OpenGov Asia acknowledges the advancements made by Singapore’s Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS) and the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) in their utilisation of technology within the public sector.
The agencies have streamlined government processes and are pushing new boundaries with the Active Surveillance System for Adverse Reactions to Medicines and Vaccines (ASAR) Project. The initiative is an extension of IHiS and HSA’s ongoing efforts to actively monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines approved in Singapore.
The ASAR project empowers HSA to proactively monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved in Singapore, ensuring that the benefits outweigh possible risks and that the vaccinations remain safe and efficacious.
To achieve this, ASAR complements the conventional approach of spontaneous adverse event (AE) reporting with active surveillance, using de-identified electronic health records to detect and validate potential safety signals.
By leveraging ASAR-based investigations and findings, HSA was able to detect early safety signals and implement timely risk mitigation measures to safeguard public health. This approach has also assisted in informing vaccination policies by the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Expert Committee on COVID-19 Vaccination (EC19V).
These efforts have resulted in IHiS and HSA receiving the prestigious OpenGov Asia Recognition of Excellence Award, which will be presented at the 8th Annual Singapore OpenGov Leadership Forum 2023.
ASAR Impact on Surveillance Health in Singapore
Jalene Poh, the Director of the Vigilance and Compliance Branch at HSA, acknowledges that achieving population-wide immunity has been crucial to Singapore’s strategy for exiting the COVID-19 pandemic. To this end, COVID-19 vaccines have been rolled out to almost the entire population of Singapore.
“With such a nationwide deployment, there was a need to establish an active safety surveillance system for early detection of emerging safety signals and more comprehensive safety monitoring, instead of relying mainly on spontaneous reporting of adverse events by healthcare professionals and companies,” Jalene explains.
The establishment of this system within a short timeframe was the result of collaboration across the entire government, which began well before the first COVID-19 vaccine was approved in Singapore. As a result, the interoperability and accessibility of databases played a critical role in the successful implementation of ASAR.
Leveraging access to extensive datasets, HSA, IHiS, MOH and the Health Promotion Board (HPB) worked expeditiously to set up the necessary IT systems and processes for recording all COVID-19 vaccinations.
In addition, they ensured that the requisite datasets were incorporated into the Business Research Analytics Insights Network (BRAIN) and updated daily. This enabled HSA and IHiS to develop ASAR’s analytical tools.
Andy Ta, the Director of Data Analytics & AI and Chief Data Officer at IHiS, emphasises that ASAR is an active surveillance programme established to facilitate the safety monitoring of the National COVID-19 Vaccination Programme, by harnessing electronic medical records on a national level.
To detect and analyse pharmaceutical safety signals, ASAR employs AI to centrally aggregate over 2 million de-identified structured and unstructured records from various sources every day.
An AI-powered deep-learning algorithm for detecting adverse events related to medicines has been implemented and is layered on top of the records. This algorithm allows HSA officers to identify possible links between reported symptoms and the medicines or vaccines administered.
The implementation of this system has made it easier for HSA to conduct further research, which could lead to better safety measures to safeguard public health.
According to Jalene, ASAR has enabled HSA to identify and analyse possible safety signals, such as the incidence of adverse events in the vaccinated population and associated risk factors. This facilitates prompt action to mitigate safety risks.
For example, ASAR helped HSA analyse the adverse events of anaphylaxis, which is a rare and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction and myocarditis, which is inflammation of the heart, associated with the COVID-19 vaccines.
As a result, risk mitigation strategies were introduced, including a 30-minute observation period after COVID-19 vaccination to monitor for anaphylaxis and advising individuals to refrain from engaging in strenuous physical activity for two weeks following vaccination to prevent myocarditis.
ASAR was also used by HSA to examine the frequency of serious events, such as myocardial infarction (heart attack), occurring after COVID-19 vaccination. Their findings showed no increase in the occurrence of these events post-vaccination compared to before vaccination.
HSA publishes its safety findings to keep the public and healthcare professionals up to date on the current safety profile of the COVID-19 vaccines. As of February 2023, a total of 14 safety reports have been published, which helped instil public confidence in the vaccines used in the national vaccination campaign.
Jalene suggests that while doctors and drug companies are typically responsible for reporting adverse events in traditional adverse event monitoring systems, there may be a significant amount of underreporting and delays in reporting.
“The use of electronic health records for safety surveillance offers significant opportunities to tap real-world data to detect and quantify the risk of adverse events in near real-time,” she is convinced.
ASAR is the first nationwide system that utilises both structured and unstructured medical records taken from public acute hospitals and national databases to conduct active safety surveillance on a secure platform called BRAIN.
