Since the advent of the pandemic, the public sector has had to rapidly embrace digital technologies. Yet, governments still have some way to go in meeting citizens’ expectations for a seamless, personalised, equitable and intuitive digital service delivery.
The crisis has forced governments to rethink how to best serve citizens through proactive, transparent communication and citizen-centric digital offerings with always-on service. Indeed, citizens now expect more digitally-enabled public services and many want to have more of a say in how they should be delivered. At the same time, a segment of citizens lacks the skills or means to access digital services.
The Singapore government successfully pivoted and was able to respond decisively and swiftly to the COVID-19 outbreak with a suite of digital tools to help disseminate timely and accurate information to Singaporeans.
As the nation moves out of the pandemic, the question is: How can organisations harness technology to shape a stronger future in Singapore?
The 7th Annual Singapore OpenGov Leadership Forum 2022, Day 2, was held on 18 May 2022 at Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel. It convened digital leaders from the Singapore public sector and financial services industry to discuss, deliberate, share and plan for the next phase of transformation.
Humanising the digital transformation
Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director, and Editor-in-Chief, OpenGov Asia, kicked off the session with his opening address.
“We’re running up against the metaverse,” Mohit claims, pointing out the growing trend of the metaverse and how the public sector is going to utilise that space to enhance public services. The metaverse is the new direction that people are heading towards and data is catalysing the public services and the future.
While digital development is necessary it has to be inclusive and comprehensive. For example, with a population that has increased longevity, Singapore is using technology to take care of the elderly. In the same manner, it needs to cater to diverse segments and communities within the total population.
For Mohit, innovation needs to be pervasive, and the public sector needs to stay abreast. People must be afraid of technology. A case in point is cryptocurrencies which can be the next game-changer irrespective of the dangers they could pose – know the issues and mitigate the risk.
“We have been coping the past two years with ‘band-aid’ technology,” Mohit feels. “These ad hoc solutions and platforms that were used during the pandemic need to be scaled up, taken forward and mainstreamed.”
Technology has the potential to elevate the quality of life, improve healthcare and benefit everyone in all spheres and stages of life. Zendesk, TIBCO, Intel, Adobe, WalkMe and SAS are all in the business of improving services.
The world is changing rapidly and the ways people are utilising technology to solve problems need to keep pace. “These trends are here to stay,” Mohit states emphatically.
To cope with the new demands of the citizens, organisations need to leverage data, embrace AI and pivot towards automation.
In conclusion, he encourages delegates to look for partners who are experts in their field of work who can help organisations keep their glass full so that they can focus on their business objectives.
Fireside Chat: Role of High-Performance Computing – Advancing Singapore’s Plans for a Digitally Transformed Smart Nation
Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director, and Editor-in-Chief, OpenGov Asia and Associate Professor Tan Tin Wee, Chief Executive, National Supercomputing Centre (NSCC) sat down for a fireside chat to discuss the outlook of High-Performance Computing in Singapore’s digital transformation journey.
Tin Wee shares that NSCC originated from a decade of computerisation. While it is a petaflop system, the whole world is on the edge of digitally clocked Exa scaled systems. In that regard, Singapore is behind. Developed countries have understood that to drive the frontiers of technology, one needs to be at the cutting edge of technology.
“To outcompete other nations you need to out-compute,” he opines. “The government understands it and wants to move towards super computerisation of the public sector and industries.”
Mohit was curious to know where the use cases for supercomputers are. Tin Wee shares that there are projects to help people in the AI industry. Besides the traditional modelling and simulation in the engineering and manufacturing industries, AI communities are actively going on board.
They have made inroads with the weather community who have started to use it for climate modelling and predicting sea level. Most recently, they have launched the HPC Innovation challenge for the environment and urban design. The healthcare sector, namely NUHS and SingHealth, has also deployed two edge supercomputers.
In conclusion, Mohit believes that supercomputers remind people of the need to push the frontiers of technology and take a serious look at how technology can help lubricate their existing business.
Smart data in smart cities
Christopher Tan, Partner Revenue Acceleration, Director, APJ, Intel spoke next about smart data analytics for smart cities and intelligent transportation.
