Government agencies around the world are implementing digital transformation projects and initiatives across the board to better citizen experience, satisfaction and experience while increasing efficiencies and reducing costs. While the digital economy has grown exponentially from 2020 onward as the pandemic forced businesses to go online and increase digital offerings, governments also had to provide online services.
The public sector had to accelerate digital transformation initiatives to ensure that citizens continue to avail essential and critical services seamlessly. These changes occur at all levels: national, regional, local and supranational. They impact issues such as public transportation and healthcare and other services that may be cross-cutting across various government agency areas – in regulated, semi-regulated or state-sponsored areas.
The global economy continues to endure severe challenges of the crisis and Malaysia is no exception. Malaysians from all social strata as well as workers in both the public and private sectors have not been spared. Entire industries faced upheaval and day-to-day life jas been upended.
The emergence of new technologies, data analytics and an increasingly VUCA environment alter expectations and modalities of the government mandate to deliver public services. The foundation for the country’s transformation towards an advanced digital economy has been laid out in the roadmap that has been created to make certain no Malaysian is left behind.
The Malaysia Digital Economy Blueprint – MyDIGITAL – is formulated to set the direction, outline strategies, initiatives and targets to build a solid foundation to drive the growth of the digital economy, including bridging the digital divide. It aims to ensure that the country is ready to embrace a digital future and seize opportunities that arise in the new normal. Goals include constructing infrastructure, facilitating innovation and establishing an ecosystem in which all contribute to raising living standards while driving digital transformation in the public sector – all to be done by increasing the adoption of digital technologies and utilising digital tools to improve efficiency and productivity.
This was the focal point of the OpenGovLive! Virtual Breakfast Insight on 5 August 2021 – a closed-door, invitation-only, interactive session with Malaysia’s top government agencies. The session, which had 100% of attendance, focused on how government agencies and organisations can optimise infrastructure and use data analytics to reduce costs, risks and complexities. It also explored the importance of data recovery in the event of a ransomware attack.
Finding Partners to Leverage Data and Technology
To kickstart the session, Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief at OpenGov Asia delivered the opening address.
With the remote working models in play early into the pandemic, people have grown accustomed to access at any time on any platform with any device – courtesy of online businesses. E-commerce companies have embraced personalisation and have transformed themselves in a variety of ways including accessibility, options, ease-of-business, and security.
Referring to the framework of different government agencies, Mohit asks the question: What are the government’s initiatives or efforts for the implementation of the framework?
Companies use big data in their systems to improve operations, provide better customer service, create personalised marketing campaigns, and take other actions that, ultimately, can increase revenue and profits. Businesses that use it effectively hold a potential competitive advantage over those that do not as they can make faster and more informed business decisions.
Mohit acknowledged the importance of data availability, storage and processing for organisations as most services have been shifted online. Against this backdrop, cyber attacks and ransomware are the biggest problems that companies have to deal with.
Apart from technology and processes, Mohit emphasises the importance of teamwork in data security and recovery. Finding the right partners is essential when it comes to recovering critical data from organisations. Having competent partners who focus on data protection, data recovery and compliance requirements against a wide range of cyber threats allows businesses to focus on their primary tasks and key deliverables.
Digital Transformation Outpaces Risk Management
Andy Ng Vice President, Asia South & Pacific Region, Veritas shared a welcome address and spoke on how digital transformation outpaces risk management.
“Hearing from every sector of organisations as we embarked on this digital transformation, creates a transformation gap,” Andy Ng said. “This transformation gap can be addressed by the 4 Cs – Costs, Cyber, Cloud, and Compliance”.
Cybersecurity, which includes ransomware, is required for businesses to plan strategies to mitigate or prevent ransomware attacks. Figures indicate that 38% of organisations hit by a ransomware attack were offline for a week or longer.
Currently, 94 % of enterprise organisations have a multi-cloud strategy in place. According to a survey, 80% of enterprise organisations by 2024 are likely to overspend by 20% to 50% because they are unaware of mistakes made in cloud adoption.
As organisations collect more data across silos, managing data across these sources becomes increasingly important. Organisations need to standardise data management across clouds.
Andy firmly agrees that compliance and adhering to new data regulations are critical components of closing the transformation gap. According to the survey, by 2023, 65% of the world’s population will have their personal information protected by modern privacy regulations, up from 10% today.
Taking the session forward, CM Woon, Regional Director, Asia South, Veritas elaborated on the Malaysian blueprint framework; a key aspect of this roadmap is the digital transformation in the public sector.
While the current framework reflects changes and innovations in the global digital landscape, he conceded that the nation began digital transformation well before the pandemic.
An example of this is the development of Cyberjaya – a tech-dedicated city – which has a science-dedicated park as the core and forms a key part of the Multimedia Super Corridor in Malaysia.
With the acceleration, almost everything has pivoted online, and most services can be availed from the comfort of people’s homes. He agrees that across the globe, and in Malaysia, both the private and public sectors have come a long way. Keeping data as the foundation and security at the fore, he is optimistic that they will continue to grow.
In this entire scenario, CM Woon is convinced that the most fundamental element is data and says, “Without data, there will be no transformation”. He also assured the delegates that Veritas ensures the safety of its customers’ data and that they prioritise cybersecurity.
