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 first-ever Innopreneur Experience Journey co-organised by the Federation of Hong Kong Industries (FHKI) and Hong Kong Science & Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP), aims to gather over 30 students from local secondary schools under a new programme that aims to enable their technology, creativity and new industry.
Over the four days, students will visit various companies and obtain real job experience to develop their understanding of the latest development and opportunities of new emerging industries, cultivate their passion for innovation and technology (I&T) and broaden their horizons and prepare them for further studies and future careers.
The programme has attracted 30 participating companies, which are FHKI member companies and a variety of HKSTP partner companies at Science Park and INNOPARK. The participating companies will offer executive shadowing, site visit and on-the-job experience to the students, demonstrating a concerted effort of industries in fostering future pillars.
The Kick-off Ceremony was held successfully at FHKI headquarters. The Under Secretary for Home and Youth Affairs, and corporate representatives attended the ceremony to witness the students commencing their extraordinary journey.
The FHKI and HKSTP Chairman stated that talent is an indispensable part of building up Hong Kong as an international I&T hub. HKSTP and FHKI are committed to cultivating local talent via various educational events which allow students to be exposed to I&T and related industries at an early stage and be inspired by I&T fellows and industrialists.
The Deputy Chairman one of the sponsoring companies and Chairman of the Hong Kong Innovation Foundation stated that innovation is the key to the long-term success and sustainable development of Hong Kong as our city grows into an international innovation and technology hub.
Talent development is, therefore, particularly crucial. The Hong Kong Innovation Foundation aims to provide a holistic innovation ecosystem, catering to the diverse needs of various sectors of the community. The Deputy Chairman thanked partners at the Federation of Hong Kong Industries and the Hong Kong Science Park for developing this important platform.
The Closing Graduation Ceremony, including sharing sessions of participating students and company representatives, will be held on the last day of the journey. To nurture a new generation of young talent for the I&T and industrial sectors, we hope to organise more Innopreneur Experience Journeys in future to create opportunities for students to get exposure to new emerging industries. HKSTP and FHKI will continue to join hands in bringing together people from different backgrounds and experiences, creating a diversified and vibrant I&T and industrial ecosystem in Hong Kong.
InvestHK notes that talent is a crucial factor in growing the economy, and nurturing a powerful, talented I&T generation is viewed as the priority. As such, Hong Kong is investing resources into STEM teaching and innovation in every phase of education from primary to secondary and tertiary.
The HKSAR Government and other relevant institutions have launched various funding schemes/programmes to support the I&T sector. The Innovation and Technology Fund (ITF), administrated by the Hong Kong Innovation and Technology Commission (ITC), includes different schemes to support I&T research activities; facilitate technology adoption; nurture technology talent; support technology start-ups and foster an I&T culture.
Both the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks and Cyberport have set up individual incubation/acceleration programmes and funding schemes for assisting I&T start-ups and nurturing talent.
Other industry-specific schemes that target the I&T development of segments such as environment protection, construction, logistics, Chinese medicine and transport are being rolled out. Moreover, there are schemes tailor-designed for small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) regarding market development and loan guarantee as far as their I&T activities are concerned.
The Ministry of Finance has announced it would develop a foundation for a modern and transparent digital financial ecosystem based on big data and open data by 2025. The initiative will be carried out under the Ministry’s digital transformation plan aimed for 2025, with orientations to 2030. It was newly signed by Finance Minister Ho Duc Phoc.
By 2030, the Ministry strives to establish a developed digital financial ecosystem with enhanced cybersecurity and efficiency. The overall objective of the plan is to accelerate digital transformation in tandem with building a sustainable, advanced, and globally-integrated national financial system. The move is expected to boost growth, enhance the resilience of the economy, and maintain macro-economic stability and financial security.
The Ministry will apply fourth industrial revolution technologies and leverage the progress that’s been made with the development of the e-government to transform the finance sector. It will offer more digital financial services to bolster the digital economy and digital society. The finance sector will play a vital role in creating, connecting, and sharing data, digitising platforms, and optimising the digital information of the government, people, and organisations.
