan has made inroads with Microsoft and Qualcomm who have chosen to establish their IoT research centres in Taiwan. There are also over 140 organisations that have joined the Asia.Silicon Valley IoT Alliance with a goal to further advance the industry.
As part of Taiwan’s national strategy to develop an intellectual property (IP) and innovation-driven economy, the country developed and implemented the Taiwan Industry Image Enhancement Project (IEP), which aims to enhance the image of Taiwanese brands and help them expand their business internationally.
One of the recently concluded projects under IEP is Taiwan Excellence’s inaugural participation at CommunicAsia 2017, an annual enterprise technology conference and exhibition organised in Singapore. Through the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA), Taiwan brought for the first time the Taiwan Excellence brand to CommunicAsia creating an opportunity for Taiwanese companies to break into the Southeast Asian market and providing members of the regional ICT industry to interact with cutting-edge technologies and innovations from leading Taiwanese companies like Acer, Advantech, ASUS, Planet and VIVOTEK, among others.
One of the major challenges that Taiwan faces today is the shortage of talent. As such, Taiwanese ICT companies need to put greater attention to attracting and retaining talent within the industry.
Furthermore, with the re-industrialisation in Europe and North America and the rise of China as a manufacturing power, there is an urgent need for industrial transformation to remain competitive.
Are there any specific areas in technology that are expected to drive growth? Can you share some developments in emerging technologies such as AI, data analytics, and IoT etc.?
Dr. Chiueh Tzi-Cker:
Emerging technologies in areas such as artificial intelligence, robotics, IoT, are expected to drive growth in today’s Industry 4.0 era. For instance, automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and autonomous drones will help increase productivity and reduce manpower reliance for industries across logistics, manufacturing, and retail.
The ITRI has introduced several exciting, state-of-the-art technologies including an intelligent vision system for companion robots, and a remotely operated autonomous drone. In addition, ITRI has also just released a smart pesticide detector featuring micro optical inspection, which was awarded the COMPUTEX 2017 Best Choice Award.
In Taiwan and in Asia, ITRI is promoting the NSOS or next-generation system software for smartphone technology. NSOS is designed to increase the added value of commodity Android phones. Some features of this project include: solving the BYOD security problem via smartphone virtualization; providing more personalised services via accurate inference of dynamic user interests; and offering more streamlined smartphone usage experiences via programmatic app control by leveraging on the capabilities of existing apps.
Specifically, the smartphone virtualisation technology enables a physical smartphone to be used as multiple virtual smartphones, e.g., one for office use (more secure and less secure), another for personal use (more flexible but less secure), and the third for app trial (risky but free). This way, a smartphone user only needs to carry one physical device, and then uses it in different ways in different contexts, without interfering one another.
Taiwan is well-known for its high-tech manufacturing industries. Ms. Audrey Tang, Taiwan’s Digital Minister, said in an SCMP article that “it is unhealthy to emphasise on any one industry.” What is being done to promote interaction and collaboration across different industries within Taiwan?
Mr. Francis Liang Kuo-Hsin:
It is important for industry leaders to realise the importance of cross-industry collaboration. This will help create a synergy when companies exchange ideas and views with their counterparts in other industries.
In 2016, Taiwan launched the Digital Nation and Innovative Economic Development Plan (2017-2025) known as “DIGI+”. One of the highlights of this program includes spurring cross-industry digital innovation. This includes utilising a digital innovation ecosystem that features integrated hardware and software capabilities to increase cross-industry cooperation; helping industries develop innovative applications of digital technology, and enhancing enterprise-level digital operations that accelerate the transformation and improvement of domestic industries. With these actions, the digital economy will continue to develop and expand.
What are the expected implications of the Digital Nation Plan for Taiwan’s ICT industry?
Mr. Francis Liang Kuo-Hsin:
According to a report from G20 Insights, one of the key challenges within the ICT industry is the lack of digital infrastructure and services. With Taiwan’s Digital Nation Plan, the government will be working with telecom providers to ensure that broadband made available to all its citizens.
Also dubbed DIGI+, the 8-year Digital Nation Plan was launched this year to reinvigorate and expand Taiwan’s digital economy. Its goals are to increase Internet bandwidth, bridge the digital divide between urban and rural areas, and raise Taiwan’s position to the top 10 spots in the global information sector. The strategic plan is also aimed at helping the country attain a digital economy valued at NT$6.5 trillion (US$205.9 billion).
In sync with the growing trend around the world for IoT, the enhancement of digital infrastructure will help boost the ICT industry and in turn, help improve the nation’s GDP and further propel it into the digital age.
This March the government announced a NT$46.056 billion (US$1.51 billion) over the next eight years to improve the nation’s digital infrastructure and bridge the rural-urban divide. Can you tell us about the involvement of the ICT industry in that, as an enabler or beneficiary?
