Government agencies have had to ramp up and improve their digital presence and key operations to meet the needs of their citizens and employees. However, the expanded online presence has increased the attack surface, leaving organisations to deal with several issues, such as the rise in cybercrime.
Governments deploy new ways to make their infrastructure work better and more effectively to widen access and better the experience. Robust Identity and Access Management (IAM) and Identity Governance and Administration (IGA) make it possible for people and employees to get secure access at any time.
These digital protocols do not compromise privacy or security; rather they give people access to modern IDs that can be used in every part of the public sector, including Citizen Identity, IoT and Smart Cities, National Identity Proofing and Verification, Workforce and Public Healthcare Systems and even Education.
Improving user experience and digital trust in government services to boost public satisfaction was the focus of the OpenGov Breakfast Insight on 05 July 2022 for senior digital executives from the Singapore public sector.
Digital Trust: An Investment to Earn
To kickstart the session, Mohit Sagar, CEO and Editor-in-Chief, OpenGov Asia, delivered the opening address. He recognises that digital trust is not only important for a good user experience but will also make the public happier and satisfied. This, in turn, will make it easier for government services to run smoothly and build long-term relationships.
The pandemic has shown how data and technology can change the way the public sector works, “Governments are being pressured to provide more citizen services online with greater accessibility on any device.”
According to Mohit, due to the pandemic, many countries had to automate government services and reduce the number of physical places where people could interact with the government. Today, both developed and developing countries will build on this and use blockchain and AI to streamline government operations, cut down on governmental bottlenecks and improve services.
“The outbreak of the pandemic changed the functioning of every country’s public sector with a rapid interconnection with the various organisations, breaking siloes and increasing interoperability. This is the foundation of a smart nation. In this context, there is a minimisation of duplication or undesired process by technology – especially using the cloud,” Mohit observes.
All citizen services must connect easily and controllably in Smart Cities, he says emphatically. As such, governments need a reliable digital solution to provide a centralised platform for workers and citizens to access services, benefits and licence renewals, fine payments, tax filings and passport applications.
People want their governments to use this data-driven approach for things that don’t have to do with pandemics and to make technology that is easy to use and transparent so that it can be used in all industries.
Due to the complexity and expense of digital transformation programmes, many organisations continue to use and support outdated systems even if they provide a greater security risk, are less dependable and stable and don’t integrate well with more modern technologies.
When individuals or groups produce information without integrating it so that other areas of the business may use it strategically, this is referred to as an information silo. It is also known as a knowledge silo, data silo, or organisational silo.
This can cause issues such as duplication of effort and redundant job functions. On the other hand, silos can result in the creation of opposing systems, which can lead to cost increases and a lack of synergy.
Mohit believes that agencies must now modernise their digital presence and crucial operations to deliver better experiences and services to citizens and workers. Hence, governments must deal with legacy systems, siloed information and duplication across many organisations as they seek to offer digital access to services and accommodate a remote workforce.
In conclusion, Mohit says, agencies must alter their perspective and mindset to efficiently use technology, like cloud, to better serve citizens and offer more services at any time, in any place on any device – the mandate is ultimately about providing the best citizen experience technology has to offer.
Exceptional Citizen Experiences
Digital governance has become increasingly critical in a post-pandemic world. In response, state and local governments quickly created digital platforms to disseminate information on public health and provide services to individuals.
“Singpass and what GovTech is doing have always been my role models. The way the digital identity proclaimed characteristics, ease of use, and services offered to its residents are what matter most for Singapore,” says Johan Fantenberg, Principal Solutions Architect – APJ, ForgeRock.
Governments are currently examining data protection policies and making investments in cutting-edge technologies to rethink digital governance and offer the highest calibre services to their residents; “security is non-negotiable,” Johan believes firmly.
In a world where digital transactions and data are more and more in control, the current procedures for regulating security and privacy are insufficient. Data breaches, large-scale fraud, and identity theft are all on the rise. Additionally, a significant portion of the world’s population lacks the digital skills necessary to participate fully in the digital economy.
Building barriers around sensitive information is no longer a viable method of ensuring privacy and security in a society that is becoming more borderless and digital. Identity is the newest frontier in privacy and security, where an entity’s very essence determines which transactions it can complete and which transactions it cannot.
Moreover, understanding what identity is and how it facilitates transactions is crucial to realise the value of identity and the necessity of robust identification protocols that protect against cyber risk and meet the needs of transacting parties.
“The interconnected world cannot function without identity, and the challenge for this is how to navigate the complexities of IT, laws, security, and citizen expectations,” claims Johan.
Every person within the digital ecosystem has a distinct digital identity. A digital identity comprises a set of unique identifiers that allow systems, services, and applications to determine with whom or what they are communicating.
To validate a person’s identity in the digital world without human interaction, a combination of facts and behaviours must provide an acceptable level of assurance about the person’s authenticity. These may contain the Username, Password, Fingerprint or Facial Scan, Email Address, Network, IP Address, etc.
The latest ForgeRock Consumer Identity Breach Report says, for the third year in a row, unauthorised access was the main reason for breaches. Hackers can get access to valuable information like birth dates or social security numbers by doing things like reusing passwords.
The answer is to get rid of passwords completely. With passwordless authentication, a person can log in to an online account without entering a password. Instead, the job of authentication is given to endpoints, like mobile devices or computers, where the user can use “biometric” authentication methods like a fingerprint scan or a face scan.
It can also be done with smartcards, authenticator apps and tokens, all of which are becoming more popular. The user won’t have to worry about forgetting their passwords, and brute-force attacks and password spraying will no longer work.
Furthermore, people expect more from organisations, especially government agencies, as technology changes. They want the government to do what it says it will do. ForgeRock helps government agencies put their citizens at the centre of their work by giving them modern, future-proof digital solutions that let them be flexible and creative while having little effect on their operations.
