The pandemic has fundamentally shifted the way we organise our lives and continues to drive change even now. In response, organisations have massively adopted digital technologies to enable people to learn, work or receive care regardless of distance.
Given that the digital space dictates the new normal, it is mission-critical to re-think how technology can support an organisation’s workforce strategy, employee experience, talent acquisition and development programmes. At the same time, an organisation must re-imagine how it reaches and better serves partners and serves customers digitally.
For organisational leaders, the emerging hybrid workplace introduces several challenges that require change at both the strategic and tactical levels. The post-pandemic workplace has significant implications not only for workers but IT (Information Technology), which will need to adapt user-supporting processes and play a more significant role in partnering with HR (Human Resource) on the policies and approaches that underpin work processes and changing culture. IT will also need to reprioritise its technology investments as a result.
The implications for HR, Operations and Transformation leaders regarding employee workspaces and hybrid setups are many:
- Levels of engagement, interactivity and participation during web-based employee communication, remote onboarding, online teamwork, and virtual training sessions
- Struggle to make connections, develop trust and build a sense of belonging when working remotely
- Turning the organisation into a hybrid workplace that attracts, develop, and retain talents regardless of work style or location preference.
- Designing safe learning and working spaces that are built for the hybrid world and that creates more engagement
- Collaboration between local and remote employees partnering more closely with decision-makers for policy enablement and enforcement and appropriate monitoring
When confronting these new challenges, organisations need to carefully consider how to comprehensively transform their operations amid the new normal. This was the central discussion during the OpenGovLive! Virtual Insight held on 10 November 2021.
Enhancing corporate culture in a digital age
Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief, OpenGov Asia, set the context for the session with his opening address.
To kickstart the event, Mohit asked the delegates to vote on whether they would want to continue working from home in 2022 for 60% of their time. To that, a substantial majority (60%) of the delegates indicated that they prefer to do so.
The result is consistent with OpenGov Asia’s other polls, where 82% of the workforce prefers to continue to work from home. It is clear that companies must cater to the changing nature of work. The key to attracting and retaining talents lies in building a strong organisational culture.
Rethinking organisational platforms, workspaces, tools as the digital space becomes a new reality is not an option, but an imperative. Work culture has genuinely changed and companies that successfully migrate to a true hybrid culture will have the upper hand, Mohit is convinced.
More so than ever, governments and organisations need to intuitively sense and respond to new technological opportunities to drive digital transformation. Investing in the development of new competencies will increase trust, better engagement, smoothen ease of use and accelerate ways of responding to a request
The hybrid workspace is here to stay, Mohit believes, yet companies continue to get their people “zoom-ed” and “team-ed” out. The platforms and technology organisations use will determine the employee experience. It comes down to details such as having the ability to distinguish a zoom call from a high-level meeting.
To cut out the noise and establish a USP for employee and customer experience, a citizen-centric approach is necessary.
“What is your USP for your employees?” Mohit asks.
It is crucial to build on the employee experience for continuous growth and to ensure that employees do not lose motivation or passion in their role. Building and managing a conducive environment is key. Developing and spreading a healthy corporate culture is possible with the right technology platform.
Harnessing future-proof technology to build company culture
Following Mohit’s presentation, Marc Remond, Vice President of Sales, Meeting & Learning Experience Solutions, Asia Pacific, Barco, spoke on how Barco helps companies harness technology to grow human capital in a hybrid workspace.
The future is hybrid, Marc agrees with Mohit, and a reinvention of the employee experience is necessary. Data shows that by July 2020, 67% of the companies pivoted into a hybrid or virtual model and Barco become the leading solution for Executive Education and Corporate L&D.
While video meeting solutions are aplenty, the crux of the matter is how many are truly interactive and sustainable in the long term? How do organisations manage video conferencing fatigue? How do they keep people engaged, productive and efficient?
These are fundamental challenges that must be strategically addressed if companies are to thrive – not just survive – in the new normal.
Answering these foundational issues requires choosing a platform that can provide a more immersive, interactive and integrated employee experience that will result in increased engagement and collaboration regardless of whether the context is virtual, hybrid or local.
Unlike other platforms, Barco provides a richer experience where the presenter is “centre stage,” and every participant sits in the first row. The platform allows speakers to see people “life-size” on screen, read facial expressions and locate the active speaker.
