The OpenGov Recognition of Excellence (RoE) recognises government agencies who have achieved excellence in using ICT, often working behind the scenes to make government smarter, more agile, more efficient and more transparent. RoE aims to set new benchmarks of government ICT innovation in the ASEAN & ANZ regions.
The journey began in March 2017 when OpenGov recognised the efforts of government agencies and leaders in the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia at the respective OpenGov Leadership Forums in those countries. For its 3rd annual Singapore OpenGov Leadership Forum which happened on May 18 2017, OpenGov recognised the efforts of 14 Singapore government agencies for their work in building Singapore towards being a Smart Nation.
Below are the 14 agencies which were recognised by OpenGov:
Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)
OpenGov recognised The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) for contributing to Singapore’s Smart Nation Journey through multiple innovative projects.
A*STAR’s Green Data Centres, which use warm water cooling, with water temperature at around 35 degree Celsius, as compared to traditional use of chilled water, at around 15-18 degree Celsius, helped to achieve significant power savings. The agency is also using virtual machines (emulations of computer systems) in the Green data centres, thereby saving power and storage space and reducing the carbon footprint.
A*STAR’s InfiniCortex is concurrent supercomputing across the globe, utilising trans-continental InfiniBand (a computer-networking communications standard, with very high throughput and very low latency used in HPC) and a Galaxy of Supercomputers. Effectively, it creates a Galaxy of Supercomputers, with the supercomputers at the 7 nodes leveraging the InfiniBand network to act as one and tackle the biggest computational challenges. It was the first project in the world, where a 100 Gbps connection was established between supercomputers separated by a geographical distance of greater than 26,000 km.
Building & Construction Authority (BCA)
The Building & Construction Authority (BCA) was recognised for the launch of their SkyLab facility. Opened in July 2016, the BCA SkyLab is a state-of-the-art rotatable test facility pivotal to developing innovative energy efficient building technologies. The facility is modelled after the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s FLEXLAB (Facility for Low Energy Experiments in Buildings). The 132 sq m facility is equipped with a network of more than 200 sensors with high accuracy and granularity, across two identical cells for comparison testing. These sensors measure performance metrics such as energy performance, indoor environmental quality, outdoor environmental parameters and building automation system indicators. The SkyLab is an integral part of Singapore’s move towards a Smart Nation through leveraging IoT and green technologies, as well as towards achieving the BCA Green Mark scheme for 80% of all buildings in Singapore to be green by 2030.
Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech)
The Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech) was recognised for their success implementation of the (i) Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) for e-government transactions using SingPass and (ii) launching CorpPass in September 2016.
The enhanced SingPass system was launched in July 2015 which includes an improved user interface, mobile-friendly features and stronger security capabilities. This one-time “second factor” password is delivered through Short Messaging Service (SMS) or an “OneKey” token. Over 2.3 Million SingPass Users were 2FA-ready by December 2016.
Launched in September 2016, CorpPass is a corporate digital identity for businesses and other entities to transact with Government agencies online, owned by the Ministry of Finance and managed by GovTech. Businesses currently conduct business transactions through multiple digital identities such as SingPass and EASY2. Having a single corporate digital identity will increase convenience for users who transact with multiple government agencies as they no longer need to handle multiple login IDs.
CorpPass will also allow businesses to have greater control, as they will be able to grant and manage employees’ access to Government digital services. The Government has also received feedback from the business community that SingPass should only be used for personal transactions, not corporate transactions, due to privacy concerns. CorpPass will be progressively rolled out from September 2016 to December 2017.
Housing & Development Board (HDB)
The Housing & Development Board (HDB) was recognised for bringing together a host of innovations and making Yuhua, the first existing HDB estate to benefit from Smart Home Solutions. The smart devices available as part of the trial includes the Elderly Monitoring System that provides peace of mind to caregivers of elderly loved ones, and the Utility Management System that help manage household utilities usage. From April 2016, residents from 3,200 households in Yuhua estate were eligible to participate in a trial for the non-intrusive smart devices.
Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS)
Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS) was recognised for the achievement of the HIMSS EMRAM Stage 7 award for Ng Teng Fong General Hospital (NTFGH). NTFGH which is managed by Jurong Health in collaboration with IHiS, became the first hospital in Singapore achieve the HIMSS EMRAM Stage 7 award. It is also the first in ASEAN and only the fifth hospital in all of Asia-Pacific to reach Stage 7 of the prestigious certification.