The Ministry will cut down the number of public administrative procedures, and reform, simplify, and standardise public financial services to reduce costs and improve service quality and productivity by 2025. Accordingly, the delivery of most public administrative services will be shifted online, providing citizens with a paperless and convenient experience. The Ministry also intends to step up the implementation of the National Single Window system and the ASEAN Single Window system to facilitate trade.
Further, the Ministry has plans to set up a modern, public, and transparent digital financial platform by 2025, based on big data and open financial data. By 2030, the Ministry claimed a digital financial ecosystem will be formed in all fields, ensuring administrative effectiveness and the safety of information. Civil servants and public employees will be trained in digital skills to facilitate the process.
The rate of financial technology adoption in the country is gradually and significantly increasing. The number of subscribers of the government’s Mobile Money initiative has quadrupled since the service was launched in January this year. 67% of these subscribers reside in rural, mountainous, border, island, and remote areas.
As OpenGov Asia reported, subscribers with at least one Mobile Money transaction by the end of June exceeded 1.72 million, accounting for 97.3% of the total. Additionally, the number of households with fibre optic connections in the first half of this year increased by 9% compared to the same period of 2021 and by 17% against that of 2020. According to the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC), the goal of having 75% of households using fibre optic services this year is achievable. Vietnam also aims to have more than 50% of the population own digital payment accounts.
In deploying Mobile Money, the government has taken advantage of existing infrastructure and data and telecommunications networks. This has reduced social costs and expanded cashless payment channels on mobile devices. Industry experts have stated that the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need to universalise digital payments. Regardless of an Internet connection or bank account, and with just phone numbers, users can easily make cashless transactions through their Mobile Money account. The pandemic also greatly boosted the e-commerce market, with non-cash payments accounting for 70% of total retail transactions in Vietnam last year.
While nursing education mainly consists of classroom teaching and clinical practice, face-to-face teaching and clinical placements at medical institutions have been affected as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, to develop the training and learning experience of nursing students, a research team led by Dr Justina LIU, Associate Professor of School of Nursing, and Dr Kitty CHAN, Senior Teaching Fellow of the same school, has developed a virtual learning system “Virtual Hospital” that uses virtual reality (VR) technology to offer an innovative experiential approach to nursing education.
Virtual Hospital is the first-of-its-kind virtual learning system in Hong Kong that simulates the complex and chaotic environment of a real-life hospital ward. With a total of 11 games, the system provides five scenarios, namely “Clinical Practicum Orientation”, “Challenges of Delirium”, “Managing Multitasks”, “Prevention of Errors” and “Potential Heart Attack”.
Over 1,200 combinations of randomised situations and multiple choices make it difficult for students to predict the tasks they will be handling, while they are required to provide instant responses to multitasks and make appropriate nursing decisions through assessing a patient’s condition and interpreting their medical information.
It was noted that the majority of existing VR learning systems are skill- and procedure-focused and adopt a single patient management setting. The PolyU-developed Virtual Hospital requires students to handle multiple beds and take care of multiple patients at the same time. Unexpected incidents and clinical pitfalls are generated to test the student’s ability to apply their knowledge and prioritise nursing tasks amid various disruptions within a limited time.
Through VR experiential learning, students can improve the soft skills that are essential for their clinical practice, including situation awareness, flexibility to handle emergencies, as well as decision-making and communication skills.
Virtual Hospital allows users’ responses and decisions to be displayed on a TV monitor for group participation, while their communication with the virtual patients can be recorded for review. By answering multiple-choice questions, the student can reflect on the judgements and decisions made. In addition, the game data and the automated assessment function of the system also provide convenience for teachers in tracking students’ progress and evaluating learning outcomes.