Apart from that, the flexible interface allows users to select a preferred view “On Demand,” choosing from multiple streams or staying “On Screen” during breakouts. All these details contribute to an engaging experience.
Barco ensures a collaborative experience where groups are visible during breakouts, allowing facilitators to join any breakout room to interact and collaborate. It offers an integrated experience with the on-screen display of results, real-time insights to measure engagement and post-session data download.
Regardless of function and format (virtual, hybrid or local), Barco provides a versatile tool for any type of meeting – onboarding, training, meeting, brainstorming sessions.
Marc is convinced that the key to success in talent attraction and retention in a company is to transform the experience of the digital workspace. Technology is the enabler that can elevate digital platforms to another level. Knowing when and how to utilise it to build healthy cohesive company culture is important.
Creating a human-centred work experience
The next speaker, Temitope Sadiku, Global Head of Digital Employee Experience, The Kraft Heinz Company, elaborated on the considerations when creating a human-centred work experience.
Temitopw opines that the way forward hinges on three basic concepts: creating a borderless space, defining effective collaboration and understanding your corporate uniqueness
Temitope began by getting the delegates to ponder a borderless space, “No longer do we need to be in a physical location to achieve an objective.”
Drawing parallels to the realm of space, she feels that organisations should think of the workplace as a borderless “workspace”.
The digital workspace is “whatever it needs to be,” meaning that it is an open area that can be crafted to the needs of an organisation. Organisations must not conceive the digital workspace with a predefined shape and form but an area that is up for organisations to reimagine, redesign and remake.
At Kraft Heinz, they are constantly thinking about the experience around a video conferencing room – the environment. How can a meeting room be designed to optimise work? How can workers be empowered to be effective irrespective of the space they are in?
Regardless of the solution, the key is about making sure that work is connected. “What is your foundation to connect people irrespective of the space they are in? How can corporate culture be communicated through the channels you employ?”
To design an effective work environment, one must first define collaboration and the means to measure it. Like the tree root system, organisations navigating remote work need to think about “how to enable information to flow.”
Kraft Heinz introduced a collaborative tool and put in place a culture of working at any place, any time, using any device. Knowledge is stored to enrich communication. The measurement for collaboration reflects that value placed on the employee experience of collaborating:
- How much time do we spend in meetings?
- How many attendees are in meetings?
- How many meetings have an agenda?
- How much of the workday is spent in meetings?
- How often do you work with others in your direct and indirect team?
Finally, Temitope emphasised the need for organisations to grapple with their corporate uniqueness in terms of the digital experience of their employees. Organisations need to recognise that one size does not fit all. Organisations must appreciate their own uniqueness, much like a family with its distinctive quirks.
To truly design a seamless experience, it is imperative to gain, quantitative, qualitative and observational (also known as ethnographical) insights into the employee base. One strategy would be to create “a space to respond and listen” or a feedback loop to actively learn what people say.
The future of work will move from function to cluster working teams, increasingly feature fluid working spaces and focus on work-life balance. Instead of thinking of employees in terms of their functions, the focus ought to be on the communities formed – “tribes.”
Currently, the issues that hamper organisations include the complicated experience of digital workspaces and the inability to implement digital transformation quickly.
For Kraft Heinz, the focus is to design spaces for more effective collaboration, establish a seamless experience, enable workspace fluidity, as well as facilitate the generation and retention of knowledge.
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 facilitate discussions that impart professional learning and development for participants.
The first question asked delegates how many hours their employees spend per day using video conferencing and streaming for meetings, learning and on-boarding on average in their organisation. Half of the delegates (50%) indicated that they spend more than 6 hours per day on meetings, while the remaining were spent more than 8 hours (25%), 4 hours (20%) or 2 hours (5%).
When asked about their top challenges with hybrid workplace models, the majority (55%) expressed that developing an engagement that builds up the corporate culture is the biggest challenge. The rest were split between organising meetings, presenting and collaborating most effectively (25%), inspiring and communicating with audiences locally and globally (10%) and setting an attractive virtual environment for employees to convince and impress customers or investors (5%).
A few delegates felt that culture is a big part of the employee experience and that an engagement strategy needs to be thought out to cope with the challenges of hybrid workspaces.
On the topic of who should take the lead (function/department) in workplace transformation, an overwhelming majority of the delegates (68%) indicated that the executive leadership team (C-suite) should take the lead. The remaining votes went to digital transformation (5%) and others (27%).
