Screenshot from ‘Lab+ future states series: conversational services’ video/ Credit: Lab+, Service Innovation Lab, DIA, NZ
“User-centric” is probably the most popular aspirational adjective for “government services” at the moment. Governments around the world are trying to transform entrenched systems and processes, with the objective of reshaping the way they interact with and serve their citizens. Progress is often impeded by a variety of constraints.
A small team within the New Zealand (NZ) government, which is one of the most digitally advanced in the world by any measure, embarked on a project earlier this year to test if the kind of fundamental, radical change which would be required to convert the rhetoric into reality is achievable and to explore possible paths for accomplishing that change.
Through a 10-weel experiment, called Lab+, the Service Innovation Team in the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) in New Zealand tested a new model of government services based on the concept of “government as a platform.”
In May, we spoke to Ms. Pia Waugh, who was leading Lab+ and reported on the ideas and objectives. After the project concluded in June, we got in touch with Ms. Waugh again to learn about the process and outcomes of the experiment.
When the project started, it was noted that there are few tangible published examples of what “good” looks like, particularly relating to “integrated services”. It means different things to different people.
So, one of the objectives of Lab+ was to explore potential visions of ‘good’ in the future. And everything would be published, the hypotheses, discoveries, outcomes and output. Ms. Waugh described ‘rabid, open transparency’ as a key element of Lab+, saying, “Making sure that we publish everything is not a matter of fun. It is not a matter of being nice. It is about a more scientific approach to the design and delivery of government.” The principle is drawn from the methodology of open source, science and peer review.
Certain other systemic constraints were observed over the course of this exploration. Firstly, the iterative improvement approach which is increasingly popular today, can end up inadvertently reinforcing the status quo. Also, agile and user centred design methods are often constrained by the agency view, the mandate, legacy technology limitations, among other things.
Lab+ was about ignoring the status quo and starting from a tabula rasa, ignoring the technical and legislative constraints and focusing on the needs of people and the community. “Life is about people, not agencies,” Ms. Waugh had said at the beginning of Lab+. So, the Lab+ team looked at services purely through the lens of the user and attempted to design a future state that could include the public sector, the private sector or the community or any combination of the three.
Lab+ involved 6 agencies, 6 companies and a lot of enthusiastic supporters more broadly. The work program for Lab+ moving forward will be announced in coming weeks and you can join the Service Innovation announcements mailing list to keep up with news.
The value of “Government as a Platform”
The team also explored the value proposition of “Government as a Platform” as a model for delivering better government services, and also enabling a diverse and scalable ecosystem of service delivery to meet the increasing diversity of user needs emerging. Incorporating a platform approach to service delivery enables civic and private sector actors to deliver additional convenience, function and service to meet the broad spectrum of public needs that government by itself could not.
For government itself the benefits start with short-term cashable savings and averted costs. Trials show reduced call centre contacts, lower staff contact, and more rapid processing of requests. The scale and scope benefits in moving from trials to a broad Government as a Platform approach are much larger, as government could use common components and management.
As other partners meet an increasingly diverse set of public needs, discontent with government is reduced. Government is enabled to focus its efforts strategically, and on what it does best.
For the public, time and convenience are important benefits. Certain life events require lots of government contact at once, which can be a negative experience if services are disjointed. This time impact can be large for those running a business, or managing amongst disadvantage.
The economy benefits from enabling innovation and entrepreneurship. Government-enabled networks have been a foundation of productivity. Government as a Platform has demonstrated the potential to enable economic and public good.
Finally, if government does not adopt the tools driving economic productivity gains, it is forced to take a rising share of inputs or face funding cuts.
The process- Discover, Design and Test
Lab+ started with two hypotheses: 1) Does “government as a platform” provide a practical path to the future state of government services?; and 2) Can the neutral permissive environment of a service innovation lab support service delivery teams to build people centered integrated services, to build a better thing?
As part of the discovery process, the team collected as much as possible of the already existing user research across government. User research was conducted to test if the no-agency lens or even a no-government lens did result in any change.
The team discovered and designed some informed future state concepts, which was purely driven by the user needs. Finally, all these concepts were tested with users to produce insights and validations.
The future states
While interacting with government, many users talk about wanting some assistance, because the interactions can be complicated and having someone (or something, users didn’t mind clever bots) who understands the context can dramatically speed up the process.
So, a conversational service is about real-time resolution of issues encountered by users, with third parties drawn in as required, with user permission, and having a persistent and accessible record of what was going on.
