The spread of the pandemic – first in China and then across the world – was swift and caught governments, companies, and citizens off-guard. This global health crisis developed into an economic catastrophe that disrupted all manner of services, production, industry and created a supply chain crisis within weeks.
With business leaders needing to act quickly, the crisis provided a chance for advanced analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) based techniques to augment decision-making. Uncertainty touched every aspect of life under the pandemic – from health to work to economic impact – and expedited the accelerated adoption of advanced analytics and AI techniques.
Machine learning models were a natural aid but the development time for machine learning or advanced analytical models typically need a four- to eight- week window. And that is after there is a clear understanding of the scope of the use case, as well as the necessary data to train, validate and test the models. If a use-case evaluation is added before model development and deployment after the model has been trained, the time frame expands to three to four months from initial conception to production deployment
OpenGov Asia had the opportunity to speak exclusively to Indrek Onnik, the Global Affairs Director of the Government CIO Office of Estonia, to gain invaluable insights on how their digital government utilised advanced data analytics and AI during and even before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Indrek has in-depth experience in digitalisation, international affairs and cross-border cooperation and represents his country in international organisations. He is a keen advocate of digital transformation and takes every opportunity to share how going digital has positively affected his country and the people in it.
In his previous position as the Project Manager of the e-Estonia Briefing Centre, he had the role of hosting high-level information-sharing events. Through these, he has interacted with thousands of leaders around the world and has talked about how specific policies and strategies of Estonia allowed them to become one of the most digital societies in the world.
Across the globe, organisations and governments are searching for innovative ideas to tackle problems created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Countries are scrambling to ease pressure on their healthcare systems and find immediate solutions to combat the economic crisis – even as they try to ensure that life can continue as normally as possible. While innovation would be ideal, the pandemic does not allow many the luxury of time. In such a scenario, learning from others means the difference between life and death, survival, and collapse.
And what better example than Estonia? Considered the most advanced digital society in the world, the nation has built an efficient, secure, and transparent ecosystem in which 99% of governmental services are online. Indrek revealed that Estonia’s digital shift 30 years ago was vital to their current digital avatar. They already had in place tools for their citizens that other countries are struggling to provide today.
It is no surprise then that Estonians have designed numerous digital solutions to help tackle the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. One of which is a strong and secure digital identification system that is used not only by the public sector but also the private. This innovative digital identity can not only access government services but can be used for banking, social and community services (like libraries) and can even be used to buy prescription medicines in Estonia and Finland.
As a direct response to the unfurling COVID-19 crisis, the Estonian Patient Portal launched a new feature in a matter of days. This allows patients to temporarily start their sick leave in the system, helping take some of the administrative load off doctors and nurses.
Indrek says, “Estonia is ensuring the quality of data and high-value data sets” and is eager to manage and exploit them efficiently. In terms of data management and analytics, Estonia has set rules and regulations for data houses. These are not directive; instead, they are a set of guidelines and it is up to these houses their data integration programmes in conformance.
For example, when COVID-19 struck, Estonia immediately identified what the users needed in a time of crisis. They used data analytics in their programmes, such as analysing client calls where the needs of a user could be identified first-hand. This helped them deploy services in a faster cheaper and more efficient way. The government believes if resources can be saved in one area, they can be allocated in other areas that need these resources more urgently.
The COVID-19 crisis also gave rise to significant unemployment challenges. As in other countries, they had fiscal support programmes. Using the same digital identification system, these pay-outs could be done online and in a prioritised fashion.
Additionally, a data analysation tool that forecasts the probability of unemployment versus getting employed was put to use. The tool assesses which factors are impacting people, maps their needs to appropriate government assistance and so gets people into the labour market faster.
Another area where data analytics was used was to manage outdoor recreation and physical activity. While such tools were already in use before the pandemic, they were incredibly useful during the crisis where social distancing measures were in place. Recognising the need for exercise, physical movement and recreation, Estonia wanted to allow these activities safely.
For example, their hiking trails are much in demand. Using apps linked to the analytics tool, people can see which trails have a prohibitively large number of people already, so they can avoid these overcrowded ones.
The government fully appreciates the wider contribution of people and deeply values community involvement. To harness people’s creativity, experience, skills and intelligence, to further combat the crisis, the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications launched a fully online hackathon – Hack the Crisis. More than 1,000 innovators across 14 time zones got busy mentoring, conceptualising, clarifying, and refining solutions aimed at the COVID-19 pandemic.
The hackathon generated projects that have been taken been made live. For example, the state chatbot, Suve, is already up and running on many public sites, answering pandemic-related questions. A platform that matches volunteers with people needing assistance in the crisis has been launched. Another platform helps companies share their workforce, allowing employees to have adequate work (and the related pay) while simultaneously reducing that cost burden on business and/or their employee idle time.
With its success, the government is planning another Global Hack, bringing onboard new mentors such as tech entrepreneurs.
Indrek also touched on Kratt AI – a network of AI applications that enables citizens with public services equipped with virtual assistance through voice space interaction. For him, it is not just a simple IT project or an Estonian voice assistant, but it is a tool for a person to get everything they need from one device and one virtual assistant in one communication.
The Estonian Digital Government ensures that all these digital solutions are made available for all individuals across both the public and private sectors and endeavour them as transparent as possible. Examples range from machine translation, chatbot speeches and AI. For Indrek, it is not about democratising the AI itself, but the data the machine uses. Thus, they must make sure that the data available is simplified and complete.
Apart from its national source code repository, Estonia is building an AI artifactory whose mission is still the same – to give as many stakeholders as possible the means to use the available solutions the government had already built for them.
The outcome of decisions made by the Estonian government over the last decade in terms shows that their digital transformation is on the right path. Their digital foundations helped craft services tailor-fit for the new normal such as remote work, public buildings being closed and so on.
But they do not want to rest on their laurels and successes. Indrek confirmed that the government, from a digital perspective, is committed to being the initiators of change. Estonia intends to build more on cross-functionality, cloud technology, and the availability of data and solutions in the newer normal. This means more efficiency, better decision making and better services for the users of these services and solutions. But for them to be successful, stakeholders from both the private and public sector need to commit to their roles for the long term.
In the end, Indrek believes that the pandemic taught the world to do things faster. Nations have gained digital momentum and this momentum must not be lost. All governments must have a strategy and a vision to provide the most convenient and readily available public services for their citizens and these governments must continue striving towards that end goal.
