When it comes to infectious diseases, cities face unique environmental challenges: the density which gives them life, economic strength and investment in higher-order infrastructures can also make their populations vulnerable to transmission. This dual nature of both vulnerability and strength positions cities and their governments at the forefront of public health measures globally
Roughly 4.5 billion people live in cities, accounting for just over half the world’s population. With generally higher population densities than rural settings, they can intensify infectious disease spread and transmission through increased human contact. On the other hand, according to some analysts, about 600 cities generate two-thirds of global GDP, making them the key to long term sustainability.
As hubs for transnational commerce and mobility, they require massive human resources to operate effectively. With the increasing population, suburbs and dispersed housing in and around city centres grow, leading to highly populated and hyper-connected urban sections that amplify pandemic risk.
OpenGov Asia had a chance to speak exclusively to Sean Audain, City Innovation Lead at Wellington City Council, New Zealand, to talk about the gamut of challenges that come in running cities in the shadow of a pandemic.
Sean focuses on Smart Cities, cross-organisation priorities and understanding city profiles, particularly city problems that span jurisdictions and agencies. Wellington City Council intends to resolve the issues and provide excellent citizen services with a wide array of solutions enabled by Open Data, the Internet of Things and Data Visualisation.
Sean and his team are looking to “bridge horizons” when dealing with disruptive events such as COVID-19. The first horizon, in his words, is the situation at hand – things that are directly in front and determining what is needed to survive. The second horizon is looking to the future and long-term plans.
As a council, they watched the first horizon as early as January 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic started to spread. Initially, they thought they could re-prioritise to adapt to the ongoing crisis. The first step was to understand what a pandemic was, its impact on a city or a society, and then figure out their roles as a government unit to mitigate its effects.
The council analysed their decision tree as well information dissemination plan. The various choices they would have to make were discussed along with the information they would need to send out to respond to the pandemic appropriately.
Likening the pandemic to another calamity, Sean opined that it was like dealing with small earthquakes every day. The pandemic caused organisations and governments to deal with constant changing workloads daily and deliverables, depending on the cases at hand, the spread, available capacities, and potential mortalities.
At the start, they were primarily concerned about the impact of the pandemic on the city – in terms of health and as the spear tip of the response. Being the capital city in New Zealand, the pandemic would have a significant effect on the nation’s overall landscape. Firstly, as people come in to and go out of Wellington – a city that is unusually dense for its size in any case – and, secondly, as the source of leadership. This prompted the government to find ways to continuously function and ensure citizen services were delivered irrespective of the situation unfolding. Right off the bat, citizens were given various ways to deal with the pandemic through efficient information dissemination. They took the national government’s strategies and applied them to a more localised context.
Fully cognizant that their best chances of early and robust mitigation were in collaborative operations, partnerships were developed with NGOs to feed and shelter citizens where and when essential. These organisations were provided with much-needed data to improve service delivery and get wider coverage. The shared data system also provided the government with the information they need to respond quickly and efficiently. Messaging technologies with personalised features allowed them to monitor the immediate and specific needs of their citizens to further curtail the effects of the pandemic.
Sean acknowledges that a shared data system between agencies is difficult because it is built on trust, a precious commodity. To make it work, the council took existing operational relationships and put that trust into the data flows, thus creating a more seamless and effective process.
The primary objective of public sector organisations and agencies is to care for citizens, not run large and complicated IT systems. To ensure that agencies stayed true to their mandate, the council deployed easier, synchronised systems for the various organisations, making it simpler to utilise and avoiding duplication of work and data.
Duplication is a huge negative at the best of times, but more so when dealing with a crisis. Not only does it waste resources – time, effort, and equipment – the efficiency of government responses is significantly reduced. The database also allowed them to better study the economic effects of the crisis, and it simultaneously shed light on agencies/organisations worldwide.
The pandemic forced several fundamental changes, like work-from-home setups, reliance on online commerce and digital services. People no longer needed to be in a city physically to be part of its economy. The government now realises people do not come to the city because they must. They come because they want to. That changes the way they design the city and its retail economy. This has driven a fundamental change in infrastructure development – evolving transaction-based platforms into experience-based platforms.