The successful implementation of ASAR paves the way for active safety surveillance to be used on all locally supplied medicines and vaccines to identify and validate potential safety signals.
According to Andy, HSA and IHiS collaborated to develop tools that leverage the nature of their existing Electronic Medical Record (EMR) data to detect, analyse, and confirm potential safety signals. ASAR was developed quickly using an iterative and agile approach, with new features added every 8 to 10 weeks to enhance its functionality.
ASAR has 5 key elements that include built-in analytics and AI. These features let users form a cohort based on pre-set parameters and explore different data domains to look for possible safety signals associated with medicines or vaccines.
The “Smart to Search” option facilitates the quick and easy identification of the desired cohort. Its ability to aggregate information from diverse clusters and over time into a unified, patient-centred view is also extremely valuable.
The system utilises AI to generate visualisations and provide contextual insights, enabling users to quickly make informed decisions. The annotation functions simplify collaboration between pharmacists and analysts and provide the AI model with human input, allowing for continuous improvement.
All of these enable HSA analysts to quickly identify groups of interest, such as patients who experienced adverse events after receiving vaccinations.
The patient-level clinical review tool provides pharmacovigilance officers with a user-friendly means of examining the medical records of such patient groups and deriving insights from them, Jalene believes. It makes it easier to conduct well-controlled pharmacoepidemiological analyses and quantify the link between vaccine exposure and potential adverse event outcomes of interest.
The enhanced safety monitoring enabled by ASAR and the patient-level clinical review tool results in more comprehensive surveillance and timely interventions, ultimately enhancing the safety of vaccines and medicines for Singapore.
Andy explained that they adopted a multi-pronged approach to managing their data, incorporating industry best practices to ensure compliance with regulations, safeguard privacy, and maintain the integrity of the data processed by their systems.
This strategy helps make sure that business decisions are based on data that can be trusted and is correct and includes:
- A governance structure where owners and stakeholders are identified early on
- Creating strong data processes in place for collection, anonymisation, storing, processing and analysing
- Adopting the right tools, platform and technology to establish a secure data infrastructure to manage the data with the analytics environment
BRAIN-Powered: ASAR’s Core for Modern Analytics
The core of ASAR is BRAIN, which boasts a robust, modern analytics architecture that enables the addition of new features and use cases to address evolving needs, Andy reveals.
BRAIN runs “on top” of hospitals’ existing data warehouse infrastructure and retrieves the most up-to-date data from source systems as soon as it becomes available.
BRAIN is separated into development and implementation environments with similar system configurations. This greatly reduces the time and effort needed to put the different modules for predictive analytics, data analysis, signal detection, signal validation, and benefit-risk assessment of medicines and vaccines into production.
“To manage the vast and high-velocity data required for the ASAR, we utilise existing data pipelines and perform real-time pipeline processing. Different techniques such as batch, real-time or a combination of the two are used to ensure smooth performance of the analytics,” Andy elaborates.
Technology and data analytics will be the key to changing the healthcare system as Singapore moves to a “Healthier SG” to help Singaporeans take charge of their health.
ASAR can efficiently and accurately look at large amounts of data to learn important things about the safety and effectiveness of medicines and vaccines. Machine learning algorithms can assist analysts in quickly identifying cohorts of interest by investigating both structured records and unstructured notes at the patient and cohort level, enabling valuable insights for medicine safety surveillance.
There is a chance that ASAR could be broken up into different parts, such as modules that do strategic segmentation and analysis of textual information and could be used by other healthcare institutions to analyse patients.
Moreover, a feedback loop can be set up with ASAR so that healthcare institutions can share information about the safety of medicines to help with clinical care.
“ASAR has enabled HSA to detect, analyse and validate potential safety signals associated with COVID-19 vaccines, and has laid a strong foundation to scale up our capabilities,” says Jalene.
There are approximately 5,500 medicines and vaccines registered in Singapore, and numerous novel medicines and vaccines are expected to be introduced in the future due to paradigm shifts in medicine development.
This will necessitate the implementation of rigorous safety monitoring and HSA and IHiS are actively working towards the refinement of ASAR to meet this need.
“Our primary objective is to prioritise the continuous improvement of ASAR’s infrastructure, technology, and operations to access real-world data for the detection and quantification of the risk of adverse events,” confirms Jalene, “Ultimately we want to ensure that the benefit-risk ratio of medicines and vaccines administered in Singapore remains positive for public safety.”
ASAR modules may be included in any other analytical platform including electronic health records, such as the newly created MOH Consolidated Data Repository. This will enable the adaptability and evolution of diverse data sources and data systems, as well as the interoperability of systems.