Tackling the Transformation Gap
The participants next heard from Geoffrey Coley, Director Strategy & Architecture, Asia South Pacific, Veritas who elaborated further on tackling the transformation gap.
Geoffrey agreed that a company’s digital transformation appears to outpace its ability to manage risks effectively and efficiently. This is corroborated by what senior digital executives share about data, the cloud and ransomware.
He emphasised that data availability is important because only 82 % of data has been changed in the last two years, implying that data security is crucial for organisations.
“Recovering more than one data-set or IT service in the event of a failure would be extremely challenging”.
Data protection and accountability measures cover a range of issues including adopting and implementing data protection policies, maintaining documentation of processing activities, recording and reporting personal data breaches and ensuring organisations have a data protection officer appointed.
With increased security being placed on how companies handle consumer data, not to mention a flurry of data privacy legislation, now may be the ideal time for the framework. According to a Veritas survey, most organisations have not kept up with the complexity that cloud computing provides, with organisations across the Asia Pacific adding more rather than less to it.
The ever-increasing demands of the business and users become more difficult to meet. While core systems have a longer lifespan, customer interaction platforms change more frequently. Data management, in particular, has emerged as a critical task in today’s IT environment.
Other important aspects of cloud computing are visibility, controllability, and measurability. According to Geoffrey, if an organisation cannot visualise how an IT service is composed and if they cannot control and measure it, the organisation may be at risk. Ransomware, multi-pronged attacks that capture an organisation’s data and systems, play a significant role in this.
Geoffrey stressed the word anomalous – deviating from the norm. It is critical in an organisation to protect against, detect and recover from any type of ransomware. Organisations can prepare for this by taking precautions to ensure that their data is not corrupted or lost and that normal operations can resume as soon as possible.
Data governance is best viewed as a function that complements an organisation’s overall data management strategy. Such a framework offers organisations a comprehensive approach to data collection, management, security, and storage and takes into consideration where, who and what is gathering the organisation’s data.
International Case Study – Digital Evolution Now
Martyn Wallace, Chief Digital Officer Digital Office for Scottish Local Government expanded on digital evolution and how COVID-19 has impacted it.
He felt that data is the lever that Scotland must pull to improve outcomes for citizens while simultaneously lowering costs. Service design for digital transformation elements is critical because organisations must make the right decision and start in the right direction, to begin with.
He then listed the three data buckets:
1) Understanding the data which includes historical data and data storage
2) Reacting to the presence of data – mobile devices, real-time data and connected devices (IoT) and
3) When the first two are being used, then an organisation can anticipate the future which brings them to the use of Artificial Intelligence and Predictive Analytics.
Communications channels, customer relationship management, knowledge management, robotic process automation (RPA), business intelligence and the Internet of Things are invaluable to an organisation.
COVID-19 has pushed organisations to derive richer insights by forcing them to “react to the present” as well as to combine data across partners. In keeping with this, the Scottish Government established a cross-sector data task force for citizens and other public sectors such as healthcare and education.
When it comes to ransomware attacks in Scotland, businesses and the government have taken a stand to not pay any type of ransom. They firmly believe that paying a ransom does not guarantee a successful outcome, nor does it protect networks from future attacks or prevent future data leaks. Contrarily, paying a ransom is likely to encourage criminality to continue to use this approach.
After the informative presentations, delegates participated in interactive discussions facilitated by polling questions. This activity is designed to provide live-audience interaction, promote engagement, hear real-life experiences, and impart professional learning and development for participants.
The first question asked why digital transformation matters for the public sector. Well over half the delegates (58%) agreed that it improves government services. Over a quarter (27%) said it is to improve workflow efficiency and productivity. Over a tenth (12%) of the delegates indicated that it is to increase scope and quality for online services for better user experience and just 3% went with cost reduction.
The next query inquired about the key enablers of digital transformation. Half of the delegates said that the key enablers are speed of change for applications, data, and building/removing core business systems. A significant portion (41%) said they were driven by changing ‘rakyat’ (citizens) demands. Under a tenth (9%) said that it is operational cost savings.
Delegates were asked what the biggest challenges are faced by the public sector today when looking at digital transformation. Just under half (45%) indicated that their challenges are dependency or the need to integrate with legacy systems and/or technology. About a fifth (18%) felt it was cyber threats. Equally split at 14% was skills shortage to implement and operate technology and compliance to government regulations. About 9% voted that data management and protection was their biggest obstacle.
The fourth poll asked what factors delegates prioritise when evaluating new technologies. A strong majority (61%) indicated operational simplicity and product reliability. About a fifth (22%) said support for new and modern technology was a key consideration while 17% lower costs would be key.
The last question enquired about delegates key areas of interest and what they value more. About a third (38%) want ease-of-doing-business through a simplified technology consumption model. A quarter (24%) are looking for visibility into cross-system data and infrastructure to identify unexpected changes and potential risks. Under a fifth (19%) prize business resiliency through highly available applications and workloads. Similarly, another 19% value tools that deliver automation in areas like compliance and data availability.
Andy Ng and CM Woon both expressed gratitude to the delegates for attending the event and appreciated the robust discussion and keen insights.