To take an example which was studied, suppose a person has turned 65 since last logging on to their online banking. When the person logs in next time, he/she receives a notification about not being eligible for NZ Super. The user asks, “why is that?”. The system replies, “You aren’t eligible because you haven’t been in New Zealand for 5 years or more since turning 50.”
The person knows that is wrong. So, they click into a conversation and start communicating with an agent. Once the situation is explained, the agent asks if they can verify the information with Immigration. With user permission, an Immigration case worker joins the conversation and validates the claim. The Superannuation status is updated in real time and the issue resolved.
Proactive service delivery
The idea here is to provide opt-in categories of services that a person could be advised of, indirectly or directly, through third parties, and having a seamless follow through. It could be an automatically pushed service, such as a notification saying you are entitled to free travel, and you can get onto a bus and immediately start using it using your phone or credit card.
Or it could be a service where permission is sought to verify requirements to access the service. For instance, the person receives a notification from Auckland City Council informing him/her that he/she might be eligible for a rates rebate. Now, instead of that person having to prove that their income meets the criteria for the rebate, they are asked if they would be willing the authorise the City Council to verify that their income meets the eligibility test with the Inland Revenue Department (IRD).
This validation with user consent from a trusted entity which is the authoritative source of information of that item for government, ties in with what Ms. Waugh had told us earlier, “If we were to adopt a verifiable claims approach to the business of government, two key benefits emerge. Firstly, the citizen has improved control and privacy because they don't need to have bits of their information being copied and pasted to systems all over government… The benefit for government in this approach is the significant reduction in processing, data transfer, storage and other systems.”
Help me plan
There are many times in life when people need to plan, such as when they are moving, considering having a child, getting married, etc.
People don‘t always know all the services, requirements and implications of a life event, which can make planning difficult.
The “Help me plan” mode of delivery can help here. But government has to be careful about not crossing the ‘creepy’ line.
Some services proactively delivered can be perceived as too intrusive or they simply miss the mark. So, the key is to enable people to understand and get the services they need (including the ones they don't already know about), while providing minimal information about themselves and their circumstances, in an anonymous/unauthenticated context.
For these types of interactions, we have a mode of delivery we call "Help me Plan". This prototype is being implemented as a working (but mocked up) service, specifically so we could dig below the surface to understand the functional requirements of such a solution.
SmartStart and NZReady are examples of this kind of concept. SmartStart gives parents easy online access to information, services and support during pregnancy and baby’s first years, while NZReady assists new and potential migrants with the planning of their migration journey from place of origin, through the move, and in the settling in period.
Lab+ took this further. “What if we could identify what all those conditions were across different rules, different agencies and different services, and then you can start to do some very clever things,” Ms. Waugh said. They took business rules from the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) and turned them into code.
A working proof-of-concept was produced, where starting with selections from among four areas of interest, a user is asked a series of questions, and based on the answers is informed about which services they might be eligible for, as seen from the screenshot above. The sequence of questions asked is critical to streamlining the process.
User testing revealed that users didn’t mind if they weren’t eligible, but they wanted transparency regarding what they were not eligible for and why. This kind of concept can help people to better understand their eligibility. If they would want to apply at some point, they can go and resolve the matter, perhaps through the conversational service. This also demonstrates how the three modes of service delivery might blend into each other.
Further work on this mockup service explored the use of blockchain for users to manage their own profile in a secure way, and share or validate information with government for the purpose of service delivery if and when required. It was an interesting experiment in user centered design around user control in engaging with government.
Reverse engineering the future states
Once the future states had been explored, the team reverse-engineered the future states. A blog post was published about the first attempt.
One of the key steps in the reverse engineering was to find reusable components and build prototypes. A simple example is a services register. Again, the Lab+ team worked with MSD to take their Family Services Directory and created a machine-readable version, which can be accessed via an API (application programming interface). Detailed blog post can be read here. The Lab+ team also created a test Central Government Services Register for experimentation.
A front-end Services Finder and a back-end Services Register would provide benefits for New Zealanders, government agencies and other service providers.
At the moment, there is an Experimental central government services register available on Data.govt.nz. To implement the Services Register properly the ‘sources of truth’ would have to be identified where they exist. A fully functional Service Finder would draw on the Services Register and codify all the business rules around entitlements and conditions to those services, which is expected to be a challenging process. There is also the consideration of keeping the service up to date. A proposed process is as below:
The second point was exploring the idea of an ecosystem. It is assumed that third parties would want to build on top of government components, such as such as data or content, programmatic business rules, or transaction services. To test this assumption, the Lab+ team organised an exploratory workshop (a detailed account of the workshop can be downloaded here) with representatives from private, community and government sectors.