“We will continue to future-proof our technologies so that if we are faced with another pandemic or other similar events in the future, we will be undaunted,” she reiterates.
Agile Mindset: Team Adoption for Evolving Product
Andy says that their team is constantly exploring state-of-the-art tools and algorithms to enhance the capabilities of ASAR. “For instance, we are looking at graph analytics and algorithms to better understand how patients interact with the different touchpoints within the health system through their care journey resulting from a health event of interest, such as an adverse event.”
By mapping the patient healthcare journey more holistically, they hope to better uncover early safety signals and valuable insights quickly and more accurately.
The team is currently investigating the possibility of incorporating embedding and tokenisation layers from state-of-the-art Large Language Models (LLMs) such as GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) and T5 (Text-To-Text Transfer Transformer), to further improve the performance of their AI model, adds Jalene.
The development of this project was accelerated by leveraging two key methodologies: Agile and Design Thinking.
As per Andy, the development team embraces an agile management style that emphasises adaptability, cooperation and continuous improvement. Rather than adhering rigidly to a pre-established strategy, the agile model involves creating an outline, delivering something in a short timeframe and making adjustments based on the evolving project requirements.
To build a flexible application, they employ web frameworks such as SpringBoot and Angular that allow modularisation and experimentation. They regularly organise user meetings to involve HSA users from the outset, starting from wireframe creation through to feedback collection before final production. The goal is to prioritise and establish defined, agreed-upon deliverables for each iterative release.
They have design thinking and user interaction sessions to identify other possibilities where analytics and AI could play an active role. Post-It notes and charts are used to map out the user experience and identify potential opportunities and gaps.
Knowing the consumers’ end goal makes it easier for the team to transform that aim into well-defined project requirements and objectives.
The key, according to Jalene, is to have a shared vision and objective, which is to transition from passive to active medicine safety surveillance utilising electronic health records and analytics. “Once the various members comprehend the significance of their task, they see themselves as indispensable members of a team collaborating to accomplish something significant.”
Everyone is encouraged to share their ideas and challenge the status quo. In case of any problems or disagreements, they meet and openly discuss the issues, identify limitations, and arrive at a resolution before moving forward.
The team members are expected to adopt an agile mindset, where they view the application as an evolving product, work in sprints, prioritise specific enhancements and gradually release new versions with each iteration.
Andy explains that in the daily checkpoint meetings, the team’s progress will be monitored, and members will be requested to report any issues or concerns. Because of their great team dynamic, members step up to offer advice on other members’ queries, even if they are not directly involved.
If any impediments are detected during these daily check-ins, assignments can be swiftly recalibrated to meet the deadline once a clear timeframe has been established. These strategies allowed the team to swiftly develop ASAR, with updates being provided every 8 to 10 weeks to broaden its functionality.
IHiS and HSA are dedicated to advancing public service through the collective efforts of all team members and their endeavours to broaden technological applications in the public sector.
The team is confident that they can continue to serve the country by combining IHiS’s objective to digitise, connect, and analyze Singapore’s health ecosystem with HSA’s purpose to wisely regulate health products and protect public health.
Singapore’s Institute of Technical Education (ITE) has emerged as a trailblazer with its innovative Work-Study Diplomas (WSDips) initiative. Launched five years ago, the programme has evolved into a crucial pathway for ITE graduates seeking to elevate their qualifications. According to Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman, the Second Minister for Education, the success of WSDips lies in its ‘learning by doing’ approach, aligning seamlessly with ITE’s practice-based curriculum.
Since its inception with 100 trainees across four courses in 2018, the WSDips initiative has witnessed exponential growth. With over 1,000 trainees now enrolled in 40 courses, the programme has become a testament to its effectiveness. Graduates not only experience salary growth but also boast high employability, with more than 70% choosing to stay in their respective companies post-graduation.
ITE is set to expand its successful WSDips initiative by introducing five new courses in 2024. This move reflects ITE’s commitment to staying ahead of the curve in addressing the diverse needs of both individuals and industries.
The new additions, ranging from Accountancy and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to Nursing and Tourism Management, showcase ITE’s dedication to providing upskilling opportunities tailored to the evolving demands of the workforce.
The WSDip in Accountancy aims to sharpen expertise in in-house accounting functions, addressing the intricate financial management needs of businesses. Recognising the pivotal role of technology, the WSDip in AI and Data Intelligence is designed to support businesses in executing robust digital strategies by nurturing talent well-versed in AI and data intelligence.