The event revealed that government agencies are experiencing a digital explosion; increasing amounts of information are being produced and transmitted electronically, but the digital infrastructure supporting these operations is straining under the strain.
The pressure has exposed flaws in business processes, leadership strategy, training and recruitment efforts, reinforcing the notion that digital transformation is not fully understood, supported or directed as it should be. With limited budgets, agencies are forced to choose between equally important priorities such as data protection, mission expansion and workforce needs for the future.
A true transformation of procurement processes should be understood from a digital-by-design perspective, in which digital technologies are embedded from the start in the design, development, delivery and monitoring of procurement frameworks and processes.
Both Andy and CM Woon invited the delegates to reach out to them to explore ways that Veritas could help them in their digital journeys.
A research team at the University of Washington (UW) has developed a wearable device to detect and reverse an opioid overdose. The device, worn on the stomach like an insulin pump, senses when a person stops breathing and moving, and injects naloxone, a lifesaving antidote that can restore respiration.
The opioid epidemic has become worse during the pandemic and has continued to be a major public health crisis. We have created algorithms that run on a wearable injector to detect when the wearer stops breathing and automatically inject naloxone.
– Justin Chan, Lead Author and PhD student, UW’s Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering
Co-author Jacob Sunshine, an associate professor of anesthesiology and pain medicine at the UW School of Medicine, said one of the unique aspects of opioid overdoses is that naloxone, a benign drug, is highly effective and can save lives if it can be administered in a timely fashion.
The UW team is looking to make these devices widely available, which would first require approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The FDA is currently working to accelerate efforts to address this critical public health problem and has recently released special guidance on emergency-use injectors.
In a multiyear collaboration, the UW investigators worked on the prototype with West Pharmaceutical Services of Exton, Penn, which developed a wearable subcutaneous injector that safely administers medications. The research team combined this injector system with sensors and developed an algorithm to detect the life-threatening pattern of respirations that occur when people experience opioid toxicity.
Co-author Shyam Gollakota, a UW professor of computer science and engineering, said the device could help people at different stages of opioid-use disorder to avoid accidental death. This wearable auto-injector may have the potential to reduce fatalities due to opioid overdoses.
The pilot device includes a pair of accelerometers that measure respiration and an onboard processor that detects the halt of motion associated with breathing. The wearable system, which has received regulatory approval in the United States, activates the injector in the presence of prolonged apneic events. The device also can transmit data about breathing rates and apneic motion to a nearby smartphone via Bluetooth.
To test the device, a clinical study was conducted with volunteers in a supervised injection facility in Vancouver, B.C., and a parallel clinical trial was conducted in a hospital environment among volunteers who manifested signs of apnea by holding their breath. The injection facility deployment was crucial, the researchers said, to help develop breathing algorithms involving real-world, opioid-induced breathing changes.
Twenty-five participants were recruited. The sensors were able to accurately track respiration rates among people with opioid-use disorder. Further, the device was able to detect non-medical, opioid-induced apnea, a breathing pattern that commonly precedes a potentially fatal overdose. The testing in Vancouver measured breathing patterns only to develop the respiratory algorithm and did not involve an injection of naloxone, which was administered only in the second study involving healthy human volunteers who did not take opioids.
In the second study, 20 participants simulated overdose events in a hospital setting by breathing normally, then performing a breath-hold for 15 seconds to mimic an apneic event. When the wearable system detected that the subject had not moved for at least 15 seconds, it activated and injected naloxone into the participant.
Researchers said further studies are needed to assess the comfort and discreteness of the device over longer time periods, particularly in unsupervised settings. And, they said, additional study of the device is needed to evaluate naloxone injection in people who use opioids for nonmedical purposes.
China has made great efforts at home and abroad to become a global leader in digital technologies. China’s digital ambitions are state-driven that has a close connection within the IT sector between the state and private companies and show that China’s digital rise is not only spurred by economic interests but also by political goals to become a leading superpower in research and technology.
China wants to take the lead in dual-use technologies and quantum cryptography and advance its Artificial Intelligence (AI) programme. According to a study, it also wants to use its capabilities domestically to implement its vision to be a leader in digital technologies. Digitisation, for the country, is a means to achieve several goals at once: creating new engines of growth, achieving technological independence, social control, and international leadership in digital technologies.
The nation has invested disproportionately in technological innovation in recent years. For quantum cryptography research alone, China has provided at least an estimated USD 50 billion of funding, that’s ten times as much as the United States has made available. In AI, China filed around 30,000 patents last year, two and a half times more than the US.
All these efforts are beginning to pay off: The People’s Republic is already considered the leading digital marketplace and home to a third of all startups with a market evaluation above USD one billion. Soon, the country could become the world leader in digital key technologies. At the same time, Beijing is changing the global technology landscape by pushing blockchain, the Internet of Things and 5G standards and by filling key positions in relevant international institutions.
The advent of new technology and approaches to working with big data will allow China to keep track of and enforce key parts of its ideology within the Chinese population. A good example of a tool that will gain in importance in this area is the Social Credit System, which assigns citizens scores based on a variety of criteria.