“How do we give people experiences that will make them more interested in technology? This should be a top priority for the government,” Johan believes.
ForgeRock modernises the digital citizen journey by:
- Simplifying Engagements
- Delivering Great Experiences
- Protecting Citizens
- Earning Trust
- Extending to Ecosystems
ForgeRock puta experience and security at the top of their list and they provide security and privacy without any trade-offs by using AI to power identity and access. It has IAM features that will protect all an organisation’s identities, including those of people, systems, and applications, among other things. Additionally, it has AI-powered solutions for managing digital identities at scale and can help an organisation stop account takeover and fraud at the identity perimeter.
ForgeRock could look at the threat signals and behaviour patterns in real-time to create risk scores. These scores could then be used to create secure user journeys that get rid of extra steps and make the digital experience better for real users.
Singapore Overview: Providing Trusted Citizen Experience
Recently, the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) opened the Digital Trust Centre (DTC) and the A.I. Verify to lead Singapore’s research and development of trust technologies, help develop talent, and plan for the future of AI standards and governance with partners around the world.
“An investment is having faith in the government. We have invested a lot of time in building trust with our citizens. To develop that trust, all agencies are working together,” says Leong Ching Fun, Director (Corporate Information Systems), Housing & Development Board (HDB).
She adds that a lack of trust is a complicated problem for government agencies that have useful information, services, or programmes to offer the public. Even the best public programmes can fail if people don’t sign up for them or take part in their initiatives.
Leong cites the example of Singpass. It is every Singaporean’s trusted digital identification, enabling quick, safe access to more than 2,000 public and private services. This can be done both online and in person. With the upgraded Singpass, users can access online services, validate their identity in person, sign papers electronically and more.
Singapore’s government oversees public housing through the Housing & Development Board (HDB). To establish a high-quality living environment for everyone, it plans and develops Singapore’s housing estates, constructing homes, and remaking communities. For the convenience of its inhabitants, HDB offers a range of economic, recreational and social amenities in towns.
More than 1 million flats in 23 towns and 3 estates have been built as part of Singapore’s public housing system. These flats have been used to house the whole country. About 80% of the people who live in Singapore live in HDB flats, and about 90% of those people own their homes.
“We need to provide personalisation to our citizens, but we also need to measure and improve data privacy. There must be a balance here,” Leong says emphatically.
She feels that Singaporeans appreciate their government and have confidence in its ability to safeguard and care for people, “Our citizens are empowered as well. We created programmes for people who are not tech-literate and help them navigate the digital era.”
To make the interaction dynamic, they provide various channels for feedback such as phone calls, emails, SMS, and social media.
Leong assures delegates that they are committed to taking care of their people and being a good government to them. Not just for people who know how to use technology, but for anyone who wants to learn and grow. “This is a journey where we must meet the needs of all our citizens.”
Following the enlightening lectures, delegates engaged in poll-driven discussions. This activity is intended to provide live audience interaction, encourage participation, expose participants to real-world experiences, and impart professional learning and growth.
The pandemic has significantly increased the demand for innovation and digitisation of manual, paper-based operations. Going paperless is clearly necessary to protect the organisation’s customers, employees and other stakeholders.
Others felt increasing cyber security protection was critical. By regularly updating laptops, desktops, and mobile devices, citizens can get the most recent threat protection. Both mobile apps and any software installed on the company PC need to be updated.
Inquiring about their main obstacle to delivering outstanding citizen experiences while maintaining high security, the main hindrance, delegates indicated, was in merging heritage and contemporary systems.
The key challenge is finding an obsolete system and ensuring that it can communicate with cloud apps. Untangling the infamous “spaghetti code” while integrating a company’s internal systems also requires legacy system integration.
On how important conversational and assisted channels like contact centres and chatbots are to their digital strategy, most agreed that it is very important and is already an integral part of their omnichannel services.
In the final poll of the day, an overwhelming majority (93%) said AI and ML, including security, are part of their digital strategy. The world and people’s lives are changing, and AI and ML are starting to power the expansion of economies and organisations. The way people go about their daily business, organise their jobs or businesses, and make decisions in their daily lives is changing as a result of this.
In closing, Mohit emphasised the magnitude and complexity of today’s database systems; many organisations have identified this issue as critical. To address the slew of concerns, all-in-one and long-term technology that allows for simple setup and migration from the current structure to a smooth interoperable system across agencies must be adopted.
Individuals and workers may receive secure access at any time thanks to identity and access management (IAM) and identity governance and administration (IGA). Governments may innovate and improve the functionality of their existing infrastructure while also expanding it.
Johan added that protecting digital identities is an immediate requirement to preserve consumer confidence and prevent expensive data security breaches. “Why is identity the secret to success in the digital world? It is because consumer experience and security are driven by identity.”
By using AI and ML, organisations can gain contextual enterprise-wide risk visibility, improve operational efficiencies, and make decisions faster, all while making their current identity and governance investments much more effective and valuable.
Johan was delighted with the interaction and commended both OpenGov and the delegates, “I didn’t expect this level of sharing and insight. For a tech vendor like us trying to drive digital identity, this is invaluable, and I hope we can continue this engagement and look forward to the next one.”
The global spread of COVID-19 has been a disaster of unparalleled proportions. Not only has it halted the world economy, but it has also made even the most optimistic leaders reconsider how soon things would return to how they were before the outbreak.
Even as the pandemic disrupted businesses and services around the world, a sudden and dramatic increase in internet consumption was observed. Businesses had to shift to digital communications and tools as the key medium for maintaining productive and interesting relationships with their many stakeholders – internal and external.
While the private sector was quicker to alter procedures in the early phases of the pandemic, the public eventually successfully adapted and innovated to continue citizen service delivery. Of course, early on, most governments rapidly put into place digital communication and emergency response platforms.