The WSDip in Electronics and Computer Engineering responds to the increasing importance of optimised operational efficiency in digital work environments. This course focuses on cutting-edge electronics and computer engineering, producing skilled professionals ready to tackle the challenges of an increasingly tech-centric world.
In the healthcare sector, the WSDip in Nursing offers an apprenticeship-based progression pathway, addressing the growing demand for healthcare professionals. This programme provides a structured and hands-on learning approach, ensuring that graduates are well-prepared for the dynamic field of nursing.
The WSDip in Tourism Management recognises the significance of the evolving tourism industry. Going beyond traditional approaches, this diploma encompasses a spectrum of skills, from customer behaviour analytics to sustainable tourism practices, preparing trainees to navigate this transformative industry.
The expansion of the WSDips portfolio underscores ITE’s dedication to offering specialised courses that address the contemporary workforce’s needs. By providing upskilling opportunities in crucial areas, ITE ensures its graduates are not only job-ready but also positioned to thrive in their chosen fields.
The integration of digitalisation courses into study diplomas has become a strategic imperative. This move is not merely a reaction to industry trends; rather, it represents a proactive measure to bridge the gap between traditional education and the rapidly evolving technological landscape.
Study diplomas tailored to include digitalisation courses offer myriad benefits, from heightened employability to cultivating a workforce prepared for the challenges of the digital age. Graduates possessing digital literacy are not only better positioned for a wide array of careers but are also empowered to contribute to innovation and entrepreneurship.
Moreover, these programmes play a pivotal role in addressing the global competitiveness of individuals and industries, ensuring that professionals have the necessary skills to navigate a digitally interconnected world.
As educational institutions adapt to include digitalisation courses, Singapore paves the way for a future workforce that is not only adaptive to industry-specific requirements but also capable of driving technological advancements in various fields.
The Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) organised its forum aimed at catalysing Malaysia’s industrial commitment to sustainability goals. Held at the Connexion Conference & Event Centre, Bangsar South, in collaboration with the National SDG Centre and United Nations Global Compact Malaysia and Brunei (UNGCMYB), the forum strategically focused on leveraging technology adoption and embracing ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) practices, especially among Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) and Mid-Tier Companies (MTCs).
At its core, the forum delved into the critical challenges faced by industries, including financial constraints, talent shortages, and the scarcity of technical expertise. Crucially, it shed light on the government’s unwavering dedication to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 and transitioning toward the Net Zero 2050 aspiration.
The session was a knowledge hub, hosting influential figures in sustainability like Mr Faroze Nadar, Executive Director at UNGCMYB, Prof. Dr Ong Kian Ming from Taylor’s University, and Mr Asfaazam Kasbani from the National SDG Centre, Ministry of Economy. Technology experts and representatives from leading entities such as PETRONAS and EPF also contributed their perspectives, enriching the discourse.
YB Liew Chin Tong, Deputy Minister of Investment, Trade, and Industry (MITI), outlined the government’s New Industrial Master Plan 2030 (NIMP 2030). This plan encompasses ambitious goals and 12 outcome-based targets, aligning with the National Investment Inspirations. Stressing the importance of a holistic approach, YB Liew highlighted the necessity for sector-specific targets across manufacturing, energy, transport, and infrastructure to foster sustainable development.
MITI’s proactive stance was evident as the Deputy Minister unveiled the National Industry Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Framework (i-ESG) to bolster SMEs and MTCs in embracing sustainability. The i-ESG aligns seamlessly with the MADANI Economy Framework, indicating a clear vision for inclusive and sustainable industrial growth.
Underpinning the significance of technology and innovation, YB Liew highlighted initiatives within the Budget 2024, demonstrating a dedicated push toward sustainability. Noteworthy allocations such as the RM2 billion National Energy Transition Facility fund and the potential RM1 billion biodiversity sukuk for carbon credits aim to uplift businesses while fostering a resilient economic landscape.
MIDA’s Chairman, YBhg. Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Dr Sulaiman Mahbob, emphasised MIDA’s pivotal role as the vanguard of sustainable investment projects like e-Mobility, Renewable Energy, and Circular Bio-economy. The establishment of MIDA’s Sustainability Division in August 2023 signifies its proactive approach towards sustainable practices, indicating a promising trajectory.
Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Dr Sulaiman Mahbob underscored the inevitability of sustainable practices in the evolving global landscape, stressing the urgency for Malaysia to embrace the green wave. MIDA’s commitment was echoed through initiatives like the Invest Malaysia Facilitation Centre (IMFC), aimed at bolstering investment facilitation and expediting service delivery, thereby fostering an investor-friendly environment.