The world is also rapidly becoming more urban. In the 1800s, only about 3% of people lived in urban areas. By the 1950s, that had spiralled to around 29% and currently, over 50% of the world lives in a city. The UN predicts that by the year 2050, 68% of the population will live in urban centres.
What is more interesting now is the development of Smart Cities – cities that are made on technology and that are dependent on technology. Studies show that most cities around the world now have some smart features – some more than others.
With high population density and buildings squeezed together to maximise space, millions of people living near each other come with challenges. These are risks are exacerbated with natural disasters or other calamities. An earthquake might devastate the structure of a city and leave thousands missing and buried in the rubble. A flood may not just leave a few people stranded on rooftops but, in an urban setting, could leave millions in a perilous state.
The solution to these issues lies in the idea of Smart Cities – urban living spaces that have all the basic infrastructure designed by and built on technology. In addition, it has tech-enabled predictive, preventive, and responsive measures put in place to manage critical events.
OpenGov Asia had the opportunity to speak exclusively to David Graham, Chief Innovation Officer, City of Carlsbad.
As the Co-Chair of the San Diego Regional Smart Cities Collaborative, Co-Chair of the Harvard Technology and Entrepreneurship Centre City Innovation programme and the City of Carlsbad Chief Innovation Officer, David is focused on co-creating the cities of the future and training the leaders who will make it possible.
With vast political, operations and management experience, David has been passionate about embedding innovation at all levels. He has worked with local governments for over twenty years in both the public and private sectors that encompass several multi-agency and city-academic partnerships.
Having provided smart solutions for large cities, David currently works with medium-sized communities – like Carlsbad. In terms of scope, it is on par with most of the country’s states. He strongly believes that if innovative change can be incorporated in a city like Carlsbad, it could be a shining example for the rest of the country. Passing information, technology, best practices have a significant impact on the development of other smart cities across the country.
To give some perspective, Carlsbad was named “Digital Capital” by a multinational technology company in its annual E-City awards programme. Analysing the online strength of the small-business communities of all fifty states in the US, the tech company honoured one city from each of the fifty states as the new “digital capital.” These cities’ businesses are using the web to find new customers, connect with existing customers and fuel their local economies.
For cities with a mission to innovate, David conceded that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic further highlighted the work that needs to be done immediately. Government services had to move to the digital space to conduct their programmes.
Data integration became more vital than ever before – building more communication and ICT infrastructure for operations to be able to assess the public’s immediate needs in terms of services and how to deliver those services in a contactless manner.
The pandemic also heightened the need for innovation and in fact, it should be a strong motivator for action – “anyone in the government can and should be an innovator”. David and his team are keen to instil the drive for innovation. They want to provide incentive and opportunity for the government to approach their job with a continuous improvement perspective and where they feel empowered for being part of the change.
The Carlsbad council with David’s help, have already identified deficiencies in their technology and communication platforms and they are committed to continuously improving them. First on their to-do list was to utilise digital collaboration tools better and more comprehensively within the council itself. With time and availability being rare commodities, David and his team conducted meetings virtually – well before the pandemic. So, when COVID-19 struck, they knew that these digital tools would be even more important.
In terms of connectivity, Carlsbad is using consumer-grade broadband. Understanding the pressing need early on, prior to the pandemic, David convinced the council to collaborate with a third-party fibre connection provider. Through this, they were to build a digital information network with a 200-500 gigabyte core network ahead of the COVID-19 crisis.
David acknowledges, for the most part, everyone overcame organisational barriers at such a lightning pace due to necessity brought on by the pandemic. The world had to accelerate because there were no other options.
With a little breathing space now as infection rates drop and vaccination programmes being rolled out, organisations need to be more intentional. They should assess what they have been able to do, and from that, prepare for what is coming next and make sure they do not return to normal, as everyone is in a better place in terms of innovation after the pandemic. David said, “it would be a tragedy if we snapped back to our old reality without learning the lessons of what we have gone through.”
Interestingly, an added inhibitor is animosity. In stressful times it is easy to take offence. People and organisations must put personal differences aside because, in the era of COVID-19, everything is potentially a matter of life and death. Issues cannot be around territories or jurisdictions. This is the time to share vital information on possible solutions that serve the greater good.
The pandemic has driven radical change in operations such as remote work. Initially, much of the measures were ad hoc or designed to be temporary and David believes there is place for some adjustments. Remarkably, though, this new set up seems to be working just fine for most organisations in some way, shape or form. The trust that cities paced in their employees played a role in the success of the setup as well as the commitment of staff to continue to deliver citizen-services throughout the pandemic.
None the less, in the public sector, he notes, that there is still a lack of good project management and collaboration tools. These are vital to assess key performance indicators and allow for monitoring and feedback.
Governments must not only think about infrastructure when dealing with a critical event. They should consider ways to improve the experiences of users on these platforms by providing good services. With this as a backdrop, David listed three crucial areas that governments and organisations should focus on.
The first one is transportation, transit, and mobility. Developing a sustainable urban tech programme demands an effective transportation system, especially in the current context where citizens are wary of using mass transit.
The second one is to accelerate data integration between organisations and agencies. Data from contact tracing apps, public records, travel information as well as announcements from federal and local agencies that can help curtail the effects of the pandemic must be shared quickly and comprehensively.
In Carlsbad, the council began to share such data for public consumption when the crisis was just starting to make its presence felt. Keeping the public aware, getting them motivated and making them part of the solution was vital for Carlsbad. Instead of just telling people what they needed to do, citizens were made an intrinsic part of the response. By doing so, the city managed to have the lowest number of COVID-19 cases of any city of its size in the region.
David reiterated that sharing data with the public and across agencies should be applied in all types of endeavours, not just in disasters. This is foundational for smart cities and communities to grow.
In addition to transportation and data integration, community amenities such as parks and libraries are integral to keeping the city on as even a keel as possible. David observed a surge in library inquiries during the pandemic – not just for books and the like – but also for workforce and training purposes.
Carlsbad launched several digital communication initiatives on social media platforms, via e-mails, etc., to let people know that these services were still available for citizens during the pandemic.
With their important role, these facilities should be digitalised. In fact, physical services should be expanded to the digital space where possible. With higher uptake, this is an opportunity for the government to accelerate the digital transformation of its services.