Mr. Francis Liang Kuo-Hsin:
Taiwan’s Internet penetration rate in 2015 was 84.8 percent. With the rise of the IoT in the recent years, more devices will be connected and this highlights an urgent need for the government to make efforts providing Internet access for its citizens and businesses to keep up with the global trend and ensure its relevance in the increasingly competitive business landscape.
This will make the ICT sector a crucial enabler for Taiwan’s push for a digital nation. The ICT industry will also play an increasingly imperative role in transforming people’s lives, and improving efficiency for businesses, education, and the government.
How is the Taiwan government dealing with the regulatory aspects of new technologies such as fintech and what is their impact on the industry?
Mr. Francis Liang Kuo-Hsin:
Fintech, currently on its nascent stage in Taiwan, is a sector with high growth potential. We recognise the massive opportunity in fintech as confirmed by financial industry observers. Emerging financial technologies such as blockchain represent a tremendous opportunity to enhance secure and efficient sharing of information across Taiwan’s financial conglomerates.
To set the stage right for the flourishing fintech sector, Taiwanese government has made considerable investment to establish dedicated organisations and funding schemes to develop and implement plans to boost fintech development. For example, the Fintech Office under the Taiwan Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC), regulator for security markets, banking and insurance sector, has been established to develop and implement strategies that are geared towards the digitalisation of the financial environment, mobile payment, third party payment, Internet financing or peer-to-peer lending, online investment, and IoT, among others.
Last year, the government also launched FintechBase, an initiative aimed to assist the accelerator FinTech Development Foundation with investments in startups as well as courses and international accelerator resources and services. The accelerator raised NT$200 million (US$6.4 million) in 2016 from banks, brokerages, insurance associations and other financial institutions during its first fundraising effort.
On top of said initiatives, Taiwanese regulators have made it a top priority to put in place risk management measures and to promote fintech development in compliance with international regulations. The Taiwanese government aims to protect the finance industry and consumers and prevent online finance crimes and other risks. Through said protective measures, Taiwan seeks to maintain Taiwan’s attractiveness as a destination for foreign investment.
This year itself, 2017, the FSC is prioritising the implementation of a “regulatory sandbox” that will enable both financial institutions and fintech developers to test new products and services for a trial period of up to nine months without the constraints of regulations that typically will apply to the financial sector.
How is the Taiwanese government working with tech startups and SMEs to build an ecosystem where innovation can thrive?
Mr. Francis Liang Kuo-Hsin:
In Taiwan, more than 97% of enterprises are SMEs and about 100,000 new companies are founded every year. The Taiwanese government has also realised the importance of this growing and vibrant startup community that is set to transform a number of industries within the country.
One initiative is the “HeadStart Taiwan” Project, a program established by the National Development Council (NDC) in 2014. According to the NDC, HeadStart Taiwan is “the latest project focusing on the establishment of an ecosystem that supports the inception and scaling of ‘Businesses of the Future.”
HeadStart will do this through three key steps: deregulation, investment from global funds, and building startup clusters.
To further help these startups venture into the global market, the Taiwan Startup Stadium (TSS) was also launched in 2015. The TSS is a hub that coaches Taiwanese startups to venture into the global markets through intensive programs, strong leadership, and a broad network of global partners.
Additionally, the recently launched Digital Nation Plan also included the building of a licensed communications system packed with information that anyone, but especially high-tech startups, can use for their own development.
These government initiatives provide a conducive incubating ground for startups, allowing them to “fail without incurring costs” and help promote an ecosystem for innovation, according to Ms. Audrey Tang, Taiwan’s Digital Minister.
Some of the successful Taiwanese startups include:
Gogoro, a game-changing electric scooter manufacturer created by HTC executives and drew more than US$150 million in venture capital from names like Cher Wang of HTC and Dr. Samuel Lin of Ruentex Group.
Qsearch, a data analysis tool that allows enterprises more precision in Facebook ad targeting than native Facebook ads, is another promising startup developed by National Taiwan University graduate Elliot Chou. Qsearch could conceivably expand ad revenue for Facebook, as well as increase profits for advertisers all while taking a tidy cut of the bigger pie for itself.
AirSig, focused on authentication and signatures for accounts and official documents, is another successful case study. Founded by Pokai Chen, a former Acer employee, AirSig is the first developer to intelligently address this problem with its algorithm and system for “signing” using the mobile device. The company has recently attracted international attention for its potential, but also has attracted serious venture capital from Taiwanese giant Foxconn.