Since its launch in January 2022, Virtual Hospital has benefited over 450 nursing students. With Virtual Hospital, students are provided with a cooperative case-based learning opportunity. Supplemented with current practice on patient simulators, it is hoped that Virtual Hospital can further help students master the skills necessary for clinical nursing and most importantly for reducing errors in actual clinical situations.
The team is pleased that the virtual learning system has received positive feedback from students, and looks forward to incorporating interprofessional and interdisciplinary elements in the future, as well as introducing the system to other nursing institutions in Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area.
A Year-3 student from PolyU School of Nursing noted that she was impressed by the fidelity of the Virtual Hospital in terms of the environmental details. The VR learning experience strengthened her confidence in clinical practice as the system allowed every student to deal with nursing problems on their own, which helps them better prepare for the stressful work situation faced by nurses in the real clinical environment, she said.
The Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA), the Department of Science and Technology Advanced Science and Technology Institute (DOST-ASTI), and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) have begun testing satellite internet service in two rural banks in Batangas province.
“PhilSA and DOST-ASTI will process data to look at the network performance against the actual connectivity needs of the banks. Information from these reports will be utilised by BSP as we move this partnership forward,” says Ma. Victoria Gazmin-Basto, Officer-in-Charge, PhilSA Space Business Development Division.
The stated banks were previously recognised by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) as being in Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDAs), where the installation of new terrestrial networks to improve connectivity may be impractical.
The provision of technical assistance to BSP is consistent with PhilSA’s mandate of assisting other government agencies or departments, as well as the private sector, in carrying out their responsibilities using space science and technology applications and satellite data.
To collect data, a Weather and Performance Monitoring System (WPMS) equipment built by DOST-ASTI was placed up near the two banks. The WPMS includes a network performance monitoring device that is linked to the satellite internet user equipment installed at the banks.
Among other things, the device measures network metrics such as upload and download speeds, throughput, latency, and jitter. Furthermore, the WPMS includes weather stations that monitor meteorological parameters such as rain, temperature, humidity, and pressure at the same time. The obtained data will subsequently be analysed to investigate and evaluate the satellite internet service’s performance and reliability under local weather conditions.
According to Bryan Paler, Senior Science Research Specialist at DOST-ASTI, his agency encourages collaboration with PhilSA and BSP to demonstrate ASTI’s locally developed technologies in applications that benefit the Filipino people.
Aside from the WPMS, they are investigating how they may put other homegrown technologies to use, such as bridging the digital divide and promoting financial inclusion. DOST-ASTI intends to capitalise on the partnership’s benefits in the future by educating people about financial literacy.
The organisations intend to use the digital TV technology and internet infrastructure that they are constructing to teach people in the unserved and underserved areas about financial literacy in addition to doing research on the usefulness and efficiency of satellite internet services for banks. The Philippine government aims to provide rural areas with cutting-edge technology while also teaching residents how to use it for their own benefit. Out of the country’s 1,634 municipalities, 33% or 533, are still unbanked and do not have access to financial inclusion services.
The Philippines believes in satellite technology’s ability to improve connectivity in rural areas, hence increasing banks’ capacity to deliver digital financial services and encourage greater financial inclusion in unserved and underserved areas. Digital financial services such as remittances, bill payments, and opening transaction accounts, among others, would become more inclusive and accessible with improved connections in rural areas.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between PhilSA, DOST-ASTI, and BSP to encourage access to high-quality financial services enabled by internet connectivity. As transactions and services move to online platforms, this endeavour will increase digital inclusion.
Internet connectivity is recognised as a crucial enabler of financial and economic inclusion, as financial activities and services migrate to online platforms. As internet connection is increased, banks and other financial service providers will be able to better serve rural areas with additional internet-connected access points, such as automated teller machines and cash agent services.
Governance and the improvement of basic public services have come a long way with the help of digital technology. Given the number of crises in 2020, digital solutions platforms and tools have been a huge help to disaster preparedness and critical event management.
A lot of earthquakes and tsunamis happen near the coast of Indonesia. One of them is Banten, which is on the southern coast of the Lebak Regency. Studies show that a megathrust earthquake could have a magnitude of 8.9 and cause a tsunami that is up to 20 metres high.