In the end, David acknowledges that the human angle to technology is the most difficult thing to incorporate. If governments and organisations can lead and begin with the human story, explaining why technological and data solutions are necessary, they will reap huge benefits in politics, the public and the community.
Singapore recognises that threats to an open, secure, and peaceful cyberspace are increasingly sophisticated, transboundary, and asymmetric. As a small and highly connected State that has been the subject of several cyber-attacks, Singapore is strongly committed to the establishment of an international rules-based order in cyberspace. This will serve as a basis for trust and confidence between the Member States and enable economic and social progress. To reap the full benefits of digital technologies, the international community must develop a secure, trusted, and open cyberspace underpinned by international law.
On a podcast by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), co-hosts Jim Lewis and Chris Painter talked with David Koh, Chief Executive of the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA). They discussed how interoperable systems and an international rules-based consensus can help boost cybersecurity.
Mr Koh said that Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that no country wants to have to choose sides. Countries have benefited from an open international economic system. Mr Koh added that Singapore has benefited significantly from this global trend by reaping the benefits of free-flowing trade and information, goods, and services. This has resulted in inter-connected supply chains which increases information and data flows. Mr Koh said that the ideal scenario is for countries to work together achieve an open, secure and interoperable internet.
Mr Koh also discussed the fact that Singapore welcomes the establishment of a UN Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) and the decision to convene an Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG). The CSA believes that the work of the GGE and the OEWG can and should be complementary in tackling issues like cyber resiliency. The major players need to promote interoperability and work together, in the spirit of consensus, mutual respect and mutual trust.
At the regional level, Singapore has worked with fellow Member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to issue the first ASEAN Leaders’ Statement on Cybersecurity Cooperation during the 32nd ASEAN Summit in April 2018. In the Statement, ASEAN Leaders reaffirmed the need for a rules-based international order in cyberspace. They also tasked relevant Ministers to identify a suitable mechanism or platform for coordinating cybersecurity policy, diplomacy, cooperation, technical and capacity building efforts across ASEAN, as well as a concrete list of voluntary, practical norms of State behaviour in cyberspace that ASEAN can also adopt.
At the national level, Singapore has made significant strides in strengthening the cybersecurity of its local systems and networks on three fronts – building resilient infrastructure, creating safer cyberspace, and developing a vibrant cybersecurity ecosystem.
Furthermore, Mr Koh said that to achieve true cyber resilience, there should be accountability and a rules-based international system. One example of an international rules-based framework is the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), also called the Law of the Sea Convention or the Law of the Sea where countries included in the treaty follow rules and regulations uniformly. Mr Koh said that a framework like the UNCLOS can be applied in cybersecurity to promote a rules-based international order in cyberspace.
Mr Koh said that the major challenge in cyberspace is the fact that the internet was not originally designed with security in mind, which translates to user anonymity. This anonymity may not be ideal especially when it comes to secure banking transactions, financial systems, and cybersecurity as a whole.
Mr Koh believes that accountability should be integrated into trying to achieve cyber resiliency, that is why the CSA is empowering organisations and governments to strengthen their cybersecurity posture, through readily available resources for the former and capacity building efforts for the latter. Mr Koh postulated that reducing anonymity can mitigate threats and crimes in the digital space.
Cybersecurity has risen to the top of both national and international agendas. Government leaders from all over the world said that without cybersecurity there is no real national security. The boom of the digital economy and the digitalisation of businesses and society especially during the COVID-19 pandemic has now put the private sector at the centre of cybersecurity debates. Recent data mismanagements, or the revelations that social media sites compromised the data of millions of their users, highlight the central role that the private sector plays in cybersecurity. Undeniably, corporations are key players in the digital realm whether it is as distributors of malicious software, victims of cyber-attacks, or first responders to security breaches.
In the issue of cyber insecurity, the question lingers; what is the role of the private sector in cybersecurity policies, and how can this co-exist with the traditional responsibilities of government? On a podcast by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), co-hosts Jim Lewis and Chris Painter talked with David Koh, Chief Executive of the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA). They discussed the integration between the private and public sectors in improving cybersecurity capacities.
Mr Koh recalled that he hosted one inter-sessional meeting which was attended by 100 States, 114 non-governmental stakeholders from the private sector, civil society academia, as well as the technical community. He said that he was fundamentally shocked as to how many people from all over the world, from many dimensions, were committed and so deeply involved and had such great ideas on cybersecurity. For him, this only shows that dealing with cyber requires a multi-stakeholder strategy. For example, most internet infrastructure is being controlled/managed by private industries. A partnership between both public and private sectors can help in trying to boost cyber resiliency policies and programmes.
Furthermore, a lot of the technologies coming out are from industries, academes, and civil societies. Therefore, a multi-stakeholder engagement is an ideal method to improve cyber resilience on a bigger scale. Mr Koh noted that at an intellectual level, everyone understands cyber so everyone must also be committed to trying to find viable solutions. He also emphasised that cybersecurity is the key factor in achieving an open and secured internet environment that can help boost domestic and international economies.
Mr Koh said that countries have different perspectives and angles about cybersecurity. Therefore, the UN OEWG gave both private and public sectors the platform to voice their varying ideas regarding cybersecurity. The forum also helped in terms of building the cyber capacities of ASEAN and other developing countries.
Mr Koh and the CSA view cyber capacity building as a collective effort. For the agency, cybersecurity is only as good as its weakest link. Therefore, Singapore has made it a point that they include ASEAN countries in this endeavour to fully improve cyber resiliency in the region. First, CSA is very interested in cybersecurity awareness-raising efforts in ASEAN. Secondly, CSA has a strong interest in facilitating the sharing of best practices and capacity building efforts in ASEAN. Likewise, non-member countries of the ASEAN can also do dialogue with the association so there will be a broader agreement that cyber resiliency is an urgent concern for everyone. The CSA believes that things will be much more effective if they are properly coordinated on a much larger scale.