1The Taipei Representative Office in Singapore is the Republic of China's (Taiwan) government representative office in Singapore. It is responsible for promoting Taiwan and Singapore's bilateral relations in the areas of the economy, trade, investment, the media, tourism, culture, education, and science and technology.
2Founded in 1973, ITRI is a nonprofit R&D organization engaging in applied research and technical services. ITRI has been dedicated to helping industries in Taiwan stay competitive and sustainable.
Covid-19 has dominated 2020. It has been the top priority for almost every nation across the globe, and while dealing with the pandemic, many governments have also had to tackle national natural disasters and severe weather incidents.
In the first half of 2020, the world experienced many major natural disasters. And Asia has experienced at least ten of them in the first six months. The continent has faced everything from earthquakes, floods, landslides, volcanoes, typhoons, bushfires, all while dealing with the pandemic.
This year really has kept governments on edge, waiting for what is to come next. And this is a key point – What will come next? And are governments prepared for all eventualities? Have they planned for what would happen if a natural disaster were to occur? And how would they deal with a severe weather event while also dealing with the ongoing global pandemic?
Major Natural Disasters that Occurred in the first 5 months of 2020 in Asia
At the end of 2019 and early 2020, the bushfires in Australia spread quickly across the country. A state of emergency was declared in Queensland and New South Wales in November 2019, and slowly all the other states followed as the fires continued to spread.
The Australian bushfires are considered one of the biggest natural disasters of the year. The extent of damage ranged from an estimated 18 million hectares burned, over 9000 buildings and homes destroyed, and 400 deaths directly or indirectly.
Flash Floods, Indonesia
Flash floods occurred throughout the Indonesian capital of Jakarta and its metropolitan area on the early hours of 1 January 2020, due to the overnight rain which experienced nearly 400 millimetres (15 in) of rainwater, causing the Ciliwung and Cisadane rivers to overflow. At least 66 people have been killed, and 60,000 displaced in the worst flooding in the area since 2007.
Volcano Eruption, Philippines
The second most active volcano in the Philippines, Taal Volcano erupted in January 2020. On 12th January. As a result, a large amount of ash dust was emitted and forced authorities to evacuate over 8,000 people close by and 3,00,000 people overall.
Cyclone Amphan, Bangladesh-India
Cyclone Amphan is classified as one of the most powerful, deadly tropical cyclones to ever impact Bangladesh and India. It was categorized as a category 5 hurricane and the havoc it wreaked was devastating. It caused landfalls, heavy rains and lightning causing major destruction and killing 12 people.
Forest Fires, Uttarakhand – India
In May, a forest fire that lasted for days caused Uttarakhand to burn. What may have started as a small fire has managed to engulf 51 hectares of forest land. 2 deaths and several others have been injured.
Assam Floods, India
Many parts of Assam have experienced heavy rains and as a result, have been negatively affected in the form of floods. 128 villages, 5 districts and many more have been affected.
Disaster and Emergency Management Agencies release figures showing the true extent of the cost of severe weather
As Governments throughout Asia release the figures relating to severe weather and natural disasters, it is evident how costly these events are in terms of lives, homes, economy and infrastructure.
Natural disasters continue to hit China, and the country lost 271 lives during the first half of 2020, an official report showed. Some 19,000 houses were destroyed and 785,000 houses damaged during the last six months across mainland China, causing an economic loss of $11.5 billion, Global Times quoted a report by the Ministry of Emergency Management.
Last month’s heavy floods in eight provinces and regions of southern and eastern China affected more than a million people. The June 8 floods affected at least 1.76 million people, with 120,000 evacuated, nine dying and five missing, according to the Centre of Disaster Reduction in China.
The National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) released numbers this week, they recorded 2,059 natural disasters that struck Indonesia during the period from January to September 20, with the number of deaths reaching 282.
Indonesia was hit by 771 incidents of floods, 534 whirlwinds, and 377 landslides. The natural disasters had affected and displaced a total of 4.2 million people, claimed 282 lives, and rendered 25 people missing while causing injuries to 427 others.
Furthermore, natural disasters damaged 30,655 homes and 1,419 public facilities. The country also recorded a total of 302 forest and land fires as well as five volcanic eruptions.
Governments Urge For Better Response to Severe Weather and Natural Disasters
Governments are quickly realising the need to act now to prevent, or rather, manage the events that they already know could happen at any time. This week saw governments in Asia review emergency planning and funding strategies as well as call on their technology institutes to work on preventing future disasters.
The Royal Commission in Australia, heard this week that more frequent natural disasters in Australia will become ‘a major strategic problem in its own right’. The commission is in its final week of hearings and is due to deliver its final report to the federal government on 28 October.
