The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for more advanced technology and regulatory bodies have become hyper-focused on monitoring the health and safety of citizens. In this backdrop, smart city developments across the globe are expected to increase in the next several years.
The future of urban living is promising and a digital twin gives smart city planners a tool to help make this safe, clean, sustainable vision into a reality. The digital twin virtually represents a physical object as the real-time digital counterpart. This replica provides a detailed digital depiction of urban networks and systems within a city, such as power grids, roads, traffic and safety monitoring which makes use of real data obtained from the monitoring devices within the city.
Initially developed to aggregate, analyse and visualise complex information for manufacturing and construction industries, digital twins are increasingly being used as a tool to plan and manage cities due to their efficacy and efficiency.
The digital twin concept is poised to play an increasingly important role in the creation of smart cities around the world and in addressing issues related to urban living. Bringing the virtual and physical worlds together allows public sector agencies, businesses and researchers to experiment and simulate different scenarios, and build a more resilient city.
Singapore has been proactive in its plans to become a digitally-enabled country, with the government announcing the Smart Nation initiative in 2014 and investing S$ 73 million in the Virtual Singapore Project – a digital three-dimensional city model and collaborative data platform.
Smart cities are driven by data at their core. Data integration and visualisation from across the urban space are paramount to connect businesses, citizens, and public services with autonomous infrastructure. In essence, the digital twin has to be the hub for all the real-time data being captured within a smart city.
The digital twin has gained momentum as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning revolutionise inference, prediction and decision-making tasks as the technology can process massive amounts of data in a way that humans cannot.
AI and ML can use the data flowing from the physical asset to the digital twin to provide insights to have better decision-making that will result in real actions and interventions. With ML, virtual models can be created based on observed behaviour and historical data rather than the design information alone.
Essentially, the purpose is to build a robust and secure cloud platform is to deliver exceptional citizen-centric services. This purpose can be achieved by leveraging AI, IoT, ML and Analytic into the process.
Given the obvious advantages and the centrality of the concept, the question is how the public sector can successfully implement a digital twin to improve the efficiency of its smart city strategy and mitigate IT constraints.
This was the focal point of the OpenGovLive! Virtual Breakfast Insight held on 11 May 2021. The session aimed to impart knowledge on smart city adoption at scale with a digital twin in the public sector. It also looked to explore best practices to improve data analytics in the automation process, scalability and service delivery levels and security.
This session served as a great peer-to-peer learning platform to gain insights and practical solutions to implement digital twin to enable more efficient, robust, and smarter infrastructure and smart city systems
Making Data-Driven Decisions
To kickstart the session, Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief at OpenGov Asia delivered his opening address.
As the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the world, each country had to reimagine and reorganise itself from numerous perspectives. In fact, many countries do not have the pandemic under control as the virus continues to spread.
Governments tend to be reacting to problems instead of making data-driven decisions. While governments need to look at data to get valuable insights for decision-making, are decisions truly driven by data or are they still mostly influenced by gut-feeling?
In a technologically advanced nation like Singapore, Mohit feels, this begs the question: is the government is doing enough to utilise digital twins as the country is one of the benchmarks for smart nations in the world?
Digital twins are an integral part of creating a smart city as they provide accurate and actionable insights. They can provide real-time information interchange and diagnostic, monitor conditions and predict operations.
Mohit focused on four things – data, cloud, artificial intelligence and machine learning. Even though the output provided by these technologies could potentially be biased, people can look at the biases and decide what insights are better.
In closing, Mohit emphasised the importance of collaboration. Agencies must find the right partners to be clients, project managers, facility managers, surveyors, architects, suppliers, main and sub-contractors. Transitioning to the digital world requires a collective effort and best led by experts.
Connecting Physical and Digital worlds with Smart Cities and Digital Government Services
After the opening address, the session moved to a presentation by Kevin Walsh, Executive Technology Advisor, Senior Vice President Oracle Labs. He discussed various ways to connect physical and digital worlds with smart cities and digital government services.
The pandemic forces digital transformation and Kevin believes that these changes will have long term effects. The new normal is going to be something completely different from the pre-COVID-19 era.