There are eight stages (0-7) that measure a hospital’s implementation and utilisation of information technology applications. The final stage, Stage 7, represents an advanced patient record environment. The validation process to confirm a hospital has reached Stage 7 includes a site visit by an executive from HIMSS Analytics and former or current chief information officers to ensure an unbiased evaluation of the Stage 7 environments.
NTFGH’s technological transformation achieved many firsts in Singapore, including the implementation of the most number of medical devices (976) interfaced directly into the EMR system and the achievement of a 4-Less Environment: Chartless, Scriptless, Filmless, and Paper-less.
OpenGov recognised JTC Corporation for contributing to Singapore’s Smart Nation Journey through multiple innovative projects.
Co-developed between JTC Corporation, NTU Singapore and local start-up CtrlWorks, the new building inspection robot named QuicaBot or Quality Inspection and Assessment Robot can move autonomously to scan a room in about half the time taken for manual inspection.
The robot can upload 3D data of the scans to the cloud and inform the human operator, who can then inspect critical and complex defects. The QuicaBot, which can operate for three days with two hours of charging, also has its own arsenal of high tech tools. They include: 1) small laser scanner for navigation and mapping; 2) large laser scanner to inspect walls evenness and squareness; 3) Inclinometer to check evenness of the floor; 4) thermal infrared camera to check for hollowness in tiles; )5 small standard colour camera to detect cracks on walls. To enable quick and nimble movements around the room, the team worked with CtrlWorks to develop the robot’s mobile platform.
Together with Accenture, JTC Corporation has piloted the Integrated Estate Management System (iEMS), which is easily layered onto the existing building management system and provides precise real-time data on building functions from air-conditioning to security, allowing JTC Corporation to operate more efficiently or spot anomalies, among other things. Just six months into the pilot, JTC Corporation had realised monthly savings of 15 percent on addressable electricity usage, as well as a 13 percent reduction in addressable chilled water use.
JTC Corporation has also shifted its building management approach towards one that is easy to monitor and control,proactive rather than reactive, and more energy efficient. Significantly, this has been achieved without cumbersome and expensive retrofits.
Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS)
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) was recognised for the launch of a Regulatory Sandbox for financial institutions and FinTech players to test their innovations. The sandbox enables experiments to happen in a quarantined environment, with minimal costs in the event of failure. At the inception of an idea or an innovation, it might be impossible to anticipate every risk.
The idea is that MAS and the applicant will jointly define the boundaries within which the experiment will take place.MAS will determine the legal and regulatory requirements which it is prepared to relax for the duration of the experiment within these boundaries.
National Environment Agency (NEA)
The National Environment Agency was recognised for its Integrated Field Operations System (iFOS)- mobile workforce solution in operation since Feb 2017 for environmental public health and hawker centre operations, including sanitation, public cleanliness, port health, vector control, and hygiene. iFOS allows more than 900 officers to perform their operational tasks, such as inspection and enforcement actions, and access and capture information relevant to those operations while on the move.
The implementation of iFOS has supported a new concept of operations, in which NEA officers work in a networked environment, connected to the necessary resources via a single mobile-accessible platform. With its wider rollout and usage over time, operations will be increasingly integrated, scalable, and tightly coupled with 3P (private, people, and public sector) engagement. NEA will also be able to understand and serve the public better by having comprehensive contextual information, such as customer, sensors and operational data, accessible to our field officers.iFOS will help enhance NEA’s delivery of a high standard of services in our day-to-day operations, and readiness and preparedness to act and respond swiftly and effectively to environmental and public health incidents.
OpenGov recognised Singapore Customs for their work (together with GovTech) in developing the National Trade Platform (NTP), a one-stop next-generation trade information management platform to support companies in the trade and logistics industry, as well as adjacent sectors such as trade finance. Once rolled out, the NTP will replace the current TradeNet® and TradeXchange®1 systems and can potentially bring about up to $600 million worth of man-hour savings annually for businesses.
The NTP will significantly improve the way companies work and interact with one another. It will enable them to reach out to a wider range of businesses, both locally and globally, from importers, exporters, logistics service providers to financial institutions.
The NTP can help businesses improve productivity through digital exchange and re-use of data with their business partners and the Government. Businesses can streamline their work processes, reduce inefficiencies of manual trade document exchange, and tap on the potential of data analytics to draw insights from their trade data.
In addition to the suite of built-in services, the NTP will be developed on an open architecture where third party solution providers or IT developers can leverage the toolkits provided to develop new services and applications based on market needs. This will nurture a developer community on the NTP to seed and experiment with innovative ideas that can benefit the trade and logistics industry in the long term.