The Australian Defence Force (ADF) was called in to help the bushfire response this summer, and have been integrated into health and police departments as part of the response to the coronavirus pandemic. Peter Jennings, the executive director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, told the Royal Commission on Tuesday this week that the ADF would not be able to continue support with its actual defence responsibility without additional funding.
Peter Jennings added that more frequent and more severe national disasters, exacerbated by the climate crisis, would become “a major strategic problem in its own right”. And that the Pacific region, and south-east Asia, would be “the epicentre of natural disaster risk going forward”.
One of the initiatives that the Australian government is using to help with crises is a public warning system. In combination with Australia’s major telecommunications companies, the Everbridge Public Warning solution will be used to power Emergency Alert Australia, providing population-wide alerting to help reach the country’s over 25 million residents and approximately 9 million annual visitors.
Anyone in an area where a sudden, critical event occurs such as fire, extreme weather or a terror attack, residents and visitors to Australia will receive location-based SMS notifications on their mobile phones, in addition to smartphone mobile app notifications and fixed-line voice alerts, among other modes of communication.
Also, this week, speaking at the Indian Institute of Technology, on Tuesday 22nd of September, Prime Minister Modi, India urged the IIT to use this experience in helping the state governments of the Northeastern region to tackle the various natural and other disasters which have been having a negative impact on the development prospects of the region.
He called for the IIT to form a centre for disaster management and risk reduction for the region. The Prime Minister said “The North East is full of possibilities. But it has problems of floods, earthquakes, life slam hand industrial disasters also, and the governments have to spend their time tackling these.”
The Missing Puzzle Piece: An Integrated CEM Platform
Many governments and national, regional and state authorities rely on multiple, separate systems for their critical event management (CEM).
According to world experts in Critical Event Management – Everbridge, these silos can spell redundancies in information and processes, data contradictions, and, in worst-case scenarios, greater loss of life and damages.
Without an integrated CEM platform, command centres and security teams can’t respond as quickly and as thoroughly as situation warrants, which in turn negatively affects budgets, stakeholder confidence, and employee and customer trust.
With an integrated CEM platform, however, rapid, consolidated responses are more easily coordinated. Emergency response teams and command centres receive threat alerts ahead of time, so they can identify, assess, and locate the risks, affected assets, and appropriate responders.
A CEM platform can also automate communications and by using a public warning system, action plans, and SOPs, so your teams have immediate access to information and can act at lightning speed. Later, analytics pinpoint where bottlenecks and delays surfaced and where they might be avoided in the future.
As the pandemic looms over the world for the foreseeable future, planning responses to severe weather events will continue in tandem with coronavirus risk management. And, as natural disasters are occurring more frequently throughout the region – it’s more important than ever for governments to evaluate the processes, systems, tools, and platforms they have to respond to critical events.
APAC CEM WEBINAR: BUSINESS CONTINUITY DURING SEVERE WEATHER
September 30, 2020 | 9AM IST | 11:30AM SG/HKT | 1:30PM AEST
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As medical technology advances, breakthroughs in diagnosing and treating various critical illnesses are achieved, and as the design of patient treatment plans becomes more precise and personalised, healthcare practitioners are expected to keep abreast of the latest developments to master the most sophisticated technologies.
In a cancer treatment team, members are specialised in their respective fields, yet they work together seamlessly to devise the most effective treatment for patients. One of the lesser-known of the specialists in such a team, the Medical Physicist, is responsible for formulating treatment plans, as well as monitoring and maintaining radiation equipment used to ensure the precise, effective and safe delivery of treatment.
Medical Physicists specialise in radiation treatment technology, with their expertise spanning from diagnostic imaging to radiotherapy, and they are “strong backers” of the cancer treatment team. However, a higher degree programme in Medical Physics was previously not available in Hong Kong or nearby regions.
To meet the future demand for Medical Physicists, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) has, this academic year, launched the first Master of Science in Medical Physics (MScMP) programme in Hong Kong. The curriculum is designed to cover various aspects including health technology, physics and engineering, offering interdisciplinary training for professionals who are keen to pursue a career in the field of medical physics.
High demand for cancer treatment Creating local training opportunities
The ageing population in Hong Kong poses immense challenges to the local healthcare system and the rising demand for cancer treatment is one of them. To maintain the quality of healthcare services, it is essential to have more qualified professionals in the workforce.
There are about 150 Medical Physicists currently practising in Hong Kong, serving at the Hospital Authority as well as in public and private hospitals. They possess both physics and medical expertise, playing a vital role in diagnosis and the formulation of treatment plans, as well as ensuring proper operation of equipment to achieve the treatment goal.
The Dean of the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences of PolyU stated with the advancement of technology and patients’ growing expectation of higher service standards, there is a need for the additional workforce. Besides those working on the frontline, experts in innovative health technology at the back-end to achieve effective treatment are needed. Thus the new masters programme in medical physics will both prepare students for a career in medical physics and help to promote the development of the field itself.
