As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread around the world, governments, enterprises and industries from the private sector, communities and society in general, continue to face unprecedented challenges.
In the public sector, where governments are trying to keep their citizens safe and the economy running, the onslaught has been unrelenting. Agencies are expected to respond quickly to equip citizens and businesses with the resources to minimise the social and economic consequences.
Recently, the rapid development of vaccines from various pharmaceutical organisations has presented a glimmer of hope to contain COVID-19. Unfortunately, the rollout of the vaccines has been far from hassle-free. Getting the vaccine from the manufacturing sites to the global population is proving to be a monumental mission – logistic challenges combined with inefficient data management are hindering an effective outreach.
The COVID-19 vaccine distribution and management challenges are of a scale and magnitude no one has ever witnessed and are unprecedented, to say the least. Governments alone cannot address this challenge, and no one organisation can claim an end-to-end solution or capability. There is an urgent need to plan the processes, infrastructure and organisations in place to manage vaccine administration and distribution adequately and effectively.
Indonesia has rolled out a mass COVID-19 inoculation programme, aiming at vaccinating two-thirds of the population to reach herd immunity within 15 months. The sheer size of the population and its geographical extent – 270 million citizens spreading across more than 17,000 islands – making the task a mammoth one.
Whether in Indonesia or another country, several questions need answering: do the government agencies and healthcare organisations have the tools and methodologies to classify, prioritise and locate at-risk citizens? Do the agencies have the know-how to determine if there is an adequate localised capacity to administer the vaccine and monitor adverse events? What can they do when faced with the unprecedented logistical / supply chain problems of vaccination programmes?
This was the focal point of the OpenGovLive! Virtual Breakfast Insight held on 06 May 2021 and aimed at imparting knowledge on how government agencies, hospitals and healthcare organisations can optimise COVID-19 vaccination distribution, administration, and management effectively and efficiently.
The session served as a great peer-to-peer learning platform to gain insights and practical solutions to understand how to optimise medical resources to reduce mortality rate, infection rate and stopping pandemic quicker.
Utilising Technology to Fight COVID-19
To kickstart the session, Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief at OpenGov Asia delivered his opening address.
The tail end of 2019 got hit by COVID-19, a crisis so devastating that it brought the world to a standstill almost overnight and has kept on relentlessly till now. Countries all over the world are looking to find ways to keep people safe, healthy and protected – in the short term and for the long haul. While major adjustments – band-aid solutions, or ad-hoc measures, et al – have helped most countries to have a semblance of normalcy, the focus has always been on the development of a vaccine.
And, as a testament to human perseverance and technology’s power, this has been achieved in an incredibly short time.
With the vaccines on hand, the public sector started to look at technologies such as data analytics and artificial intelligence to improve their vaccine rollout – management, administration and distribution. Mohit conceded that adoption of these technologies can help the public sector and healthcare front liners in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic more efficiently and effectively, especially when it comes to vaccination programmes.
But, Mohit asks, do governments honestly know how to fully utilise these disruptive technologies to reap their true benefits? Can they thoroughly understand its purpose in vaccine programmes?
In closing, Mohit emphasised that the utilisation of the tech must go hand in hand with the right partnerships. He urged delegates to find suitable partners in their COVID-19 vaccination endeavours. They must find the right people who do what they do best -and this will allow governments to deliver the much-needed vaccines to communities across all borders.
Data Analytics and AI in Vaccine Distribution
After the opening address, the session heard from Dr Steve Bennett, Director – Public Sector and Financial Services Practice, SAS. He discussed how data analytics and AI helped in various initiatives and response efforts to combat the pandemic.
Steve defines analytics as the scientific process of transforming data into insights for decision making. Data analytics can help leaders make decisions more efficiently and effectively both in their response and recovery efforts.
First, data analytics helped governments in their responses against the pandemic through Epidemiological Modelling and Medical Resource Optimisation. Governments used data analytics to flatten the infection curve while preserving limited resources crucial in the COVID-19 era. Simultaneously, data analytics assisted governments in contact tracing efforts by connecting and understanding data available to help mitigate the spread of the virus. Technologies helped identify specific communities vulnerable to a possible contagion outbreak while Machine Learning and AI helped with accurate projections to anticipate future waves.