Singapore Police Force (SPF)
Singapore Police Force (SPF) was recognised for leveraging technology to defend the residents of Singapore against threats, old and new.
A one-stop self-help portal, https://www.scamalert.sg/ was launched to counter scams. It provides up-to-date information on the latest scams. People can share personal experiences of scam encounters and lodge police reports online. There are links to major online e-commerce platforms so that the public can approach the platform administrators for assistance regarding transactions on these platforms. Victims of scams will also be able to lodge reports for police investigations via SPF’s Electronic Police Centre.
Another SPF initiative is the Digital Evidence Search Tool (DIGEST) which will automate the forensic processing of huge volumes of data, enabling investigation officers to focus their efforts on more specialised investigation functions.
Singapore Land Authority (SLA)
OpenGov recognised Singapore Land Authority (SLA) for the agency’s Smart Nation Innovations. In June 2016, SLA unveiled the first phase of its national 3D mapping project. The models,which use advanced Geographic Information System (GIS) technology to generate ‘real world’ visualisations of the entire island, are part of a whole-of-government Smart Nation initiative aimed at improving risk management, facilitating collaboration and enhancing decision-making among Singapore’s public agencies.
SLA has also developed the Singapore Satellite Positioning Reference Network (SiReNT) which uses global navigation satellite system (GNSS) data from several countries’ satellites, not just the United States’ GPS data, to correct satellite data for real-time precision of up to 3 cm accuracy. It feeds into Singapore’s smart-city push in areas such as autonomous vehicles.
Singapore Tourism Board (STB)
OpenGov recognised Singapore Tourism Board (STB) for its work-in-progress on the Tourism Information and Services Hub (TIH), which will be launched later this year. TIH is a back-end digital repository of real-time information and travel services, where the industry can contribute and access for use on their respective consumer-facing channels such as websites and mobile applications.
Businesses can benefit from increased exposure of their product offerings and efficiencies in sharing and updating of tourism-related content. With TIH, STB can also obtain rich data insights on the visitor journey and behaviour that will further enhance the Singapore experience.
As a start, it will house content such as Destination Editorials, Images & Videos, Business Event Listings and Walking Trails contributed by STB and its industry partners. STB will also develop services such as Enhanced Navigation Map, Itinerary Planner to help visitors plan on the go, Recommendation Engine to provide customised suggestions and a Chatbot to provide real-time assistance, all of which tourism partners can choose to extract to use on their own front-end channels.
Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA)
The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) was recognised for their development of the ePlanner and GEMMA (GIS-Enabled Mapping and Analysis) platforms. Both platforms enhance intra-government collaboration between agencies and departments and enable better informed decision-making, leading to improved final outcomes.
ePlanner is a one-stop, multi-platform, geospatial urban planning analytics tool, which integrates data from various sources to enable advanced spatial visualisation and analytics. ePlanner also enables planners from various agencies to access and analyse various land-use planning information such as zoning and development control parameters. By working on a common analytics platform, agencies can better share up-to-date information and make collective planning decisions.
GEMMA enables planners to compose multiple land use scenarios quickly, through a suite of apps that tracks urban development staging easily. It allows planners to search and select sites quickly, and jointly evaluate scenario outcomes and potential impact on supporting infrastructure with partner agencies.
Vital Shared Services – Ministry of Finance
OpenGov recognised Vital Shared Services – Ministry of Finance for its implementation of the Electronic Document and Knowledge Management System (eDKMS), as a part of Singapore’s drive to build a Smart Nation and a digital government.
It enables integration of daily HR, payroll and finance workflows for higher productivity and fostering greater knowledge management and a social collaboration platform. The system also reduces paperwork, manages the flow of information from capture through to archiving and disposal.
It improves records and case management, and enhances business information analysis and decision-making.
Both in normal circumstances and in times of crisis, Thai people are known to generate a lot of innovative ideas and continue to develop products that make their lives better. This encompasses and encapsulates the nation’s most recent campaign, Innovation Thailand, which promotes Thai creativity to a global audience.
The Innovation Thailand Alliance consists of partners from a variety of sectors including government agencies, private organisations, educational institutions, and civil societies. Through it, the National Innovation Agency of Thailand (NIA), is expanding the scope of its Innovation Thailand platform.
The fundamental goal is to use national/local ideas to revitalise the nation by promoting awareness of and pride in inventive Thai works. Allies will serve as ambassadors in the effort to promote Thailand as an innovative nation. They will be able to exchange knowledge and skills with one another at the same time.
All stakeholders are enthusiastic to help Thailand achieve its goal of being one of the world’s top 30 innovative nations by 2030 and turning Thailand into an innovation-driven country.