Leveraging interdisciplinary expertise Striving for the well-being of patients
Medical Physics is an interdisciplinary field that crosses the boundaries of medicine, physics and engineering. The Head of the Department of Health Technology and Informatics of PolyU pointed out that the demand for radiotherapy is ever-increasing.
In Hong Kong, cancer has long been the leading cause of death and radiotherapy plays a crucial role in cancer treatment. In the past, no dedicated master programme was offered by local institutions, and people have little understanding of the role of the Medical Physicist.
It is hoped that through this new programme, more people will understand the importance of medical physics and hence help to open new research areas in this field.
The programme leader and Professor of the Department of Health Technology and Informatics, added that the programme is taught by an interdisciplinary team, striking a good balance between theory and practice by incorporating modules in health technology and informatics, applied physics, applied mathematics, biomedical engineering and computing. The aim is to broaden students’ perspectives in medical science and technology development and equip them with professional knowledge, relevant skillsets as well as research capabilities.
The Vice President (Education) of PolyU noted that the university is considering switching some of its undergraduate and postgraduate programmes from single-disciplinary to interdisciplinary, to better address societal needs. This new MScMP programme is a good example of PolyU’s interdisciplinary efforts. Thus, while students enrolled on this programme already have a bachelor’s degree in a specific discipline, they can acquire new professional knowledge in the areas of health technology, physics and engineering, and create a synergy of different subjects. This will provide a solid basis upon which they can develop a career in the field of healthcare.
Contribute to the community with medical physics knowledge
According to the President of the Hong Kong Association of Medical Physics half of the practising Medical Physicists in Hong Kong obtained a relevant higher degree overseas, while the other half pursued their master degree in physics or engineering in Hong Kong, and received “on-the-job” training while working as a Resident Physicist.
He is encouraged to see the launch of the first MScMP programme at PolyU, noting that Medical Physicists play a pivotal role in a medical team, although they spend most of their time behind the scenes, they are irreplaceable in the planning and implementation of cancer treatment. They are responsible for formulating treatment plans, calculating radiation doses, as well as testing and monitoring equipment to ensure that all arrangements are perfectly executed.
Currently, the minimum entry requirement for Resident Physicists in Hong Kong is a master degree in medical physics, physics or engineering-related subjects. While working as a Resident Physicist in a hospital, one can start taking a three-part professional examination. Generally speaking, it takes about four to five years to attain certified recognition as a Medical Physicist.
Authorities in the central city have put on trial the DaNang Smart City app for smartphone users to access public information services and connect with local authorities. The Deputy Director of the city’s Department of Information and Communications, Tran Van Thạch, noted that all local residents and tourists can download the app to search for information related to public services, tourism, rescue, bus trips, open data, smart car parks, hotlines, or send comments and complaints to the local government.
He said the application would be a step towards the city becoming ‘smart’, an objective the city has been following since 2014. Local authorities were available for all online connections or switchboard 1022; zalo 1022 and chatbot. In 2016, the city launched gopy.danang.gov.vn to get feedback on city services from the local community.
The online portal, available in English and Vietnamese, allows residents and tourists to conveniently post opinions and suggestions, as well as complaints on urban, environmental, administrative, and tourism-related services. Apps for public bus routes (Dana Bus and Bus Map) are also available from the Apple and Google Play stores.
All problems related to security, tourism, public disorder, environmental pollution, and administrative procedures sent via the website will be dealt with within three working days.
Da Nang was the first city in Vietnam to offer free wireless internet, with a maximum of 20,000 connections at a time for locals and tourists on major streets in the city, including living quarters, schools, and beaches. Da Nang plans to become a smart and green city by 2025.
According to statistics of the Department of Informatics, by September this year, the rate of online public services at level 4 reached 19.1%, nearly 4.2 times higher than in 2018. Nine ministries and agencies under the government and 15 provinces and cities reached a rate of over 30%. Typically, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) have provided 100% of online public services at level 4.
Earlier, MIC launched an online portal, which provides data on state agencies in service of political and socio-economic activities, contributing to the process of e-government building in Vietnam. New digital services, in the process of a digital government building, as well as open data will be provided on the portal. This will make it easier for the public to use them to serve research, study, or product invention, as well as offer feedback to state agencies to improve operating efficiency.
The state-owned group Viettel also recently developed an AI platform, which is part of a chain of events to introduce Made-in-Vietnam digital platforms to serve the national digital transformation program for 2025, with a vision to 2030 approved by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.
As OpenGov Asia reported earlier, the platform is currently focusing on areas such as Vietnamese speech processing technology (Speech Processing), Vietnamese natural language processing technology (Natural Language Processing), and computer vision technology (Computer Vision).