While participants were enthused about the concept, some were concerned that the workshop didn’t offer enough time to adequately explore such a transformative concept. Still by the end of two hours, all teams had contributed extensive ideas about what government components might be useful to build upon. They also built something tangible and provided extensive feedback about user needs, barriers and benefits of such a model. The teams tackled a broad range of issues from autonomous cars to neighbourhood engagement and predictive tools, to real time transport and routing applications.
Ms. Waugh said about the models built, “The interesting thing about these is that all of them actually have both government and sector components, so they started to identify those and in assessing that work we can identify common components that if we built in government, should provide value for other sectors to build upon as a test of whether it would actually get reused. It is easy to build lego but let’s see what happens in the real world.”
Other reusable components might include programmable business rules, notification services or identity components, as well as myriad data, transaction and other components identified in the workshop.
Building prototypes collaboratively
DIA explored the notion of improving the SmartStart service including a potential future state that incorporates the three future state modes of delivery.
Another team comprising people from Tertiary Education Commission (TEC), Inland Revenue (IR), Commission for Financial Capability (CFFC) and Lab+ looked at the problem of students having difficulties understanding the factors that influence the size of their student loan and the value they gain from it.
The team storyboarded a prototype intended to help customers make their study and funding choices, showing key information (education level, income, outlook and related occupations) of a specific career (media and advertising). The prototype uses the concept of the “Team”- a support network to help customers navigate and make better study choices, consisting of family, future occupational outlook, sources for career and education advice, employment and financial tools+resources. It compares student loans amount and loan terms based on several scenarios ( education providers, funding sources, etc) and uses a graphic visualisation tool to show the Return on Investment (ROI ) of a particular scenario.
What is next?
Ms. Waugh said, “The hypotheses have proven reasonably successful as a first key thing. Next steps would involve further validation and research but taking a pragmatic next step. What can we design, build, test, both in terms of what would help service delivery teams in agencies, and what helps private sector and community sector, and most importantly what helps people that need to be able to interact with government either directly or indirectly.”
The work program for Lab+ moving forward will be announced in coming weeks and you can join the Service Innovation announcements mailing list to keep up with news.
A mind map of the outcomes in themes created by Ms. Waugh is available here.
All the published material from Lab+ can be accessed at https://webtoolkit.govt.nz/blog/tag/labplus/ or below:
Storming and forming (May 3, 2017)Norming and performing (May 12, 2017)Meet the Lab+ Team (May 23, 2017)Industry and community needs for building on ‘government as a platform (June 1, 2017)Status update on Lab+: the final sprint! (June 7, 2017)Discovering, Measuring, Learning (June 13, 2017)Potential future states for government service delivery (June 21, 2017)Outcomes from the Industry and Community Sector Workshop on Govt as a Platform (June 28, 2017)Lab+: Collaboration (June 28, 2017)Reverse engineering the future states (June 30, 2017)Our “Integrated Services” Design Approach and Summary (July 11, 2017)Working together to improve outcomes for students (July 11, 2017)Lab+: All-of-Government Services Finder (July 14, 2017)Lab+: Why I took time away from a perfectly good job to take on a secondment (July 24, 2017)All New Zealanders aged 65 and over receive New Zealand Superannuation payments (also known as the pension, National Super or Super).
Singapore’s Institute of Technical Education (ITE) has emerged as a trailblazer with its innovative Work-Study Diplomas (WSDips) initiative. Launched five years ago, the programme has evolved into a crucial pathway for ITE graduates seeking to elevate their qualifications. According to Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman, the Second Minister for Education, the success of WSDips lies in its ‘learning by doing’ approach, aligning seamlessly with ITE’s practice-based curriculum.
Since its inception with 100 trainees across four courses in 2018, the WSDips initiative has witnessed exponential growth. With over 1,000 trainees now enrolled in 40 courses, the programme has become a testament to its effectiveness. Graduates not only experience salary growth but also boast high employability, with more than 70% choosing to stay in their respective companies post-graduation.
ITE is set to expand its successful WSDips initiative by introducing five new courses in 2024. This move reflects ITE’s commitment to staying ahead of the curve in addressing the diverse needs of both individuals and industries.
The new additions, ranging from Accountancy and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to Nursing and Tourism Management, showcase ITE’s dedication to providing upskilling opportunities tailored to the evolving demands of the workforce.