By allowing users to access their data and applications from any internet-connected device, cloud computing expands the scope of digital transformation beyond simple technology adoption to encompass a comprehensive redesign of all related procedures, resources and user interactions.
The cloud and digital transformation are now inextricably linked. Organisations across the board need to adopt a cloud-first strategy if they want to ensure the longevity of their operations and realise their transformation objectives.
Most organisations and agencies have benefited from the digital change, but some industries are behind the curve. To keep up with the fierce competition in their industries, they must guarantee the reliable operation of the cloud communication platforms that serve as a direct line of contact between the organisations and their consumers and aid in the promotion of their offerings.
The OpenGov Breakfast Insight on 25 November 2022 at M Hotel Singapore provided Singapore’s public, education, financial and healthcare sectors with the advantages of the most recent cloud technology.
Simplifying Things via Cloud Communication
Mohit Sagar, CEO & Editor-in-Chief, OpenGov Asia believes that the cloud has transformed the way organisations communicate, cooperate and carry out many other critical business and service functions.
Cloud communications are voice and data communications solutions that organisations employ to manage cloud-hosted applications, storage and switching.
“Cloud communications services are becoming an increasingly intrinsic choice for organisations looking to streamline their operations and enable their remote workforces to stay connected and productive,” observes Mohit.
Cloud communications enable organisations to interact with their employees and customers over many channels, including email, audio calls, chat and video. All of these leverage internet-based connectivity to minimise faulty connections and lag in communication.
This communication model has become the go-to option for addressing the growing need for efficient internal communications in the hybrid workplace. As numerous workers are returning to the office, and for many of those who have remote work capabilities, hybrid work arrangements are swiftly becoming the new standard.
Organisations are figuring out ways to make hybrid work as interesting and effective as they can. Leaning into what is working, changing what is not working and adapting as lessons are gained are the first steps in creating an effective hybrid strategy, work environment, and culture.
Employee access to the system from anywhere on any device is the need of a mixed work environment. Regardless of the apparatus they are using or their location, employees need to be able to connect to the system.
“User-friendly features in cloud communications make it simpler for staff to become used to the technology,” Mohit explains. “Up until now, better work-life balance, more effective time management, control over working hours and location, prevention of burnout and higher productivity have been the main benefits of hybrid work.”
Having the appropriate tools to be productive at work, feeling less a part of the organisation’s culture, poor cooperation and relationships, and disturbing work processes are some of the biggest obstacles to hybrid work.
Apart from the initial expenditure, virtual meetings result in reduced expenses because of the decline in maintenance and transportation costs. Moreover, integrations of cloud telephony enable companies to place and receive calls from any device that is connected to the Internet.
This means that cloud communications can potentially maximise resources for organisations. Procedures, implementation and adaptability can all be accelerated with a cloud communications strategy, which also offers limitless high-volume information transmission.
According to Mohit, cloud communications must have robust security components to ensure compliance with data privacy laws and the security of all stakeholders. “To assist in safeguarding data in the cloud, emerging cybersecurity tools should also be taken into account.”
These include Artificial Intelligence (AI) for IT Operations (AIOps) and Network Detection and Response (NDR). Both programmes gather data on the security and stability of cloud infrastructure. After data analysis, AI notifies administrators of any unusual behaviour that might represent a threat.
Ultimately a well-thought-out cloud communication strategy with strong security features can serve organisations and gain a competitive advantage in an increasingly digital landscape and VUCA environment.
According to Lucas Lu, Head of Asia, Zoom, if communication fails to give the greatest possible experience, everyone suffers – from employees to consumers to investors. And neglecting to address this essential avenue has ever-worsening implications.
Organisations are going through some significant changes, he explains. The first is in the general business environment. Organisations are under tremendous pressure to boost efficiency, adapt fast as competition rises and keep up with the rapid pace of innovation and technological advancements.
This problem is becoming even more pressing because of economic uncertainties. Furthermore, solving these problems requires effective communication between consumers, prospects and staff.
The workforce is likewise seeing a paradigm shift. People desire the option of remote employment and are asking for the cutting-edge equipment and communication systems they need to do their jobs.
HR managers concur that a high-performing workplace’s future requirements would include collaboration, regular communication and a mentorship culture between managers and teams. “You run the risk of losing the ‘War for Talent’ if you don’t deliver,” Lucas asserts.
With every new tool and software that is made available, communication becomes more difficult and complex. Employees, clients and potential consumers are just a few of the stakeholders who have preferences and expectations about how, when and where they conduct business.
Due to this, many businesses choose their battles carefully when it comes to facilitating communication. They follow a variety of routes, including:
- Maintaining already-established systems that are deemed adequate
- Making use of the fundamental, built-in communication capabilities that are provided with other software packages, even if they don’t entirely satisfy the organisation’s demands
- Using different approaches based on the circumstances. You might, for instance, employ one communication tool for internal cooperation and another for clients, investors, and outside events
“All these strategies are meant to provide organisations with fundamental communication,” says Lucas. “These methods provide some flexibility, but they also change the environment for prospects, employees and consumers. People are compelled to alternate between various options based on their needs as a result.”
This causes unneeded annoyance, rework, expenditures and misunderstanding. Employees may feel alienated and impatient. Customers’ interactions with the brand are disorganised and unprofessional. And various instruments frequently make business slower.
In this uncertain business environment, organisations that can move beyond basic communication into universal communication have extraordinary potential. They can develop intuitive connections to all parties, employees, customers and investors, regardless of location, technology or business activity.
This will be accomplished by integrating the individual and organisational connection demands that will result in a) Delivering a consistent and quality experience for all participants, b) Making human connection effortless, and c) Enabling rapid innovation to maintain relevance.