When asked, some delegates felt that workplace transformation is a function of all departments. Others opined that HR should take the lead in spearheading the tactical response to the changing nature of work.
Inquiring about how a Chief Information Officer should make the hybrid workplace a reality, just over a third (38%) felt that subscribing or developing technology to enhance the engagement strategy is the key. Another quarter (23%) indicated building or fully utilising technology to serve as a user-friendly communication platform was important while about a tenth (8%) opted for assisting employees to keep corporate information safe. The rest of the delegates were almost equally split between advising on virtual streamlined workflows to improve engagement (15%) and other issues (16%).
Some delegates believe that engagement is a vital aspect of the employee experience and an essential part of company culture. It is imperative that to translate company culture into the digital space.
On how to ensure that productivity and efficiency levels remain high in their organisation, a significant portion (29%) indicated re-designing workspaces and remote options for the future of work (29%) was key. A majority of the group was equally divided between providing full access to the right tools or systems for remote work (21%) and encouraging flexible work policies (21%).
On the strategies to use to attract and retain employees, half the delegates went with “others” followed by providing learning and development exposure to equip employees with the skills required (36%). The rest of the votes were evenly split between improving HR policies on virtual working (7%) and ensuring workspaces provide all the tools needed to complete the task efficiently (7%).
On that note, Mohit notes that there is a dearth of talent globally. People are able to work from any place, at any time. The options have expanded tremendously in the job market. This means that HR policies will need to step up in terms of their strategy to attract and retain talents.
The final poll was on delegates’ go-to method to upskill and reskill a distributed workforce. The majority indicated empowering employees to learn on their own time using collaborative tools (33%), conducting more engaging and effective training with proper visualisation (20%) and supporting equal skilling opportunities for all (7%).
In wrapping up the session, Marc acknowledges that the work culture has fundamentally changed. The hybrid workplace is here to stay and there is a need to remain competitive to avoid talent war.
It is an inescapable reality – part of the workforce will be remote. “Should we wait for the C-suite to realise that there’s a problem or should HR bring the problem to the table?” he asked, imploring delegates to consider pre-empting the future of work and getting prepared for what is to come.
Strategising for a digital workspace involves elevating the human-to-human experience in the virtual workspace and capitalising on the right tools to build a unique company culture. Standing at the crossroad of digital transformation, Marc expressed the need for HR to stay ahead of the game, anticipate the change and pre-empt the issues that can inform the C-suite.
He assured the delegates that Barco would be available to help organisations in their plans. He encouraged them to reach out to him and his team to explore ways they could be of assistance on their transformation journey.
The National Heart Centre Singapore (NHCS) has been on a remarkable journey of advancements in cardiovascular research, particularly in the prevention, diagnosis, and management of heart diseases. With the global rise in heart disease cases, NHCS’s dedication to scientific knowledge and innovation has become increasingly vital.
Since its establishment in 2014, the National Heart Research Institute of Singapore (NHRIS) at NHCS has positioned itself as a leading institution for cardiovascular research in the region. Over the years, NHRIS has achieved significant breakthroughs that hold the potential to transform patient outcomes.
NHRIS’s research encompasses a wide spectrum of disciplines within cardiovascular medicine, spanning basic, translational, and clinical research. Notable achievements include Heart Stem Cell Therapy and Preventing Fibrosis.
By studying patients’ heart stem cells, researchers have uncovered new treatments for heart diseases. For example, a breakthrough treatment using myeloperoxidase has been discovered for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, an inherited condition characterised by thickening of the heart muscle.
Also, through the study of heart tissue from patients undergoing surgery, NHRIS researchers have identified a potential treatment involving interleukin-11 antibodies to prevent inflammation and fibrosis in the heart and other organs. This innovative therapy has the potential to improve outcomes for patients with various inflammatory and fibrotic conditions.
The next phase of NHCS’s research efforts over the coming years will focus on three key areas:
- Discovery of New Treatments: Ongoing research aims to develop new treatments for heart diseases, enhancing patient outcomes.
- Utilising Artificial Intelligence: NHCS is at the forefront of integrating artificial intelligence (AI) into cardiovascular care. AI holds promise in predicting, diagnosing, and monitoring heart diseases with greater precision and efficiency. The APOLLO study, initiated in 2021, is building an AI-driven national platform for coronary angiography analysis, offering detailed reports on patients’ conditions and future cardiovascular disease risk.