To support cyber capacity-building efforts, Singapore launched the ASEAN-Singapore Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence (ASCCE), an extension of the ASEAN Cyber Capacity Programme (ACCP). It aims to build more secure and resilient cyberspace through capacity building programmes for ASEAN senior policy and technical officials with decision-making responsibilities. The ASCCE seeks to fulfil three principal functions:
- Conduct research and provide pieces of training in areas spanning international law, cyber strategy, legislation, cyber norms, and other cybersecurity policy issues
- Provide CERT-related technical training as well as facilitate the exchange of open-source cyber threat and attack-related information and best practices
- Conduct virtual cyber defence training and exercises
The ASCCE undertakes a modular, multi-disciplinary and multi-stakeholder approach to deliver these programmes. The ASCCE engages top cyber experts and trainers and collaborates with ASEAN member states, ASEAN dialogue partners and other international partners including Australia, Canada, the European Union, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States, in designing and delivering cybersecurity capacity-building programmes.
The ASCCE delivers programmes in consultation with the International Advisory Panel (IAP) comprising senior representatives from key partner countries and international organisations. The ASCCE will also review and further develop its training curriculum with the support of the International Programme Committee (IPC), which comprises experts from participating countries and international organisations.
Mr Koh and the CSA continue to follow the four Ms when building cybersecurity capacities. First is a multi-disciplinary approach, where capacity-building programmes cover not only technical and operational subjects but policy topics as well for a holistic approach to cybersecurity. The second is multi-stakeholder, where it is recognised that governments need support from industries in the private sector. The third is modular where programmes should build upon and incrementally increase the difficulty level to develop the capacities and proficiencies of the participants and lastly is a matrix, where agencies like the CSA can measure the effectiveness of their campaigns over time.
Federal, state and territory leaders have agreed to create an intergovernmental agreement to facilitate greater data sharing between all levels of government. The plan for the high-level agreement, which is still to be developed, was endorsed at a meeting of the national cabinet on 9 April 2021.
The Prime Minister stated that the national cabinet agreed that jurisdictions will work together to capitalise on the value of public data to achieve better outcomes for Australians. He noted that to achieve this, first ministers [and state and territory premiers] committed to developing an intergovernmental agreement which will be considered at a future national cabinet meeting.
While details are limited, the pact will likely make it easier for federal, state and territory government to share data, building on efforts with health and travel data during Covid-19.
The planned agreement would likely work alongside the Data Availability and Transparency Bill, which is currently before federal parliament. The legislation aims to streamline data sharing between governments and the private sector, overriding some 500 provisions in 175 pieces of existing legislation.
However, it faces calls for amendments from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, Australian Medical Association and the NSW Council for Civil Liberties.
The Australian Financial Review is also reporting that the agreement can be expected to lay the foundations for linked-up government services around key life events or journeys.
It means citizens could interact with government services across all tiers using one-stops shops like the federal government’s myGov or the NSW government’s MyServiceNSW.
myGov is already undergoing a major overhaul – for $35 million to date – to align services more closely with life events while offering a personalised view of interactions.
Data sharing has long been a focus of discussion for federal, state and territory digital ministers at the data and digital minister’s meeting.
At the last meeting in February, discussions centred on “how to meet the data needs of decision-makers across jurisdictions, including through better data sharing”.
The communique notes that improved data sharing can boost the economy and lead to better service design and delivery.
One dataset that is advancing the conversation is the national disability data asset, which is paving the way for a federation-wide view of the disability sector.
The asset – which digital ministers agreed to established in September 2019 – incorporates datasets from the federal, NSW, Victoria, Queensland and South Australian governments. Other areas front of mind for data sharing include emergency services, with the recent commitment to develop a national multi-hazards warning service for natural disasters.
Demand for smart city initiatives rising
Enhanced data sharing capabilities between various governmental levels and departments is key to creating smart cities and a smart nation overall.
An earlier article notes that despite posing significant hurdles to cities worldwide, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated a wave of innovation that will continue after the crisis, according to research from a global think tank.
The ‘Smart City Solutions for a Riskier World’ study underscores the vital role that technology, data, cybersecurity and public-private partnerships play to ensure a healthy, safe and prosperous future for citizens after the pandemic.
The research, conducted in August and September 2020, included a survey of senior officials from 167 cities across 82 countries, including Asia, North and Latin America, MENA, Europe and Africa. The cities represented 526 million people or 6.8% of the world’s population; 53% of these cities are in emerging markets and 47% in developed countries.
The survey categorises cities based on progress in two categories: progress in applying smart solutions, with cities classified as either ‘beginner’, ‘intermediate’ or ‘leader’; and progress on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with cities classified as either ‘implementer’, ‘advancer’ or ‘sprinter’. Cities that excelled in both areas were considered Cities 4.0 — hyperconnected cities that are sustainable and well ahead in the use of technology, data and citizen engagement.
For 65% of city officials, the pandemic underscored the importance of smart city programs, while 43% learned the importance of operational continuity and agility. For 37% of city leaders, the pandemic also highlighted the need to invest more in upgrading core infrastructure.
For 88% of city leaders, investing in cloud platforms is urgently needed to deliver critical and non-critical citizen services. The survey also found that 66% of cities are investing heavily in AI, with 80% forecast to do so over the next three years, especially in the area of digital assistants and chatbots. Meanwhile, 30% of cities will invest in digital twins, marking a 300% increase from the 11% currently investing in this technology. Research also indicates that 100% of Cities 4.0 have already invested in cloud; based on reported ROI estimates, the average return on digital infrastructure investments made by Cities 4.0 is 5.74%.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is the world’s fastest-growing internet region, with the user base now at 480 million people. Digitalisation in Southeast Asia has important economic implications. By 2025, online spending could rise more than six-fold to US$200 billion. Most of this consumption will be in the areas of electronics, clothing, household goods, and increased travel across the region and elsewhere. This all bodes well in terms of building a middle class and fostering job growth in the region.
At the same time, there are negative sides to the transformation to a digital economy, with cyberterrorism, cyber fraud, and identity theft increasingly threatening its potential. Bad actors are working fast and creatively to wreak havoc on countries, businesses, and people. Today, the quality of a nation’s technology backbone is likely to influence its economic success. If cybersecurity is threatened, investor confidence in the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) will begin to decay.
On a podcast by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), co-hosts Jim Lewis and Chris Painter talked with David Koh, Chief Executive of the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA). They discussed progress in cybersecurity done by the CSA in its first six years, technical and policy cooperation within ASEAN, and next steps in cyber diplomacy after the conclusion of the current United Nations’ Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) processes.