Another area the council focused on was gathering data from other government agencies, fusing them, and overlaying it to create a multi-environmental profile of the city. Sean and his team developed 3D models of the city to provide citizens with a clearer view of the community instead of having to navigate the clutter of a traditional map.
Deploying this technology allows citizens to communicate across disciplines, creating a more efficient and dynamic information exchange. In the situation at hand, the locations of quarantine facilities, community centres and other relevant data could be easily accessed. Simply put, Sean says, “The virtual adaptation of a city speeds things up.”
While these were happening pre-COVID-19, he conceded, with the crisis, it accelerated almost overnight – which was a challenge for the public sector. This fusion of the digital and the physical worlds due to the pandemic, in Sean’s mind, is paradigm-shifting. In cities, that meant understanding online business models related to the physical world and its government services.
Seans believes the key to real and sustainable innovation is the ability to scale and when and how to further adapt to situations – because solutions have limited relevancy and potency in a constantly evolving VUCA environment.
The council started to think about the events post-COVID-19 and how to manage the new normal in addition to other pressing challenges. One prominent issue is climate change. It is unacceptable to Sean that the world defeats the pandemic and then succumbs to climate change. The council has taken its designs and lessons from the COVID-19 response and has started to apply them to long-term issues such as climate change.
Government efficiency will be critical in addressing current critical events and preventing future ones. Sean is firmly convinced, with the constantly evolving digital landscape – particularly in cities where there is a robust number of unconscious connections – governments must have a legislative and regulatory framework to better accommodate this transformation. Fresh laws, policies and guidelines must be drafted to accommodate these new ideas and plans.
From a long-term programme’s perspective, the city has invested a third of more than its usual budget for the next ten years to prevent deal with disruptive critical events such as pandemics and climate change. Massive investments have been made in modernising and digitalising the myriad of infrastructural things that make a city grow – a growth that will help propel a city and the nation to a successful, sustainable, safe future.
With what he has experienced and witnessed this year, Sean is confident that governments and their councils will further embrace their digital transformation journeys to be one step closer to a fully digital future.
The government has unveiled the Intelligent Grievance Monitoring System (IGMS) 2.0 Public Grievance Portal and Automated Analysis in the Tree Dashboard portal under the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG). It was unveiled by Jitendra Singh, the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Science and Technology.
The IGMS 2.0 Dashboard was developed by the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (IIT-Kanpur) as part of an agreement with the DARPG through a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed in 2021. It enhances DARPG’s Centralised Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System Information Systems (CPGRAMS) by integrating artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities. CPGRAMS is an online platform available to citizens round-the-clock to lodge their grievances to the public authorities on any subject related to service delivery.
The dashboard offers instant tabular analyses of both grievances filed and disposed of. It provides data categorised by state and district for grievances filed, and it also offers Ministry-wise data. Additionally, the dashboard can help officials identify the root causes of grievances.
The CPGRAMS portal receives an increasingly high caseload of issues raised by the general public. Given the public’s expectations for the timely resolution of their grievances, the portal receives approximately 2 million grievances annually.
Due to the substantial volume of grievances received, the manual classification and monitoring of cases is not feasible. The IGMS portal will assist the DARPG in generating draft letters for specific schemes or ministries. This automation expedites the grievance redressal process carried out by the respective ministries and departments involved.
According to Minister Singh, the Prime Minister has repeatedly emphasised the significance of grievance redressal as a crucial element to keep the government accountable and promote citizen-centric governance. In alignment with this vision, a more robust human interface mechanism has been introduced, which includes counselling services provided after the resolution of grievances.
The Minister praised DARPG for ensuring that the CPGRAMS portal is accessible in 22 Scheduled languages, in addition to English, ensuring that the benefits of the portal are accessible to the common man. He also emphasised the importance of integrating state public grievance (PG) portals and other government portals with CPGRAMS for more effective and streamlined grievance redressal processes.