- Clinical Trials and Population Health Studies: NHCS’s research agenda includes conducting clinical trials and population health studies to prevent the onset of heart disease.
NHRIS is pioneering innovative approaches, including Visualising Energy Pathways and AI Applications.
Disturbances in energy-producing pathways in heart muscle contribute to heart conditions as Hyperpolarised magnetic resonance spectroscopy, a novel imaging technology available only in a few centres worldwide, allows the measurement of these metabolic pathways, potentially leading to new treatments for heart disease.
On the other hand, AI accelerates research in the field of cardiovascular science. By processing vast datasets and identifying patterns, AI systems assist researchers in identifying novel treatment methods, risk factors, and disease mechanisms. These insights lead to breakthroughs in treatment and prevention methods, advancing the overall understanding of cardiovascular diseases.
With this, NHCS is leveraging AI to detect, predict, and diagnose heart diseases by analysing complex imaging data. AI provides clinicians with invaluable insights, enabling personalised care and early intervention.
In addition, NHCS collaborates with other heart research institutes and hospitals through CADENCE (Cardiovascular Disease National Collaborative Enterprise), a national platform that combines heart research capabilities in data science, clinical trials, and AI. This collaboration ensures a collective effort to advance cardiovascular research and improve patient care.
NHCS’s groundbreaking research initiatives in AI applications, clinical trials, and collaborative efforts underscore its commitment to enhancing patient care. As NHCS continues its pursuit of research excellence, its impact extends beyond Singapore, benefiting individuals across the region and around the world. The institution is poised to make substantial progress in preventing, diagnosing, and managing cardiovascular diseases, ultimately reshaping the future of cardiovascular medicine.
An innovative microscope developed by a research team at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) is poised to revolutionise the field of cancer surgery. This cutting-edge microscope, powered by artificial intelligence, has the potential to transform the way surgeons detect and remove cancerous tissue during operations, thereby sparing patients from the distressing prospect of secondary surgeries.
Lung cancer, a leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide, has been a focal point for this ground-breaking research. Professor Terence Wong Tsz-Wai, the principal investigator of the project and an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at HKUST, highlights the urgency of their work.
He notes that between 10% to 20% of lung cancer surgery cases require patients to return for a second operation due to incomplete removal of cancer cells. This uncertainty has long plagued surgeons, who often struggle to determine if they’ve successfully excised all cancerous tissue during the initial surgery.
The HKUST research team, led by Prof. Wong, is eager to see their innovation make a significant impact. Collaborating with five hospitals, including Queen Mary Hospital, Prince of Wales Hospital in Hong Kong, and three mainland Chinese hospitals, they have embarked on a large-scale clinical trial involving around 1,000 patient tissue samples. The goal is to have the microscope officially in service locally by 2024 and on the mainland by 2025.
The current methods for imaging cancer tissue offer either accuracy with lengthy delays or speed at the cost of accuracy. Traditional microscopy, considered the gold standard, is highly accurate but can take up to a week to generate results. This means patients must endure a week of anxious waiting to know the outcome of their surgery. In cases where the operation is deemed unsuccessful, patients face the daunting prospect of a second surgery to remove the remaining cancer cells.
The alternative, known as the frozen section, provides quicker results within 30 minutes but sacrifices accuracy, with an estimated accuracy rate of only around 70%.
The HKUST research team’s breakthrough technology, termed “Computational High-throughput Autofluorescence Microscopy by Pattern Illumination” (CHAMP), has changed this landscape. It can detect cancer cells in just three minutes with an accuracy rate exceeding 90%, rivalling the gold standard but with significantly faster results.
CHAMP employs ultraviolet (UV) light excitation to image tissue surfaces at a specific wavelength. Subsequently, a deep learning algorithm transforms the obtained greyscale image into a histological image, facilitating instant interpretation by doctors. This real-time feedback empowers surgeons to ensure they have completely removed all cancer cells during the operation.
CHAMP’s potential has garnered local, regional, and international acclaim, leading to the establishment of a start-up supported by HKUST and funded by the Technology Start-up Support Scheme for Universities (TSSSU). Beyond developing the technology, the company plans to manufacture CHAMP microscopes for medical institutions in Hong Kong, mainland China, and overseas markets.