Innovation Capabilities of Thai People
The National Innovation Agency’s mission is to support and develop Thailand’s innovation system to promote economic restructuring and competitive enhancement.
“We began the Innovation Thailand campaign before COVID-19 because we faced a significant challenge in terms of how not only Thai people but also global clients, perceive the nation’s unique products and services,” explains Dr Pun-Arj.
Even though this may not be directly related to innovation, the NIA has attempted to communicate and brand national innovation in such a way that it can be easily connected not only with Thais but also with international customers – this is how they started the Innovation Thailand platform.
Thailand is a tourist destination and one of the top three in the world, which has caused the country to innovate their lifestyle as well as their livelihood.
Thai culture places a high value on craftsmanship and attention to detail. Thai innovation for artful living is a process created exclusively by the fusion of modern technology and knowledge passed down from one generation to the next.
“We have created ingenious solutions through this method that enhances the standard of living in terms of society, prosperity, health, safety, and the environment,” Dr Pun-Arj furthers.
They began to construct a community to exchange ideas, develop, and manage innovation that would result in delivering some information or any significant strategic movement that the government could initiate.
They are recruiting more Chief Innovation Officers from not only the private sector but also the public sector and universities, as part of their primary target group.
Dr Pun-Arj is looking to enhance the opportunities brought in by innovation, particularly at the regional level in the city. This is because they are working not only on economic development but also on the skillset of the social innovation division and platform.
“As a result, our primary focus is on regionalisations of innovation possibilities, as well as startups – innovation-based firms,” reveals Dr Pun-Arj.
He believes that every successful community is built upon a robust and well-functioning infrastructure. Hence, Thailand’s industries and infrastructure will be modernised to meet upcoming challenges.
“In the past, one of our five-year priorities included buildings which we identify as system integrators. As the system and ecosystem become more robust, we are transitioning from system integrators to full core facilitators.”
He emphasised the need to consider the impact of being a system integrator before transforming themselves into focal facilitators. Furthermore, the country wants to make better use of the enormous resource of innovation in universities to conduct research and technology in collaboration with other organisations across the world.
Through the City Innovation Index, which focuses primarily on districts and cities, the NIA promotes and monitors the constant innovation and evaluation of diverse organisations. Periodically, they performed surveys in particular industries to evaluate and propose answers for the difficulties they face.
A strong innovation strategy will evaluate the overall objectives, the target portfolio for innovation initiatives, and the process for allocating the necessary resources. The portfolio clearly defines innovation-critical benchmarks and bounds. Therefore, the nation will become democratic and transparent.
“I believe the government’s most essential innovation strategy focuses on three specific concerns. You must have highly strong and capable businesses of all sizes that will establish a very strong enterprise on its own. And secondly, you must have laws and regulations,” Dr Pun-Arj asserts. “In addition, governance is also required and identifying future risks.”
Thailand is struggling with several issues, including inequality, which includes limited access to public services, digital technology, education, and environmental problems. High manufacturing costs and new types of competition in the global supply chain became challenges for Thailand, with this, innovation has emerged as the country’s answer.
Additionally, there are many challenges in terms of digital transformation and government service and the nation is pushing for innovation that can deliver a good policy and deploy it into practice.
In the previous five-year plan, NIA primarily focused on the job of system integrator into four core facilitators. “That is why the short-term strategy is to train management in the methods, programmes, and activities that we have implemented over the last five years.”
NIA is primarily concentrated on strengthening the potential of regional innovation in several key sectors such as new technologies, assistance for startups, venture capital creation or investment for innovation, and internationalisation of Thailand’s innovation.
Dr Pun-Arj envisions a stronger Thai economy and society, with innovation playing a key role in propelling it. The Bio-Circular-Green Economy (BCG) model is a plan for the country’s growth and post-pandemic recovery. The BCG model focuses on four strategic sectors: agriculture and food, wellness and medicine, energy, materials, and biochemicals and tourism and creative economy.
It emphasises using science, technology, and innovation to turn Thailand’s comparative advantage in biological and cultural diversity into a competitive advantage. The primary aim is to support the sustainability of biological resources, develop local economies and communities and make Thai BCG industries more competitive and resilient to societal changes.
The approach is meant to make Thailand’s economy, society, and environment more sustainable and inclusive. “To achieve the 2030 goal, we must work incredibly hard to encourage innovation in this BCG economy. At the same time, the national policy needs to be improved.”