He claimed that thanks to the reforms implemented by DARPG in the CPGRAMS, the average time it takes for central ministries and departments to resolve public grievances has decreased. There has been a decline of almost 50% in the average disposal time for central ministries and departments from 32 days in 2021 to 18 days in 2023.
Minister Singh also launched the Swachhata Special Campaign 3.0 and unveiled the Precedent Book (e-book) developed by the department. He praised the DARPG for achieving the transition to a fully paperless office, where all communication is conducted through the eOffice portal.
During the past two Swachhata campaigns, an impressive 9 million square feet of prime office space has been successfully cleared and repurposed for productive use. Additionally, 456,000 public grievances have been effectively redressed, and 8,998 references from Members of Parliament (MPs) have been addressed. The Swachhata campaign has also played a pivotal role in promoting an eOffice work culture within the government, resulting in over 90% of file work being transitioned to an online format.
Public transportation is a crucial service for enhancing the general satisfaction the government provides. In light of this, the Indonesian government has established high-speed rail infrastructure for Jakarta-Bandung mobility.
The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (Kominfo) fully supports the Jakarta-Bandung High-Speed Train (KCJB) WHOOSH operation. Kominfo’s Budi Arie Setiadi expressed continuous monitoring for the availability and reliability of digital connectivity, particularly telecommunications networks along the first high-speed rail route in Indonesia.
“We, along with the telecommunications ecosystem, conducted tests. Kominfo is tasked with supporting signal-related issues. We assessed the signal quality along our journey and found that we could use devices and frequencies for communication,” he explained.
Minister Budi Arie emphasised that KCJB, as a technological leap for Indonesia’s progress, needs full support from the latest telecommunications technology. With advancements in transportation paralleled by digital technology, it will undoubtedly facilitate more efficient access for the public.
“This is a technological leap for Indonesia’s progress. Because this train is solid, the tracks are seamless, and the signal is robust. Our duty and responsibility are to support it,” he added.
Kominfo assured that the quality of telecommunications services would sustain the overall KCJB service. According to them, the journey from KCJB Halim Station to KCJB Padalarang Station and vice versa proceeded smoothly.
“Overall, the management and governance of the high-speed train are excellent,” he noted.
At this trial event, Minister Budi Arie Setiadi was joined by Deputy Minister of Kominfo Nezar Patria and senior officials from the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology. Minister Budi Arie encouraged the telecommunications service provider network to oversee and guarantee the quality of the network.
Ismail, the Director-General of Resources and Equipment of Posts and Information Technology at Kominfo, explained that the test conducted by Kominfo officials and telecommunications service providers is part of the initial process to support digital connectivity for KCJB. Kominfo has prepared radio frequency spectra for quality telecommunications signal transmission.
“And, fortunately, the signal used, or the frequency used, is now in collaboration with one of the biggest telecommunication companies in Indonesia. This cooperation began about two or three years ago. And, thank God, we witnessed today that the train’s communication system worked well. No signal interruptions,” he stated.
Director-General Ismail states that 5G telecommunication networks are available at Halim KCJB Station and Padalarang KCJB Station. This network supports connectivity and signifies that Indonesia is ready for full-scale and comprehensive digital transformation, even in minor details.
“For these two station locations here (Halim) and in Padalarang, the 5G signal has already been covered. Passengers at these stations can now enjoy 5G services. The remaining task is to improve the signal for passengers during the journey. So, from Jakarta to Padalarang and Bandung, we hope there will be no frequency or cellular signal interruptions,” he explained.
Next, Henry Mulya Syam, the President and Director of the Telecommunication company, stated that they would address several remaining telecommunications service challenges at various points along the KCJB route.
“There are several sites to be added, both outdoor and on the KCJB panel. We have conducted evaluations, so hopefully, within 6 to 9 months, because new towers need to be built,” he clarified.
Previously, together with President Joko Widodo and several members of the Indonesia Maju Cabinet, Minister of Communication and Information Technology Budi Arie Setiadi conducted a test journey on the KCJB from Halim Station, East Jakarta, to Padalarang Station, West Bandung Regency. The KCJB, WHOOSH, travels 350 kilometres per hour, making it the first high-speed train in Indonesia and Southeast Asia.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has introduced the Centre for AI Security Research (CAISER) to confront the existing threats stemming from the widespread adoption of artificial intelligence by governments and industries worldwide. This move concedes the potential benefits of AI in data processing, operational streamlining, and decision-making while acknowledging the associated security challenges.