This endeavour represents the culmination of years of meticulous research, starting with Prof. Wong’s PhD training at Washington University in St. Louis and the California Institute of Technology. During this period, Prof. Wong, under the guidance of biomedical imaging expert Prof. Lihong Wang, developed a microscope capable of analysing breast cancer tumours with an accuracy rate comparable to the gold standard but with results in just one to two hours.
The shift in focus to lung cancer occurred when a pulmonologist approached Prof. Wong, recognising the potential of the technology to enhance precision during lung cancer surgery. This decision led to the development of CHAMP microscopy, which is approximately 100 times faster than Prof. Wong’s earlier work during his PhD training. This breakthrough makes CHAMP clinically useful and impactful.
The applications of CHAMP extend beyond lung and breast cancers. The research team is conducting tests on smaller scales for conditions such as liver, colorectal, kidney, and skin cancers, as well as prostate gland conditions. Prof. Wong is confident that CHAMP will elevate medical imaging and diagnosis to new heights, benefiting not only Hong Kong hospitals but also healthcare institutions nationwide and abroad. This pioneering technology represents a beacon of hope for cancer patients, offering the promise of quicker, more accurate surgeries and improved outcomes.
OpenGov Asia reported that the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) spearheaded an initiative aimed at promoting innovation and technology in the biotech sector, showcasing Hong Kong’s pioneering advancements and entrepreneurial spirit.
This initiative was part of the “Think Business, Think Hong Kong” event organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) in Paris recently. The event was a platform to underscore the potential for cross-border collaboration between Hong Kong and France in the field of biotechnology and innovation.
The government has unveiled the Intelligent Grievance Monitoring System (IGMS) 2.0 Public Grievance Portal and Automated Analysis in the Tree Dashboard portal under the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG). It was unveiled by Jitendra Singh, the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Science and Technology.
The IGMS 2.0 Dashboard was developed by the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (IIT-Kanpur) as part of an agreement with the DARPG through a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed in 2021. It enhances DARPG’s Centralised Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System Information Systems (CPGRAMS) by integrating artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities. CPGRAMS is an online platform available to citizens round-the-clock to lodge their grievances to the public authorities on any subject related to service delivery.
The dashboard offers instant tabular analyses of both grievances filed and disposed of. It provides data categorised by state and district for grievances filed, and it also offers Ministry-wise data. Additionally, the dashboard can help officials identify the root causes of grievances.
The CPGRAMS portal receives an increasingly high caseload of issues raised by the general public. Given the public’s expectations for the timely resolution of their grievances, the portal receives approximately 2 million grievances annually.
Due to the substantial volume of grievances received, the manual classification and monitoring of cases is not feasible. The IGMS portal will assist the DARPG in generating draft letters for specific schemes or ministries. This automation expedites the grievance redressal process carried out by the respective ministries and departments involved.
According to Minister Singh, the Prime Minister has repeatedly emphasised the significance of grievance redressal as a crucial element to keep the government accountable and promote citizen-centric governance. In alignment with this vision, a more robust human interface mechanism has been introduced, which includes counselling services provided after the resolution of grievances.
The Minister praised DARPG for ensuring that the CPGRAMS portal is accessible in 22 Scheduled languages, in addition to English, ensuring that the benefits of the portal are accessible to the common man. He also emphasised the importance of integrating state public grievance (PG) portals and other government portals with CPGRAMS for more effective and streamlined grievance redressal processes.
He claimed that thanks to the reforms implemented by DARPG in the CPGRAMS, the average time it takes for central ministries and departments to resolve public grievances has decreased. There has been a decline of almost 50% in the average disposal time for central ministries and departments from 32 days in 2021 to 18 days in 2023.
Minister Singh also launched the Swachhata Special Campaign 3.0 and unveiled the Precedent Book (e-book) developed by the department. He praised the DARPG for achieving the transition to a fully paperless office, where all communication is conducted through the eOffice portal.
During the past two Swachhata campaigns, an impressive 9 million square feet of prime office space has been successfully cleared and repurposed for productive use. Additionally, 456,000 public grievances have been effectively redressed, and 8,998 references from Members of Parliament (MPs) have been addressed. The Swachhata campaign has also played a pivotal role in promoting an eOffice work culture within the government, resulting in over 90% of file work being transitioned to an online format.
Public transportation is a crucial service for enhancing the general satisfaction the government provides. In light of this, the Indonesian government has established high-speed rail infrastructure for Jakarta-Bandung mobility.