The WSDip in Accountancy aims to sharpen expertise in in-house accounting functions, addressing the intricate financial management needs of businesses. Recognising the pivotal role of technology, the WSDip in AI and Data Intelligence is designed to support businesses in executing robust digital strategies by nurturing talent well-versed in AI and data intelligence.
The WSDip in Electronics and Computer Engineering responds to the increasing importance of optimised operational efficiency in digital work environments. This course focuses on cutting-edge electronics and computer engineering, producing skilled professionals ready to tackle the challenges of an increasingly tech-centric world.
In the healthcare sector, the WSDip in Nursing offers an apprenticeship-based progression pathway, addressing the growing demand for healthcare professionals. This programme provides a structured and hands-on learning approach, ensuring that graduates are well-prepared for the dynamic field of nursing.
The WSDip in Tourism Management recognises the significance of the evolving tourism industry. Going beyond traditional approaches, this diploma encompasses a spectrum of skills, from customer behaviour analytics to sustainable tourism practices, preparing trainees to navigate this transformative industry.
The expansion of the WSDips portfolio underscores ITE’s dedication to offering specialised courses that address the contemporary workforce’s needs. By providing upskilling opportunities in crucial areas, ITE ensures its graduates are not only job-ready but also positioned to thrive in their chosen fields.
The integration of digitalisation courses into study diplomas has become a strategic imperative. This move is not merely a reaction to industry trends; rather, it represents a proactive measure to bridge the gap between traditional education and the rapidly evolving technological landscape.
Study diplomas tailored to include digitalisation courses offer myriad benefits, from heightened employability to cultivating a workforce prepared for the challenges of the digital age. Graduates possessing digital literacy are not only better positioned for a wide array of careers but are also empowered to contribute to innovation and entrepreneurship.
Moreover, these programmes play a pivotal role in addressing the global competitiveness of individuals and industries, ensuring that professionals have the necessary skills to navigate a digitally interconnected world.
As educational institutions adapt to include digitalisation courses, Singapore paves the way for a future workforce that is not only adaptive to industry-specific requirements but also capable of driving technological advancements in various fields.
The Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) organised its forum aimed at catalysing Malaysia’s industrial commitment to sustainability goals. Held at the Connexion Conference & Event Centre, Bangsar South, in collaboration with the National SDG Centre and United Nations Global Compact Malaysia and Brunei (UNGCMYB), the forum strategically focused on leveraging technology adoption and embracing ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) practices, especially among Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) and Mid-Tier Companies (MTCs).
At its core, the forum delved into the critical challenges faced by industries, including financial constraints, talent shortages, and the scarcity of technical expertise. Crucially, it shed light on the government’s unwavering dedication to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 and transitioning toward the Net Zero 2050 aspiration.
The session was a knowledge hub, hosting influential figures in sustainability like Mr Faroze Nadar, Executive Director at UNGCMYB, Prof. Dr Ong Kian Ming from Taylor’s University, and Mr Asfaazam Kasbani from the National SDG Centre, Ministry of Economy. Technology experts and representatives from leading entities such as PETRONAS and EPF also contributed their perspectives, enriching the discourse.
YB Liew Chin Tong, Deputy Minister of Investment, Trade, and Industry (MITI), outlined the government’s New Industrial Master Plan 2030 (NIMP 2030). This plan encompasses ambitious goals and 12 outcome-based targets, aligning with the National Investment Inspirations. Stressing the importance of a holistic approach, YB Liew highlighted the necessity for sector-specific targets across manufacturing, energy, transport, and infrastructure to foster sustainable development.
MITI’s proactive stance was evident as the Deputy Minister unveiled the National Industry Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Framework (i-ESG) to bolster SMEs and MTCs in embracing sustainability. The i-ESG aligns seamlessly with the MADANI Economy Framework, indicating a clear vision for inclusive and sustainable industrial growth.
Underpinning the significance of technology and innovation, YB Liew highlighted initiatives within the Budget 2024, demonstrating a dedicated push toward sustainability. Noteworthy allocations such as the RM2 billion National Energy Transition Facility fund and the potential RM1 billion biodiversity sukuk for carbon credits aim to uplift businesses while fostering a resilient economic landscape.
MIDA’s Chairman, YBhg. Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Dr Sulaiman Mahbob, emphasised MIDA’s pivotal role as the vanguard of sustainable investment projects like e-Mobility, Renewable Energy, and Circular Bio-economy. The establishment of MIDA’s Sustainability Division in August 2023 signifies its proactive approach towards sustainable practices, indicating a promising trajectory.
Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Dr Sulaiman Mahbob underscored the inevitability of sustainable practices in the evolving global landscape, stressing the urgency for Malaysia to embrace the green wave. MIDA’s commitment was echoed through initiatives like the Invest Malaysia Facilitation Centre (IMFC), aimed at bolstering investment facilitation and expediting service delivery, thereby fostering an investor-friendly environment.
MIDA’s forum served as a pivotal platform to galvanise technological innovation and sustainable practices, aligning Malaysia’s industries with global sustainability imperatives. With concerted efforts and strategic initiatives, Malaysia stands poised to lead the charge towards a greener and more resilient future.
Malaysia has set its sights on an ambitious agenda for sustainable development, aligning with global imperatives while tailoring initiatives to its unique socio-economic landscape. With a steadfast commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030 and a resolute transition toward the Net Zero 2050 aspiration, the nation aims to tackle multifaceted challenges. From addressing environmental concerns like carbon emissions and biodiversity preservation to fostering social inclusivity and economic resilience, Malaysia’s sustainable goals encompass a holistic approach. These efforts converge on technology adoption, ESG practices, and inclusive policies, positioning the nation to forge ahead as a beacon of sustainable progress in the region and beyond.
OpenGov Asia reported that Selangor, a key player in Malaysia’s push towards renewable energy, is set to contribute a substantial 1 to 1.5 gigawatts (GW) to the country’s electricity grid in the coming years, as announced by Menteri Besar Dato’ Seri Amirudin Shari.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) recently unveiled an ambitious plan to propel Vietnamese businesses onto the global stage through a cutting-edge initiative. At the core of this strategy is the selection of 100 exceptional enterprises for the “Vietnam Pavilion” on a leading B2B e-commerce platform, slated to revolutionise the landscape of international trade.
This innovative programme seeks to champion the diverse array of “Made in Vietnam” products, fuel international trade endeavours, and facilitate seamless access for businesses to tap into the vast customer base of an established e-platform. By leveraging this expansive network, the initiative aims to illuminate Vietnam’s products and the prowess of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to a global audience.
The registration window for SMEs extends until January 15, 2024, offering selected participants invaluable insights from seasoned exporters. Vu Ba Phu, Director of the Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency, emphasised the pivotal role of this collaboration with the e-commerce giant, highlighting its potential to furnish SMEs with a gateway to the global market. This collaboration underscores a strategic shift toward digital trade, fortifying resilience amid the unpredictable undulations of the global market.
The inception of the “Vietnam Pavilion” in 2022 signals a concerted effort to bolster Vietnamese businesses by amplifying their brand presence and facilitating seamless networking opportunities. According to the Country Director of the e-commerce company in Vietnam, this alliance is pivotal in augmenting the global footprint of Vietnamese enterprises, streamlining their participation in global business endeavours.
In the previous year, Vietnam witnessed an exponential surge in exports via e-commerce, surmounting 80 trillion VND (approximately 3.25 billion USD). Forecasts project a meteoric rise, expecting the figure to soar to nearly 300 trillion VND by 2027. In anticipation of this burgeoning trend, Vietrade swiftly rolled out various online and hybrid trade promotion models, yielding commendable outcomes.
Simultaneously, the Ministry of Industry and Trade organised an event to introduce the “National Centralised Promotion Programme 2023 – Vietnam Grand Sale 2023” to stakeholders across the country. This initiative is designed to invigorate trade promotion endeavours while fortifying the branding of Vietnamese goods. The programme aims to stimulate domestic market growth, diversify purchasing channels, and bolster production, circulation, and business activities, catalysing the country’s economic resurgence.
The National Focused Promotion 2023 is set to be a nationwide affair, spearheaded by the Department of Trade Promotion in collaboration with relevant industry units, associations, businesses, and organisations. This concerted effort will encompass a multifaceted approach, blending traditional trade methods with e-commerce to generate a ripple effect, drawing the active participation of enterprises across sectors.
Businesses are granted the autonomy to partake in the “National Focused Promotion 2023” Programme by proactively engaging in diverse and compelling promotional activities aimed at captivating customers. They have the prerogative to set promotional limits (up to 100%), provided they adhere to legal and transparent promotional practices and safeguard consumer rights.
As stipulated, the permissible limit for goods and services used in promotional activities during the specified period from December 4, 2023, to February 9, 2024, stands at 100%, in alignment with regulatory decisions.