Dr Pun-Arj has been recognised as a pioneer in the domains of foresight and innovation management in the country. He counsels anyone aspiring to be a great innovator to fully comprehend the concepts of uncertainty and failure.
“Innovation will help us grow as a community or nation by making ourselves and others aware of the importance of innovation,” Dr Pun-Arj concludes.
Seven intelligent robots have been installed in the wards of Yishun Community Hospital (YCH) to welcome patients and bring supplies to the bedside. These brand-new Temi Robots, known as Angel, were introduced to support nursing care so that nurses could focus their time and energy on clinical tasks while still giving patients a personal and meaningful touch.
These robots are loaded with patient education materials that patients and their caregivers can easily access, in addition to providing announcements and reminders throughout the day in all four major languages.
They also have a variety of features like games and entertainment, teleconference tools, and translation capabilities. YCH hopes to further improve patient engagement and satisfaction in its wards with the new addition.
A pilot project using Nao Robots was also used by YCH in previous years to assist dementia patients in their rehabilitation. Robot Therapy, which was started by the staff at YCH in 2018, is now a part of the therapy-related services offered there.
YCH, which is conceived of as a healing space for patients, offers intermediate care for recovering patients who do not require the intensive care services of an acute-care hospital. With rehabilitation and therapy at the heart of the hospital’s mission, the team was eager to investigate the potential of the innovation, Robot Therapy.
Because they can perform a wide range of tasks with little to no value added, hospital robots offer a reliable solution, freeing up doctors, nurses, and surgeons to focus on more high-value work. Robots have become an integral part of the healthcare industry, with many hospitals now using them to perform both surgical and administrative tasks.
In addition, prior to the arrival of Nao Robots in Singapore, a few local nursing homes used Paro, a robot that mimics the appearance, movement, and sounds of a baby seal. The therapeutic robot seal’s use is like animal therapy in that the robot helps to calm elderly people who have dementia or a loss of cognitive function.
The Nao robot, on the other hand, came with higher expectations: it can express emotions like laughter or sadness during interactions; it can interact and communicate with patients in different languages; and it has optic, audio, and impact sensors and motors to detect surroundings, interpret detection, and activate programmed responses.
Various interaction and language modes can be programmed into the Nao robot. The YCH Robot Therapy team took advantage of this by incorporating the robot into specific therapy sessions. This increased efficiency freed up nursing time, which could then be used for other care activities. Nao robot therapy sessions were trialled with 48 patients from the Dementia ward in October 2018.
Patients with Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia (BPSD) require more care and attention, so this was chosen as the pilot ward. By introducing the Nao robot, YCH has increased patient engagement, motivate them to engage in social activities, and shorten the time required for social activities so that caregivers could concentrate on other care-related tasks.
The implementation process was divided into three stages: training staff, selecting suitable patients and assessing seniors who participated in the Robot Therapy programme using the Observed Emotion Rating Scale.
Singhealth asserts that the COVID-19 pandemic, which hastened the adoption of these solutions and accelerated the digital transformation of healthcare systems globally, has sparked a tremendous interest in digital technology and virtual health solutions.
A group of clinician innovators from SingHealth sought to ascertain whether digital interventions are more affordable and provide patients with greater value and benefits in anticipation of this continuing upward trend, and they discovered that this may not always be the case for some eye conditions.
The Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) has launched nine satellites, including eight nanosatellites, into space from the first launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Andhra Pradesh.
The 44-metre-long rocket’s primary payload is the Earth Observation Satellite-6 (EOS-6) or Oceansat-3, a third-generation satellite to monitor oceans. It is a follow up to OceanSat-1 or IRS-P4 and OceanSat-2 launched in 1999 and 2009, respectively. Oceansat-3 will provide data about ocean colour, sea surface temperature, and wind vector data for oceanography, climatology, and meteorological applications.
The Oceansat-3 was placed in the polar orbit at a height of about 740 kilometres above sea level. While it weighs approximately 1,100 kilogrammes, which is only slightly heavier than Oceansat-1, for the first time in this series, it houses three ocean observing sensors. These include an Ocean Colour Monitor (OCM-3), Sea Surface Temperature Monitor (SSTM), and Ku-Band scatterometer (SCAT-3). There is also an ARGOS payload, a press release mentioned.