ORNL and CAISER will collaborate with federal agencies such as the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Information Directorate and the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate. Together, they will conduct a comprehensive scientific analysis to assess the vulnerabilities, threats, and risks associated with emerging and advanced artificial intelligence, addressing concerns ranging from individual privacy to international security.
Susan Hubbard, Deputy for Science and Technology at ORNL, emphasised this endeavour, “Understanding AI vulnerabilities and risks represents one of the most significant scientific challenges of our time. ORNL is at the forefront of advancing AI to tackle critical scientific issues for the Department of Energy, and we are confident that our laboratory can assist DOE and other federal partners in addressing crucial AI security questions, all while providing valuable insights to policymakers and the general public.”
CAISER represents an expansion of ORNL’s ongoing Artificial Intelligence for Science and National Security initiative, which leverages the laboratory’s unique capabilities, infrastructure, and data to accelerate scientific advancements.
Prasanna Balaprakash, Director of AI Programmes at ORNL, emphasised that AI technologies substantially benefit the public and government. CAISER aims to apply the lab’s expertise to comprehensively understand threats and ensure AI’s safe and secure utilisation.
Previous research has highlighted vulnerabilities in AI systems, including the potential for adversarial attacks that can corrupt AI models, manipulate output, or deceive detection algorithms. Additionally, generative AI technologies can generate convincing deepfake content.
Edmon Begoli, Head of ORNL’s Advanced Intelligent Systems section and CAISER’s founding director emphasised the importance of addressing AI vulnerabilities. CAISER aims to pioneer AI security research, developing strategies and solutions to mitigate emerging risks.
CAISER’s research endeavours will provide federal partners with a science-based understanding of AI risks and effective mitigation strategies, ensuring the reliability and resilience of AI tools against adversarial threats.
They provide educational outreach and disseminate information to inform the public, policymakers, and the national security community.
CAISER’s initial focus revolves around four national security domains aligned with ORNL’s strengths: AI for cybersecurity, biometrics, geospatial intelligence, and nuclear nonproliferation. Collaboration with national security and industry partners is critical to these efforts.
Col Fred Garcia, Director of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Information Directorate, expressed confidence in CAISER’s role in studying AI vulnerabilities and safeguarding against potential threats in an AI-driven world.
Moreover, as ORNL celebrates its 80th anniversary, CAISER embodies the laboratory’s commitment to solving complex challenges, advancing emerging scientific fields, and making a global impact. With its established cybersecurity and AI research programmes, ORNL is well-suited to pioneer AI security research through CAISER.
Moe Khaleel, Associated Laboratory Director for National Security Sciences at ORNL, highlighted the laboratory’s legacy of scientific discovery in various fields and emphasised CAISER’s role in scientifically observing, analysing and evaluating AI models to meet national security needs.
The Digital Government Development Agency (DGA) recently updated Thailand’s digital government progress to enhance nationwide digital services. They plan to expand their government application for all age groups, with over 400 million digital service usages, excluding infrastructure services.
The estimated economic value exceeds 8 billion baht. Their strategy focuses on more accessible, faster, and transparent access to government services, fostering a Smart Connector role. This enhances digital government levels, promoting a Smart Nation and Smart Life for Thai citizens, aligning with their quality of life improvement goals. Dr Supot Tiarawut, Director of DGA, presented these 2023 mission results, emphasising their commitment to effectively serving citizens, businesses, and government entities.
At the Government-to-Citizens (G2C) level, the DGA has linked over 112 government services via the government application, functioning as a comprehensive government SUPER APP. This app integrates services from various government agencies to address citizens’ needs effectively. It boasts more than 112 services, with over 7.5 million cumulative users and 607,041 downloads. This offers citizens a convenient single-channel solution for accessing government services, streamlining the process for all age groups and reducing the complexities associated with traditional government service usage. The plan for 2024 involves introducing critical services such as personal land tax checks, insurance information (Life/Non-Life), and interest payment services (pawning).