In essence, these initiatives orchestrated by the Ministry of Industry and Trade represent a decisive stride toward harnessing technological advancements to bolster Vietnam’s economic landscape, empowering businesses to thrive in the digital age while fortifying their global market presence.
Vietnam is eager to develop its digital economy and ensure that it is ready to make use of any opportunities to expand.
OpenGov Asia reported that the Ministry of Information and Communications is designing a strategy for Vietnam’s international fibre-optic cable development that will soon be released. This initiative aims to guarantee the secure and sustainable advancement of Vietnam’s digital infrastructure, according to Pham Duc Long, the Deputy Minister of MIC.
A delegation from the Ministry of State Apparatus Empowerment and Bureaucratic Reform (PANRB) met with the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Indonesia to the United Nations (PTRI New York) in New York. The meeting addressed the importance of digitisation as a fundamental foundation in bureaucratic reform.
Digitisation, involving representatives from the Ministry of PANRB and PTRI New York, discussed concrete steps to integrate technology into bureaucratic reform efforts. The discussion involved aspects such as implementing information systems, developing human resource capacity, and using technological innovation to enhance administrative efficiency.
In this meeting, the delegation from the Ministry of PANRB, led by Deputy for Institutional and Organisational Affairs Nanik Murwati, accompanied by Acting Assistant Deputy for Institutional and Organisational Affairs for the Economy, Maritime, and Investment of the Ministry of PANRB Ario Wiriandhi, was received by the Permanent Representative of Indonesia to PTRI New York, Arrmanatha Christiawan Nasir, and his team. The meeting began with discussions on the progress of institutional and organisational policy.
Nanik emphasised the urgency and importance of bureaucratic reform supported by data-based digital governance. “Digitisation through the SPBE architecture is the main foundation for bureaucratic reform, with its impact to be felt by the Indonesian people both domestically and internationally,” said Nanik.
Nanik demonstrated the Indonesian government’s commitment to advancing bureaucratic reform through digital transformation through this meeting. They underscored the importance of international collaboration, especially in exchanging knowledge and experiences related to implementing technology in public administration.
One of the main focuses of the meeting was to enhance the effectiveness of public services through implementing digital solutions. The delegation discussed the potential use of artificial intelligence, data analysis, and technology-based platforms to expedite decision-making processes and provide more responsive services to the public.
“The use of digital technology in various aspects of government operations, such as reporting, data management, and interagency coordination, can create a more open, transparent, and efficient environment,” said Nanik.
The Ministry of State Apparatus Empowerment and Bureaucratic Reform (PANRB) emphasised simplifying and integrating business processes to strengthen digitisation. The main goal is to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of task implementation, programmes, and services across all government agencies, including those carried out by the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Indonesia (PTRI) in New York.
Nanik, the representative from the Ministry of PANRB, revealed that the next step is to conduct an in-depth review with PTRI New York regarding the institutional arrangement policy of the Indonesian Representative Abroad. This institutional arrangement aligns with the revision of Presidential Decree No. 108/2003 concerning the Organisation of the Indonesian Representation Abroad. This process aims to align and enhance the organisational structure to provide optimal support in diplomatic tasks.
The discussion highlighted crucial points, including the position and relationship of business processes and work procedures between PTRI and KJRI New York, KBRI Washington DC, and other organisational elements within the PTRI New York environment. The results of the meeting are expected to form a strong foundation to strengthen synergy and efficiency in diplomatic tasks at PTRI in New York.
Furthermore, through this collaborative step, Nanik believes that by implementing digitisation comprehensively in bureaucracy, there will be significant opportunities to improve the efficiency and responsiveness of public services. Digitisation will facilitate access and information exchange between agencies, reduce task execution time, minimise bureaucracy, and mitigate risks associated with manual processes.
This initiative addresses current needs and looks ahead, creating a robust foundation for adapting to ongoing technological developments. Thus, Indonesia can continue to deliver excellent and responsive public services, achieving the goal of sustainable bureaucratic transformation.
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) recently visited Dumangas, Iloilo, to witness the demonstration of SARAi, a cutting-edge remote-sensing technology developed by the University of the Philippines Los Baños.
This initiative is part of NEDA’s ongoing efforts to harness the potential of remote-sensing technologies for gathering timely crop data, a crucial element in providing anticipatory inflation policy advice through the Inter-Agency Committee on Inflation and Market Outlook (IAC-IMO).