Second, AI and Data Analytics aided governments in the recovery phase, specifically in delivering citizen services and benefits. Citing the example of the United Kingdom, Steven said the British government had a range of benefits available to people in need. Like other governments, the nation, too, wanted to make sure that benefits were delivered to the right people – and that’s where technology helped. Similarly in Brazil, AI and data analytics were successfully deployed to quickly score and validate the right beneficiaries that resources needed to go to.
In terms of citizen centricity, Steve gave the example of a city in Europe that wants to get people back to work in 13 weeks or less if they lose their job. Machine Learning and AI optimally matched the mix of programmes to the right citizens. Knowing the background of people and by having AI/ML map appropriate programmes, the government has seen great results in terms of getting people back to work.
As vaccination programmes are being rolled out across the world, the pandemic seems to be on its tail-end. However, the implementation of a vaccine rollout is “the greatest logistics mobilisation since World War II and (we are) trying to move things on an unprecedented scale”. Steve conceded that creating and evolving a data-driven mass vaccination plan presents exceptional challenges, including risk identification, provider enrollment, and vaccine administration.
Centrally, governments must classify and locate at-risk citizens and other critical populations, requiring significant data integration and geospatial capabilities. They need to monitor capacity so there adequate localised ability to administer the vaccine and recruit providers even as the supply chain is optimised.
Local governments will be assuming responsibility for managing and approving orders from enrolled providers based on unknown federal allotments. Vaccine providers must prioritise and identify populations.
Ongoing analytics of vaccination programme is vital and necessary. New and existing data must be integrated and analysed to identify administration problems, monitor gaps in care and update vaccine need projections.
Steve emphasised that a phased approach should be applied to vaccination strategies. The first is planning agencies must have the data and analytic tools to effectively plan vaccine administration strategies. The second is the implementation where they use existing data assets and new collection mechanisms to efficiently vaccinate critical populations. Thirdly, necessary adjustments must be made – decision-makers must constantly adjust based on new information, changing supply and unpredictable demand.
Understanding the COVID-19 Vaccine Supply Chain
The delegates moved to a presentation from Dr Robert de Souza, Executive Director, The Logistics Institute Asia Pacific, who discussed the different factors that affect and make up the COVID-19 vaccine’s supply chain management.
Robert started his presentation by pointing out that the vaccine supply chain might look uncomplicated but is laden with ambiguity. There are several projected challenges due to its scale and complexity. Over 16,000 Boeing 777 flights are needed to ship a double dose vaccination which translates to 7.59 billion vials dose. And to move vaccines end-to-end, over 1.5 trillion data ports are required.
Other factors that complicate the chain are extreme temperature requirements, shelf-life concerns, verifications of unbroken cold chains and the supply of peripherals for vaccine distribution. The ecosystem of actors and policy drivers in an effective vaccine management programme must include the optimisation of storage and locations for cold storage and distribution must be determined. The vaccine routing mix must be prioritised as well as the infrastructure needed for transportation such as modality, multi vs intermodal links for coordinated scheduling.
Governments must be able to match supply and demand and plan for disruptions including the impact of pandemic suppression measures. Inherently, there is an increased need for risk management when it comes to vaccine distribution.
Robert stressed that the COVID-19 vaccination supply chain is unique because it is global and has disturbed equilibrium. It has put globalisation in the spotlight and governments in the centre. Unfortunately, it has created artificial demands and shortages due to demand shocks and supply shocks.
To improve the COVID-19 vaccine’s supply chain performance through greater visibility, governments and organisations must ask the following questions:
- How distant are distribution centres from strategic infrastructures such as ports and airports?
- What are the ideal locations for vaccination/distribution centres?
- Are vaccination/distribution centres located in disaster-prone areas?
- What is the geographic distribution of demand?
- How many customers can be served within specific timeframes?
- Can demand points be clustered based on geo-information and volumes?
In terms of demand clustering, demand points are not all the same. Some are more crucial and may require higher attention. Clustering enables the definition of effective customer-centric strategies. A dynamic simulation consisting of good methods, typically leveraging upon large datasets can be applied.
Strategic infrastructure such as ports and airports enable supply chains to function. A high-level assessment of distances between such infrastructures and supply chain nodes is vital. Notably, demand points carry different weights in terms of volumes. An understanding of demand patterns, on the time dimension, enables accurate planning of logistics capacities.