MIDA’s forum served as a pivotal platform to galvanise technological innovation and sustainable practices, aligning Malaysia’s industries with global sustainability imperatives. With concerted efforts and strategic initiatives, Malaysia stands poised to lead the charge towards a greener and more resilient future.
Malaysia has set its sights on an ambitious agenda for sustainable development, aligning with global imperatives while tailoring initiatives to its unique socio-economic landscape. With a steadfast commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030 and a resolute transition toward the Net Zero 2050 aspiration, the nation aims to tackle multifaceted challenges. From addressing environmental concerns like carbon emissions and biodiversity preservation to fostering social inclusivity and economic resilience, Malaysia’s sustainable goals encompass a holistic approach. These efforts converge on technology adoption, ESG practices, and inclusive policies, positioning the nation to forge ahead as a beacon of sustainable progress in the region and beyond.
OpenGov Asia reported that Selangor, a key player in Malaysia’s push towards renewable energy, is set to contribute a substantial 1 to 1.5 gigawatts (GW) to the country’s electricity grid in the coming years, as announced by Menteri Besar Dato’ Seri Amirudin Shari.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) recently unveiled an ambitious plan to propel Vietnamese businesses onto the global stage through a cutting-edge initiative. At the core of this strategy is the selection of 100 exceptional enterprises for the “Vietnam Pavilion” on a leading B2B e-commerce platform, slated to revolutionise the landscape of international trade.
This innovative programme seeks to champion the diverse array of “Made in Vietnam” products, fuel international trade endeavours, and facilitate seamless access for businesses to tap into the vast customer base of an established e-platform. By leveraging this expansive network, the initiative aims to illuminate Vietnam’s products and the prowess of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to a global audience.
The registration window for SMEs extends until January 15, 2024, offering selected participants invaluable insights from seasoned exporters. Vu Ba Phu, Director of the Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency, emphasised the pivotal role of this collaboration with the e-commerce giant, highlighting its potential to furnish SMEs with a gateway to the global market. This collaboration underscores a strategic shift toward digital trade, fortifying resilience amid the unpredictable undulations of the global market.
The inception of the “Vietnam Pavilion” in 2022 signals a concerted effort to bolster Vietnamese businesses by amplifying their brand presence and facilitating seamless networking opportunities. According to the Country Director of the e-commerce company in Vietnam, this alliance is pivotal in augmenting the global footprint of Vietnamese enterprises, streamlining their participation in global business endeavours.
In the previous year, Vietnam witnessed an exponential surge in exports via e-commerce, surmounting 80 trillion VND (approximately 3.25 billion USD). Forecasts project a meteoric rise, expecting the figure to soar to nearly 300 trillion VND by 2027. In anticipation of this burgeoning trend, Vietrade swiftly rolled out various online and hybrid trade promotion models, yielding commendable outcomes.
Simultaneously, the Ministry of Industry and Trade organised an event to introduce the “National Centralised Promotion Programme 2023 – Vietnam Grand Sale 2023” to stakeholders across the country. This initiative is designed to invigorate trade promotion endeavours while fortifying the branding of Vietnamese goods. The programme aims to stimulate domestic market growth, diversify purchasing channels, and bolster production, circulation, and business activities, catalysing the country’s economic resurgence.
The National Focused Promotion 2023 is set to be a nationwide affair, spearheaded by the Department of Trade Promotion in collaboration with relevant industry units, associations, businesses, and organisations. This concerted effort will encompass a multifaceted approach, blending traditional trade methods with e-commerce to generate a ripple effect, drawing the active participation of enterprises across sectors.
Businesses are granted the autonomy to partake in the “National Focused Promotion 2023” Programme by proactively engaging in diverse and compelling promotional activities aimed at captivating customers. They have the prerogative to set promotional limits (up to 100%), provided they adhere to legal and transparent promotional practices and safeguard consumer rights.
As stipulated, the permissible limit for goods and services used in promotional activities during the specified period from December 4, 2023, to February 9, 2024, stands at 100%, in alignment with regulatory decisions.
In essence, these initiatives orchestrated by the Ministry of Industry and Trade represent a decisive stride toward harnessing technological advancements to bolster Vietnam’s economic landscape, empowering businesses to thrive in the digital age while fortifying their global market presence.
Vietnam is eager to develop its digital economy and ensure that it is ready to make use of any opportunities to expand.
OpenGov Asia reported that the Ministry of Information and Communications is designing a strategy for Vietnam’s international fibre-optic cable development that will soon be released. This initiative aims to guarantee the secure and sustainable advancement of Vietnam’s digital infrastructure, according to Pham Duc Long, the Deputy Minister of MIC.