An American multinational developer of analytics software has committed to up-skill a minimum of 500 students in analytics across Malaysia by the end of 2020, in response to increased demand for data science expertise. Under the banner of the firm’s Software Certified Young Professionals (SCYP), the program will collaborate with the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) to help drive the adoption of emerging technologies across the country.
Central to such efforts will be enabling students to work towards the certification in programming, machine learning and visual analytics through e-learning courses, supported by access to online communities and webinars.
The Managing Director of Malaysia at the firm stated that the company has a deep-rooted history in academia. Launching a program to empower Malaysian students with the firm’s analytics knowledge and expertise helps in answering the rising demand for technology professionals in Southeast Asia.
Business organisations need people who can make sense of data, manage and analyse it, build models and determine what information delivers the most value. Students with an analytical skillset will be highly sought after.
Once students have completed the e-learning courses and attended the associated webinars, a certification exam will follow before connections with SAS customers seeking young data science professionals.
Within Southeast Asia, “free or heavily subsidised” online courses are available to undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD students who are enrolled at a university, business school or university college in Malaysia, Indonesia or Vietnam. There are currently three courses available for students in Malaysia and Vietnam, and five courses on offer in Indonesia, spanning data analytics, statistics, machine learning and virtualisation.
The CEO of MDEC stated that the agency’s strategic partnership with the software company aligns perfectly with its commitment to ensuring delivery of technology relevant programmes to Malaysian students and help Malaysians make the digital leap into the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The agency sees its public-private partnership initiatives such as the tech firm contributing to Malaysia’s overall growth of the data science skills required in the workforce to support the digitally-driven economy, which is also critical to meet the demand of the current and future job market.
Growing demand for tech professionals
OpenGov Asia earlier reported that Malaysians with niche skills in technology have far brighter prospects in 2020 as many sectors are hiring in their push forward with digitalisation. A Malaysia-based consultancy’s 2020 salary survey revealed that job opportunities and higher pay were expected for those in mid to high-level management positions in eight sectors.
Talents with niche skills who are changing jobs, on the other hand, are looking at an increment of up to 30 per cent due to demand outstripping supply, the firm’s Country Manager for Malaysia said in a statement accompanying the survey report.
The survey also encouraged as employers may be more open to hiring job seekers with the necessary tech skills but who may have less industry experience.
Moreover, as Malaysia invests more into its technological infrastructure, the more it will see tech talent flooding into the nation, thereby growing its digital economy and pushing forward its Industry 4.0 goals.
Adoption and convergence of cloud, virtualisation, cybersecurity technologies, etc. have caused a dramatic change in the financial services industry significantly impacting its functioning. Further, most organisations were already on their digital journey when the pandemic hit – forcing a seismic shift in urgency and scope of the transformation.
The OpenGovLive! Virtual Breakfast Insight on 22 September 2020 engaged delegates from the financial services industry across ASEAN to better understand the impact of digital disruption in this sector. The session witnessed overwhelming attendance and engagement from senior digital executives, keen on sharing and learning more about this timely and highly relevant topic.
The pressure to transform digitally should not out innovation on a back seat
The session was opened by Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief, OpenGov Asia.
Mohit concurred that the financial sector industry was seriously hit during the pandemic and were, for the most part, reactive in their response.
Before COVID, organisations were working hard balancing different aspects of their business – regulations, stakeholders, customers, employees – in a F2F, physical context. With strict stay-at-home, remote working and quarantine measures in place, almost all fiscal and commercial transaction transitioned online. The need to go digital almost immediately, besides managing the regular aspects of business, has put the financial sector under immense pressure.
Under such pressure, Mohit cautioned delegates, organisations must not hold back on innovation. In fact, the industry should look at the pandemic as an opportunity to pivot – to ramp up digital transformation.
None the less, in this expedient endeavour, operational resilience must be maintained and security strategies must be reassessed. Existing protocols and processes must not only be maintained but need to be strongly augmented – adding new chapters as appropriate and necessary.
Mohit encouraged delegates to prioritise the well-being and happiness of employees as much as that of their customers. In urgent times like these, it is a well-trained, motivated and committed workforce that will help organisations stay afloat and thrive.
In closing, Mohit advised delegates to must partner with the right people who are experts in this field, it if they want to correctly balance the different aspects of their business efficiently and have a smooth transition into the digital world.
Empower and augment employees to achieve operational resilience
Elisha Harrington, Head of Financial Services Innovation, ServiceNow shared her insights with the delegates.
Elisha spoke about operational resilience as a driver of transformation and coordinated delivery of business outcomes. She echoed Mohit’s sentiments about financial institutions being under a lot of pressure as they were pivoting to paradigms that were unknown to them.