Robert urged delegates to think of a COVID-19 vaccination programme as an ecosystem and not a chain or a network. Decision-makers must ask all the right questions like the “what, from where and to where? Who, when and how”? They should remember that increasing data granularity yields more insights.
When it comes to the COVID-19 vaccination programme, Robert conceded that a wide array of tools and technologies are readily available to address supply chain problems at all levels including strategic, tactical and operational. But the identification of problem statements and data remains a challenge. Governments must embrace digitalisation to achieve operational excellence, supply chain transparency as well as boost financial and service level performance.
OVID-19 Vaccine Cold Chain Logistics Management
Kelvin Goh, APAC AI-IoT Business Development & Global Intelligent Logistics, SAS was the next presenter and discussed how the continuous monitoring and examinability of cold chain logistics of vaccines can help the public sector.
Right off the bat, Kevin noted that logistics – especially cross-border logistics – is already a complicated task. When coupled with cold chain management, its complexity doubles.
He expanded on the framework of the vaccine storage and handling toolkit for the delegates to better understand the process. Ideally, the vaccine cold chain flowchart always starts with the manufacturer and then moves to the distribution phase. Only then will it reach the provider/government facilities.
If the cold chain is not properly maintained, Kevin warns, vaccine potency may be lost, resulting in a useless vaccine supply.
In terms of cold chain storage and handling optimisation, there must be continuous monitoring, intelligent alerting and efficient decision making. Cold chain logistics monitoring, alerting and decisions can be directly applied to support the challenges of Vaccine Storage and Handling across the regulatory spectrum.
The regulatory guidance on Vaccine Storage and Handling is divided into 7 sections:
- SECTION ONE: Vaccine Cold Chain
- SECTION TWO: Staff and Training
- SECTION THREE: Vaccine Storage and Temperature Monitoring Equipment
- SECTION FOUR: Vaccine Inventory Management
- SECTION FIVE: Vaccine Preparation
- SECTION SIX: Vaccine Transport
- SECTION SEVEN: Emergency Vaccine Storage and Handling
To better handle the pandemic and post-pandemic realities SAS’ Cold Chain for Biologics solution provides monitoring, tracking and optimising capabilities to address the high dimensional and complex nature of biologics logistics. The solution is built on three pillars:
- MONITOR: Create end-to-end transparency for key assets to drive data-enabled action across the supply chain.
- TRACK: Ensure guidelines and protocols are followed for vaccine and biologic distribution/storage while maintaining the integrity of the supply chain for regulatory compliance and patient safety.
- OPTIMISE: Dynamically optimise the cold chain to manage risk, improve efficiency, prevent waste and maximise safety and outcomes.
Kelvin emphasised that vaccine providers must enable rapid and informed decision-making through real-time analysis of sensor telemetry used in monitoring equipment reliability and the supporting infrastructure critical to the distribution and storage of vaccines.
They must also learn to reduce human cognitive and physical workloads through digitisation and automation of associated workflows while maintaining real-time situational awareness of vaccine integrity and availability through intelligent alerting and decision-making technologies.
After the informative presentations, delegates participated in interactive discussions facilitated by polling questions. This activity is designed to provide live-audience interaction, promote engagement, hear real-life experiences and impart professional learning and development for participants.
The opening poll was about the major challenge the delegates face in the current COVID-19 vaccine distribution. Half (50%) of the delegates said that extreme storage requirements are the biggest challenges, while 39% said that transportation and delivery are their main obstacles. Only 11% said that nursing shortages hinder their vaccine distribution.
The next question focussed on delegates’ perception of data analytics supporting their organisations in the current vaccine distribution. Just over a third (36%) said data analytics can help in identifying the location and concentration of priority populations. The rest of the votes were almost evenly divided. Some felt that analytics could help measure changes in need and demand patterns to optimise supply-chain strategies, while others indicated it could be deployed to monitor the relative adequacy of providers capable of vaccinating critical populations.
Asked about the stage of readiness their organisations was in handling the vaccine distribution, just over a third (35%) said that target populations and vaccination strategies are almost ready. Over a quarter (26%) revealed that human resources management and training were in place, while 22% said that planning and coordination are set.
While all agreed that data analytics plays a vital role in vaccination programmes, delegates were asked which aspect of analytics solutions would be their priority for their country’s vaccine strategies. Half (50%) of the delegates said that analytics will greatly help in vaccination programme analytics, while 25% said it would optimise the supply chain. A fifth (20%) said it will improve prioritising and identifying populations.