The nation ranks second globally in ground-breaking scientific and technological research. The reports evaluated the performance of leading countries in “hot” and emerging fields of scientific and technological research. The reports identified 171 research fronts, including 110 hot and 61 emerging fronts in 11 broad research areas in sciences and social sciences. Research Fronts are formed when clusters of highly cited papers are frequently cited together, reflecting a specific commonality in the research – sometimes experimental data, a method, a concept or a hypothesis.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, another recent report titled “China Tech Decoupled” examined how China is building up a self-reliant domestic IT infrastructure ecosystem with detailed analysis. How China’s tech sector evolves and potentially decouples from the global tech system is one of the most important factors shaping the future. The report sheds light on how China’s effort to build up key domestic substitute IT infrastructure is going and how it will impact the world’s tech landscape.
The country realised early on that it depended heavily on foreign technology, particularly in a critical industry: semiconductors. Since then, a renewed national campaign to build up China’s self-reliant supply chains picked up pace significantly. A new industry suddenly became the centre of the spotlight for governments and private businesses. Referred to as Xin Chuang, or Information Technology Application Innovation Industry, this industry aims to build up a comprehensive, self-reliant Chinese domestic information technology industry from chips, operating systems, and applications.
China is likely to make reasonable progress in domestic replacement in the next decade in markets such as Internet-of-Things (IoT) O.S., cyber security, cloud computing, computing devices, and servers. These markets do not have as high technological barriers or long R&D cycles as chip manufacturing. As a greater share of these markets is captured by domestic companies, foreign companies will gradually lose market share and influence over the Chinese market.
OpenGov had the pleasure of speaking to Sam Liew, Managing Partner, Government Strategic Business Group, NCS. Keeping in mind the present realities, Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief, discussed a range of topics from Sam’s driving passions to the strategic plans of NCS to the adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Singapore.
Looking to get a better understanding of what motivates Sam, the conversation started with a dive into the drivers that got Sam into the organisation. NCS has been actively involved in Singapore for 40 years and the mission that he is gearing himself towards is to grow and make NCS a major regional IT services company.
Sam is genuinely committed to the vision of building a leading APAC Technology Services company headquartered out of Singapore. He is a firm believer in NCS’ business overall and is confident that the business he leads – Government Strategic Business Group (also known as Gov+) – can be a catalyst and a vehicle for change in the region.
Gov+, Sam explains, aims to improve the lives of citizens and advance communities by using technology to create a vibrant society covering Public Service, Defence, Homeland Security and Government Global Business – the four pillars of Gov+.
Its primary mission is to build up NCS’ digital government portfolio and drive collaboration efforts to propel NCS as the go-to digital catalyst for governments and smart cities across the Asia Pacific. The intent is to help government agencies digitalise the core of public services to enable holistic public service transformation, to advance communities and support enterprises.
The current environment of the pandemic is a stark reminder of the need to digitalise in an ever-increasing VUCA world. Gov+ helps drive public sector practice and contributes to helping governments digitalise to offer better citizen e-services and support the overall business.
“Technology and digitalisation is a revolution that is here to stay,” Sam is convinced. “If technology is harnessed well, it can help governments provide support for communities and enterprises, especially so in these times where all the sectors are disrupted, either by COVID-19, digitalisation or technological improvements.”
Mohit agreed that the world is truly in a state of rapid digitisation and that governments need to get on the digitalisation journey to stay relevant. He was curious about what Sam thought of as the key engines and the benchmarks for success in an initiative like Gov+.
Results and target are the outcomes of a solid, well-thought-out game plan, Sam says. NCS and Gov+ have established a set of foundational strategies:
- Double down and grow the Singapore Public Sector which remains a priority for NCS and Gov+
- Digitalise end-to-end Public Sector systems, enabling holistic public service transformation and bringing impact to the communities
- Grow Singaporean Core technology, talents and expertise which are particularly important for a small country like Singapore
- Focus on Pan APAC expansion by scaling Digital and Smart Nation assets to the APAC region and harvesting back knowledge and capabilities into assets
Mohit observes that the past 2 years have seen companies deploy “band-aid technology” to deal with the challenges of COVID-19. As things settle down, companies will need to look at the lasting changes that the pandemic has left in its wake and address those with more permanent solutions and smarter approaches. For instance, the agile methodology has become the true foundation and building blocks of governments. There are, of course, a myriad of problems and issues, so the fundamental question is: how do people know what to prioritise?
The question is absolutely vital, and while there are varying opinions, Sam believes that the focus should be on adopting cloud technologies for non-sensitive workloads, moving towards application containerisation, and modernisation of both infrastructure and applications. This will allow governments to deploy quicker, drive performance faster and build products more swiftly because they are in containers; and are components that can be assembled on the fly.
Beyond a doubt, there is a need to continuously drive multi-speed development and explore new technology and solutions as they become available. This is where and why he shares Mohit’s sentiment on agile methodology.
A perfect example of more efficient innovation is the development of DevSecOps and Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CICD) capabilities. DevSecOps provides security as well as developing templates for the upstream developers in the design, instead of leaving the discovery of mistakes for the downstream. CICD on the other hand is a tested and proven practice for software deployment, automated testing and code, etc.