Governments have three imperatives to respond to these accelerating changes. First, to get more things done with fewer resources, be more efficient and provide citizen-centric services. Second, governments need to have a rapid change of approach to unlock the value of data. The final imperative is to use data to provide better outcomes.
Kevin sets the future on three mantras:
- Build an agile organisation: Drive incremental change by adding new capabilities in all core government operations that leverage the power of data.
- Choose continuous innovation: Take advantage of the latest innovations that will help transform the way everything is done.
- Leverage next technology: Maintain the highest levels of security, reliability and performance.
Smart cities use digital technologies to transform and interconnect urban ecosystems. Wi-fi, IoT, cloud, mobile, biometrics, AI, blockchain and telematics are the foundational technologies of a smart city. Emerging trends in many sectors such as advanced human-computer interfaces, autonomous robots and artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, data innovations, MedTech in public healthcare and smart utilities will also contribute greatly.
Kevin offers four pillars on which to base the digital twin concept – connect, analyse, predict and act. Governments need to connect machines, people, systems and data together. In terms of analysing data, governments need to go beyond only making reports, process complex data to make predictions and then later derive actions or recommendations.
Digital twins simplify interactions with physical assets and create data through the entire lifecycle. Oracle also uses digital twins to optimise complex systems everywhere, such as security and defence, oil and gas and agriculture.
Kevin closed his presentation by reminding everyone the current time is right to use all these amazing technologies. Digital twins can be used for various cases and opportunities. He believes that the key is to unlock the value of data. Oracle is looking for opportunities to collaborate with people to push the limit for going forward.
Sean Audain, City Innovation Lead, Wellington City Council, was the next speaker and discussed ways digital twins have been used in practice to build smart cities.
Sean explained how Wellington City tried to get rid of COVID-19 by linking government digital footprint to speed up processes, change relationships with citizen and focus all their capabilities on a single goal. Wellington City built a very quick reporting system where all necessary information is available.
Information was being shared across different ministries, looking hour-by-hour at cases at a given place and pulling the data into Wellington City to understand what that meant in this environment.
This large model of the city was being fed by data from the ministries, using them as a way to accelerate decision-making and easy access to decision-makers. The visual representation is useful as not everybody can read a map but almost all can recognise a building and work through a three dimensional (3D) environment. It allows different ministries and different branches of the council to plan and talk to each other.
Sean said after dealing with the biological threat, they had to deal with the economic fall-out; generating creative solutions to restore the economy. The pandemic did not cause a significant impact domestically but, in many ways, accelerated trends that already existed in the economy of Wellington City.
Wellington City uses pictures of all of the facades of the building, put them to machine learning, and classify them into different types of industries. They used the model to understand everything from street light to pipes, from regulatory data to the planning framework. The model allowed them to perceive what the crisis looked like individually, street by street, and tried to answer what shape an economic shift would take.
Using data and technology, Wellington City attempted to understand which streets are vulnerable to macro trends and those that are not. This insight was invaluable in informing the city on how to properly intervene.
As an example, Sean showed a proposal for Mass Rapid Transit. By using digital twins, they can stand on any street and any building in the city. Being able to witness how the physical objects will all fit together is incredibly powerful and it makes decision-making much more effective.
Sean said that one of the post-pandemic issues is their data cannot provide insights about the future as accurately as before the pandemic. The future is a pattern and it is not going to be the same after COVID-19. Sean urged everyone to think differently before the new pattern establishes itself.
Wellington City’s strategy is to understand how to move from a transaction-based city to an experience-based one, from fixed to flexible, from straight to circular, physical to digital and city to the capital.
In closing, Sean emphasised the importance of trust in digital transformation. People did not trust the digital before the pandemic, but during the pandemic, they had no option. After the pandemic, he is confident that people will continue to trust the digital and will not be back the way it was before.
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 first question in the opening poll was about whether Singapore has done enough to be ranked #1 in several Smart City rankings. Over two-thirds (68%) of the delegates said that Singapore needs to build more trust with their citizenry. Almost a quarter (23%) said that Singapore has accumulated enough data to analyse more and predict better and they agreed to let AI and ML shine. Only 9% of the delegates said that Singapore has already engaged their citizens well as they rolled out digitalisation programmes.