These results may:
- Satisfy both the primary business requirements and the consumers’ expectations
- Redirect internal resources from managing communications to new services and capabilities; and
- Increase the marketability and perceived agility within the organisation and in the market.
An organisation’s reputation is directly related to the quality of its communication services. In addition to the fact that employees, clients and customers can work remotely, those returning to the office do not t want to compromise on the at-home office environment to which they have grown accustomed.
Organisations must adapt to this new hybrid environment to guarantee that everyone receives high-quality service regardless of circumstance or location. Expectations are simply greater and it is unacceptable if a session fails due to dropped participants or subpar audio or video.
“With Zoom, you may use a top-notch infrastructure that is specially made to prevent failures to safeguard your company from communications disruptions. You eliminate a work-limiting unpredictability risk by doing this,” Lucas says confidently.
When communications are down nowadays, it is impossible to conduct business. Hence, organisations may provide a controlled experience by enabling their staff to work without being concerned about the underlying technology. Additionally, they can analyse the underlying cause of any problems in their surroundings and take preventative measures.
With this, employees can concentrate on their work without unneeded interruptions or ambiguity and will have faith that the communication solution their organisation has deployed will work as planned.
“Partnering with Zoom enables quick innovation to keep up with the times. You can take advantage of a constant flow of fresh features that correspond to actual user requirements,” Lucas says. “Moreover, by frequently communicating with their support group, organisations will rapidly realise what is possible.”
Fireside Chat: How to Prepare for the Transition to the “Cloud Culture”
Geetha Gopal, Head of Infrastructure Projects Delivery and Digital Transformation, Panasonic Asia Pacific believes that every day, new technologies emerge and the culture of change is driving a paradigm shift for which an organisation must be prepared.
“As the COVID-19 outbreak rocked the world and we were unsure of what to do, our investments in technology became our strength,” says Geetha.
As the trend toward digitisation of remote work transforms the traditional office culture, a cloud culture has evolved. Likewise, cloud computing has become a competitive advantage for these organisations.
Every step toward better efficiency in the manufacturing sector increases competitiveness. Because of this, the industry’s embrace of cloud communications has become a crucial turning point. Cloud communications have changed the game for manufacturing by enabling increased efficiency while lowering IT expenditures.
“Cloud computing is the future, and organisations are successfully transitioning from the traditional office culture to the cloud culture,” Geetha says firmly.
Streamlining operations using scalable technological solutions for essential tasks and process optimisation not only helps reduce costs but also frees up time for businesses to devote to value-adding endeavours.
This is crucial now more than ever as operations teams struggle to keep up with the quickening speed of product and investment strategy development being observed among clients.
The new service-focused, client-centric operating model for investment operations will be made possible by technology, data and scalability. Organisations need to realise that the greatest way to prepare for the future is to create it as they deal with this period of constant innovation.
As a result, operations leaders who are taking steps to redesign, reinvent and adapt their operations may ultimately be in a stronger position.
Geetha emphasises that collaboration, communication and connectivity are crucial for success in today’s work environment. The key to maximising these contacts is digital communication. “For efficient communication and productivity, your company primarily depends on specific systems, platforms, and applications.”
More organisations are understanding the enormous advantages of migrating their systems to the cloud as technology continues to progress. In addition to allowing organisations to remain relevant in a competitive market, innovation plays a vital role in economic growth. Innovations are required to solve key problems.
One of the tactics that may be employed to save money while maximising organisational resources and extending communication skills and reach is advance planning.
An advantage of cloud communications for aiding staff members in a hybrid workforce is the reduction in time spent travelling to the workplace. Employees can save time travelling with the hybrid model simultaneously offering the chance to be more productive.
Despite the importance of enabling technology, it is the human workforce that will not only execute the organisation’s digital transformation strategy but also ensure its long-term success.
Guaranteeing that personnel are up to the task, however, needs not only technical training but also a radical transformation in thinking and decision-making.
It is important to focus on organisational culture by changing the management programme and making concerted efforts to close the gap between the internal aspect and employees.
Organisations that are unable to develop and achieve new goals that will assist their employees and business to thrive are those that are unwilling to alter existing practices.
“The pandemic can no longer be an excuse or the reason – remote work is here to stay. If we want skilled employees then we need to concentrate on their needs – we must empower our employees,” Geetha concludes.
Lucas believes that every problem has a solution since most organisations fail to connect their strategy to their innovation objectives. “Change is a constant process, and what we say today might leave a legacy tomorrow. Any plan for digital transformation, in our opinion, must be built around digital innovation.”
The road of digital transformation must involve a competitive advantage that can only be sustained by introducing innovations and contemporary methods if it is to stay modern and please clients with cutting-edge goods and services.
For every change, there is a call for managerial backing to be successful and transformative. Zoom is happy to discuss how digital transformation budgets differ from traditional business or IT budgets to meet the demands of any organisation.
Lucas believes that cloud computing is transforming not only how many organisations access and store data, but also how many of these businesses run. It provides greater protection, flexibility, data recovery, minimal to no maintenance and ease of access.
“Although many people used to hesitate the cloud computing, they have now realised how important it has become to organisations,” Lucas has observed.
Mohit believes that changes in computers and how technologies are distributed are altering the ecosystem, especially for those who work in a hybrid environment. He encourages delegates to start establishing a strategy to utilise the cloud’s benefits for their businesses and services. “Organisations should determine the types of cloud services for which you require solutions, then meet with cloud service providers to determine the best long-term match.”
Both public and private organisations benefit from the adaptability, efficiency, scalability, security, improved collaboration and cost savings that cloud computing offers. “The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated cloud adoption, but it is anticipated that cloud computing is here to stay, especially since hybrid work assumes a central role,” Mohit concludes.