With this, the ITB team then did a service programme, which included making maps of residential areas in Cimampang and Sukarena, modelling tsunami flooding, mapping exposure with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and making public information boards, surveying village resources, and digitising evacuation route maps. ITB works with different groups to get the southern coastal community of Lebak ready by doing things that are related to the Disaster Resilient Village indicator.
Since 2021, ITB’s service programme for the people on the southern coast of Lebak has been running well with the help of many offline and online partners and one of the things that were done was to teach people how to protect themselves from earthquakes and tsunamis. To be able to prepare for disasters, education needs to be a higher priority. People also think that the parameters of the emergency response plan and the early warning system at the school are still low, so they need to learn more.
Several government agencies and other groups took part in an evacuation drill. After the group simulation, people worked together to make tents, find places to stay, run a public kitchen, collect data on health, and do triage.
On the other hand, perceptions and understandings of the residents are strengthened through artistic expression channels after simulation activities. With help from the local government, teachers, and students, they put together materials to help keep school-based efforts to reduce disaster risk going.
By adding more art elements, the final forms of educational materials were made in a way that worked well. First, the book “Edukasi Siaga Caah Laut” has stories about how people in the area dealt with the tsunami and what they learned from evacuations and simulations of evacuations.
The second piece is a dance performance set to Sundanese Kidung that the students have written, sung, and played; and lastly, the word “Mitigarium,” which is an installation, is made of things that can be found in schools. The way things are set up shows expressions of tsunami events, evacuations, and other situations.
Furthermore, due to its location on the Ring of Fire, Indonesia is vulnerable to droughts and floods, as well as earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes. Java and Sumatra, the islands in the south and west, face a wide range of natural dangers. Most of the time, droughts and floods happen on the other islands. Heavy rains cause flooding and landslides in places in the middle of the country with steep terrain.
Indonesia is one of the countries in the world with the most earthquakes, thus, the government is coming up with new ways to get ready for these disasters. The nation’s Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysical Agency (BMKG) cited that they will maximise their digital technologies to improve their systems for collecting data on earthquakes and to get more accurate information and parameters.
The National e-Governance Division (NeGD), under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) recently organised the first batch of a capacity-building programme for cloud computing. The initiative targets government officials from central line ministries, state/union territory departments, mission mode project officers, e-governance project heads, and state e-mission teams.
According to a press release, the two-day programme was held at the Haryana Institute of Public Administration. The initiative was designed to enhance capabilities within the government at the central and state levels by ensuring the availability of adequate knowledge and appropriate competencies and skill sets to optimally utilise the benefits of cloud computing in e-governance practices.
Projects with cloud computing offer integration management with automated problem resolution. The technology manages security end-to-end and helps budget based on actual usage of data. At a national level, cloud architectures enable the government to simultaneously utilise resources optimally and accelerate the delivery of e-services. Project Meghraj, for instance, is a government initiative that fast-tracks the delivery of e-services in the country and optimises the information and communications technology (ICT) spending of the government.
The workshop brought together experts from the industry, academia, and government to discuss key domain issues such as cloud fundamentals, India’s cloud journey, cloud building blocks, the procurement of cloud services, and regulatory and policy framework for cloud. Participants talked about challenges associated with cloud implementation and the future of cloud in digital transformation while using engaging presentations on successful cloud use cases.
Session discussions also featured essential training on various components of cloud computing such as custom bidding for cloud services and the establishment of pay-per-use and billing frequency with cloud service providers. Participants explored negotiation instruments for dynamic services under cloud, best practices in cloud procurement, and computing requirements. They also covered guidelines on cloud computing from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and MeitY as well as ITU global standards on cloud computing.
At the event, a NeGD official stated that technology has been leapfrogging over the past two decades, including cloud-based systems, which now drive businesses and touch every aspect of life. Anything that is available via the Internet is being delivered out of a cloud-based application and IT Infrastructure. Within this decade, cloud computing could replace the traditional data centres and emerge as the prominent solution for data analytics and storage, an industry expert noted.