Project SARAi, standing for Smarter Approaches to Reinvigorate Agriculture as an Industry in the Philippines, focuses on monitoring agricultural production. During the demonstration, the Dumangas SARAi team showcased the generation of crop commodity maps using satellite data. The validation process involves a mobile phone app or a specialised drone, ensuring accuracy in monitoring the growth and health of crops in Dumangas.
While SARAi has proven useful at the local government unit (LGU) level, its current pilot implementation is limited to a few LGUs. NEDA Assistant Secretary Reynaldo R Cancio emphasised the need for broader implementation to fully tap into its potential for guiding national policy-making. Acknowledging challenges faced during the technology’s introduction to pilot LGUs, Reynaldo highlighted financial resource constraints and a lack of appreciation for the technology’s benefits as major hurdles.
NEDA proposed national government support for the deployment of remote-sensing technologies like SARAi, particularly for LGUs with financial constraints. He stressed the importance of coordination among various remote-sensing projects to avoid duplication and ensure applicability for national-level inflation management.
As NEDA continues to work with the IAC-IMO, the focus remains on providing inflation policy advice using existing data sets. Simultaneously, efforts persist in studying the potential of remote-sensing technologies like SARAi as invaluable tools for gathering essential data in the ongoing pursuit of effective inflation management.
In addition, NEDA has taken a significant step towards advancing the digital landscape in the Philippines with the release of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) for Republic Act No. 11927, popularly known as the Philippine Digital Workforce Competitiveness Act. This strategic move, approved on October 2023, reflects a meticulous consultation process involving various stakeholders, including government agencies and private sector representatives.
NEDA Secretary Arsenio M Balisacan emphasised the crucial role the Act plays in equipping the workforce with digital technologies and skills while fostering a dynamic innovation ecosystem. The IRR outlines the establishment of the Inter-Agency Council (IAC) for the Development and Competitiveness of the Philippine Digital Workforce, chaired by NEDA and composed of eight other key agencies.
This Council will be the primary body responsible for planning, coordinating, and implementing initiatives to enhance the competitiveness of the country’s digital workforce, with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) serving as the secretariat.
The Act empowers the IAC to formulate the National Roadmap on Digital Technology and Digital Skills, laying the foundation for programmes aimed at upskilling, re-skilling, and training the digital workforce. In a bid to streamline information dissemination, the Council will establish a centralised online portal harmonising existing portals of member agencies. This portal will provide comprehensive details on training and skills development programmes, certifications, and scholarship opportunities.
These initiatives directly address identified gaps in digital technology and skills mapping, ensuring that Filipinos across the nation have access to the skills and competencies essential for navigating the digital landscape. The focus on digital content, platforms, innovations, entrepreneurship, and technology aligns with the ever-evolving demands of the global labour market, positioning the Philippines as a competitive player in the digital workforce arena.
Having robust and effective public services is a fundamental goal for every country aiming to enhance the quality of life for its citizens. Quality public services, especially healthcare access, are pivotal in societal well-being and development. As a basic human need, the significance of quality public services in healthcare becomes even more prominent.
New Zealand government is aware of fostering its public services. In light of this, New Zealand has embraced a transformative journey by integrating digital technologies to enhance the accessibility and efficiency of its public services. The introduction of the rural after-hours telehealth service is a testament to the commitment of public health authorities to leverage technology for the benefit of citizens, especially those in remote areas.
This initiative aligns with the broader agenda of digital transformation sweeping across various sectors. The transformative service is co-commissioned by Te Whatu Ora and Te Aka Whai Ora and is delivered through a collaboration between three leading telehealth organisations in New Zealand.
Rural communities now have two convenient methods to access the telehealth service. The public can contact 0800 2 KA ORA (0800 252 672), or their rural healthcare provider can refer them. This dynamic service, operational for a week, has already engaged 20 rural practices, with more set to join in the coming days.
When individuals contact the service, a triage process is initiated by skilled nurses and kaiāwhina. Patients are seamlessly referred to a doctor if necessary. Jess White, general manager of telehealth organisations, spoke about this innovative platform that provides rural communities an additional option for receiving care.
Dr Sarah Clarke, National Clinical Director for one of the telehealth organisations at Te Whatu Ora, underscored the significant impact of this service on the most isolated communities, where access to after-hours care, particularly without reliable internet access, has been a persistent challenge. Selah Hart, Deputy Chief Executive from one of the telehealth organisations at Te Aka Whai Ora, underscores the relief this service brings to rural whānau, particularly those with young children who previously had to endure long journeys for after-hours medical care.