India ranked 61st in the recently released Network Readiness Index 2022 (NRI). The report ranks a total of 131 economies that collectively account for almost 95% of the global gross domestic product (GDP). The United States ranked first place as the most network-ready society. The report is titled ‘Stepping into the new digital era: how and why digital natives will shape the world’.
According to a press release by the Ministry of Communications, this year, India jumped six places. It ranked 11th within Asia and the Pacific. Further, the country not only increased its ranking but improved its score from 49.74 in 2021 to 51.19 in 2022. Apart from placing first in AI talent concentration, the country has done well in mobile broadband Internet traffic within the country, international Internet bandwidth, and annual investment in telecommunication services and domestic market size. Its ICT services exports ranked fourth, followed by FTTH/building Internet subscriptions and AI scientific publications. The country’s weakest indicators were happiness, online access to financial accounts, and the gender gap in Internet use.
As per the report, India has greater network readiness than expected, given its income level. The nation scores higher than the income group average in all pillars and sub-pillars. It said the country’s main strength relates to people and the greatest scope for improvement concerns governance.
Major progress was made by Singapore, which jumped from the seventh position to ranking second in this year’s index, pushing Denmark (6th) and Finland (7th) out of the top 5. The other five countries that made up the top ten included Sweden (3rd), the Netherlands (4th), Switzerland (5th), Germany (8th), the Republic of Korea (9th), and Norway (10th). The ranking is based on each country’s performance in technology, people, governance, and impact, covering 58 variables.
Recently, to secure digital data, the government, through the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MietY), announced it would discuss various aspects of digital personal data and its protection. It has formulated a draft bill titled ‘The Digital Personal Data Protection Bill 2022’. As OpenGov Asia reported, the purpose of the draft Bill is to provide for the processing of digital personal data in a manner that recognises both the right of individuals to protect their personal data and the need to process personal data for lawful purposes.
The Ministry has invited feedback from the public on the draft Bill. The submissions will not be disclosed and held in a fiduciary capacity, to enable people submitting feedback to provide the same freely. The government has said no public disclosure of the submissions will be made. The government said the draft Bill uses simple language, allowing citizens to understand it easily. It is accessible on the Ministry’s website, along with an explanatory note that provides a brief overview of its provisions.
Scientists from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore (NTU Singapore) have created a method to transform wastepaper from cardboard boxes and single-use packaging into a vital component of lithium-ion batteries.
The NTU researchers used a process called carbonisation, which turns paper into pure carbon, to transform the paper’s fibres into electrodes that can be used to create rechargeable batteries for electric cars, medical equipment, and mobile devices.
Paper is used in many aspects of daily life, from gift wrapping and crafts to a wide range of industrial uses, including heavy-duty packaging, protective wrapping, and the filling of voids in construction, according to Assistant Professor Lai Changquan of NTU’s School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering and the project’s coordinator.
However, besides incineration, which produces high levels of carbon emissions because of its composition, not much is done to manage it when it is disposed of. “Our method to give kraft paper another lease of life, funnelling it into the growing need for devices such as electric vehicles and smartphones, would not only help cut down on carbon emissions but would also ease the reliance on mining and heavy industrial methods,” says Ass Prof Lai.
The team heated the paper to high temperatures to carbonise it, which turns it into pure carbon, water vapour and oils that can be used to make biofuel. As carbonisation occurs in the absence of oxygen and produces very little carbon dioxide, it is a more environmentally friendly method of disposal for kraft paper than incineration, which releases a lot of greenhouse gases.
The carbon anodes created by the research team also demonstrated superior durability, flexibility, and electrochemical properties. According to laboratory tests, the anodes are at least twice as durable as the anodes in today’s phone batteries and could withstand 1,200 charges and discharges.
The NTU-produced anode-based batteries could withstand physical stress better than their rivals, absorbing crushing energy up to five times better. In comparison to current industrial techniques for producing battery anodes, the NTU-developed method also employs less energy-intensive processes and heavy metals. This newest technique, which uses a cheap waste material, is anticipated to lower the cost of manufacturing lithium-ion batteries because the anode accounts for 10% to 15% of their overall cost.
Using wastepaper as the raw material for battery anodes would also reduce reliance on traditional carbon sources, such as carbonaceous fillers and carbon-yielding binders, which are mined and then processed with harsh chemicals and machinery.
In 2020, paper waste, which includes discarded paper bags, cardboard, newspaper, and other paper packaging, comprised nearly one-fifth of the waste generated in Singapore. A separate 2020 NTU study discovered that kraft paper bags, which account for most of Singapore’s paper waste, have large environmental footprints when compared to cotton and plastic counterparts, due to their greater contribution to global warming when incinerated and the eco-toxicity potential in their production.
The current innovation, which provides an opportunity to upcycle waste products and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels while accelerating our transition to a circular economy, green materials, and clean energy, reflects NTU’s commitment to reducing our environmental impact, which is one of four grand challenges that the University seeks to address through its NTU 2025 strategic plan.
The NTU team will carry out additional research to increase the material’s capacity for storing energy and lower the amount of heat energy needed to turn paper into carbon.
The Australian National University (ANU) is hosting a new training centre aimed at upskilling the next generation of researchers in cutting-edge 3D imaging and analysis technology to help repair bones, safely store CO2, deactivate viruses on surfaces and recycle car parts among a range of critical applications.
The ARC Training Centre for Multiscale 3D Imaging, Modelling and Manufacturing, M3D Innovation, is using a “disruptive” digital imaging, analysis, modelling and manufacturing technology developed at ANU for more than 15 years.
The micro-imaging technology provides users with 3D “supervision” into a range of materials at scales ranging from metres to 10 nanometres – a measurement 1,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair.
The technology was originally developed by a team of researchers with M3D Innovation Director, Professor Mark Knackstedt, who has won a Eureka Prize as well as an ENI award – the ‘Nobel prize’ for energy resources research – for his innovation.