To round off the discussion, delegates were polled on what their main strategy to encourage long-term growth after the COVID-19 pandemic would be. Over half (52%) said that a digital transformation strategy remains at the top. Other votes were almost evenly divided between improving workforce skillsets, preserving productive companies, supporting public R&D and tax incentives for corporate innovation investment.
Febrianto Siboro, Managing Director, SAS Indonesia closed the session with concluding remarks. He believes that the current pandemic situation is extraordinary and, therefore, the solution to recover the national economy must be equally extraordinary.
In line with the Indonesian government’s missions for technological innovation, SAS provides solutions based on data to answer the needs of all public sectors including healthcare. Key in this is clean, efficient data management. With good quality data, AI can generate key insights on trends and patterns that will eventually solve complex problems and accelerate decision making.
While COVID-19 may have forced all countries to restart, it has at the same time, presented the opportunity for all developing nations, including Indonesia, to transition into developed ones.
The global economic impact has driven entrepreneurship with many women launching home-based businesses. That being said, the difficult economic environment and social distancing restrictions have had a negative impact on sales. Without a doubt, more tech skills are an entrepreneur’s best tool to develop their business to survive and thrive in these uncertain times.
An Indonesia-UK Tech Hub collaborated with a digital supply chain platform for Crafts Small Medium Enterprises (SME) and the Indonesian Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection to launch a women-based programme. The programme is designed to provide digital literacy and entrepreneurship training to support women-owned ultra-micro and micro businesses. The programme also serves as COVID-19 crisis response support for women and under-represented groups who were disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
Of the 370 applicants, 102 were chosen to participate in the training programme, which was delivered from November 2020 to this year, including launch and graduation events. To ensure that as many marginalised women as possible were empowered, 56 women were kept on a reserve list to allow for any dropouts, and all of them were eventually fully included in the training programme, bringing the total number to 158.
Training was delivered virtually, with the support of local facilitators in each of Indonesia’s 6 targeted districts namely, Central Lombok in West Nusa Tenggara, Rembang and Kendal in Central Java, Central Bangka in Bangka Belitung, Cilegon in Banten and Palembang in South Sumatra.
The women-based programme consisted of 8 training modules that addressed supply chain, digital literacy, digital marketing, the use of apps, market access in partnership with local marketplace, and financial literacy (in partnership with BTPN Syariah Bank) among other topics.
The United Kingdom government collaboration could share its experience and expertise in the digital and technology sector as England is the home to more than 600,000 digital start-ups and also the birth of some of the most successful and famous unicorns in the world.
OpenGov Asia reported in an article that the Ministry of Communication and Informatics is targeting digital literacy to reach all districts and cities in Indonesia by 2024. The Directorate General of Informatics Applications of the Ministry of Communication and Information is working with related partners.
“By 2024, the ministry and its partners will carry out digital literacy in all 514 districts/cities in Indonesia,” explained Plt. Director of Informatics Empowerment of the Ministry of Communication and Information, Mariam Fatimah Barata in the Digital Literacy Webinar Towards Indonesia Digital Nation.
Mariam acknowledged that the use of the internet is currently so massive that it cannot be separated from everyday life. Therefore, digital literacy plays an important role in the journey towards the Indonesia Digital Nation. In terms of the number, the goal is to have 50 million literate Indonesians. Going in a phase-wise manner, they plan to reach the first 12.5 million people by 2021.
Women have played a prominent role in the digital era, as evidenced by the growing number of female entrepreneurs in the past 3 years. According to IWAPI (Ikatan Wanita Pengusaha – Indonesia’s premier association of women’s enterprises), in 2015, women represented 60% of the total 49.9m entrepreneurs in Indonesia – that number continues to grow by 20% annually.
Therefore, personal initiative skills development is important for women. Nevertheless, exposure to male-dominated industries is also important. Another article said that implementing this provides an opportunity to find women in growth sectors and tell their stories, allowing women to see themselves in those shoes.
Focusing on these sectors also limits financial opportunities, as banks see these businesses as less of a risk to invest in. Grown explained that SMEs were particularly important because they play a significant role in job creation in all economies around the world. Thus, encouraging more women to own SMEs increases job prospects.