A delegation from the Ministry of State Apparatus Empowerment and Bureaucratic Reform (PANRB) met with the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Indonesia to the United Nations (PTRI New York) in New York. The meeting addressed the importance of digitisation as a fundamental foundation in bureaucratic reform.
Digitisation, involving representatives from the Ministry of PANRB and PTRI New York, discussed concrete steps to integrate technology into bureaucratic reform efforts. The discussion involved aspects such as implementing information systems, developing human resource capacity, and using technological innovation to enhance administrative efficiency.
In this meeting, the delegation from the Ministry of PANRB, led by Deputy for Institutional and Organisational Affairs Nanik Murwati, accompanied by Acting Assistant Deputy for Institutional and Organisational Affairs for the Economy, Maritime, and Investment of the Ministry of PANRB Ario Wiriandhi, was received by the Permanent Representative of Indonesia to PTRI New York, Arrmanatha Christiawan Nasir, and his team. The meeting began with discussions on the progress of institutional and organisational policy.
Nanik emphasised the urgency and importance of bureaucratic reform supported by data-based digital governance. “Digitisation through the SPBE architecture is the main foundation for bureaucratic reform, with its impact to be felt by the Indonesian people both domestically and internationally,” said Nanik.
Nanik demonstrated the Indonesian government’s commitment to advancing bureaucratic reform through digital transformation through this meeting. They underscored the importance of international collaboration, especially in exchanging knowledge and experiences related to implementing technology in public administration.
One of the main focuses of the meeting was to enhance the effectiveness of public services through implementing digital solutions. The delegation discussed the potential use of artificial intelligence, data analysis, and technology-based platforms to expedite decision-making processes and provide more responsive services to the public.
“The use of digital technology in various aspects of government operations, such as reporting, data management, and interagency coordination, can create a more open, transparent, and efficient environment,” said Nanik.
The Ministry of State Apparatus Empowerment and Bureaucratic Reform (PANRB) emphasised simplifying and integrating business processes to strengthen digitisation. The main goal is to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of task implementation, programmes, and services across all government agencies, including those carried out by the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Indonesia (PTRI) in New York.
Nanik, the representative from the Ministry of PANRB, revealed that the next step is to conduct an in-depth review with PTRI New York regarding the institutional arrangement policy of the Indonesian Representative Abroad. This institutional arrangement aligns with the revision of Presidential Decree No. 108/2003 concerning the Organisation of the Indonesian Representation Abroad. This process aims to align and enhance the organisational structure to provide optimal support in diplomatic tasks.
The discussion highlighted crucial points, including the position and relationship of business processes and work procedures between PTRI and KJRI New York, KBRI Washington DC, and other organisational elements within the PTRI New York environment. The results of the meeting are expected to form a strong foundation to strengthen synergy and efficiency in diplomatic tasks at PTRI in New York.
Furthermore, through this collaborative step, Nanik believes that by implementing digitisation comprehensively in bureaucracy, there will be significant opportunities to improve the efficiency and responsiveness of public services. Digitisation will facilitate access and information exchange between agencies, reduce task execution time, minimise bureaucracy, and mitigate risks associated with manual processes.
This initiative addresses current needs and looks ahead, creating a robust foundation for adapting to ongoing technological developments. Thus, Indonesia can continue to deliver excellent and responsive public services, achieving the goal of sustainable bureaucratic transformation.
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) recently visited Dumangas, Iloilo, to witness the demonstration of SARAi, a cutting-edge remote-sensing technology developed by the University of the Philippines Los Baños.
This initiative is part of NEDA’s ongoing efforts to harness the potential of remote-sensing technologies for gathering timely crop data, a crucial element in providing anticipatory inflation policy advice through the Inter-Agency Committee on Inflation and Market Outlook (IAC-IMO).
Project SARAi, standing for Smarter Approaches to Reinvigorate Agriculture as an Industry in the Philippines, focuses on monitoring agricultural production. During the demonstration, the Dumangas SARAi team showcased the generation of crop commodity maps using satellite data. The validation process involves a mobile phone app or a specialised drone, ensuring accuracy in monitoring the growth and health of crops in Dumangas.
While SARAi has proven useful at the local government unit (LGU) level, its current pilot implementation is limited to a few LGUs. NEDA Assistant Secretary Reynaldo R Cancio emphasised the need for broader implementation to fully tap into its potential for guiding national policy-making. Acknowledging challenges faced during the technology’s introduction to pilot LGUs, Reynaldo highlighted financial resource constraints and a lack of appreciation for the technology’s benefits as major hurdles.