The Government Open Data Centre elevation aims to provide high-quality open datasets that cater to the populace’s needs and serve software developers, enabling their appropriate and optimal utilisation. This strategic move aims to enhance future competitiveness. Currently, there are 10,226 open datasets with 3,871,796 users.
The plan for 2024 includes boosting information exchange and utilisation among the public, private, and international sectors. Additionally, the Digital Transcript project, which offers digital transcripts, enhances convenience for students, reduces financial burdens, eases document verification processes for staff, and trims university expenditure on document issuance. This initiative has already produced over 1 million cards across 82 universities nationwide.
The DGA promotes transparency and public engagement through the central legal system, where the government seeks general feedback on law drafts and assesses their effectiveness. Over 1,000 regulations have been open for public comment, with 191,683 submissions. Additionally, the Tax Pai Pai system, providing government expenditure data, enhances public participation in monitoring corruption, with 16,187,604 projects disclosed.
In the G2B sector, the Biz Portal streamlines government-business interactions, benefiting SMEs. Over 124 government licenses have been obtained by 15,881 active operators, simplifying business startup processes. The Digital Entrepreneur Centre for Government Agencies (Me-D e-Marketplace) lists 595 digital technology entrepreneurs from various agencies for government procurement.
In G2G collaboration, the DGA enhances data sharing through the Government Data Exchange Centre (GDX), linking 13 agencies through 74 service data APIs with 133.44 million data exchanges. The Digital Government Personnel Development Institute (TDGA) has already benefited over 1,942,443 individuals, with plans to expand to local-level staff in 2024, offering region-specific digital courses and on-site training through the system with over 300,000 learners.
The Digital Local System is a crucial initiative, a cornerstone of local-level digital government adoption. It streamlines the administration and services of 659 Local Administrative Organisations, incorporating systems from 117 agencies. This enhances service provision, making it accessible and convenient nationwide, ultimately improving people’s quality of life in various regions.
During a visit to Bang Saray Subdistrict Municipality in Chonburi Province, the DGA observed the successful Digital Local System pilot project, which enables convenient access to services, reducing the need for physical visits to government offices and improving efficiency and cost-effectiveness. The initiative also established B-Buddy Bang Saray, a network of volunteers aiding those unfamiliar with digital systems to promote inclusivity.
In his closing remarks, Dr Supot highlighted these projects as examples of the DGA’s role in advancing Thailand towards becoming a Smart Nation, enhancing citizens’ quality of life. These efforts have consistently improved Thailand’s digital government development rankings assessed by the United Nations.
Government agencies in New Zealand are entering the digital age by launching their new Government Electronic Tender Service (GETS) and All-of-Government (AoG) collaborative contracts dashboards. These innovative digital tools are set to revolutionise procurement practices, offering unprecedented insights into spending patterns and benchmarking features.
The GETS and AoG dashboards have been developed with a digital-first approach to provide agencies with comprehensive insights into their procurement practices. One of the key goals of these dashboards is to enhance transparency in government spending, allowing agencies to make more informed decisions and facilitating strategic, intelligence-led procurement processes.
The GETS and AoG dashboards leverage cutting-edge data visualisation technologies to present complex procurement data in a clear and accessible manner. Interactive charts, graphs, and visual representations make it easier for users to gain insights from the data, promoting better decision-making.
Early agency feedback has been positive, with many highlighting the value of the benchmarking features. These features enable agencies to compare their procurement practices with others, fostering healthy competition and sharing best practices. This benchmarking capability not only improves transparency but also helps agencies identify areas for improvement.
One of the core objectives of this initiative is to make the dashboards even more user-friendly and comprehensive in future versions. The development team aims to streamline the user experience, making it easier for agencies to access and interpret the available data. Additionally, the dashboards will be expanded to include data from all participating agencies, further enhancing procurement data transparency.