Vietnam has introduced an artificial intelligence (AI) application that issues warnings when facemasks are not being worn on public transport. The computer vision app alerts authorities of passengers who are not wearing or improperly wearing masks. The app is connected to surveillance cameras on public transport vehicles and can access image data and automatically analyse it. It sends appropriate notifications to the server of the transport company if it detects someone not wearing a mask or wearing one incorrectly.
The app, which was introduced earlier this month, was developed by the Binh Anh Electronic Technology Development Co. (BA GPS). The company’s Chairman said AI technology not only brings about many benefits to public transport owners but also helps improve safety for passengers. According to a news report, other apps developed by BA GPS are to be piloted on public transport soon. The country is promoting technology in the form of health declaration sites, contact tracing, and testing applications to fight against the virus. Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh recently affirmed that technology is one of the three prongs of the COVID-19 response strategy in the new period.
The Deputy Minister of Science and Technology and head of the quick information response team at the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control said the team has continually applied technology to evaluate the situation. They use it to make a forecast on the pandemic’s developments in Vietnam and the world, set up mechanisms for monitoring people entering Vietnam and those under quarantine, and gear up response plans for special circumstances.
A group of scientists from the Medicine Faculty at the Vietnam National University Ho Chi Minh (HCM) City has unveiled a technological solution that combined the internet of things (IoT) with AI to concurrently manage people in quarantine sites and crowded places. Further, medical and delivery robots have been put into use at quarantine sites to replace health workers in transporting food, medicine, and essential goods and collecting waste, thus minimising direct contact. Many other organisations have also created a number of high-quality scientific and technological products such as testing kits and vaccines and commercialised them to help with the pandemic combat.
BKAV, a cybersecurity and software company, developed Bluezone- a contact tracing application. Bluezone is believed to be the most effective tracking solution in the fight against the virus. The latest report of the Authority for Information Technology Application (AITA) shows that as of 24 May, there were 33.06 million Bluezone downloads, which meant an increase of 2.5 million Bluezone installations compared with 28 April, when the fourth wave broke out.
Of the 33 million Bluezone users, more than 20.58 million people have entered their mobile phone numbers on the app. As such, the number of people providing their phone numbers to state agencies had increased by 1 million. Hanoi and HCM City are leading the country in the number of Bluezone downloads, with 3.1 million and 2.83 million, respectively.
Researchers at the University of South Australia have designed a digital tool to help the police, defence industry – and now child protection services – translate complex data into a visual story, saving hundreds of hours of time.
The narrative visualisation tool, developed by Dr Andrew Cunningham, Dr James Walsh, and Prof Bruce Thomas, has already allowed the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to create snapshots of crime by distilling mountains of case notes and briefs into image-based stories. The software helps prosecutors, lawyers and juries get up to speed in the courtroom so they can more easily understand complex facts, saving hours of admin and time.
Dr Walsh, a postdoctoral researcher at UniSA STEM, says the software identifies key events of a criminal case, selecting the most relevant data from case notes and presenting it in an easy-to-grasp snapshot, whilst still being able to dig into the details.
Another domain that has expressed interest is child protection. For each child coming into foster and emergency care, government departments are having to plough through years of their history. The tool can help to build a narrative of each child by identifying key dates, events, and an overall summary of their life.
The narrative combines text with images, video, scans, and voiceovers to present a snapshot that filters out the most critical information. It was noted that the tool is a marriage of computer science, statistics, graphs, artificial intelligence, artistic design and storytelling. For digital systems, the team is collecting more data, whether that’s from notes, automated sensors, spreadsheets, video, audio and even x-rays. The researchers have worked on the tool to integrate with data from different domains.
A new project with BAE Systems is also examining other narrative visualisation concepts to map the life cycles of defence machinery, tracking the operational and service histories of warships, combat vehicles and aircraft. The tool is useful wherever there is huge complexity – in logistics, transport, healthcare, and finance, for example – and need to summarise the most important elements.
“The beauty of it is that we can create specific models for each domain. For criminal cases, we can focus on pulling out information that relates to charges. For loan applications, we can identify a person’s financial history. Basically, we can rank the material to prioritise the information we care about and then present it in a visual form,” Dr Walsh says.
Dynamic graphics and interactive news stories have been part of the online media landscape for several years now, as a response to waning attention spans, the slow death of print, and a global embrace of digital media.