They had to deal with technological shortcomings, cybersecurity issues, connectivity gaps, compliance requirements, etc. along with adjusting to remote working. In such an environment, operating at scale necessitates that employees collaborate across teams and work with each other virtually.
Elisha opined that operational resilience comes down to an institution’s ability to absorb shock and set out risk tolerances for those parts of the business that are highly critical to its survival.
The strategy to survive she proposed, and indeed, thrive rests four main pillars: People, Technology, Facilities and Supplies. These pillars need to be in place and need to be consistently and continuously improved.
Additionally, technology and supplier resilience are critical in keeping organisations going. Elisha outlined three major components under this:
- Technology Supply Chain
- IT resilience and Outsource
- Cost of Resilience
Elisha concluded by highlighting the need to transform the risk and controls management across the organisations. To successfully transform, there needs to be integrated risk management which coupled with workflow optimisation will lead to better customer outcomes.
Digitisation is essential to serve customers effectively and efficiently
Kaspar Situmorang, Executive Vice President & Head, Digital Center for excellence at PT Bank Rakyat Indonesia spoke to the audience from a scale of operations perspective. For organisations serving a large number of customers more effectively and satisfactorily, Kasper felt, it is imperative to go digital.
To underscore his position, he then shared that his organisation’s digital transformation strategy that has two major focus points: First is digital business optimisation, that focuses on increasing efficiency and productivity by bringing in new business processes. The second is making the business digital, that includes creating new business models, generating new revenue streams and improving gross margins.
Kaspar stressed that good customer experience in both digitising and digital is their organisation’s top priority. To do that, they utilise AI as to both expand their customer base and better the customer experience.
He listed five critical competencies in which they invest heavily to grow: People with the right customer-centric mindset, Open Innovation Ecosystem, Data-driven organisation, Agile way of working and Scalable, reliable and secure technology
In conclusion, Kaspar shared the transformation framework of his organisation that comprises:
- Digitising core: Digitising their existing services. transactions and business processes
- Digital Ecosystem: Building an ecosystem to offer products and services beyond core business
- New Digital Propositions: Creating and launching an independent greenfield digital bank in Indonesia
He also shared various examples of the products and services under the above three categories to give delegates a better understanding of their work.
After Kaspar’s presentation, it was time for a more interactive and engaging session. The delegates were polled with a series of questions that was the foundation for discussion around the topic.
On the first question regarding major challenges faced by their organisation in operational resilience, a majority of delegates voted for lack of definition for ‘client business Services’ across organisations (30%).
A senior executive from Malaysia shared that it was imperative that the top management, (who grant the budget and the IT personnel in an organization), are aligned in one direction; if they are not aligned then there will be a lot of ambiguity around the business goals and objectives.
On the next question regarding the most important consideration for the future of their organisation, over half (52%) of delegates voted for data-driven decisions, i.e. using insights from big data and advanced analytics in workforce decision making.
A delegate from Singapore shared that he chose this option because he has observed that while there is a lot of data, it is not easy to assimilate and draw insights from it. So that is a journey they need to undertake.
On the final question about the need to do things differently in your organisation, the largest section voted for creating a better digital experience for customers (37%).
A delegate reflected that they chose the above option because it is a changing environment for the customers as well. Due to the pandemic, they want to go more and more digital. They want to avoid coming to the branch physically for things. So, the focus is on creating a better digital experience for customers.
After the polling session, Elisha addressed the audience with closing remarks. She thanked all delegates for their participation in the session.
Elisha concluded that if organisations have a good handle over their system, service health and necessary automation in place, they have the ability to start to innovate the core business services. This allows employees more time to add value to the core rather than spending time resolving simple/routine problems or getting lost in too many fragmented systems. This is the ultimate goal of service excellence.
She signed off by reminding delegates that ServiceNow solutions can assist and support them in attaining this goal and encouraged them to reach out to the ServiceNow team to explore ways they can collaborate.
The Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) and the Cuban Ministry for Communications held an online training course: “Designing and developing big data systems” for Cuba. It was officially opened at Hanoi and La Habana. The training course took place within a week with the coordination of the Embassy of Cuba in Vietnam and two of Vietnam’s leading ICT groups: VNPT and Viettel.
According to a press release, the objective of the course was to provide advanced knowledge about big data such as analysing, designing, and developing big data systems for IT application and e-government development in regulatory agencies.
The course will aid Cuba to solve challenges and tools for big data as well as related content. It attracted nearly 50 attendants from Cuba’s Ministry of Communications, ministries, sectors, corporations, and ICT enterprises.