NEDA proposed national government support for the deployment of remote-sensing technologies like SARAi, particularly for LGUs with financial constraints. He stressed the importance of coordination among various remote-sensing projects to avoid duplication and ensure applicability for national-level inflation management.
As NEDA continues to work with the IAC-IMO, the focus remains on providing inflation policy advice using existing data sets. Simultaneously, efforts persist in studying the potential of remote-sensing technologies like SARAi as invaluable tools for gathering essential data in the ongoing pursuit of effective inflation management.
In addition, NEDA has taken a significant step towards advancing the digital landscape in the Philippines with the release of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) for Republic Act No. 11927, popularly known as the Philippine Digital Workforce Competitiveness Act. This strategic move, approved on October 2023, reflects a meticulous consultation process involving various stakeholders, including government agencies and private sector representatives.
NEDA Secretary Arsenio M Balisacan emphasised the crucial role the Act plays in equipping the workforce with digital technologies and skills while fostering a dynamic innovation ecosystem. The IRR outlines the establishment of the Inter-Agency Council (IAC) for the Development and Competitiveness of the Philippine Digital Workforce, chaired by NEDA and composed of eight other key agencies.
This Council will be the primary body responsible for planning, coordinating, and implementing initiatives to enhance the competitiveness of the country’s digital workforce, with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) serving as the secretariat.
The Act empowers the IAC to formulate the National Roadmap on Digital Technology and Digital Skills, laying the foundation for programmes aimed at upskilling, re-skilling, and training the digital workforce. In a bid to streamline information dissemination, the Council will establish a centralised online portal harmonising existing portals of member agencies. This portal will provide comprehensive details on training and skills development programmes, certifications, and scholarship opportunities.
These initiatives directly address identified gaps in digital technology and skills mapping, ensuring that Filipinos across the nation have access to the skills and competencies essential for navigating the digital landscape. The focus on digital content, platforms, innovations, entrepreneurship, and technology aligns with the ever-evolving demands of the global labour market, positioning the Philippines as a competitive player in the digital workforce arena.
Liming Zhu and Qinghua Lu, leaders in the study of responsible AI at CSIRO and Co-authors of Responsible AI: Best Practices for Creating Trustworthy AI Systems delve into the realm of responsible AI through their extensive work and research.
Artificial Intelligence (AI), currently a major focal point, is revolutionising almost all facets of life, presenting entirely novel methods and approaches. The latest trend, Generative AI, has taken the helm, crafting content from cover letters to campaign strategies and conjuring remarkable visuals from scratch.
Global regulators, leaders, researchers and the tech industry grapple with the substantial risks posed by AI. Ethical concerns loom large due to human biases, which, when embedded in AI training, can exacerbate discrimination. Mismanaged data without diverse representation can lead to real harm, evidenced by instances like biased facial recognition and unfair loan assessments. These underscore the need for thorough checks before deploying AI systems to prevent such harmful consequences.
The looming threat of AI-driven misinformation, including deepfakes and deceptive content, concerning for everyone, raising fears of identity impersonation online. The pivotal question remains: How do we harness AI’s potential for positive impact while effectively mitigating its capacity for harm?
Responsible AI involves the conscientious development and application of AI systems to benefit individuals, communities, and society while mitigating potential negative impacts, Liming Zhu and Qinghua Lu advocate.
These principles emphasise eight key areas for ethical AI practices. Firstly, AI should prioritise human, societal, and environmental well-being throughout its lifecycle, exemplified by its use in healthcare or environmental protection. Secondly, AI systems should uphold human-centred values, respecting rights and diversity. However, reconciling different user needs poses challenges. Ensuring fairness is crucial to prevent discrimination, highlighted by critiques of technologies like Amazon’s Facial Recognition.
Moreover, maintaining privacy protection, reliability, and safety is imperative. Instances like Clearview AI’s privacy breaches underscore the importance of safeguarding personal data and conducting pilot studies to prevent unforeseen harms, as witnessed with the chatbot Tay generating offensive content due to vulnerabilities.
Transparency and explainability in AI use are vital, requiring clear disclosure of AI limitations. Contestability enables people to challenge AI outcomes or usage, while accountability demands identification and responsibility from those involved in AI development and deployment. Upholding these principles can encourage ethical and responsible AI behaviour across industries, ensuring human oversight of AI systems.
Identifying problematic AI behaviour can be challenging, especially when AI algorithms drive high-stakes decisions impacting specific individuals. An alarming instance in the U.S. resulted in a longer prison sentence determined by an algorithm, showcasing the dangers of such applications. Qinghua highlighted the issue with “black box” AI systems, where users and affected parties lack insight into and means to challenge decisions made by these algorithms.