This trend is now spreading beyond the confines of newsrooms and becoming part of the fabric of many industries, the researchers say. The tool has been acquired by a Melbourne-based software company for commercialisation.
According to recent market research, the global data visualisation tools market is projected to grow from US$5.9 billion in 2021 to US$10.2 billion by 2026, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 11.6% during the forecast period.
Various factors such as the growing demand for an interactive view of data for faster business decisions and increasing developments in Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) to enable the interaction of companies with data in 3D formats are expected to drive the demand for data visualisation tools.
The data visualisation tools market has witnessed several advancements in terms of tools offered by the industry players. Verticals such as manufacturing, retail, and energy and utilities have witnessed a moderate slowdown, whereas BFSI, government, and healthcare and life sciences verticals have witnessed a minimal impact.
The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to the increased use of line charts, bar charts, and choropleth maps in the news. Simple data visualisations have become the key to communicating vital information about the coronavirus pandemic to the public.
While these terms might not be familiar to all, the visualisations themselves certainly are. One of the most interesting developments due to the current COVID-19 crisis is that organisations that excel at the developments of dashboards centralise analytics and decision-making approaches and scale them exponentially across all connected channels.
A new smartphone app called NKT aims to make the lives of disabled people in Vietnam easier by giving them better access to support. The app gives people with disabilities, particularly survivors from accidents with explosive ordnance, the chance to provide and access data about their disabilities. They can obtain a disability certificate to receive government assistance and communicate other needs to authorities. The application is currently being upgraded with additional support functions to assist people during registration.
The digital platform for registry and information management for persons with disabilities (PwD) was launched on 15 June in Hanoi as part of the Korea-Vietnam Mine Action Project (KV-MAP). The project partners are the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the Vietnam National Mine Action Centre (VNMAC). It is also supported by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids, and Social Affairs (MOLISA). An estimated six million people in Vietnam, accounting for 7% of the population, live with a disability. The digital platform aims to make their lives easier and support the provision of needs-based assistance.
According to a news report, the information registered in the database will be kept confidential. An official said that the application is user-friendly and easy to navigate. For social protection officers, the digital platform transforms the management of support for citizens with disabilities. It enables MOLISA and its provincial departments to develop the national database with timely and accurate information on persons with disabilities in support of evidence-based policymaking and targeted assistance.
The digital platform has been successfully tested in Quang Binh, Binh Dinh, Khanh Hoa, Thanh Hoa, Quang Ninh, Quang Nam. and Vinh Long provinces. As well as Hue and Da Nang cities; 90,000 persons with disabilities have already agreed to be registered. These include the 75,000 people who decided to register when the initial district-level pilot was scaled up to a provincial-level assessment covering both Quang Binh and Binh Dinh, thanks to the Korea-Vietnam Mine Action Project.
The report claimed that this experience helped make the online platform ready for use throughout Vietnam, and this has become easier with the launch of the app for smartphones using either iOS or Android operating systems. “We will promote these applications widely, while at the same time continue developing the skills of social workers enabling them to meet the needs of those they serve,” said Nguyen Van Hoi, Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs.
The platform is entirely web-based, and the data is centrally stored and managed. 70% of the Vietnamese population own a smartphone and that is why the app was developed for electronic devices. It aims to enhance access to government services for the public.
At the launch of the digital platform, UNDP Resident Representative Caitlin Wiesen emphasised the importance of promoting innovative solutions to solve issues for persons with disabilities, who are among the most vulnerable populations in society and have been disproportionally affected by COVID-19. An official said the app is an initiative contributing to the greater goal of making society more inclusive.
With COVID-19 dramatically changing the healthcare industry, organisations have been forced to adapt their practices and embrace digital transformation. Hence, Taiwan’s Development Center of Biotechnology (DCB) is prepared to demonstrate Taiwan’s pharmaceutical innovation on new cancer drugs and cell therapies in the world’s largest virtual biotech.
Twelve innovative drug discovery technologies have been selected to be displayed. DCB then invited many government officials, tech and health experts to discuss issues on public health, pharmaceuticals, therapeutics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and strategies to boost bio-innovation under the pandemic. This initiative is supported by Taiwan’s Department of Industrial Technology (DoIT) under the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA).