In the pursuit of transparency and efficiency, government agencies actively seek input from users and stakeholders. They have invited agencies and individuals to share their suggestions and ideas on improving the dashboards. This collaborative approach ensures that the tools meet the needs of agencies and the broader public, fostering a culture of continuous improvement.
Moreover, this new GETS commits to making the dashboards more user-friendly and reflects a user-centric design approach. Agencies will likely collaborate with UX designers to ensure the dashboards are intuitive and tailored to users’ needs, ultimately improving the overall user experience.
Implementing a user-friendly UX is not only making a profound statement about the New Zealand government’s commitment to improving public services but also acknowledging that the success of these dashboards hinges on their adoption and utilisation by a diverse user base. In government procurement, where various stakeholders, including procurement officers, administrators, and policymakers, interact with these tools, catering to their varied needs is paramount.
It will also employ artificial intelligence (AI) to provide intelligent insights. With the emergence of technology, the roles of AI algorithms can be analysed deeper and more accurately. It can generate historical spending data and suggest trends, helping agencies identify cost-saving opportunities and optimise procurement strategies.
The GETS and AoG dashboards represent a significant milestone as government agencies continue their digital transformation journey. These tools provide a glimpse into the future of procurement practices, where data-driven decisions and transparency take centre stage. With ongoing efforts to improve user-friendliness and expand data coverage, these dashboards will play a pivotal role in shaping the procurement landscape for years to come.
In the era of digital government, the commitment to harnessing technology for improved governance and public service is evident. As agencies embrace innovative digital tools, the government sets a precedent for other sectors, fostering a culture of digital innovation and data-driven decision-making for the New Zealand government.
The Vietnamese government has said that digital transformation and green transformation are inevitable global trends. They have a crucial role in enhancing economic growth, labour productivity, competitiveness, production, and business efficiency. They also reduce reliance on fuel sources that cause pollution and minimise carbon footprint.
To discuss digital and green transformation for sustainable development and to foster networking opportunities for businesses to accelerate their green transitions, the Ministry of Science and Technology held a forum in the northern province of Quang Ninh.
Domestic and international scientists, along with representatives from organisations and technology companies, deliberated on strategies to speed up green and digital transformations. They underscored the importance of advancing technological innovation and implementing reforms in human resource management, training, and quality enhancement to create new products and processes. This, in turn, will boost business value, aid in the delivery of better goods and services to society, and expedite Vietnam’s industrialisation and modernisation processes.
Participants suggested the establishment of a support mechanism for industries implementing green and digital transformation solutions in Vietnamese businesses. They also stressed that it is necessary to promote Horizon Europe’s international cooperation programme on joint research and innovation for Vietnam and have comprehensive digital transformation solutions for businesses.
During the forum, Quang Ninh province representatives, the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations (VUSTA), businesses, and organisations exchanged memoranda of understanding regarding collaboration in the domains of digital transformation and green transformation.
Vietnam has been introducing emerging technologies in the agricultural sector to promote sustainable growth. Earlier this year, the government announced plans to introduce artificial intelligence (AI) for the optimisation of farming practices, including weather prediction, monitoring of plant and livestock health, and enhancing product quality.
AI can improve crop productivity and help control pests, diseases, and cultivation conditions. It can improve the performance of farming-related tasks across food supply chains. Advancements in the manufacturing of AI-controlled robots are assisting farmers worldwide in utilising less land and labour while simultaneously boosting production output.
Vietnam’s commitment to technological advancements in agriculture extends beyond AI, as highlighted by the government’s plans to harness biotechnology. In September, the Politburo issued a resolution under which Vietnam aims to be among the top ten Asian countries in biotechnology production and services by 2030.
As OpenGov Asia reported, the biotechnology sector is on the verge of becoming a significant economic and technological industry, with an expected 50% rise in the number of companies in terms of investment size and growth rate. Additionally, it is projected that half of the imported biotechnology products will be substituted by domestic production. This sector is anticipated to make a 7% contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Vietnam aims to establish a thriving biotechnology sector by 2045, positioning itself as a prominent centre for smart production, services, biotechnology startups, and innovation in Asia. This sector is expected to contribute 10% to 15% to the GDP by that year.