Sam also recommends adopting emerging technology solutions such as AI, 5G and Digital Twin. Along with Cloud adoption, organisations need to start embracing these emerging technology, driving and identifying use cases in their agencies.
In a segue to the topic of wider adoption of cutting-edge technology, Mohit was keen to know how NCS plans to share its wins and learnings in the terms of establishing a data-driven culture with the organisations they work with.
“Data is indeed the new oil in this Digital Age,” Sam is convinced. “Even a naysayer will say that organisations need more data insights to make accurate decisions.”
NCS have practices focused on Data Analytics, Big Data and Platforms, Artificial Intelligence and Data Science. NCS’ teams in these practices are deployed to clients’ projects to solve various data issues and to obtain specific actionable information and derive intelligent insights.
NCS deploys a Digital Inside and Digital Outside framework to help clients determine their prioritisation goals and implement solutions to match specific requirements. Moreover, it is important to identify what data sets that organisations should be working from – for instance some data that tackle efficiency is more inward-looking, while other data is outward in driving expansion into new markets, new products, new sectors and new customers.
While big data, analytics and the generation of actionable insights, AI, Mohit suggests, even in Singapore, is still in its early stages of deployment and adoption. “How can we help Singapore become mainstream in that space?” he is eager to learn.
Sam shared that NCS is already embedding AI techniques into the work they do. NCS has several AI categories in which they develop their solutions: Anomaly Detection, Predictive Analytics, Resource Optimisation, Intelligent Processing to name a few. The premise of AI inclusion is to make unbiased decisions or generate intelligence based on data. Without AI, people will be making a decision based on experience rather than data-driven insights and predictive outcomes.
Steering the conversation towards the wider plans of NCS, Mohit inquired about strategies that NCS has to entrench the company as a regional force.
NCS does have a focused Pan APAC strategy to expand the Gov+ business, Sam acknowledges. In Australia for instance, they launched the NCS NEXT Cloud Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Melbourne. That was part of NCS’ regional expansion strategy into Australia, following the partnership with Optus Enterprise in December 2020 to bring integrated ICT and digital services to Australian clients across a wide range of industries and government sectors. The CoE will also facilitate expertise exchange and deepen collaboration between the teams in Singapore and Australia, helping both cities build cloud expertise in a competitive talent market.
Another strategy is through specific acquisitions to grow capabilities. Sam explained that NCS has recently acquired some companies which will accelerate expansion across Asia-Pacific:
- Riley – a leading Australian cloud-based solutions consultancy that offers a comprehensive portfolio of services in cloud-native transformation, data supply chain, and cloud operations.
- ClayOPS – a Singapore-based data analytics and consulting services firm that specialises in helping organisations improve enterprise performance through data and data analytics
- Velocity Business Solutions – a Hong Kong-based data analytics firm that provides a full suite of data analytics consulting and implementation services including design, development, support, and enablement.
- NCS also made a majority investment in Eighty20 Solutions – an Australian cloud transformation specialist.
Finally, NCS takes on regional expansion by leveraging the inherent advantages of a subsidiary under the Singtel Group. Through the partner ecosystem, they have accumulated knowledge from delivering numerous complex and large-scale government projects in Singapore’s digitalisation roadmap.
While technology and infrastructure are two pillars of digital transformation, Mohit opines that for digitalisation to achieve business objectives, it must involve people and culture. As Sam agrees with this, Mohit asks for his thoughts on how to make people more effective in terms of skills, collaboration, partnerships, both internally and externally.
Equipping people with digital capabilities to help enable economic development and growth is a must, believes Sam. People are the centre, drivers and ultimate beneficiaries of this journey; and as such, they must be equipped and prepared to both rollout and benefit from digital transformation.
At NCS, they create opportunities and training for employees to develop skills across any of the 53 specialisations or practices. Sam is keen to see employees go deeper and specialise in the domains that they prefer. To that end, he is prepared to facilitate and lead these endeavours.
NCS will bring people of different specialisations into the same team to deliver services to customers. The organisation is charting a course for growth through talent strategies to relentlessly attract, develop and retain the best people to lead and innovate for tomorrow.
He observes that today’s workforce want specialisation but do not want to be trapped in a particular role for too long. To address this, NCS has created a unique initiative that offers a transformative learning experience – DoJo. Taken from the Japanese, “Do” means a way or a pursuit and “Jo” means a place.
The vision for the platform is a place that people can:
- have an immersive learning experience
- pursue and practice: two-way interaction where our people can come together to “pursue and practice” the NCS way and learn together
- avail mentorship: employees taking lessons learnt from various projects and sharing, discussing and creating best practices so that both employees and clients can benefit
- offer (reverse) mentorship: senior leaders learning from the younger staff
To round up the conversation, Mohit brought the spotlight back on Sam, inquiring about his leadership, specifically his objectives and expectations of his team.
Developing a sustainable growing business in NCS is key to his vision, reveals Sam. A strong advocate of the digital industry, growing industry capabilities and nurturing talents is integral to its success. He “finds immense joy in mentoring talents, encouraging digital professionals to broaden their skills and keeping up to date on emerging digital technologies”.