To cope with future infectious diseases and the fast-changing COVID-19 variants, Taiwan must utilise its strengths in Information and Communications Technology, AI, and data analytics to improve its healthcare system. These technologies can also minimise physical contact and facilitate smart hospital management in the hospital. Furthermore, the global collaborations between governments and biotech companies have shown the importance of solidarity in combating the pandemic.
The first biotech innovation on display is the FLT3 inhibitor for patients with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) shows promise in the AML market since its 5-year survival rate is only 15% to 20%, and this drug candidate is proven to be highly specific and can induce high activity.
Next is the Tri-mannosyl-ADC platform, an antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) developed by DCB. It is created by using enzymes to combine chemicals in the form of 4 single molecules (4A) or 2 different molecules (2A2B) with antibodies. Compared to other ADC drugs, the Tri-mannosyl-ADC platform demonstrated a higher potential to increase efficacy and overcome certain adverse events, making it a better candidate to commercialise.
In addition, DCB developed a new CAR-T therapy with an autocrine immune checkpoint inhibitor and new targets. In the lab setting, the therapy expressed high specificity and toxicity toward the solid tumour in gastric cancer, showing 60% effectiveness on tumour inhibition. DCB now is expecting to tackle issues with the tumour microenvironment and leads to a stronger cytotoxic effect on solid tumours. DCB then developed a high throughput CHO cell production system with great potential in the market. The technology would be one of the main focuses in the display and would attract biopharma firms.
During the display, two leading Taiwanese start-ups are also set to exhibit their product portfolios. Taiwan’s medical device company will showcase a smart remote management system including curative effect tracking and treatment management cloud platform. A smart health company will present its digital therapeutics that provide customised, scalable, and data-driven chronic disease management. The platform was deployed across 240 healthcare providers and has been available for more than 650,000 patients in Taiwan and Japan.
The pandemic drove drug discovery and selection to an unprecedented speed. It forced pharmaceutical companies to come up with new drug innovations within months. By utilising the power of AI, data science, and genomics, the fast-paced innovations are feasible. The biotech display is a great opportunity to show the world Taiwan’s unique viewpoints and development in biotech, AI, digital medicine, and drug discovery. Taiwanese firms must venture for more overseas channels and business opportunities.
Taiwan has been focusing on utilising advanced technologies in the health sector including promoting the use of AI. As reported by OpenGov Asia, healthcare is the ideal field to expand the use of AI given the technology’s ability to quickly conduct big data analyses and modelling. Taiwan’s National Health Insurance (NHI) Research Database contains over two decades worth of data and images to assist in this process. Taiwan is also an ideal place to integrate the latest and greatest technologies into the biotech and medical sectors.
The Australian Government Department of Health will use a Swedish business analytics platform’s technology to deliver data analytics capabilities in support of the Department’s reporting of COVID-19 related information to key stakeholders.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic in Australia, the Department of Health has been using the firm’s platform to provide health offices with a clear perspective on COVID-19 related statistics. The company’s data visualisation and analytics solutions underpin COVID-19 public announcements, pandemic incident management and COVID-19 updates on the Department of Health website.
The Department needed a rapid data solution that was external facing, easily adaptable and could support the National Incident Room to provide curated data daily, to keep the Australian public informed on the unfolding pandemic.
The company offered an end-to-end solution, allowing the Department to join many disparate datasets quickly and produce a range of reporting formats. They provided a prototype platform to the Department at the onset of the pandemic, with a live public website available shortly after to provide information to support approximately half a million hits a day.
The solutions were used across a range of areas, including COVID-19 public service announcements and an Informatic Placement — a manually constructed visual dashboard that highlighted key figures related to the spread of COVID-19. This was later updated to enable automated reporting, reducing time spent by staff in the National Incident Room to curate the information by five to six hours daily.
Pandemic Incident Management (PIM), a user-centric dashboard that was created by combining different data models and the company’s apps to create analytics for internal use was also provided.
For its work, the Australian Government Department of Health was presented with the firm’s Excellence in Healthcare Award at the company’s Australia and New Zealand Health & Public Sector Digital Transformation Awards 2021.
Australia’s COVID-19 response has been the envy of countries around the world, one article notes. Even after experiencing a second surge of cases between May and October last year, the country adapted quickly and cases have not gone beyond the 1,000 mark since.
Data dashboards have proved useful in the fight against COVID-19, specifically in the area of decision making. In the US, NYU Langone Health’s source-of-truth dataset and de-identified COVID-19 data repository enabled operational leadership to make informed decisions regarding resource allocation and strategic planning.