Operational on weekdays from 5:00 pm to 8:00 am and providing 24-hour coverage on weekends and public holidays, the service is staffed by a team of kaiāwhina, nurses, GPs, and emergency medicine specialists. This coverage ensures accessibility for enrolled and unenrolled individuals in rural areas, enabling them to increase their quality of life.
Te Pae Tata, the Interim New Zealand Health Plan 2022, serves as a strategic framework that spotlights the healthcare needs of various demographic groups. Te Pae Tata underscores the importance of enhancing their access to high-quality and timely healthcare services. The emphasis on rural healthcare is a testament to New Zealand’s commitment to equitable health outcomes and a proactive step towards addressing the specific needs of these communities.
This new rural clinical telehealth service complements New Zealand’s existing telehealth options, with Healthline (0800 611 116) continuing its regular operations. As technology evolves, these telehealth services can serve as a foundation for further innovations.
The introduction of this service signifies a commitment to advancing healthcare through digital innovation, ensuring that even the remotest communities have access to quality healthcare, further solidifying New Zealand’s position at the forefront of telehealth advancements.
Across the world, tech is improving health outcomes and patient experiences. For instance, OpenGov Asia reported that in Indonesia’s healthcare industry, robots are crucial, assisting surgeons in procedures, providing rehabilitation therapies, and even delivering medications to patients. Telesurgical robots offer enhanced skill and precision, minimising invasive procedures and improving patient outcomes.
Similarly, in the U.S., researchers at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME) at the University of Chicago have harnessed the power of machine learning to revolutionise vaccine design. MIT researchers have introduced medical technology advancements, a wearable ultrasound monitor fashioned as a patch, that holds promising implications for individuals with bladder or kidney disorders, offering a more accessible means to monitor organ functionality.
Quantum computing is a rapidly developing field with the potential to revolutionise many industries. As quantum computers become more powerful and affordable, they will likely play an increasingly important role, especially in tackling complex computational problems that are currently beyond the reach of classical computers. One of the key promises of quantum computing lies in its ability to perform certain calculations exponentially faster than classical computers.
In a significant step towards the realisation of room-temperature quantum computers, researchers at the University of Michigan have developed a method for transporting excitons. This breakthrough could pave the way for a new era of computing. This innovation, challenging conventional wisdom, including Einstein’s relation, opens avenues for developing highly efficient devices.
Excitons, peculiar electron-hole pairs devoid of a net electrical charge, find applications in diverse fields, from natural photosynthesis to technologies like OLED displays, LEDs, and solar cells. The University of Michigan researchers, led by Parag Deotare and Mackillo Kira, have harnessed the ability to manipulate excitons with precision, potentially enhancing the efficiency of existing devices and advancing into the realm of excitonics for computing.
The research presented a pyramid-shaped structure, similar to a wire, serving as a pathway for excitons. This pyramid design successfully addresses the inherent difficulty of mobilising excitons attributed to their absence of a net charge. It provides exceptional accuracy in conveying smaller excitons, which is crucial for prospective applications.
Using a laser, the operating principle involves creating a cloud of excitons at a designated corner of the pyramid’s base. A thin layer of tungsten diselenide semiconductor, only three atoms thick, covers the pyramid, modifying the energy landscape for excitons. The stretching of the semiconductor alters the energy gap between the valence and conduction bands, prompting excitons to migrate to the lowest energy state along the pyramid’s edge before rising to its peak.
While previous studies, led by Deotare, utilised acoustic waves to propel excitons through semiconductors, this pyramid structure offers a more refined transport mechanism. The lack of net charge in excitons, an advantage in avoiding energy losses, has historically posed challenges in their precise movement.
The study also challenges Einstein’s relation, revealing that its application to predict exciton mobility in complex scenarios may need to be revised. Defects in the semiconductor were found to act as traps, influencing the diffusion of excitons.
Mackillo Kira, Co-corresponding Author of the study, envisioned the potential for room-temperature quantum computing. Excitons, capable of encoding quantum information and retaining it longer than electrons in a semiconductor, could play a pivotal role in overcoming the challenges associated with the degradation of quantum information.
Beyond quantum computing, the team is exploring the integration of lightwave electronics to amplify the processing capabilities of excitonics. This research’s transformative nature extends its applications beyond computing, presenting opportunities for advancements in diverse technological fields.
Supported by the Army Research Office and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, this pioneering work created the pyramid structure at the Lurie Nanofabrication Facility. With patent protection sought with the assistance of University of Michigan Innovation Partnerships, the team is actively seeking partnerships to bring this technology to market.