The event was attended by officers from central line ministries and the state governments of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Goa, Mizoram, and Uttarakhand. Capacity-building programmes with the theme of cloud computing will move forward with physical programmes, which will be conducted in the east, west, and south zones of India this year, the press release added.
The large-scale adoption of cloud has the potential to contribute US$ 380 billion to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), creating 14 million direct and indirect jobs by 2026, according to a report by the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM). It stated that a concerted all-around effort could result in the sustained growth of 25%-30% of cloud spending in the next five years to reach US$ 18.5 billion.
A Hong Kong homegrown start-up specialising in diagnostics technologies applicable for wide-range of infectious respiratory diseases, recently announced a strategic partnership with a China-based firm that specialises in the high-tech space biological industry coinciding with the Grand Opening of its manufacturing site at the MARS Centre (Medical Accessory Resilience Supplies Manufacturing Centre), which is established by Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) in Tai Po INNOPARK.
Supported by the partnership, the world’s most comprehensive diagnostic system developed by the firm (the system) will begin official clinical trials and product registration in Mainland China. Aimed at addressing the world’s most pressing medical needs, the system is a powerful solution for infectious disease control which can detect more than 40 pathogens, including SARS-CoV-2 and Monkeypox, with a single test in around an hour – a breakthrough in diagnostics innovation.
Underpinning the demand for effective and comprehensive detection systems for emerging viruses and bacteria is the COVID-19 pandemic; both firms regard diagnostic technologies as a powerful tool against infectious diseases. The second firm will provide financial support while backing the clinical trial with its expertise and extensive network in China, enabling the commercialisation success of the system soon.
The system significantly enhances the reliability of test results while substantially saving costs, making it easier for wide adoption in the market. The platform technologies can be applied across multiple areas, from infectious diseases, cancer, and genomics, to food safety and environmental testing, and more.
The Co-Founder and Chairman of the firm that developed the system stated that transforming successful research deliverables into a qualified medical product is never easy. The partnership with the biotech firm will solidify the foundation of the system’s commercialisation journey and represent an important milestone for the company.
Meanwhile, the Deputy General Manager of the biotech firm stated that the start-up has made an important breakthrough in diagnostic technology. The biotech firm is excited to commercialise the system on the mainland.
The start-up is concurrently celebrating the launch of its reagent manufacturing site in Tai Po INNOPARK. Together with the device production site which recently obtained ISO 13485 accreditation, the start-up now has the necessary manufacturing capabilities to support the upcoming clinical trials.
The Chairman of HKSTP noted that the Park has repositioned the three industrial estates in Tai Po, Yuen Long and Tseung Kwan O as INNOPARKs. The MARS Centre launched in 2021 and innofacturers have gradually moved in this year. HKSTP is delighted to witness the start-up’s grand opening at MARS, as the first batch of tech ventures to use the ISO-certified cleanroom facility for the production of reagents and micro-fluidic cartridges, and its collaboration with Shenzhou Space Biotechnology Group to further achieve the vision of innovated, designed and made in Hong Kong.
The Chairman noted that HKSTP will continue to incubate more advanced tech ventures to contribute to Hong Kong’s sustainable development and economic growth by Innofacturing.
With the support of the Public Sector Trial Scheme under the Innovation and Technology Fund, the start-up’s system has been under stringent evaluation since 2020 through Professor Yuen and other medical facilities. The firm’s team expects successful clinical trials with the high-quality performance exhibited by the system.
Originated by the Emerging Viral Diagnostic Limited and The Hong Kong Polytechnic University with the support from The University of Hong Kong, the start-up’s system is now translated into a medical technology breakthrough. The collaboration has demonstrated a concerted effort in multidisciplinary innovation and research translation, pushing forward the industrialisation of advanced biotechnology in the Greater Bay Area.