David stated that Singapore’s CSA is on a steady pace in the last six years, but it has been a frantic and hectic rollercoaster ride altogether. For him, they have made significant progress in Singapore in terms of cybersecurity. Firstly, by instilling the realisation that the country is tremendously dependent on digital infrastructures as a highly connected society. The way we work, the way we play, all kinds of things that we do depend on the internet today. This should make organisations and citizens realise that cybersecurity is an integral part of these practices. David also sees cybersecurity as a key enabler for the nation to continue the way it lives, works, and plays. From that perspective, CSA was born. David said that he had the great honour of being selected to head up the organisation. He also noted that significant high-profile cyber hacks that occurred around the world are real. These cyber-attacks brought the message home to Singapore, a message that cyber risks must be taken care of.
Prime Minister Lee’s launched Singapore’s national cybersecurity strategy during the inaugural SICW in 2016. By doing so, it galvanised the domestic audience by showing a commitment from the national government that boosting cyber resiliency is something that needs to be done.
In the ASEAN, David conceded, no man is an island, all more so in cyber issues. The nature of digital is cross border international. The country must realise that no matter what happens in Singapore, it would not be sufficient to curtail the widespread cyber threats. Singapore knows that its economic growth is tied to the ASEAN region thus building up the region’s cyber resiliency is vital. To do this, David noted, that ASEAN countries should leverage ICT technologies in terms of economy, education and so on. The region can fully leverage these tech advancements if it can also deal with cyber risks as well. The message is clear that nations are all dependent on each other and they can only reap the full benefits of digitalisation by dealing with cyber issues. Meanwhile, David is also glad that ASEAN members attend their meetings on cybersecurity at a ministerial level. That is how the ASEAN Ministerial Conference on Cybersecurity (AMCC) was launched.
From a larger perspective, David also mentioned that a rules-based framework must be implemented when dealing with cybersecurity. Therefore, the United Nations (in general) is an appropriate platform for cyber discussions to take place, given its open and inclusive nature for all 193 member states. By conducting discussions on the forum, UN members can now see the importance of cybersecurity for their respective countries. The broadening of the conversation on cyber resiliency and producing a consensus report from the UN OEWG is a significant achievement.
Accordingly, David said that if the approach in cybersecurity is in the same direction, whether it be for the potential impacts of cyber threats, up to the solutions that can deal with them, countries can expect a positive outcome in terms of strengthening cyber resiliency. Leaders and decision-makers must recognise that cybersecurity is an issue, and they need to work together so everyone can move forward in this journey of full digital transformation.
The Philippine Department of Science and Technology (DOST) launched nine new research projects on artificial intelligence (AI) that are intended to aid various sectors in the country, from agriculture to the education sector.
In a virtual launch, the DOST’s Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD) unveiled the AI projects to be undertaken by the DOST-Advanced Technology Science Institute (ASTI), along with various universities in the country.
First is the Autonomous Societally Inspired Mission Oriented Vehicles (ASIMOV) Programme, composed of two-component projects, to be handle by ASTI and a university based in Mindanao. It will take on the challenge of developing AI-enhanced, mission-driven robots working autonomously or with humans to help address society’s needs. In its initial phase, it will focus on laying the groundwork by developing and innovating these key functional modules of intelligent mobile robots: sensing, actuation, control, navigation, and communications.
They will also handle the Harmonised Aerial Watch and Knowledge-based Survey (HAWKS) Project, the aerial component of the ASIMOV Programme and will primarily conduct R&D towards the development of core technologies necessary for autonomous drone deployment.
Moreover, the Mindanao-based university will also spearhead the Philippine Sky Artificial Intelligence Programme (SkAI-Pinas). Its main research component is the Automated Labelling Machine – Large-Scale Initiative (ALaM-LSI), which will be conducted in partnership with the DOST-ASTI once again. SkAI-Pinas aims to bridge the gap between the availability of massive remote sensing data in the country. It is comprised of an AI knowledge base, including experts, protocol, and an AI repository for models and labelled images to accelerate the workflows of remote sensing applications and fill the gaps in past and present remote sensing projects.
Also, to help protect the environment and reduce marine pollution, the same team will also develop a simple, cost-effective technology to monitor and quantify the marine litter in shallow coastal areas. The developers will base their technology on an existing towed optical camera array system for deep-sea monitoring that has undergone sea trials. They will redesign and improve this by adding sensors and cameras to be efficiently used in shallow coastal water surveys.
DOST-ASTI, on other hand, will work on the Robot for Optimised and Autonomous Mission-Enhancement Response (ROAMER) Project. It will develop prototypes of unmanned ground vehicles (UGV) that will help increase the productivity of different industries in the country, especially agriculture. Techs under Project ROAMER are envisioned to monitor, survey, and map agricultural farms for better decision-making and management.
Meanwhile, another university intends to develop a low-cost, wireless structural health monitoring system with visualisation through the Intelligent Structural Health Monitoring via Mesh of Tremor Sensors (meSHM) Project. The system will be made up of less than 50 sensors, that will utilise internet of things (IoT) technology and mesh networks, and can be installed in buildings, bridges, or metro rail systems.
Another project from them is the Development of Multi-lingual Chatbot for Health Monitoring of Public-School Children Project. They will create a system that can interpret audio input and can converse with students using two major Philippine languages, Filipino and Bisaya. The information gathered by the healthcare chatbot will be extracted to update the health database of the students stored in the cloud.
On the other hand, a university based in Luzon is set to develop an automated software that accepts values from a standard Impedance Spectrometer and uses a machine-learning algorithm to identify electrical, mass, and temperature parameters. It also involves properly fitting a spectrum with sufficient parameters that minimise common errors in existing numerical fittings. Industries involving electronics, semiconductors, food, medicine, and agriculture, are targeted to benefit from this project.
Lastly, using an IoT sensor network and deep learning, another Mindanao-based university will design and develop an intelligent traffic control and management system. It will monitor traffic in a selected area by using various devices that can measure several physical traffic parameters like flow, density, volume, as well as pollution. The base station will be established and equipped with intelligent behaviour and direct policy search capabilities using reinforcement learning to manage traffic automatically and efficiently and to avoid congestion. They will also develop and test a prototype of intelligent mobile traffic lights and will design web-based or mobile-based applications that enable easy access to traffic conditions.
The DOST- PCIEERD said that AI is one of their priority areas as it can boost the country towards the fourth industrial revolution. The agency also said that AI can disrupt traditional processes and provide solutions and opportunities that Filipinos can maximise.