Liming emphasised the inherent complexity and autonomy of AI, making it difficult to ensure complete compliance with responsible AI principles before deployment. Therefore, user monitoring of AI becomes crucial. Users must be vigilant and report any violations or discrepancies to the service provider or authorities.
Holding AI service and product providers accountable is essential in shaping a future where AI operates ethically and responsibly. This call for vigilance and action from users is instrumental in creating a safer and more accountable AI landscape.
Australia is committed to the fair and responsible use of technology, especially artificial intelligence. During discussions held on the sidelines of the APEC Economic Leaders Meeting in San Francisco, the Australian Prime Minister unveiled the government’s commitment to responsibly harnessing generative artificial intelligence (AI) within the public sector.
The DTA-facilitated collaboration showcases the Australian Government’s proactive investment in preparing citizens for job landscape changes. Starting a six-month trial from January to June 2024, Australia leads globally in deploying advanced AI services. This initiative enables APS staff to innovate using generative AI, aiming to overhaul government services and meet evolving Australian needs.
Having robust and effective public services is a fundamental goal for every country aiming to enhance the quality of life for its citizens. Quality public services, especially healthcare access, are pivotal in societal well-being and development. As a basic human need, the significance of quality public services in healthcare becomes even more prominent.
New Zealand government is aware of fostering its public services. In light of this, New Zealand has embraced a transformative journey by integrating digital technologies to enhance the accessibility and efficiency of its public services. The introduction of the rural after-hours telehealth service is a testament to the commitment of public health authorities to leverage technology for the benefit of citizens, especially those in remote areas.
This initiative aligns with the broader agenda of digital transformation sweeping across various sectors. The transformative service is co-commissioned by Te Whatu Ora and Te Aka Whai Ora and is delivered through a collaboration between three leading telehealth organisations in New Zealand.
Rural communities now have two convenient methods to access the telehealth service. The public can contact 0800 2 KA ORA (0800 252 672), or their rural healthcare provider can refer them. This dynamic service, operational for a week, has already engaged 20 rural practices, with more set to join in the coming days.
When individuals contact the service, a triage process is initiated by skilled nurses and kaiāwhina. Patients are seamlessly referred to a doctor if necessary. Jess White, general manager of telehealth organisations, spoke about this innovative platform that provides rural communities an additional option for receiving care.
Dr Sarah Clarke, National Clinical Director for one of the telehealth organisations at Te Whatu Ora, underscored the significant impact of this service on the most isolated communities, where access to after-hours care, particularly without reliable internet access, has been a persistent challenge. Selah Hart, Deputy Chief Executive from one of the telehealth organisations at Te Aka Whai Ora, underscores the relief this service brings to rural whānau, particularly those with young children who previously had to endure long journeys for after-hours medical care.
Operational on weekdays from 5:00 pm to 8:00 am and providing 24-hour coverage on weekends and public holidays, the service is staffed by a team of kaiāwhina, nurses, GPs, and emergency medicine specialists. This coverage ensures accessibility for enrolled and unenrolled individuals in rural areas, enabling them to increase their quality of life.
Te Pae Tata, the Interim New Zealand Health Plan 2022, serves as a strategic framework that spotlights the healthcare needs of various demographic groups. Te Pae Tata underscores the importance of enhancing their access to high-quality and timely healthcare services. The emphasis on rural healthcare is a testament to New Zealand’s commitment to equitable health outcomes and a proactive step towards addressing the specific needs of these communities.
This new rural clinical telehealth service complements New Zealand’s existing telehealth options, with Healthline (0800 611 116) continuing its regular operations. As technology evolves, these telehealth services can serve as a foundation for further innovations.
The introduction of this service signifies a commitment to advancing healthcare through digital innovation, ensuring that even the remotest communities have access to quality healthcare, further solidifying New Zealand’s position at the forefront of telehealth advancements.
Across the world, tech is improving health outcomes and patient experiences. For instance, OpenGov Asia reported that in Indonesia’s healthcare industry, robots are crucial, assisting surgeons in procedures, providing rehabilitation therapies, and even delivering medications to patients. Telesurgical robots offer enhanced skill and precision, minimising invasive procedures and improving patient outcomes.
Similarly, in the U.S., researchers at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME) at the University of Chicago have harnessed the power of machine learning to revolutionise vaccine design. MIT researchers have introduced medical technology advancements, a wearable ultrasound monitor fashioned as a patch, that holds promising implications for individuals with bladder or kidney disorders, offering a more accessible means to monitor organ functionality.