One delegate felt that not everyone knows about smart city and digital twins. Therefore it is important to educate everyone on data and cybersecurity in creating smart cities. Another delegate felt that as fake news and uncertainty are rampant, Singapore needs to create more programmes to raise public awareness about smart city. On the other hand, another argued that most of the work to accumulate data has been done, but the data have not been fully analysed well.
The next question focused on how to encourage more user-driven innovations as one of the pivotal ways to promote the success of Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative. Over half (57%) said that Singapore needs a one-stop centralised and consolidated data management repository and policies to ensure standardised, secure data sharing and management. About a quarter (24%) said that Singapore needs to give more help to build the next start-up unicorn from different sectors. Under a fifth (19%) chose other options such as empowering individuals, data provenance and promoting data literacy.
The next poll inquired about which one of the three pillars (Digital Government, Digital Economy or Digital Society) that Singapore needs to prioritise in the next six months. About 43% chose digital government, 33% chose digital economy and 24% chose digital government.
One delegate chose digital society because, he argues, if society is not ready to embrace digital transformation, the government or economy cannot force them to go digital. Another delegate added that what drives the economy is consumers’ demands, that is why digital society is the foundation. Another delegate thought that Singapore needs to prioritise the digital economy in the short term but in the long run, they need to prioritise the digital society. Another delegate chose digital government because it is difficult to adopt advanced tech without up-to-date policies and regulations.
To round off the discussion, delegates were polled on the biggest obstacle in going to the cloud. About half (47%) went with security mainly because governments have more confidential data and are also concerned about who is in charge of the data. Just under a quarter (24%) opted for unfamiliarity due to various aspects of going on the cloud that is not very easy to grasp. Less than a fifth (17%) indicated other options such as data sovereignty, people’s mindset and accessibility. Interestingly, 6% said that they are already on the cloud and it has brought more risks than rewards.
Chua Horng Shya, Managing Director, Oracle Singapore closed the session with concluding remarks. Oracle believes that smart city is driven by data at their core and powered by cloud capabilities.
She talked about harnessing the power of data and accelerating the path to smart digital transformation. There is a great utility, she opined, in leveraging AI and ML for effective decision-making.
Chua Horng Shya allayed the concerns of delegates around security and digital sovereignty on cloud technology. Oracle, in Singapore, is building a data centre or cloud infrastructure with security as their main priority.
Before parting, she thanked everyone for their participation and valuable contributions. Chua Horng Shya encouraged the delegates to reach out to her and the team to explore ways they can work collaboratively on their digital journey.
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.
In the rapidly evolving landscape of the global economy, digital transformation has become a key driver of growth and competitiveness. Indeed, embracing this transformative wave is not just a choice but a necessity. The key to unlocking Indonesia’s vast potential lies in adopting a skills-first approach to learning, where the workforce is equipped with the digital skills needed to thrive in the 21st-century economy.
Indonesia, with its diverse culture and abundant resources, stands at a crossroads of opportunity. However, to harness this potential fully, the country must transition into a digitally-driven economy. The pandemic has underscored the importance of digitalisation, making it imperative for businesses and individuals alike to adapt to the new normal. Embracing digital transformation is not only about survival but also about ensuring sustainable and inclusive growth.
While the vision of unlocking Indonesia’s potential through digital transformation is promising, some challenges must be addressed to ensure successful implementation; and one of the primary challenges is the digital divide.
To overcome this barrier, concerted efforts are needed to expand digital infrastructure and provide affordable access to technology, especially in remote and underserved areas. Government initiatives, public-private partnerships, and community-based programmes can play a pivotal role in bridging this gap.
Additionally, the education system must undergo a significant overhaul to align with the demands of the digital era. This involves revising curricula to include not only technical skills but also critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity. Encouraging multidisciplinary approaches and project-based learning can help students develop a holistic skill set that prepares them for the challenges of the digital workforce.