He noted that the aim is to gather researchers from ANU and Queensland University of Technology, 15 industry partners and end users to harness the ‘super-power’ of advanced imaging and analysis technologies. He added that a vibrant research training environment is being built and a workforce that is expert in applying the new technology to a range of new industry sectors is being created. Moreover, PhD students and early career researchers in industrial collaboration and commercialisation are being mentored.
Already, incredible strides have been made through a range of exciting projects. This includes using the technology to investigate green steel production via hydrogen-based processes; safely storing CO2 in aquifers to fight climate change, recycling car parts for a circular economy, regenerating bones with biodegradable scaffolds and designing custom bone implants.
Partners at QUT have developed new technology during the COVID-19 pandemic, using etching techniques to roughen surfaces to deactivate bacteria and viruses. This is a technique that could be used to deactivate COVID-19 on metal surfaces in hospitals and clinical settings.
M3D Innovation is funded by the Australian Government under the Australian Research Council Industrial Transformation Training Centres scheme. Professor Knackstedt said they are grateful for the Australian Government’s investment and support for this important field of science and for the translation to industry partners.
ANU and Australia are world leaders in this space. Their work at M3D Innovation will boost the country’s capacity and deliver new graduates and researchers with critical skills and knowledge across novel manufacturing, modelling and imaging.
The global 3D imaging market size was valued at US$25.7 billion in 2021 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.2% from 2022 to 2030. 3D imaging is the procedure of rendering a three-dimensional image to create the optical illusion of depth.
During the 3D imaging process, two or more motion cameras are employed to capture a three-dimensional object for these 3D images to be produced. High-resolution images are created by combining 3D image sensors, cameras, and screens. As a result, 3D imaging is widely used in hospitals, the entertainment industry, architecture, construction, and automotive.
While the COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted market growth, ongoing technological developments in the field of 3D imaging and the widespread adoption of and need for 3D imaging systems in different sectors are expected to drive the market in the coming future.
The growing prevalence of chronic diseases worldwide coupled with increased awareness of the benefits of 3D imaging technology are also factors contributing to the growth in demand for 3D imaging solutions.
A digital government operates in a manner that is digital by design, focusing on the requirements of users and maximising data. Fundamentally altering the way the Australian government operates now, it offers enhanced social, policy and economic outcomes.
The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) of Australia believes that a digital government better prioritises the requirements of individuals and businesses. It entails investing in cutting-edge technology to deliver a personalised experience that is stable, safe and dependable and ultimately anticipates the demands of each user.
Australia’s Resilience and Growth Rely on Digital Government
“We cannot underestimate the impact of programmes and concepts such as ‘Tell us Once’ – not requiring customers to continue to re-tell their story as they access government services,” Lucy emphasises.
They are beginning to see both this de-duplication in service delivery and a side effect of more efficient investment through what they have dubbed the “Australian Government Architecture” (AGA).
The AGA is a vision to reduce the time agencies need to navigate the complexities of government in building digital and ICT-enabled solutions. It is designed to be a catalogue of applicable policies and standards combined with an index of repeatable patterns and capabilities for re-use.
Because of the increased speed-to-market, the Government can respond to priority needs using modern, best-of-breed approaches gaining “overall efficiency in how we digitally connect government services”.
“Silos of excellence” are a significant challenge. While Australia has some policies in place to reduce investment in duplicated capability, this is a difficult barrier. While some core functions of a platform may be the same, the needs of the service that uses that platform may be very different. “It’s always a struggle to strike a good balance.”
Unfortunately, when it comes to transforming government services, there are often legacy, disconnected systems that must be addressed and eventually decommissioned. This requires time, effort, and, most importantly, commitment. When compared to the release of a new system, it is more difficult to create a good-news story about turning off a system.
“Our people are at the heart of so much of what we do in the Public Service. This heart is often the dedication that the government requires of people who are passionate about serving citizens and businesses,” Lucy acknowledges.
The money available to the public sector, particularly in the digital streams of work, can make it difficult to compete with the private sector. This means that their best and brightest often leave for greater returns and better opportunities. “Our big challenge will be crafting our employee value proposition – across the Australian Public Service and all agencies.”
One of the most important technological advancements ever made, digital identification has enormous advantages for businesses, consumers, and governments. Australia is a pioneering nation in the field of digital identity. The Trusted Digital Identity Framework that supports the Australian Government Digital Identity System isn’t simply based on industry best practices from throughout the world; it’s also regarded as best practices in many other nations.
Underscoring her belief in the Trusted Digital Identity Framework (TDIF), Lucy says, “At the DTA, we’ve been building policy for Digital Identity – the Trusted Digital Identity Framework (TDIF) – for several years.”
The DTA is responsible for the Whole-of-Government Digital and ICT Investment Oversight Framework – a six-stage, end-to-end framework that provides Government Agencies with direction for managing their digital and ICT investments across the full project lifecycle. Government Departments and Agencies are obligated to consult with the DTA on all digital and ICT investment plans throughout the framework’s numerous stages, per the Framework.
Moreover, the TDIF serves as the guiding principle for the Australian Government Digital Identity System. It is based on worldwide and industry best practices and standards and it establishes strict guidelines for privacy, security, transparency and trust.
The TDIF is regarded as a world-leading accreditation framework for digital identity providers. It has supported the implementation of best-practice digital identity policies in Australia’s government and corporate sectors.
The TDIF has evolved and continues to adapt in response to changes in the service delivery landscape and consumer expectations as digital identification technology quickly evolves. It has gone through four major revisions, with a fifth now in the works.
In addition to incorporating accrediting programme findings, the next version (release 5) aims to prepare the TDIF for the future of digital identity as verifiable credentials and digital wallets become more popular and technology continues to grow at a rapid pace.