Topics conveyed by Vietnamese lecturers and experts from the Authority of Information Technology Application (MIC), VNPT, and Viettel included: general knowledge about big data; big data processing; the storage and handling of big data; infrastructure requirements; how to manage big data using IPv6; analysis and presentation tools, models, methods and techniques math for analysing and integrating big data, etc.
The event is one of the activities in a series of activities celebrating the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and Cuba and the Vietnam – Latin America Relationship Development Plan in 2020.
In the framework of cooperation between the two ministries, in July 2019, MIC coordinated with VNPT, Viettel, and Bkav to organise training courses on cybersecurity in Havana for Cuba. Furthermore, to promote the specialised ICT cooperation between the two, MIC undertook several activities like participating in the La Havana international book fair in Cuba, publishing two books in Spanish and copyright granting activities, exchanging radio and television programs, and promoting images and the relationship between the two countries.
In the coming time, MIC will host an investment promotion conference in the field of ICT with Latin American countries in October and continue to host a 01 information security training course for Cuba, scheduled for November.
Vietnam has also been providing support to Laos’ digital transformation. As OpenGov Asia earlier reported, thanks to a program under Viettel, all citizenship data has been uploaded to the system, improving the capacity to manage data and information about people, and helping reduce administrative procedures. This is the first time that Laos has implemented the management of electronic civil status instead of the registration of civil status as before.
The unit in Laos was the first licensed by the Central Bank of Laos to officially deploy mobile money and is also the only company developing this service in the country, offering a new secure and quick payment method for more than six million people. This field is expected to generate 30-50% of Unitel’s telecoms revenue in the future. Founded in October 2009, the Viettel subsidiary operates across all 17 provinces and cities in Laos and has led the market for eight consecutive years. It is also the Laos government’s partner in implementing the country’s key e-government systems.
The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary, Fortunato T. Dela Pena, has announced future-proof initiatives through research and development programs and private sector collaboration.
According to a press release, the Secretary mentioned that the DOST’s new programs and initiatives are set to future-proof industries and the environment amidst the pandemic. Among the programs the secretary mentioned are the integrated mapping, monitoring, modeling, and management system for the Manila Bay or the IM4 Manila Bay Program and the Charted Dream.
The IM4 Manila Bay program aims to characterise Manila Bay and its watersheds and the link environments. The Charted Dream project aims to develop technology for the management and utilisation of dredge materials from the Tullahan -Tinajeros rivers system. The team from the DOST-Industrial Technology Development Institute and the Department of Public Works and Highways have already met to identify possible sampling sites and are already preparing initial laboratory analysis.
These projects are said to complement the government’s current initiatives in cleaning up the Manila Bay and its adjacent rivers and tributaries. The Tullahan- Tinajeros River system is a 27-kilometer long river system and a major tributary of Manila Bay. It spans from La Mesa Water Reservoir in Fairview, Quezon City, all the way to Manila Bay. It is one of the most polluted waterways in Metro Manila.
The secretary also mentioned other DOST programs such as the Collaborative Research and Development to Leverage the Philippine Economy or CRADLE. The program aims to help create collaborative research and development between the academe and the industry by working with the private sector in identifying problems; academe and other research institutions will provide science-based solutions.
Currently, there are 18 new projects from 18 private companies that have partnered with 11 universities to work in the areas of new pharmaceutical products, research on the dietary fibre of sugarcane bagasse (the natural antioxidant on sugarcane), the development of new materials from carrageenan, “soysage”, a sausage derived from okra, and nursery tanks for shrimp production.
Apart from that, research will be conducted on the development of tomography imaging devices, semiconductor packaging and electronics products, and home energy storage and energy management.
DOST has also announced it will stage the 2020 National Science and Technology Week (NSTW) celebration in virtual mode for the first time, in November. It aims to highlight the efforts and initiatives of DOST and the entire scientific community in the area of research and development; practical technologies; innovation in agriculture, industry, and health; technical services and training; and financial assistance to entrepreneurs to help citizens adapt to COVID-19.
Technologies and services will be featured by DOST agencies and regional offices, academe, and private sectors in the virtual exhibit. Several webinars and other virtual activities will take the spotlight during the seven-day festivity, a release noted.
In the previous NSTW celebrations, all techno-exhibits and activities were usually held for five days either at the SMX Convention Centre or at the World Trade Centre in Pasay City.
From 1993 until 2019, the NSTW has been celebrated during every third week of July pursuant to Proclamation 169. However, in August 2019, by virtue of Proclamation 780 signed by President Rodrigo Duterte, the NSTW celebration will now be conducted every fourth week of November. The change of date was meant to ensure “maximum participation” of schools, students, stakeholders, and the public during the week-long celebration due to the change in the academic calendar of most universities, schools, and educational institutions.