The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (Kominfo) fully supports the Jakarta-Bandung High-Speed Train (KCJB) WHOOSH operation. Kominfo’s Budi Arie Setiadi expressed continuous monitoring for the availability and reliability of digital connectivity, particularly telecommunications networks along the first high-speed rail route in Indonesia.
“We, along with the telecommunications ecosystem, conducted tests. Kominfo is tasked with supporting signal-related issues. We assessed the signal quality along our journey and found that we could use devices and frequencies for communication,” he explained.
Minister Budi Arie emphasised that KCJB, as a technological leap for Indonesia’s progress, needs full support from the latest telecommunications technology. With advancements in transportation paralleled by digital technology, it will undoubtedly facilitate more efficient access for the public.
“This is a technological leap for Indonesia’s progress. Because this train is solid, the tracks are seamless, and the signal is robust. Our duty and responsibility are to support it,” he added.
Kominfo assured that the quality of telecommunications services would sustain the overall KCJB service. According to them, the journey from KCJB Halim Station to KCJB Padalarang Station and vice versa proceeded smoothly.
“Overall, the management and governance of the high-speed train are excellent,” he noted.
At this trial event, Minister Budi Arie Setiadi was joined by Deputy Minister of Kominfo Nezar Patria and senior officials from the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology. Minister Budi Arie encouraged the telecommunications service provider network to oversee and guarantee the quality of the network.
Ismail, the Director-General of Resources and Equipment of Posts and Information Technology at Kominfo, explained that the test conducted by Kominfo officials and telecommunications service providers is part of the initial process to support digital connectivity for KCJB. Kominfo has prepared radio frequency spectra for quality telecommunications signal transmission.
“And, fortunately, the signal used, or the frequency used, is now in collaboration with one of the biggest telecommunication companies in Indonesia. This cooperation began about two or three years ago. And, thank God, we witnessed today that the train’s communication system worked well. No signal interruptions,” he stated.
Director-General Ismail states that 5G telecommunication networks are available at Halim KCJB Station and Padalarang KCJB Station. This network supports connectivity and signifies that Indonesia is ready for full-scale and comprehensive digital transformation, even in minor details.
“For these two station locations here (Halim) and in Padalarang, the 5G signal has already been covered. Passengers at these stations can now enjoy 5G services. The remaining task is to improve the signal for passengers during the journey. So, from Jakarta to Padalarang and Bandung, we hope there will be no frequency or cellular signal interruptions,” he explained.
Next, Henry Mulya Syam, the President and Director of the Telecommunication company, stated that they would address several remaining telecommunications service challenges at various points along the KCJB route.
“There are several sites to be added, both outdoor and on the KCJB panel. We have conducted evaluations, so hopefully, within 6 to 9 months, because new towers need to be built,” he clarified.
Previously, together with President Joko Widodo and several members of the Indonesia Maju Cabinet, Minister of Communication and Information Technology Budi Arie Setiadi conducted a test journey on the KCJB from Halim Station, East Jakarta, to Padalarang Station, West Bandung Regency. The KCJB, WHOOSH, travels 350 kilometres per hour, making it the first high-speed train in Indonesia and Southeast Asia.
Rehabilitation services have gained increasing significance, as highlighted by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat during RehabWeek 2023. The demand for rehab services is growing worldwide due to an ageing population and a rising incidence of chronic diseases. To meet this demand and improve outcomes, the field of rehabilitation is embracing innovation, particularly through advancements in technology, robotics, and digitalisation.
Rehabilitation plays a crucial role in enabling individuals, regardless of age, to regain independence and participate meaningfully in daily life. With the World Health Organisation estimating that 1 in 3 people globally may benefit from rehab services, the importance of this field cannot be overstated.
Beyond individual well-being, rehabilitation contributes to productive longevity and reduces downstream medical costs when integrated into holistic care plans. Thus, it aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of “healthy lives and well-being for all at all ages.”
Deputy Prime Minister Heng shared his personal experience as a stroke survivor, emphasising the pivotal role that therapists and early rehabilitation played in his recovery journey. Early rehab interventions were instrumental in mitigating the debilitating effects of extended bed rest in the ICU. Dedicated therapists, combined with intensive rehab, enabled him to regain full functionality, underscoring the transformative potential of rehabilitation services.