As a result of its tropical climate and its economic shift away from agriculture, biotechnology plays a vital role in Vietnam’s industrialisation and modernisation efforts. It contributes significantly to ensuring food security, facilitating economic restructuring, and promoting sustainable development. Furthermore, in environmental conservation, biotechnology has brought forth numerous solutions. These include the breakdown of inorganic and organic pollutants, waste treatment, industrial waste processing, and the use of microorganisms to address oil spills and incidents of oil contamination.
Vietnam can focus on developing various aspects within the biotechnology sector, such as agricultural advancements in crop and animal breeding, manufacturing veterinary drugs, developing vaccines, and creating bio-fertilizers.
The agricultural sector continues to experience technological advancements. Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a part of the modern agricultural industry. AI technology is used in various aspects, from production and management to marketing. Agriculture heavily relies on weather, soil, and the environment. Therefore, AI technology related to drones and sensors is essential to support precision agriculture
Drones’ ability to rapidly scan areas with high-quality sensors is beneficial in various applications, including crop mapping, soil analysis, environmental surveys, livestock monitoring, and infrastructure surveillance.
In light of this, the Food Crops Research Centre (PRTP) of the Agriculture and Food Research Organisation (ORPP) under the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN) held an occasion regarding AI technology in the development of drones and sensors and its applications in agriculture.
Puji Lestari, the Head of ORPP BRIN, expressed that this occasion would benefit BRIN and other stakeholders. She emphasised that combining drone and sensor technology would create innovative solutions to address food availability challenges.
Furthermore, Puji also highlighted that precision agriculture is closely tied to the availability of tools. Implementing AI in rapid data analysis as a basis for decision-making, ranging from planting and feeding to irrigation and harvesting, is expected to benefit farmers.
The AI-based capabilities, including high-quality sensors and scanning, enable rapid work and real-time data processing, plant identification, and decision-making to support productivity targets. Therefore, the Food Crops Research Centre should provide more opportunities to utilise AI-based technology that supports increased crop productivity,” he emphasised.
At the same time, the Head of PRTP BRIN, Yudhistira Nugraha, also acknowledged that technological advancements have become inevitable. Through the science community, AI researchers are expected to actively contribute to utilising AI technology, turning it into a valuable science that can be applied to agricultural development in Indonesia.
“We can gain many benefits using AI technology for monitoring agricultural land, including fertiliser usage, fertility identification, plant growth, and with the help of AI technology, farmers can make decisions and take actions that can be applied in the farming system to increase productivity,” he explained.
Tri Surya Harapan, Research Manager at a company that provides sales of drones and surveillance services for agriculture, the environment, defence, forestry, and marine purposes, explained about multispectral cameras that provide information on plant health and management.
“AI is widely known for replicating human intelligence and can be simulated using computer systems. Automation sensors embedded in drones, such as camera sensors, LIDAR sensors, or other advanced sensors, provide valuable information as decision-makers in the field without direct human intervention,” he said.
“The use of AI with drone and sensor technology requires relatively high service costs, so in its implementation, collaboration with stakeholders on a large scale is needed,” Tri clarified.
Meanwhile, Senior Researcher at PRTP BRIN, Muhammad Aqil, discussed the Utilisation of Drone Technology in Food Crop Research. This is in line with the direction of the President of Indonesia in the 2021 National IPTEK Coordination Meeting, which emphasises the use of modern technology and contribution to the era of Industry 4.0, including the application of artificial intelligence technology to support all fields/activities, including agriculture.
“We have gone through several stages before reaching Industry 4.0, and now it’s time to use drone technology to monitor the nutrient status of plants, quickly detect pest attacks (OPT – Plant Pest Organisms), check strain contamination, inspect seed production data cells, and determine the harvest time,” said Aqil.
Aqil concluded that the vegetation index-based model developed for the selection of corn genotypes, which are tolerant to both NDVI and NDRE, has proven capable of predicting harvest yields and the best genotype types in corn variety selection in the field.
“By integrating drones and image analysis, it could support research activities, especially in the field,” Aqil added.