As Indonesia steers towards embracing digital transformation through skills-first learning, the trajectory of its economic and social development is poised to undergo a significant shift. A digitally skilled workforce not only attracts foreign investment but also fuels innovation and entrepreneurship domestically. The country can position itself as a hub for technological innovation, creating a vibrant ecosystem that fosters collaboration between startups, established enterprises, and research institutions.
Likewise, the benefits of digital transformation extend beyond economic considerations. Improved healthcare, enhanced public services, and increased connectivity can contribute to an overall improvement in the quality of life for Indonesian citizens. Smart cities, sustainable practices, and resilient communities can be nurtured through the integration of digital technologies into various facets of daily life.
The OpenGov Breakfast Insight held on 28 November 2023 at The Westin Jakarta discussed strategies to leverage emerging technologies for development and growth while acquiring digital skills to remain competitive in a rapidly evolving market in Indonesia.
Mohit Sagar, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of OpenGov Asia recognises Indonesia’s foray into digital transformation, signalling a transformative phase poised for substantial economic growth. Digital transformation, the integration of digital technologies into all aspects of society, Mohit agrees, is essential to propelling the nation into a new era.
The surge in smartphone adoption, expanding internet accessibility, and a burgeoning middle class are propelling the country’s digital economy at an astonishing speed. However, he underscores that this shift must go beyond adopting gadgets. It must become a fundamental shift in how businesses operate, governments function, and citizens lead their lives.
Highlighting the importance of digital transformation in Indonesia is crucial, especially in enabling economic growth, enhancing efficiency, and improving overall quality of life. This hinges on the citizens’ capability to comprehend, utilise and optimise digital innovation and technology.
In light of this, the urgency of acquiring digital skills cannot be overstated. In a job market evolving at a breakneck pace, individuals equipped with digital skills stand at a vantage point, securing employment and propelling their careers forward. The consequences of lagging in this digital race are stark, posing a risk of job displacement and a potential slide into obsolescence across industries, from healthcare to finance.
Adaptability, perpetual learning, and the relevance of skills in the swiftly evolving digital landscape take centre stage in this educational revolution. Enter Skills-First Learning is an innovative educational approach prioritising practical skills over conventional academic qualifications. This groundbreaking method aims to equip individuals and the workforce with the precise skills needed to flourish in the digital age.
Indonesia’s job market is undergoing a radical metamorphosis, propelled by the swift march of digital technologies. Conventional job roles are shape-shifting, creating a new wave of digital-centric positions. Automation and artificial intelligence are reshaping the private sector and infiltrating government jobs, streamlining administrative tasks and service delivery.
Citing the Indonesian government’s Ministry of Communication and Information Technology’s projection of a need for up to 9 million digital talents by 2030, Mohit underscores the critical need for upskilling to meet the surging requirements of the digital age.
“In e-commerce, proficiency in digital marketing, data analysis, and e-commerce platform management is paramount,” says Mohit. “Fintech demands expertise in digital payments, blockchain, and risk management. Also, cybersecurity professionals need skills to shield digital assets from evolving cyber threats.”
The public sector, a cornerstone of societal development, must lead by example in embracing digital technologies. Government agencies grappling with skills gaps must bridge these divides to ensure effective digital transformation, necessitating collaboration with private industries and academia.
Moreover, as AI integration expands, ensuring transparency becomes paramount, aligning its use with public sector objectives, overseeing performance, and ensuring ethical deployment.
“Identifying existing skill gaps, tailoring training programmes, fostering digital literacy, and promoting a culture of continuous learning are the keystones to navigating Indonesia’s digital future successfully,” Mohit concludes. “The journey is difficult, but the destination promises unprecedented growth and innovation.”
Chad Al-Sherif Pasha, Senior Advisor and Head of APAC at Coursera for Government offers a thought-provoking analysis that projects a seismic shift in the employment paradigm by 2027. Anticipating a substantial transformation affecting approximately 28% of current employment, he underscores the pressing need for upskilling and adaptation to stay abreast of the accelerating digital environment.
Chad perceives this transformative wave not as a mere obligation to stay relevant in an ever-evolving job market, but as a gateway to thriving in the face of advancing technology and the imperative for industry transformation, offering a realm of new opportunities to unfold.