Sam views expectations from two perspectives – his expectation of each individual and their expectation of him as their leader. As a leader, he believes in bringing out the best in his teams and the people he works with. This includes empowering and enabling them with the right level of autonomy to “reach for the sky”.
Apart from that, practising open communications that cultivate mutual respect and trust is something that he places great stock in and affirms. At the end of the day, he believes that every individual is accountable for their own goals and should all stay focused on achieving them.
Looking ahead, Sam offers three milestones that he is confident would define success in NCS: Growth in Financial Results (sustainable Revenue growth), Growth in People (expertise, engagement, sustainable careers) and High Customer Satisfaction (based on quality delivery).
Energised by the bold new vision of a Pan APAC expansion of Gov+, Sam looks forward to leading NCS into becoming a force of change in Singapore and beyond. Ultimately, he hopes NCS will grow to become a major regional IT services company that everyone loves to be associated with.
Sepsis claims the lives of nearly 270,000 people in the U.S. each year. An unpredictable illness can progress quickly, resulting in a speedy drop in blood strain, tissue injury, several organ failures, and demise. Well-timed intervention by healthcare professionals saves lives, however some therapies for sepsis can even worsen an affected person’s situation, so selecting the very best remedy may be difficult. For instance, within the early hours of extreme sepsis, giving an excessive amount of intravenous fluid can improve the affected person’s threat of demise.
To help clinicians avoid remedies that may potentially contribute to a patient’s death, researchers at MIT have developed a machine learning model that could be used to identify treatments that pose a higher risk than other options. Their model can also warn doctors when a septic patient is approaching a medical dead end — the point when the patient will most likely die no matter what treatment is used — so that they can intervene before it is too late.
When utilised to a dataset of sepsis sufferers in a hospital intensive care unit, the investigator mannequin confirmed that about 12% of the therapies for deceased sufferers have been dangerous. The research additionally exhibits that about 3 p.c of sufferers who didn’t survive have been caught in a medical stalemate 48 hours earlier than demise.
“We see that our model is almost eight hours ahead of a doctor’s recognition of a patient’s deterioration. This is powerful because in these really sensitive situations, every minute counts, and being aware of how the patient is evolving, and the risk of administering certain treatment at any given time, is really important.”
Taylor Killian, a graduate student in the Healthy ML group of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL).
This research project was spurred by a paper that explored the usage of reinforcement studying in conditions the place it is too harmful to analyse voluntary actions, making it tough to generate sufficient information to successfully practice algorithms. Conditions the place it is not potential to gather extra information forward of time are known as “offline” settings.
In reinforcement learning, the algorithm is trained through trial and error and learns to take actions that maximise its accumulation of reward. But in a health care setting, it is nearly impossible to generate enough data for these models to learn the optimal treatment, since it isn’t ethical to experiment with possible treatment strategies.
So, the researchers flipped reinforcement learning on its head. They used the limited data from a hospital ICU to train a reinforcement learning model to identify treatments to avoid, with the goal of keeping a patient from entering a medical dead end. Learning what to avoid is a more statistically efficient approach that requires less data.
The researchers also found that 20% to 40% of patients who did not survive raised at least one yellow flag prior to their death, and many raised that flag at least 48 hours before they died. The results also showed that, when comparing the trends of patients who survived versus patients who died, once a patient raises their first flag, there is a very sharp deviation in the value of administered treatments. The window of time around the first flag is a critical point when making treatment decisions.
Moving forward, the researchers also want to estimate causal relationships between treatment decisions and the evolution of patient health. They plan to continue enhancing the model so it can create uncertainty estimates around treatment values that would help doctors make more informed decisions. Another way to provide further validation of the model would be to apply it to data from other hospitals, which they hope to do in the future.
Beyond a doubt, the pandemic has hastened digital transformation and opened up a myriad of opportunities. Implementation of tech-enabled platforms and solutions is taking place across industries, and they are no less critical to healthcare. The ongoing crisis is prompting digital leaders in the health sector to reconsider how to best leverage technology to serve the pressing current need as well as future requirements.
In a normal year, healthcare institutions around the world spend trillions of dollars to address growing healthcare challenges. With the unprecedented numbers of patients seeking care, as outpatients or admissions, health systems in hard-hit areas have been put under even more strain – with demands for space, supplies and staff far outstripping supply.
Moreover, as health services crumble under the number, patients reach out to other peripheral agencies and institutions looking for help anywhere they think they can get it. Facilities, systems, infrastructure, providers, paramedical staff and patients have been overwhelmed across the board, but far more so in areas that have poor or limited access to healthcare.
Against this backdrop, Amazon and Amazon Web Services (AWS) introduced a new global programme to support organisations working to improve health outcomes for underserved or underrepresented communities. They provided funding and technical expertise, committing $40 million over three years to assist in developing solutions to improve health outcomes.
OpenGov Asia had the opportunity to speak with Peter Moore, Regional Managing Director for Asia Pacific and Japan, Worldwide Public Sector, Amazon Web Services, to gain deeper insights into their accelerated transformation initiatives as well as to discuss projects and initiatives implemented by AWS that assist governments and the public sector to leverage AWS technologies in support of their missions and mandates.