Innovations in rehabilitation leverage broader trends like robotics and digitalisation. These innovations offer precision rehabilitation, tailoring treatment plans to individual needs. They also mitigate manpower constraints by augmenting human efforts with technology.
For instance, robotics-assisted physiotherapy and games-based cognitive exercises are becoming increasingly prevalent. Moreover, virtual rehabilitation has gained prominence during the COVID-19 pandemic, enhancing convenience and empowering patients to take charge of their rehab journeys from home.
Many societies are facing the dual challenge of an ageing population and a declining workforce to provide rehabilitation services. Technology is critical in augmenting these efforts to meet growing demand. Innovations in rehabilitation enhance its effectiveness and accessibility, ensuring that patients follow through with and benefit from rehab programs.
Singapore is at the forefront of innovative rehabilitation practices. Its acute hospitals offer excellent rehab care services and conduct research to improve care. Notably, Tan Tock Seng Hospital is a pioneer in rehabilitation medicine. Changi General Hospital houses the Centre for Healthcare Assistive and Robotics Technology (CHART), facilitating the synergy between clinical needs and technological innovation.
The One-Rehab Framework is a recent innovation in Singapore, ensuring timely access to rehabilitation care. This framework enables seamless care coordination across different settings and care team members through a common IT portal and harmonised clinical outcomes. It streamlines the sharing of relevant patient information and encourages right-siting of care within the community, reducing the burden on acute hospitals.
According to Deputy Prime Minister Heng, RehabWeek serves as a platform for delegates with diverse expertise and a shared commitment to advancing rehabilitation care. It encourages the sharing of best practices and useful technologies to strengthen collective impact, especially when addressing global challenges.
Singapore stands ready to collaborate with international partners, offering its strong ecosystem in research, innovation, and enterprise to advance the field of rehabilitation for the benefit of people worldwide.
He added that rehabilitation is evolving and embracing technological innovations to meet the increasing demand for its services, especially in ageing societies. “Collaboration, innovation, and a focus on the last-mile delivery of care are crucial for ensuring that individuals can live well and maximise their potential through effective rehabilitation,” Deputy Prime Minister Heng said. “Singapore’s commitment to these principles makes it a valuable partner in advancing the frontiers of rehabilitation on a global scale.”
The Vietnamese government has said that digital transformation and green transformation are inevitable global trends. They have a crucial role in enhancing economic growth, labour productivity, competitiveness, production, and business efficiency. They also reduce reliance on fuel sources that cause pollution and minimise carbon footprint.
To discuss digital and green transformation for sustainable development and to foster networking opportunities for businesses to accelerate their green transitions, the Ministry of Science and Technology held a forum in the northern province of Quang Ninh.
Domestic and international scientists, along with representatives from organisations and technology companies, deliberated on strategies to speed up green and digital transformations. They underscored the importance of advancing technological innovation and implementing reforms in human resource management, training, and quality enhancement to create new products and processes. This, in turn, will boost business value, aid in the delivery of better goods and services to society, and expedite Vietnam’s industrialisation and modernisation processes.
Participants suggested the establishment of a support mechanism for industries implementing green and digital transformation solutions in Vietnamese businesses. They also stressed that it is necessary to promote Horizon Europe’s international cooperation programme on joint research and innovation for Vietnam and have comprehensive digital transformation solutions for businesses.
During the forum, Quang Ninh province representatives, the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations (VUSTA), businesses, and organisations exchanged memoranda of understanding regarding collaboration in the domains of digital transformation and green transformation.
Vietnam has been introducing emerging technologies in the agricultural sector to promote sustainable growth. Earlier this year, the government announced plans to introduce artificial intelligence (AI) for the optimisation of farming practices, including weather prediction, monitoring of plant and livestock health, and enhancing product quality.
AI can improve crop productivity and help control pests, diseases, and cultivation conditions. It can improve the performance of farming-related tasks across food supply chains. Advancements in the manufacturing of AI-controlled robots are assisting farmers worldwide in utilising less land and labour while simultaneously boosting production output.
Vietnam’s commitment to technological advancements in agriculture extends beyond AI, as highlighted by the government’s plans to harness biotechnology. In September, the Politburo issued a resolution under which Vietnam aims to be among the top ten Asian countries in biotechnology production and services by 2030.