More than 9 million Australians, on the other hand, have decided to create a Digital Identity (using myGovID to build a Basic, Standard, or Strong identity) to access over 125 government services online, with 26 services supplied by states and territories. Over the past year, 1.3 million people used their Digital Identity more than once while 12,000 people have used their Digital Identity more than 65 times.
“We also have more than 1.4 million businesses that use Digital Identity to access business services, like our tax agency. This makes it easier for them to do business by reducing the amount of paperwork they have to do,” Lucy reveals.
Identification fraud can be reduced using a digital identity. In Australia, Digital Identity is predicted to save the economy AU$3 billion per year from identity theft and online fraud. The Australian Government Digital Identity System also provides extra privacy and security safeguards, such as no central database where papers are held, the inability to trace or sell a person’s behaviour, and all information being securely encrypted.
On the surface, this looks to be a simple issue. But, a response must include service standards, service design, accountability systems, collaborative service delivery with other jurisdictions, feedback mechanisms, open data and open government.
The design of performance metrics to monitor end-user experience begins with the service design. That is, gathering baseline data, investigating what data is accessible and, most crucially, finding the questions that yield performance data to enable continual improvement.
Monitoring the performance of a service or product is frequently done through a lens other than digital. The annual Report on Government Services (RoGS), for example, provides an annual study of government services in terms of equity, efficiency, and effectiveness.
The RoGs must incorporate state and territory government services as well as those of the Australian Government because other similar service experiences can influence user satisfaction ratings.
All government services must pause and assess how well they are satisfying the requirements of their users. myGov, the largest platform for providing government services to citizens, is currently subject to an independent user audit. The audit’s recommendations are expected to have significant implications for government service delivery across the board.
The Australian Public Sector (APS), like many other organisations and institutions around the world, is reorienting and evolving to embrace digital transformation and harness the power of data. “Realising that these are critical to our ability to continue to effectively serve the interests of Australia and the Australian people in a world defined by increasing speed and complexity,” says Lucy.
She agrees that it’s hard to keep the momentum and focus needed for long-term digital transformation with all the other priorities and crises that the public sector has to deal with at the same time. A key part of this is recognising and emphasising the link between digital transformation and trust and satisfaction in government on the part of citizens.
Even though the pandemic forced people to rely on their governments more, the overall trend is obvious. Against this backdrop, the Australian Government has made it a top priority and a requirement for the APS to do its job to win back the trust of the people.
“In the DTA, we make it clear how the ongoing digital transformation and the whole-of-government reform agenda are linked and depend on each other,” Lucy asserts.
The agency continues to stress the importance of services that focus on people and are easy to use. They are also building strategies that support the transformation that is sustainable, efficient, and centred on people. She points out that Australians who are happy with government services are twice as likely to trust their government.
Paving the Way for the Future of Digital Transformation
Australia is experiencing the effects of the rapid rate at which the digital world is evolving. Its APS Reform, which has a 2030 perspective, provides the government with a clear vision for the transformation of the public sector. The main objective of this agenda is to revolutionise how digital is done by making the APS more effective and efficient.
Ensuring that people and businesses are at the centre of policy and services is a core tenet of APS Reform. To ensure that transformation meets and surpasses user expectations, early and meaningful interaction and co-design are given a lot of attention in the digital space.
Trust is an issue for governments everywhere and is closely related to citizen expectations. In Australia, as in many other nations, public trust in the government had been dwindling before the outbreak. Although COVID had a brief uptick, regaining the public’s trust remains a major problem facing the government and its institutions.
To ensure that the government puts its constituents at its centre, the digitisation of government is key to the endeavour to reestablish confidence. The Independent Review of the APS in 2019 recognised this priority, and the nation is already moving in the right direction.
The key will be to define who is responsible for delivering initiatives and to raise the transparency of the progress by publicising how well key metrics are performing. However, confidence is not just dependent on how well-run and open the government’s operations are. It includes safeguarding data as well.
Criminal and state-based actors are rapidly developing their offensive capabilities, which is causing the cyber threat landscape to change all the time. These more sophisticated cyber-attacks are aimed against Australia.
A big compromise of Australian Government networks is a matter of “when,” not “if,” without massive reorganisation and cyber upgrading. “In light of this, we are hardening the government’s own IT, through a centralised model of cyber security services, called Cyber Hubs. We’re currently testing the feasibility of the Cyber Hubs model through a pilot. So far the pilot has shown the centralisation of the provision of services can help improve cyber security,” Lucy explains.
The government and institutions have vast amounts of information about Australians. This data is the fuel that drives the progress of artificial intelligence. Over the next 5 to 10 years, there is a chance to harness this data and use AI to innovate and improve public service delivery, resulting in better efficiency and transformation. But AI’s use of this data comes with risks and challenges for everyone, including the public sector. These risks and challenges need to be handled morally and responsibly.
Quantum computing is still in its infancy, but its application could represent the next step in the digital revolution of service delivery. AI is only as good as the data it’s trained on. Large datasets are currently being used by governments and institutions to train AI models and make them more useful.
However, when these datasets become scarce, governments and industries will be forced to find new ways to improve AI programmes. Quantum computing is one such method. Quantum computing refers to a class of supercomputers based on quantum mechanics.
To process information, these quantum computers employ the laws of quantum mechanics. That is, they can detect patterns in data that are nearly impossible to detect using traditional computers. They are substantially different from today’s computers in this regard.
Lucy believes if these powerful AI capabilities are utilised responsibly and data is saved and maintained safely, confidence and trust in government and institutions will grow. “More will need to be done in the next 5 to 10 years to integrate human values like transparency and fairness with AI’s goals of efficiency.”
Lucy is optimistic about the future and the role the DTA will play in guiding the government on developments in digital and ICT. She sees great potential for the agency to act as a government advisory body for its tech-enabled initiatives going forward as well as to serve the country in its digital ambitions. In summary, that is what she believes the agency exists for – to aid the public sector to offer the best citizen experience possible and help the nation thrive.