This dynamic environment, he notes, necessitates strategic planning in skills development – an essential for both confronting challenges and capitalising on opportunities that will unfold in the future.
At the core of preparing for this imminent digital transformation is upskilling. Upskilling not only provides a competitive edge but also serves as a gateway to innovation and a deeper comprehension of the changing dynamics in the market.
Strategic planning, as understood by Chad, involves a proactive approach to skills development. Recognising the trends in digital transformation and identifying the forthcoming skills requirements allows individuals and organisations to position themselves adeptly to meet the demands of the future.
“This involves the implementation of adaptive learning approaches and educational solutions tailored to the constantly evolving needs of industries,” Chad explains
Coursera, a pioneering platform in the digital education sector, plays a pivotal role in this paradigm shift. Through its diverse array of programmes and courses, Coursera contributes significantly to preparing individuals and organisations to grapple with the challenges posed by digital transformation. The platform provides access to relevant and regularly updated educational content spanning various disciplines and skills vital in today’s digital era.
Being a leader in online learning, Coursera not only facilitates access to global educational resources but also dynamically adapts its learning approaches to align with the needs of individuals and organisations amid the rapid changes in the world of work.
Chad’s role encompasses Coursera for Government, where he has organised programmes tailored to assist government agencies and organisations in readying their workforce for the ongoing digital transformation.
This initiative revolves around building a learning ecosystem that is responsive and meticulously aligned with industry needs, thereby continuing to support endeavours aimed at enhancing relevant skills and knowledge.
The significance of Coursera in supporting upskilling and reskilling extends beyond individual career development. It also contributes to organisations building teams that can adeptly navigate the dynamic business environment, fostering adaptability and innovation.
Coursera acts as a strategic partner in advancing education and skills development in the digital era. By consistently offering innovative and responsive educational solutions, Coursera is actively shaping the future of education, one that is more inclusive, accessible, and relevant for all.
“As individuals and organisations plan a holistic skills development strategy, they not only brace themselves for the challenges of the future with confidence and readiness,” Chad explains. “They also play a pivotal role in making a positive contribution to the development of society and the global economy in this era of profound digital transformation.”
Acknowledging the valuable insights from participants, Chad extended words of encouragement and motivation, emphasising the importance of dedicated upskilling and reskilling efforts. Highlighting the dynamic nature of a rapidly evolving world, he underscored the necessity for ongoing skill enhancement to stay relevant and competitive, advocating for a positive approach to meet these demands.
Chad emphasises the importance of proactively developing skills in the era of ongoing digital transformation. He pointed out that by continuously enhancing skills, individuals not only keep up with technological advancements but also position themselves as innovators and leaders, adept at understanding and implementing innovations.
He reaffirmed Coursera’s commitment to aiding individuals in their learning endeavours. With access to top-tier educational resources globally, Coursera stands as an essential tool in nurturing a workforce that is adaptable and ready to tackle change head-on.
“Coursera for Government reiterates its commitment to being a dependable partner for individuals and organisations navigating the complexities of digital transformation,” confirms Chad. “We are committed to the pivotal role in empowering individuals and organisations to excel in an era marked by ongoing change and innovation.”
Mohit emphasises the dynamic nature of the workforce, underscoring its continuous need to adapt to the rapid changes in today’s digital landscape. In this era of digital transformation, he acknowledges that workforce management extends beyond technical skills, encompassing vital attributes such as agility, creativity and adaptability.
Organisations need to prioritise a deeper understanding of workforce needs and skill growth as the cornerstone for crafting enduring policies that will positively shape forthcoming industrial and technological progressions.
Investing in skills development and human resources is pivotal for maintaining a relevant and productive workforce. Hence, continuous learning, ongoing training, and leadership development are integral components of a successful workforce management strategy.
“Success in overcoming the challenges of digital transformation for any organisation does not hinge solely on adopting the latest technology, but equally on cultivating an innovative work culture,” he concludes. “An agile, skilled, and innovative workforce stands as the linchpin in steering market dynamics towards triumph during the digital transformation era.”