This is Part 1 of a two-part series covering the Malaysia OpenGov Leadership Forum 2021 – Virtual Edition. Read Part 2 here.
COVID-19 has advanced digital transition by years and has foundationally altered the way both the public and private sector across the world deliver services, products and programmes. Government agencies and institutions have fast-tracked digitisation of internal operations and delivery of citizen services. Businesses made temporary solutions, that are morphing into more permanent ones, to meet changing and new demands – far more quickly than was thought possible before the crisis.
Yet, to stay relevant, competitive and, indeed, survive, in this new business and economic environment, requires adopting new technologies, formulating evolving strategies and deploying best practices. In this increasingly VUCA world, governments and businesses across the globe are looking to ramp up their digital transformation to better citizens and clients in the post-COVID-19 era. This was the focal point of the discussion during the Malaysia OpenGov Leadership Forum 2021 – Virtual Edition Day 1 that brought the key decision-makers and influencers together for a strategic level discussion on the issues that matter the most.
Convening the brightest digital minds for a strategic level discussion on the issues that matter the most, the Malaysia OpenGov Leadership Forum offered a unique way of tackling challenges in its virtual edition. Intentionally planned, every activity and facet of the event was designed to let delegates garner exclusive insights from the digital leaders as well as demonstrate their thought-leadership.
As always, the forum provided intimate interaction between key ICT leaders from the Public Sector and the Financial Services Industry who influence and determine digital strategies across agencies and organisations.
Apart from informative presentations from renowned speakers, this year’s Forum continued its award-winning OpenGov Gamification Table (OGT) format in the new OpenGov Gamification Virtual Rooms (OGVRs). Every OpenGov Gamification Virtual Room was a virtual heuristic exercise allowing delegates to learn from varying decision-making scenarios just as they would in the physical world.
Digital transformation in the new normal
To kickstart the session, Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief at OpenGov Asia delivered his opening remarks.
As early as 2018, there was consensus on the benefits of remote working and discussion on how to bring this about effectively and securely – but it did not happen in any significant way. Then, at the end of 2019 came a crisis so debilitating that it forced the world to come to a grinding halt almost overnight. Hit by COVID-19, the virus respected no borders, industries or community – devastating all with equal ferocity.
The public and the private sectors worked independently and together to fight the pandemic, coming up with a slew of ad-hoc solutions. Digital initiatives and tech platforms were launched left and right. The demand on the public sector shot up dramatically as citizens, forced to stay at home, looked to the government for necessities to survive. Compounding the situation was the need to urgently manage the sick, the vulnerable and the inaccessible population.
In the early stages, people were excited at the opportunity to work from home, a shift that had been in the offing for a while. Interestingly though, the step was considered a “pivot” – with the connotation of reaction rather than strategic. People and organisations were said to be “pivoting” to manage and mitigate the issues the pandemic brought.
Beyond a doubt, both sectors did their jobs in terms of providing relevant programmes and initiatives throughout the age of COVID-19. But the question remains, were those initiatives innovative and intentional? Was enough done with the available tech? Additionally, as the initial euphoria of remote working wears thin, people, once happy about the shift, realise that the new normal disrupts their work-life balance and their well-being.
The good brings with it the bad, the unsafe and the difficult. Deployment, in normal circumstances, of technology like AI, Cloud and Data Analytics are accompanied by cybersecurity challenges. In the pandemic where almost everything has moved online, cybercrime has mushroomed astronomically.
Knowing this, Mohit challenged the delegates, if you put digital transformation at the heart of your plan, is everything going to be magically in place? Or do we need to take technologies more seriously?
Organisations and institutions must find the right balance in their digital transformation journey using technology. They must also find leadership to achieve the ultimate end goal of a complete digital transformation in the new normal.
In closing, Mohit emphasised the need for agencies and organisations to find the right partner in this digital journey. Not just from the tech sector, but also the government, banking and FSI, to ensure that everyone is on the right path to an ideal digital transformation.
Public services at the centre of digital transformation in the post-COVID-19 era
After Mohit’s opening remarks, the forum heard from Azih Bin Yusof, Deputy Director-General, Information and Communication Technology, Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit.
Confirmed by the World Health Organisation on January 12, 2020, Azih acknowledged that the pandemic took the world by storm. In Malaysia, the government enforced a Movement Control Order that started on March 18, 2020, to break the chain of COVID-19. As of February 28, 2021, the nation reported two waves of COVID-19, with the first wave being successfully suppressed in less than 2 months.
Right from the start, as would be expected, there was increased demand for services and rising expectations of virtual services. As remote working became a necessity, there was an urgent need to test the resilience of working virtually and the need to protect data. Additionally, other disrupted sectors were looking to the government to provide adaptive and dynamic regulatory models.
Making the best of the situation, the Malaysian government took the crisis as an opportunities to move towards digital technology to enable government service in the future, fundamentally reshaping the government’s workforce and reinventing the future of regulations.
Azih shared the various initiatives taken by his government to combat the effects of the pandemic. MySejahtera is an application to assist in monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak in the country. It allows users to assess their health risk against COVID-19 and provides the Ministry of Health with the necessary information to plan for early and effective countermeasures and registering for vaccination. The government also launched a National Data Analysis Centre (DOSM) and the Public Sector Data Sharing Policy.
The government has been strong on adopting emerging technologies such as Facial Recognition tech, AI and Automation, a National Digital ID system and big data analytics to improve efficiency and productivity. They improved the government service delivery system through increased digitisation of services.
Malaysia is also focused on digital infrastructure, including their Hybrid Cloud collaboration between private cloud and public cloud systems. The Cloud Service Provider (CSP) services cover Infrastructure as A Service (IAAS), Platform as A Service (PaaS), and Software as A Service (SaaS). MAMPU also implemented a Cloud-First Policy where the value of cloud computing is magnified by requiring agencies to evaluate safe, secure, cloud computing options before making any new investments.
Malaysia aspires to compete and succeed in this new world by ensuring ‘Kemakmuran Bersama’ (Shared Prosperity). The nation firmly believes that digital government plays a critical role in the new normal and should focus on its digital leadership, data, services, infrastructure, and innovation. To this end, it has empowered MAMPU as the sole agency to drive the public sector digital transformation agenda.