The Philippines was selected as one of the pilot nations to be connected to the Arterial Research and Educational Network in the Asia Pacific (ARENA-PAC) through its national research and education network (NREN).
The Philippine Research, Education and Government Information Network (PREGINET) will be linked to a global NREN hub in Guam as part of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Secretary Renato Solidum, Jr of the Department of Science and Technology Institute (DOST) and Prof Jun Murai of Keio University.
Prof Murai, known as the Internet Samurai and widely regarded as the inventor of the internet in Japan, has played a key role in establishing network testbeds across the Asia Pacific to support innovation and cutting-edge technologies on the global internet.
ARENA-PAC is a backbone network that currently connects Tokyo, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Singapore to a hub in Guam via several 100Gbps circuits. Future membership is anticipated to increase.
The next phase of ARENA-PAC’s advancement of science and technology, which will benefit not only the Asia Pacific region but also the world’s research and educational communities, will begin with this new process for high-speed additional internet connectivity in collaboration with DOST-ASTI.
These kinds of cooperation, according to DOST Secretary Renato, are crucial for the nation, particularly in the field of research and development, where cooperation with other nations in the Asia-Pacific region is crucial.
The fact that this collaboration with the Japanese counterparts is a direct result of the DOST-long-standing ASTI’s relationship with them makes it particularly significant. “Because any cooperation activities will be based on trust and a positive working relationship, it is crucial that we nurture our relationships with our collaborators,” says DOST Secretary Renato.
The precursor to the collection of science infrastructures that ASTI maintains, PREGINET has been igniting research and educational activities across the nation.
Numerous research projects have been conducted in the fields and applications of disaster risk reduction management, bioinformatics, health, and distance learning thanks to these scientific infrastructures. The ARENA-PAC offers members and partners of PREGINET the chance to maximise research opportunities and create successful partnerships within the networked world.
Meanwhile, a new version of the BIR Digital Assistant – Chatbot REVIE is now available and includes TIN Verification/Validation, RDO Finder, and an eComplaint facility, according to the country’s Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).
The eComplaint, on the other hand, is a service that enables taxpayers to file complaints against businesses for failing to issue receipts or invoices, engaging in tax evasion, and other violations of the Tax Code.
The eComplaint facility can also be used to file complaints against incompetent BIR employees or officials.
Revie, the BIR’s digital assistant, was introduced in June 2021 to address general inquiries from taxpayers as well as frequently asked questions about registration, BIR Forms, the zonal value of properties, and BIR eServices.
The BIR website’s home page provides 24/7 access to this artificial intelligence. If a taxpayer using the service needs more clarification on Revie’s responses, they can also chat with a live agent.
The enhancement of Chatbot “Revie” is part of the BIR’s Digital Transformation (DX) Programme, which aims to improve taxpayers’ experiences when transacting with the BIR by providing additional channels through which they can raise questions and concerns about their tax compliance obligations.
The MIDA-MPMA conference on Government Assistance at MIDA’s headquarters aimed to provide insights to participants on various government policies, facilitations and assistance for the manufacturing sector specifically the plastics industry. As the plastics industry continues to grow, it is important that companies, particularly SMEs, focus on innovation and raise productivity to compete and capture new opportunities.
The initiative was co-organised by the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) and the Malaysian Plastics Manufacturers Association (MPMA). MIDA’s Chief Executive Officer, in his keynote address, highlighted that the agency has proactively taken the initiative to ensure investors have the necessary access to the right infrastructure, proper facilities and skilled talent to cater to the requirements of businesses.
Among the initiatives and assistance provided by MIDA to manufacturers of plastics products include the Smart Automation Grant Industry4WRD Intervention Fund, Automation Capital Allowance (ACA) and Domestic Investment Coordination Platform (DICP). Besides innovation, companies have also adopted automation by leveraging on ACA to increase productivity and address challenges in a tight labour market, he said.
Malaysia is committed to achieving net zero carbon by 2050. For this, MIDA and MPMA are working closely together to drive industry collaboration and understand the demand and supply of recycled plastics resources.
Speaking at the opening of the Conference, the MPMA’s Vice-President stated that the plastics industry continues to face tremendous challenges including a shortage of labour, an increase in cost arising from the increase in minimum wages and rising interest rates as well as a slump in overseas demand, particularly, from the developed countries which are experiencing an economic slowdown.
Looking ahead, plastics manufacturers shifting towards high technologies and factory efficiency to reduce their dependency on foreign workers and low-skilled labour is unavoidable. Investing in the latest technology and human skills is one of the options for companies to continue to move up the value chain. The ability of the plastics industry to produce high-quality products at competitive prices will strengthen Malaysia’s role as a supporting industry, and in turn, attract more foreign direct investments.
As investing in high technology and automation is a long-term process and given the fact that 90% of plastics companies are SMEs, continued assistance and support from the government in the form of grants, incentives and financing is crucial. This will enable more plastics companies to have sufficient resources to invest in advanced machinery and new product development for sustainable growth.
The MIDA-MPMA Conference on Government Assistance featured sessions by speakers from MIDA, Inland Revenue Board of Malaysia (IRBM), Malaysian Industrial Development Finance Berhad (MIDF), Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE), Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI), United Overseas Bank Limited and TalentCorp Malaysia.
Malaysian plastics products exhibited resilience through the pandemic and continue a steady growth due to their properties and functionality as one versatile material despite the COVID-19 pandemic. As of June 2022, 33 projects were approved in this sub-sector with an accumulated investment of RM503.5 million.
Moving ahead, the synergies between MIDA and MPMA would continue for years to come to help in accelerating Malaysia’s advancement in the plastic industry.