Technology has accelerated transformation in the health sector
COVID-19 has created unprecedented challenges for healthcare across the board while also inspiring and driving innovation at an unprecedented rate. Without a doubt, the use of technology in healthcare has resulted in better patient diagnosis and treatment, as well as improved quality of life and the saving of many lives.
It is universally acknowledged that the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation and across the board, things have shifted entirely to a digital or hybrid mode. As things sort of settle, the question is, would these methods continue even after physical routines resume. “From a technology perspective, what does the future look like?”
Peter agree that the world is experiencing turbulence and churning; the key question that needs to be addressed is “how do government and public agencies respond?”.
According to Peter, COVID-19 has forced significant changes that have impacted many lives and marginalised large swathes of populations. Governments throughout the region are grappling with the ‘have nots’ rather than the ‘haves,’ which Peter feels, is rooted in politics and policies. The focus now has to be on equitable solutions for all citizens – students, employees and patients; urban or rural; low or high resource.
The fact is, even though the public sector was well on the path of digitisation and moving to the cloud before COVID-19, the pandemic has forced governments to rethink their cloud strategy. Peter believes that the primary driver behind this shift in the pre-COVID era was citizen demand for effective service delivery. Education, healthcare and civil service institutions started putting a web backend to enhance citizen service delivery and better capabilities for government employees.
As countries grappled with the challenge of scaling COVID-19 testing, they launched the AWS Diagnostic Development Initiative to help organisations around the world apply the power of the cloud to accelerate diagnostics research and development. Through this initiative, AWS committed $20 million in computing credits and customised expertise from the AWS Professional Services team to support customers using AWS to drive diagnostic innovations.
In February this year, AWS released the report, “Unlocking APAC’s Digital Potential: Changing Digital Skill Needs and Policy Approaches.” Prepared by strategy and economics consulting firm AlphaBeta and commissioned by AWS, the report analyses the digital skills applied by workers in their jobs today and the digital skills required by workforces over the next five years. The report focuses on six Asia Pacific countries: Singapore, Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, and South Korea.”
Telehealth and telemedicine, two of the fastest-growing areas of healthcare, have proven to be lifesaving, facilitating safe and effective patient care from a distance and assisting physicians in pooling their resources when the virus was straining the healthcare system.
To strengthen such health care systems that show promise, AWS has launched new initiatives and a global programme focusing on health equity. “I find a lot of benefit in advising governments where I see things working well and where they can improve,” says Peter.
AWS global programme assists customers in developing solutions to improve health outcomes and equity.
Max Peterson, Vice President for AWS Worldwide Public Sector, says healthcare has changed at an astounding rate, as have the ways people work, live, learn and serve. In his opinion, governments and non-profits have, for the most part, done things in person. While many were working in the cloud to digitise and transform the delivery of their services, the pandemic has shown that digital solutions may well become the only interface with citizens customers and citizens in the future.
In such a rapidly evolving digital world, data, Peter firmly believes, plays one of the important roles for technological development. It must be better leveraged to promote more equitable and inclusive systems of care. Agencies must create more robust and informative datasets or clean existing datasets to improve accuracy about race, ethnicity, gender, disability, or other data points that will help to advance health equity for all. AWS is keen to support this capability delivery.
“What I have alluded to so far is that there’s going to be a huge demand on new capabilities and that demand is going to come from those who are currently underserved. So, we want to focus on giving access to health services for the underserved communities,” Peter confirms emphatically.
Roughly half of the world’s population lacks access to basic healthcare. The proposed projects will focus on underserved populations all over the world and will include the development of tools like telehealth and telemedicine to reach secluded and marginalised communities, remote patient monitoring, increasing the availability and impact of health workers and more. Promising Initiatives will get credit and technical assistance so that they can be brought to market.
The project’s second focus, Peter elaborated, is addressing social determinants of health (SDoH) – the environmental conditions in which people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship and age, these aspects hugely influence a wide range of health outcomes and risks. Safe housing, transportation, education, access to nutritious foods, clean air and water and other services are examples.
Across the world, AWS’ new global programme builds on its work with current customers who are harnessing AWS technologies to support their health equity programmes, which include:
- National Health IT Collaborative for the Underserved (NHIT): Earlier this year, the non-profit debuted the cloud-powered Data Fusion Centre on AWS to assist in addressing intergovernmental data challenges and translating Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) data into actionable insights. Industry, academia, and communities can use the Centre to discover, explore, and visualise SDoH and health equity-related factors and their impact.
- HealthImpact’s Trust a Nurse, Ask A Nurse: This non-profit is collaborating with community-based organisations throughout California to make registered nurses available for free, particularly in underserved and minority communities. A new telehealth service that provides education and support about COVID-19 and vaccine options is now available. Hippo Health, which runs on AWS, powers the telehealth platform, and Telehealth Consulting Services provide subject matter expertise.
- Rush University Medical Centre Population Health Analytics Hub: The Chicago-based medical centre, which is a nationally recognised leader in quality and health equity, is establishing an analytics hub to address the clinical and social determinants of health that contribute to premature cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Rush set up the COVID-19 analytic hub on AWS during the pandemic to integrate patient and operational data for rapid, targeted intervention.