Azih conceded that a viable digital government must provide platforms for small scale innovations, improve existing business process, new solutions, develop talent and disperse capabilities. It must have a vision for the future that defines the leadership and collaboration needed between all stakeholders.
COVID-19 impacts on Data Collection, Digitisation and Analytics
After the informative presentation from Azih, the forum moved to a presentation from J.R Helmig, Innovation Lead Global Security Intelligence SAS Institute on how the pandemic affected data collection, digitisation, and analytics.
J.R started by confirming that people, processes, tech, and data make up the ecosystem of data analytics. Analytical foundations, practical outcomes and future-focussed mindsets must take the helm in an effective ecosystem. While not all analytical opportunities apply to all locations, organisations or agencies every time, they are critical to success overall.
COVID-19 accelerated the need for a viable ecosystem of data analytics – not only in terms of healthcare, workforce, and public services but also to combat the rise of online fraud and cybercrimes. Data standardisation and modernisation with proper training would be key to combat these crimes in addition to automating investigative responses.
It was pertinent to note, pre-COVID problems still exist in current analytical efforts. Challenges such as the high volume of incoming data, low quality of incoming report data, a wide variety of data sources being manually integrated, inefficient ways to investigate and handle suspicious cases, limited resources with increasing pressure to perform more efficiently and effectively, manual checks of technical matches to identify the right business match, limited analytics capabilities to identify and analyse networks and relationships and so on.
Organisations must go from being reactive to being observant of what is happening to shape future outcomes. J.R and his team help create an analytical pathway that helps organisations identify their analytical baseline. This analytic continuum acts as the knowledge hub or library for organisations. This greatly reduces tech implementation risks as well as costs.
J.R suggested that organisations should adopt a case management system. An effective case management system must generate solutions whether be it automatically or manually. It must also be populated with any of the data available in the solution that is needed to successfully the desired result.
J.R encouraged everyone to predict and plan their new normal. They should be proactive with ongoing issues such as facial recognition efforts, fake personal protective equipment, news to manipulate stock prices, threats to military readiness or asymmetrical national security threats, just to name a few. Every organisation must anticipate criminality during COVID – both near term and long term – for both direct and indirect impacts, document and improve business processes during the recovery period, and plan for ongoing change – in business operations and consumer behaviour.
What makes Digital Transformation Successful and Sustainable
Moving on from the informative presentation of J.R Helmig, the delegates had an opportunity to hear from Dr Dzaharudin Mansor, National Technology Officer, Microsoft Malaysia.
AI and Automation kick-started during the 4th industrial revolution, and digital transformation is right at the centre of that change, was his opening premise. In today’s day and age, the competition between tech companies and organisations have changed because various transformative technologies are now democratised. Smartphones, drones, sensors, 3D printers, industrial robotics, solar-powered systems, mixed realities, and DNA sequencing are all made available to each user given by different companies, regardless of their structure.
With the increased adoption of these technologies, there are socio-economic trends that drive the need for digital government. The increase in expectations of digital culture is such that everyone expects the ability to interact and receive services in a fully digital operating model.
Cultural migration and urbanisation, where personal mobility creates multi-cultural urban centres, require new models to communicate and serve diverse populations. Citizen trust in government s fundamental – if citizens perceive a lack of digital maturity as an issue of competence it generates distrust in government.
Local and regional economies failing to effectively maintain public systems and infrastructure, create hurdles in attracting businesses and residents. Knowing all these factors, governments need to embrace digital transformation to stay relevant. To be efficient and effective in today’s complex, interlinked and fast-changing environment, governments need to redesign their structures and processes to capitalise on a new set of actors and tools.
Dr Mansor mentioned six tech trends that can enable an open digital government.
- Cloud provides an agile, flexible platform with unlimited scale for innovating quickly, maintaining compliance, and adapting to the latest security threats.
- Open data and advanced analytics paves way for new capabilities for analytics allowing significant improvements in decision making, performance analysis, policy development and financial management.
- AI maturity presents the capability to deliver and govern new models for community living, ranging from transportation optimisation to environmental stewardship.
- Service architecture with new design models allows rapid improvement of services by creating small applications that leverage an integrated data platform (moving away from silos).
- Cybersecurity implies governments can be trusted with public data.
- Mobility, where hardware tools and software platforms support the ability for many jobs to be performed in remote locations and with virtual communications.
Governments can adapt and become more resilient in the new normal by thinking in three basic phases. The first is to respond and navigate the flow of events. Adapt and respond to immediate challenges in real-time, enable remote work, maintain productivity and business continuity. The second is to recover and plan the comeback. Return business to scale quickly, adapt products, services, and business models, focus on value and cost reduction, restart customer demand. The third is to reimagine and shape the new normal. Reimagine and position people, processes, and technology for growth and new opportunities to build resilience post-COVID-19.
Artificial Intelligence and Automation
Taking over, Peter Buckmaster, Director of Digital Experience Design Department of Education New South Wales discussed how Artificial Intelligence has now a part of normal life and specifically education – where traditional methods are changing drastically.
Peter started by saying that AI began in classical philosophy to describe human thinking in a symbolic system. In Jungian psychology, symbols, (and is by interpreting these), symbols were a primary method for making sense of the world. They represented meaning, information and actions. In technology, AI is a machines’ ability to simulate natural intelligence (NI).
AI changing the way we interact and AI changing the way education is delivered. The evolution of AI and Automation has influenced the education sector in many ways. Cognitive Intelligence now plays multiple roles in the sector including grade assessments, improving personalised learning, facilitating connected analytics and programming.
Peter agreed that the academic world is becoming more convenient and personalised thanks to the numerous applications of AI for education and as educational material becomes accessible to all through different technologies.
The usage of bots and automation in the education sector has become widespread while AI and automation are being increasingly used in transcription. AI automates administrative duties, minimising the need for staff to complete mundane, repetitive tasks thus freeing educators to spend more quality time with students.
Customers, (citizens, customers or students), in the new normal expect to engage with service providers 24/7. Digital transformation is the way to be always on and its efficiency is moving us past simple automation to RF and cognitive intelligence. It changes the way education is developed and redefines the way we teach.
Increasing Your Agility with Multi-Cloud Flexibility
After Peter Buckmaster, the delegates were given a presentation from Ryan Tassotti, Enterprise Architect and Principal Engineer, Dell Technologies on how organisations can increase their agility by utilising multi-cloud systems.