The OCM-3, with a high signal-to-noise ratio, is expected to improve accuracy in the daily monitoring of phytoplankton. This has a wide range of operational and research applications including fishery resource management, ocean carbon uptake, harmful algal bloom alerts, and climate studies. The SSTM will provide ocean surface temperature, which is a critical ocean parameter to provide various forecasts ranging from fish aggregation to cyclone genesis and movement. Temperature is a key parameter required to monitor the health of the coral reefs, and if needed, to provide coral bleaching alerts. The Ku-Band Pencil beam scatterometre will provide a high-resolution wind vector (speed and direction) at the ocean surface, which will be useful for seafarers, including fishermen and shipping companies. Data regarding temperature and wind is also particularly important for ocean and weather models to improve their forecast accuracies.
ARGOS is a communication payload jointly developed with France and it is used for low-power (energy-efficient) communications including marine robotic floats (Argo floats), fish-tags, drifters, and distress alert devices valuable in search and rescue operations.
The Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Science and Technology, Jitendra Singh, stated that ISRO will continue to maintain the orbit of the satellite and its standard procedures for data reception and archiving. Major operational users of this satellite include Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoEs) institutions such as the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) and the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF).
INCOIS has also established a state-of-the-art satellite data reception ground station within its campus with technical support from the National Remote Sensing Centre (ISRO-NRSC). Singh asserted that ocean observations such as this will serve as a solid foundation for India’s blue economy and polar region policies. A representative from MoES noted that the launch of Oceansat-3 is significant as it is the first major ocean satellite launch from India since the initiation of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (UNDOSSD, 2021-2030).
The Indian Space Research Organisation is the national space agency of India, headquartered in Bengaluru. It operates under the Department of Space, which is overseen by the country’s Prime Minister.
Astronomers from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have completely automated the classification of 1,000 supernovae using a machine-learning (ML) algorithm. The Zwicky Transient Facility, or ZTF, a sky survey instrument located at Caltech’s Palomar Observatory, collected data that the algorithm was then used to analyse.
“We needed a helping hand, and we knew that once we trained our computers to do the job, they would take a big load off our backs,” says Christoffer Fremling, a staff astronomer at Caltech and the mastermind behind the new algorithm tagged as SNIascore.
A year and a half after SNIascore classified its first supernova in April 2021, they are approaching the pleasant milestone of 1,000 supernovae. Every night, ZTF scans the night sky for alterations known as transient events. This covers everything, from asteroids in motion to recently devoured stars by black holes to exploding stars known as supernovae.
ZTF notifies astronomers worldwide of these transient events by sending out hundreds of thousands of alerts each night. Other telescopes are then used by astronomers to monitor and learn more about the nature of the shifting objects. Thousands of supernovae have so far been found thanks to ZTF data.
Members of the ZTF team cannot organise all the data on their own due to the constant flow of data that comes in every night. According to Matthew Graham, project scientist for ZTF and research professor of astronomy at Caltech, “the traditional notion of an astronomer sitting at the observatory and sieving through telescope images carries a lot of romanticism but is drifting away from reality.”
Instead, to help with the searches, the team has created ML algorithms. SNIascore was created to categorise potential supernovae. There are two main categories of supernovae: Type I and Type II. In contrast to Type II supernovae, Type I supernovae are devoid of hydrogen.
When material from a companion star flows onto a white dwarf star, causing a thermonuclear explosion, a Type I supernova is produced. When a massive star collapses due to its own gravity, a Type II supernova happens. Type Ia supernovae, or the “standard candles” in the sky, can be classified by SNIascore. These are dying stars that explode with a steady-state thermonuclear blast.
Astronomers can gauge the universe’s expansion rate thanks to Type Ia supernovae. Fremling and colleagues are currently expanding the algorithm’s capabilities to classify additional types of supernovae soon.
Every night, after ZTF has recorded sky flashes that may be supernovae, it sends the data to the SEDM spectrograph at Palomar, which is in a dome a short distance away (Spectral Energy Distribution Machine).
To determine which supernovae are likely Type Ias, SNIascore collaborates with SEDM. As a result, the ZTF team is working quickly to compile a more trustworthy data set of supernovae that will allow astronomers to conduct additional research and, ultimately, learn more about the physics of the potent stellar explosions.
“SNIascore is incredibly precise. We have observed the performance of the algorithm in the real world after 1,000 supernovae” says Fremling. Since the initial launch in April 2021, they have found no clearly misclassified events, and they are now planning to implement the same algorithm with other observing facilities.
According to Ashish Mahabal, who oversees ZTF’s machine learning initiatives and is the centre’s lead computational and data scientist at Caltech, their work demonstrates how ML applications are maturing in near real-time astronomy.
The SNIascore was created as part of the ZTF’s Bright Transient Survey (BTS), which is currently the most comprehensive supernova survey available to the astronomical community. The entire BTS dataset contains nearly 7000 supernovae, 90 per cent of which were discovered and classified by ZTF while the remaining 10 per cent were contributed by other groups and facilities.
A Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) collaborative research team has synthesised a nanoparticle named TRZD that can perform the dual function of diagnosing and treating glioma in the brain. It emits persistent luminescence for the diagnostic imaging of glioma tissues in vivo and inhibits the growth of tumour cells by aiding the targeted delivery of chemotherapy drugs.
The nanoparticle offers hope for the early diagnosis and treatment of glioma, especially cerebellar glioma, which is even harder to detect and cure with existing methods. The research results have been published in Science Advances, an international scientific journal.
Limitations of existing diagnostic and therapeutic approaches
Glioma is the most common form of malignant primary brain tumour, accounting for roughly one-third of all brain tumours. While magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is commonly used to diagnose glioma, the technology lacks sensitivity. Cerebellar glioma, a relatively rare brain tumour, is even harder to detect with MRI. To facilitate early detection and treatment, an alternative method with improved sensitivity and precision is needed to diagnose glioma.
A chemotherapy agent called Doxorubicin is an effective treatment for glioma. However, its application may also damage normal cells, and it is associated with a range of side effects. To enhance doxorubicin’s clinical efficacy and minimise its side effects, a novel approach is needed to apply the drug to tumour cells in a more targeted manner.
In response to the diagnostic and therapeutic needs of glioma, a research team co-led by Dr Wang Yi, Assistant Professor of the Department of Chemistry at HKBU, and Professor Law Ga-lai, Professor of the Department of Applied Biology and Chemical Technology at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, has synthesised a novel near-infrared (NIR) persistent luminescence nanoparticle called TRZD, which can play a dual role in diagnostic imaging and as a drug carrier for glioma.
An imaging probe for glioma diagnosis
The research team evaluated the efficacy of TRZ (i.e., TRZD without doxorubicin) in diagnostic imaging for glioma with a mouse model. First, TRZ particles were excited by UV light to initiate luminescence. Mice with tumour tissues injected into their cerebrum and cerebellum were then treated with TRZ. Over the next 24 hours, TRZ luminescence was detected at the tumour sites of the mice.
However, when the same experiment was conducted with TRZ without T7 peptides, and TRZ without both the red blood cell membrane coating and T7 peptides, no luminescence was detected at the tumour sites of the mice. The results show that the red blood cell membrane coating can prolong the function of TRZ by stabilising the nanoparticle, and it can slow down its natural uptake by the human body.
The research team further evaluated the anti-tumour efficacy of TRZD using a group of mice who had had their cerebrum and cerebellum injected with tumour tissues.
After applying TRZD for 15 days, the average diameter of their tumours was reduced to 1 mm. They also survived 20 days longer on average compared to the control group, who had not received TRZD. Besides, cell death was observed in the tumour region but not in normal brain tissue.
The results indicate that TRZD’s therapeutic effect on glioma has good selectivity because doxorubicin is brought specifically to tumour cells due to T7 peptide’s strong affinity with tumour cells’ surface receptors and its ability to penetrate the blood-brain barrier. As a result, doxorubicin can be applied in a more targeted manner, and hopefully, its side effects can be minimised with reduced drug dosage.
The team concluded that the nanotechnology demonstrates promising potential, and it could be developed into a new generation of anti-glioma drugs that can perform the dual function of diagnosis and treatment. It also offers hope for the development of treatment protocols for other brain diseases.
The Vietnam Information Security Association (VNISA) surveyed 135 organisations and enterprises in Vietnam on ensuring information security. One out of every four organisations and businesses have had their systems interrupted or attacked in 2022, while 76% of organisations and businesses lack sufficient staff for information security.
The information was revealed by former Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC), Nguyen Thanh Hung, who is chair of VNISA, during a plenary session at an international workshop during the Vietnam 2022 Information Security Day.
The survey found that 58% of organisations have doubts about technology and 47% about security holes. Around 68% of organisations and businesses said they still don’t have enough money to invest in information security annually. At the workshop, Tran Dang Khoa, the Deputy Head of the Authority of Information Security, said that in the last 11 months, the agency has recognised, warned, and instructed companies on how to handle 11,212 cyberattacks. The number of information systems in accordance with the new levels accounts for 54.8%. One of the key tasks of the agency in 2023 is submitting information to the Prime Minister for the issuance of a directive on legal compliance and security.