As OpenGov Asia reported, the biotechnology sector is on the verge of becoming a significant economic and technological industry, with an expected 50% rise in the number of companies in terms of investment size and growth rate. Additionally, it is projected that half of the imported biotechnology products will be substituted by domestic production. This sector is anticipated to make a 7% contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Vietnam aims to establish a thriving biotechnology sector by 2045, positioning itself as a prominent centre for smart production, services, biotechnology startups, and innovation in Asia. This sector is expected to contribute 10% to 15% to the GDP by that year.
As a result of its tropical climate and its economic shift away from agriculture, biotechnology plays a vital role in Vietnam’s industrialisation and modernisation efforts. It contributes significantly to ensuring food security, facilitating economic restructuring, and promoting sustainable development. Furthermore, in environmental conservation, biotechnology has brought forth numerous solutions. These include the breakdown of inorganic and organic pollutants, waste treatment, industrial waste processing, and the use of microorganisms to address oil spills and incidents of oil contamination.
Vietnam can focus on developing various aspects within the biotechnology sector, such as agricultural advancements in crop and animal breeding, manufacturing veterinary drugs, developing vaccines, and creating bio-fertilizers.
The agricultural sector continues to experience technological advancements. Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a part of the modern agricultural industry. AI technology is used in various aspects, from production and management to marketing. Agriculture heavily relies on weather, soil, and the environment. Therefore, AI technology related to drones and sensors is essential to support precision agriculture
Drones’ ability to rapidly scan areas with high-quality sensors is beneficial in various applications, including crop mapping, soil analysis, environmental surveys, livestock monitoring, and infrastructure surveillance.
In light of this, the Food Crops Research Centre (PRTP) of the Agriculture and Food Research Organisation (ORPP) under the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN) held an occasion regarding AI technology in the development of drones and sensors and its applications in agriculture.
Puji Lestari, the Head of ORPP BRIN, expressed that this occasion would benefit BRIN and other stakeholders. She emphasised that combining drone and sensor technology would create innovative solutions to address food availability challenges.
Furthermore, Puji also highlighted that precision agriculture is closely tied to the availability of tools. Implementing AI in rapid data analysis as a basis for decision-making, ranging from planting and feeding to irrigation and harvesting, is expected to benefit farmers.
The AI-based capabilities, including high-quality sensors and scanning, enable rapid work and real-time data processing, plant identification, and decision-making to support productivity targets. Therefore, the Food Crops Research Centre should provide more opportunities to utilise AI-based technology that supports increased crop productivity,” he emphasised.
At the same time, the Head of PRTP BRIN, Yudhistira Nugraha, also acknowledged that technological advancements have become inevitable. Through the science community, AI researchers are expected to actively contribute to utilising AI technology, turning it into a valuable science that can be applied to agricultural development in Indonesia.
“We can gain many benefits using AI technology for monitoring agricultural land, including fertiliser usage, fertility identification, plant growth, and with the help of AI technology, farmers can make decisions and take actions that can be applied in the farming system to increase productivity,” he explained.
Tri Surya Harapan, Research Manager at a company that provides sales of drones and surveillance services for agriculture, the environment, defence, forestry, and marine purposes, explained about multispectral cameras that provide information on plant health and management.
“AI is widely known for replicating human intelligence and can be simulated using computer systems. Automation sensors embedded in drones, such as camera sensors, LIDAR sensors, or other advanced sensors, provide valuable information as decision-makers in the field without direct human intervention,” he said.
“The use of AI with drone and sensor technology requires relatively high service costs, so in its implementation, collaboration with stakeholders on a large scale is needed,” Tri clarified.
Meanwhile, Senior Researcher at PRTP BRIN, Muhammad Aqil, discussed the Utilisation of Drone Technology in Food Crop Research. This is in line with the direction of the President of Indonesia in the 2021 National IPTEK Coordination Meeting, which emphasises the use of modern technology and contribution to the era of Industry 4.0, including the application of artificial intelligence technology to support all fields/activities, including agriculture.
“We have gone through several stages before reaching Industry 4.0, and now it’s time to use drone technology to monitor the nutrient status of plants, quickly detect pest attacks (OPT – Plant Pest Organisms), check strain contamination, inspect seed production data cells, and determine the harvest time,” said Aqil.
Aqil concluded that the vegetation index-based model developed for the selection of corn genotypes, which are tolerant to both NDVI and NDRE, has proven capable of predicting harvest yields and the best genotype types in corn variety selection in the field.
“By integrating drones and image analysis, it could support research activities, especially in the field,” Aqil added.