The Director of Industry Solutions for Healthcare and Public Sector at the company stated that Australia’s well-regarded approach to the COVID-19 pandemic can be attributed to a well-coordinated and collaborative effort across government, the healthcare sector and the private sector, which was underpinned by data-driven decision-making.
“This enabled the government to swiftly act and provide clear communication to citizens and state authorities on the rapidly changing situation to help limit the spread of COVID-19 within the community,” she said.
An earlier report notes that the Australian government is strengthening the country’s digital economy with a strong emphasis on technology, in the Australian federal budget for 2020 and 2021. Alongside investments in artificial intelligence (AI), cybersecurity and digital government services, Australian businesses are set to benefit from technology commitments to boost the country’s global competitiveness.
The Australian technology sector has welcomed the proposed allocations. The funding for enhancing AI capabilities, empowering organizations in how they can capitalise on digital data (for consumers, businesses, and for managing the environmental impact), and upgrading the country’s digital infrastructure readiness was particularly praised.
This includes allocating A$421.6 million over two years (and A$38.7 million in capital funding) to continue the My Health Record system and funding for the Australian Digital Health Agency, including for the Intergovernmental Agreement on National Digital Health.
Indonesia is pushing hard to boost its economic growth by expanding the digital transformation across sectors in various ways. Most recently, Indonesia’s leading digital telecommunication provider has successfully passed the Operation Feasibility Test (ULO) for the 1,800 MHz frequency band. The successful ULO means that there can be a commercial rollout to scale of 5G in the country.
The company has become the latest telecommunication operator to be granted a Certificate of Operation Eligibility [SKLO] by which it can commercialise 5G technology. The deployment means that it can provide several frequency allocations on the frequencies of 26, 28, and 39 GHz and can be used for basic connectivity, mobile broadband speed and super data layer, as well as fixed broadband. With these options, cellular operators have an opportunity to choose a neutral technology that matches their business and the respective environmental circumstances where they operate.
And with this, the country is a step closer to its national digital transformation ambitions. Indonesia is Southeast Asia’s largest digital economy and one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing emerging economies. The roll-out of 5G will assist to develop the digital economy in Indonesia by providing high-speed connectivity that assures the best digital experience for enterprises and consumers as the Indonesian market adapts to new challenges.
The implementation of 5G technology is aimed specifically to provide the people with more equitable telecommunication access as well as boosting national economic growth. The technology is also expected to narrow the gap in digital technology use and accelerate literacy through using more adaptive technology. As the 5G ecosystem develops in the country, the CEO of the telecommunication company felt it would enable industries to drive efficiencies and unlock the full economic potential of 5G.
Indonesia’s minister stated that if the 5G outcomes are achieved, Indonesia will become one of Southeast Asia’s digital economic powers, with 5G technology playing a crucial role in progressing further in future.
The 5G technology is expected to develop rapidly as it continues to be expanded based on solid market demand across the nations and across sectors. Apart from Java Island, the 5G network will be applied in priority tourism destinations, such as Lake Toba in North Sumatra, Borobudur in Central Java, Mandalika in West Nusa Tenggara [NTB], Labuan Bajo in East Nusa Tenggara and [NTT] and Liupang in North Sulawesi. The 5G network will also be available in manufacturing industrial areas and also in the country’s new capital by 2024.
Intelligent connectivity, the fusion of 5G, AI and IoT is set to drive a fourth industrial revolution and is seen as a way to help economies recover and become more adaptable to future shocks in a post-pandemic environment. Indonesia is well placed to make progress on its Industry 4.0 vision.
An OpenGov Asia article reported that the development and integration of 5G infrastructure to support the bandwidth required for digital applications to function are crucial to Indonesia’s digital transformation. The adoption and deployment of these applications will lead to an increase in the number of interconnected devices, sensors, and systems, as well as an exponential growth in data volumes.
With that, digital transformers in Indonesia have already seen benefits for their transformation efforts, particularly in the areas of digital experiences and digital operations. Today’s digital transformation has an impact on every aspect of life, from how people live to how countries expand their economies. In the midst of an ongoing pandemic, digitisation continues to transform the telecommunications business landscape, while also allowing telco companies to play a much bigger role in supporting a country’s economic growth, as well as in Indonesia.