The workshop was sponsored by MIC and organised by VNISA and MIC and addressed “safe” digital transformation. MIC’s Deputy Minister, Nguyen Huy Dung, stated that ensuring safety in cyberspace is the task of all agencies, units, and people. Dung stressed that digital transformation is a national long-term programme. It means bringing people’s and businesses’ activities into a digital environment. It is necessary to protect more than 3,000 information systems of the state’s agencies, as well as activities in cyberspace of nearly one million businesses, five million business households, 26 million households, and 100 million people.
Dung noted that ensuring safe cyberspace and safety for organisations and people in cyberspace is the responsibility of all agencies, organisations, and people, with the principle ‘like cyberspace, like the real world’. The agencies in charge of certain fields in real life will also be in charge of those fields in the virtual environment, he said.
In October, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh issued Directive No. 18/CT-TTg on accelerating the implementation of activities to respond to cybersecurity incidents in Vietnam. The directive states that the government will pay more attention to reviewing, detecting, and fixing vulnerabilities and weaknesses. It will proactively monitor and detect any network information insecurity risks to promptly handle incidents. It will strictly implement regulations on reporting online information security incidents.
As OpenGov Asia reported, the directive describes cybersecurity as an important, cross-cutting pillar in the creation of digital trust. Its promotion will protect the country’s prosperous development in the digital era as the country attempts comprehensive national digital transformation. Chinh urged stakeholders to thoroughly grasp the contents of the Directive and devise measures to address and timely handle cybersecurity incidents. Stakeholders include ministers and heads of ministerial-level agencies, among others.
Aquaculture is important to the Thai economy. To ensure the long-term growth of this important industry, it is necessary to strengthen the production system by increasing farmers’ sustainable farming capacity and implementing Aquaculture 4.0.
To help with this effort, the nation’s National Electronics and Computer Technology Centre under the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NECTEC-NSTDA) created Aqua-IoT, an IoT-based monitoring system for water’s physical, chemical, and biological qualities.
Dr Supanit Porntheeraphat, Principal Researcher of the NECTEC Digital Agriculture Technology Research Team, explained that the project to develop a digital aquaculture system began at NECTEC in 2010 at the height of disease outbreaks that severely harmed Thailand’s aquaculture industry and the overall economy. The system has been constantly developed and improved since then.
The integration of key data – physical, chemical, and biological water qualities, as well as weather – into a single dashboard allows users to understand the relationship between the data, analyse the data, and make informed decisions.
Dr Supanit added that Aqua-IoT is made up of four major systems: the Water and Weather Monitoring System, the MuEye System, the ChemEye System, and the Minimal Lab System. The first system measures water quality (temperature, pH, and dissolved oxygen) as well as weather (wind speed and direction, light intensity, and rainfall).
These variables are critical for aeration and feed management. The MuEye System is intended to track the growth of aquatic animals and parasites, whereas the ChemEye is a chemical reader that measures the levels of nitrite, ammonia, chlorine, phosphate, and pH in the pond.
Minimal Lab is a probiotic application management system that monitors bacteria growth. The system is also integrated with BIOTEC-NSTDA disease diagnostic tests for shrimp and fish, with test results automatically sent to an online database that users can access via a web browser and a message application.
Aqua-IoT technology has already been licenced to businesses, allowing the devices to be sold commercially. Its advantages include energy and feed cost savings, as well as disease risk reduction. On the first crop, a return on investment can be expected.
The research team began introducing Aqua-IoT to aquaculture farmers in the eastern region in 2020. Working closely with farmers, according to Dr Supanit, allows researchers to better understand their requirements and needs, which leads to the development of other technologies to support aquaculture farming.
An automatic shrimp counting machine for managing pond density and a lift net machine that automatically measures shrimp density for feed and water quality management are two technologies under development.
Udon Songserm, the owner of Wasin Farm in Rayong Province, shared his Aqua-IoT experience. He clearly sees the benefits of cost, time, and labour savings after having the system installed in one of his ponds. He no longer needs to be on-site all the time to keep an eye on his ponds.
Dissolved oxygen data enables him to activate aerators only when needed, rather than always having the machines on, significantly reducing energy costs. Data on water’s chemical and biological properties prompt him to take appropriate actions to avoid losses caused by toxic conditions and disease outbreaks.
Udon also stated that some of the data collected from this pond, such as temperature, can be applied to other ponds in the area. The temperature has a direct effect on dissolved oxygen and can thus be used to manage aeration.
The NSTDA is tasked with accelerating science, technology, and innovation development in Thailand to respond to industry needs and improve the country’s competitiveness in the global economy, thereby contributing to national economic and social development. NSTDA is made up of five national research centres and two organisations involved in technology transfer and business development and promotion including the NECTEC.