Ryan defines the cloud as an on-demand self-service that has broad network access, resource pooling capability, rapid elasticity and can measure services. The cloud has four deployment models – private cloud, community cloud, public cloud and hybrid cloud. The Top 3 objectives driving cloud spending for Asia Pacific’s customers are New technology, Digital Transformation and Cloud-First Strategy.
As an example of Cloud-first policies, Ryan pointed to Malaysia’s MyDigital blueprint. This framework accelerated innovation in the country, allowed eCommerce imperatives for micro and SMEs and promoted better experiences for its citizens.
The fact is, Ryan noted, that the pandemic ushered the world into a new era. The new normal brings new demands and the cloud is set to provide solutions to these new necessities. The world has made a paradigm shift and digital transformation must accelerate with it. Close to three-quarters (74%) of all organisations are investing in on-demand digital services, two-thirds ( 65%) of global GDP will be from digital by 2022 and on-demand models by 2023 will be 15%, up from less than 1% in 2019.
A recent survey of 900 IT leaders across verticals and regions found that 96% of organisations have an executive mandate to leverage cloud technologies. While 89% plan to deploy private cloud infrastructure in the next 12 months, 76% of organisations will leverage multiple clouds environments over the next two years.
Utilising a multi-cloud strategy caters to different workloads. Some organisations value performance, some prioritise data services, while some look at costs and data sovereignty. While hybrid-cloud seems to be the way forward, a hybrid-cloud platform must bring stability. It must stabilise workloads, apps, and data spread across multiple clouds – all in all, a consistent cloud experience for everything.
Ryan advised organisations to find partners in cloud adoption. “There are experts who can help you migrate without pain – why do it alone?”
Cloud adopters must ensure that the platform is consistent throughout. They must avoid hiccups throughout an application’s lifecycle with platforms that extend seamlessly, End-users do not want to be surprised by a new management interface so they must be informed.
Ryan and his team in Dell Technologies promote consistency. They facilitate consulting services, deployment services that accelerate technology adoption, managed services realising digital transformation value for client systems, storage, backup, and converged infrastructure, and education services that develop and retain valuable IT talent through continuous learning.
Ryan is firmly convinced that the future is hybrid, the future is multi-cloud and the Malaysia MyDigital blueprint embraces these advancements.
Cloud Computing for Service Innovation
Ryan Tassotti’s presentation was followed by one from Prof Eric Tsui, Professor and Co-Chair on Deployment of E-Learning, Hong Kong Polytechnic University who discussed how organisations must use the cloud for service innovation.
Using the cloud to manage data is no longer an option, it has become imperative for organisations today. This is more so for the public sector that is striving to stay agile and ensure seamless service delivery to the citizens while continuing to innovating concurrently.
Prof Eric felt that the cloud was the perfect knowledge storm; meaning, data growth from IoT and social media, application and tools in the cloud are growing as time goes by. However, software and hardware alone are not enough to create a successful cloud system. Organisations must know that the people accessing services via the cloud are as important as the tech itself. A trusted network of people and computational resources must be integrated to mix to make the cloud the best digital business model available.
Pertinently, there are different types of cloud connections. First is the machine-to-machine, where hardware is king; second is people-to-machine, where people are utilising services; and lastly is the people-to-people connection where users create their networks using the cloud.
Eric reiterated that The Knowledge Cloud is more than just hardware and software. It encompasses people that invest their trust in the technology and involves the storage of data vital to organisations conducting their digital transformation. People build communities for problem-solving, utilising social media for marketing, exploring, and building new business models, executing strategies at low risk and in real-time, and delivering personalised services.
In light of this, organisations must think outside the box. Cloud technology is disruptive. Adopters must perceive the cloud as a massively scalable backend resource with low upfront costs. They must perceive the cloud as an intelligent knowledge centre with massive data and problem-solving skills such as processors and human integration needs, that has a dynamic computational power.
Eric stressed the key concepts in service innovation – the co-creation of value, dynamic capabilities, enabling vs disruptive, open business models and customer experience. Cloud technology is the perfect digital adjustment to these key concepts.
Organisations use the cloud for cost reduction and data integration, innovation and transforming new segments using the knowledge cloud. But there must be a collaborative effort to achieve higher rewards from the tech. The integration of humans to solve complex problems using the cloud, letting the computer do the problem solving that it is capable to do, and the integration between humans and computers to create solutions.
Eric concluded his presentation by sharing various cloud service providers that organisations could partner with on their journey in cloud adoption and digital transformation in the new normal.
Embracing Big Data and Analytics Today for a Resilient Tomorrow
Brett Aimers, Adjunct Associate Professor, James Cook University Australia followed Eric with a presentation about Big Data and Analytics, exploring how to embrace big data and analytics today for a more resilient tomorrow.
Setting the tone for his session, Brett said major disasters would occur more frequently as time goes by. While COVID-19 has, undoubtedly, been the most disruptive global event since World War II, climate and weather patterns are changing adversely. Therefore, thinking about a resilient society is simply not enough.
In 2019, 396 natural disasters occurred across the globe. Costing more than US$ 146 billion, over 12,000 people lost their lives in these disasters. In a more regional context, Asia experienced 40% of natural disasters and 45% of all attributed deaths in the same year.
With data and information on hand, organisations must utilise big data and analytics more effectively to predict critical events and their impact; and must share this information. Big data, analytics and information sharing are key to survival and economic recovery.
Major disasters lead to major disruptions, loss of life, a sense of helplessness and lack of trust. Big Data and Analytics can create countermeasures to help mitigate these – early detection, advanced warning, maps and layers, decision making and effective communication – creating confidence within the community.
Decision-makers get relevant and timely insights about possible disasters, enabling early decision making that can protect critical assets, (including relocation of their resources) contribute to impact assessment and support economic recovery.
Brett urged the public and private sectors to acknowledge the significant drivers for change. The first is that research indicates that two-thirds of the global population will live in cities by 2050. Another is that spending on disaster recovery is nine times higher than spending on prevention…literally, a stitch in time saves nine.
Brett concluded his presentation on a positive note. While COVID-19 may have an end date, climate change and natural disasters – of the scale critical events are inevitable. But big data, analytics and efficient information sharing can save lives and promote economic recovery.
This is Part 1 of a two-part series covering the Malaysia OpenGov Leadership Forum 2021 – Virtual Edition. Read Part 2 here.