As an example, Peter refers to India. It has a large population where all of SDoH issues are of vital importance. While those with resources in the country have access to doctors and excellent healthcare, many economically weaker sections cannot access those services. “Vaccinating the population in India has been a huge task. And we’ve been very involved in that through an application called CoWIN – a country-wide vaccine registration and scheduling management system.”
To address the need for health improvement in India, AWS is broadening this platform, which has been thus far focused on COVID-19, to include other diseases as well so that vaccinations can be provided to everyone in the country.
Making the world a better place with AWS Start-up Ramp
In line with its mission to make the world a better place, AWS recently expanded its Start-up Ramp programme in Southeast Asia. This new programme for early-stage start-ups developing solutions in health, digital government, smart cities, agriculture and space technology is committed to assisting entrepreneurs as they build, launch and grow their businesses.
It works to remove barriers for entrepreneurs who want to make an impact in the public sector by providing technical design and architecture reviews, mentorship, credit and assistance with go-to-market plans to successfully direct the public sector’s complex regulatory and security requirements.
Start-ups in their early stages that are focused on finding product-market fit and meeting their first customers can apply to become Start-up Ramp Innovators. Those with already paying customers who are focused on growth and scale can apply to become Start-up Ramp Members and gain access to programme benefits. Customers in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam can now apply for the programme.
Peter recognises that health authorities around the world are at varying levels of readiness since the pandemic began and no one can predict what the future holds.
People have witnessed the rampant spread of COVID-19 across the globe and seen how it has ravaged economies, healthcare systems and taken far too many lives. As a result, the public and private sectors must develop faster solutions and respond in a more innovative, agile and equitable manner.
AWS will be deeply involved with helping to securely store, manage and analyse large amounts of health data as it is critical for advancing medical research and meeting the growing demand for high-quality health analytics.
Ultimately, AWS will continue to help to power and empower public health innovation!
About Peter James Moore
Peter James Moore is the Regional Managing Director for Amazon Web Services, Global Public Sector, where he is responsible for building and growing the public sector business (Government, Education, Healthcare, and Non-Profit Organisations) in Australia and New Zealand, India, Southeast Asia, Japan, and Korea.
He previously established Inventus Pte Ltd to provide strategic advice to foreign companies looking to enter the Asian market. Peter has been hired by Intellectual Ventures as a Strategic Business Consultant in the Office of the Chief Technology Officer, where he identifies and cultivates opportunities and potential partners for programmes in Asia and other international markets.
Before that, he was an experienced Microsoft General Manager with 25 years of IT Sales and Marketing experience (15 years at Microsoft) across all of Asia Pacific, having worked and lived in Australia, Singapore, and China. Product Marketing, Technology Evangelism, Sales Management, and complete Business Function and P&L Management have all been the roles he served at Microsoft. The last eight years have been focused on the Public Sector in Asia.
Prior to joining Microsoft, Peter worked for Intergraph for over 9 years in a variety of senior management positions covering Australia and New Zealand. He also had consulting assignments in South Africa and Hong Kong during this time. And before joining Intergraph, Peter was a Radio Technician in the Royal Australian Air Force, where he spent 9 years in Australia and Malaysia.
Public sector leaders across the citizen service gamut – be it healthcare, education, human resources or finance – have a mandate to effectively deliver services irrespective of the environment.
Good citizen experience is one of the most essential components of an effective government. This means people need to know what is available and easily avail what they need. Irrespective of where people access the government, they should be able to navigate to where they need to be and get what they need to get.
Unfortunately, it is still a far cry from the seamless, personalised engagements that citizens have and expect from the private sector. While many governments are prioritising improvement in the way they engage with their customers, bureaucratic processes and outdated policies can often stymie good intentions. Getting information or accessing services from government agencies online continues to be a tedious process and often remains a frustrating experience in most countries.
A simplified, unified, cohesive experience across all departments and agencies is what whole-of-government is. And for the most part, efficiencies are being brought in through digital transformation using cutting edge technologies. However, in a usually siloed environment, this is no simple ask. Despite the availability and preponderance of platforms and solutions, and indeed, perhaps because of it, digital executives struggle to determine the best way forward.
To help decide their ideal strategy, Adobe’s No-wrong-door offers a unique approach that leverages the power of the Adobe Experience Cloud to provide a smooth, efficient experience for citizens to navigate to where they need to be, irrespective of the ‘door’ they enter.
Want to learn more? Read Adobe’s No-wrong-door.
DevOps is what unifies people, processes and technology, allowing organisations to thrive and the bandwidth to rethink, reimagine and reinvent themselves. The capability to share resources and collaborate across networks on a platform that provides infrastructure, services, platforms and applications as needed, when needed and where needed opens up endless possibilities.
A DevOps perspective combined with suitable practices and tools, allows organisations to better work together internally and better respond to customer needs and expectations – achieving goals and mandates faster and more efficiently and delivering better client and citizen experiences.
Red Hat OpenShift is the leading enterprise Kubernetes platform*, built for an open hybrid cloud strategy. Red Hat OpenShift’s full-stack automated operations, consistent experience—across all environments—and self-service provisioning for developers lets teams work together to more efficiently move ideas from development to production.
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Want to learn more? Read the Red Hat Guide!