Setting the tone of where the world is at, Christopher asserts the need to tackle problems that are still there: Congestion and pollution, Dangerous roads, Public health concerns and Decaying infrastructure
However, there are other pressing challenges: Budget prioritisation, Reduced time to market, Market fragmentation and Targeted spending
IoT Devices are rapidly increasing smart cities data and public service and transportation are a big part of it. Smart Cities are one of the key sectors within the IoT space. IoT enables Smart Cities data. However, the value will be created based on how well cities deploy technologies to capture and utilise data.
Christopher shared Intel’s data-centric vision for IoT
- Open Data Platforms with Intelligence from EDGE to cloud
- Intel Advantage with Proven solutions built for IoT
- Edge Workload Convergence for Greater efficiency and value
Through investments in AI, 5G, and Edge solutions, Intel is helping technology providers put data to work – At the edge and in the cloud – To help cities make data-backed decisions to optimise efficiency, streamline mobility, and create more value for agencies and citizens.
He adds that Intel Smart Edge Open and reference solutions like the Converged Edge Reference Architecture (CERA) provide an easy button for connectivity and deployments at the Edge.
Intel provides the hardware building blocks but also reference designs that provide a starting point. Software are tools that allow people to build their own applications before deployment.
Momentum is building and cities around the world are crossing the chasm. Leadership around the world are taking notice and have new incentives to push harder than before – they are in a better position to innovate.
In conclusion, IoT ties Ai, 5G and Cloud together. These supporting technologies, when combined with intelligence everywhere, make smart cities a reality. He emphasises that IoT is the next big thing that will pave the way to major change.
Transforming user experience to meet changing demands
Andy Pang, Director, Solution Engineering, ASEAN spoke next on ways to improve the user experience through technology.
“Almost 50% of employees will continue to work remotely post COVID-19,” Andy quotes. “Remote work was already becoming more popular before the COVID-19 pandemic and the trend is now accelerating.”
A larger remote workforce will challenge HR leaders to rethink their approaches to recruiting and managing talent. It is against that backdrop that Andy believes that citizen experience is more important than ever.
Data and connectivity will become more important, Andy claims. There are some implications of that fact on how data can be used to improve citizen experience:
Leveraging IoT / unstructured data to enrich actionable insights: Transforming “data-lake” to become “data-fabric” – ability to use both structured and unstructured data in the same way
Add “Agility” to the data-lake / data-fabric: Everyone in the enterprise should be able to access trustworthy data – with their preference – instantly
Operational AI at-scale for real-life citizen experience, such as saving lives: AI at the edge – with IoT and unstructured data
There were several use cases which Andy shared:
- COVID Vx PGS Digital Programme
IoT data was deployed to optimise the distribution of vaccines through real-time GPS Temperature Tracking, automate BOH Protocol and create a work centre performance management.
TIBCO helped to improve cancer detection rates by predicting risks and automating test referrals with AI-driven modelling and decision-making. It helped to set up an Integrated Health Systems to seamlessly exchange information between other medical authorities and to leverage their existing AI assets so that MUHS could improve patient experience, using the new smart integration hub to achieve360 visibility of the life-dependent information between critical medical systems.
In conclusion, Andy believes that TIBCO helps to unlock the potential of real-time data for making faster, smarter decisions. Their Connected Intelligence Platform seamlessly connects any application or data source; intelligently unifies data for greater access, trust, and control; and confidently predicts outcomes in real-time and at scale.
He encouraged delegates to reach out to him if they would like to find out how they can leverage the technology of TIBCO to improve the experience of citizens.
Polling results for the morning session
Throughout the morning session, delegates were polled on different topics.
The first poll inquired about key business initiatives for the next 12-18 months. Most (46%) were focused on improving agility and delivery through Cloud Migration. Over a third (34%) are concentrating on improving employee productivity through digital technology, 14% are looking to enable real-time performance visibility and analysis (14%) and 6% are embedding compliance transparently in applications.
Delegates were then asked about what would have the bulk of their budget allocation in 2022 –2023. Over a third (38%) indicated that the bulk of their budget allocation would go to digitalisation of processes to deliver better or ‘Smart’ services, followed by embracing cloud technology, be it public or private (19%), enhancing or adopting AI and Analytics for improving outcomes through forecasting, prediction and optimisation (15%), and improving integrity and governance whilst reducing inefficiency (12%). The rest were equally divided between leveraging IoT to improve processes and productivity (8%) and data-driven initiatives such as Big Data/Data Lake (8%).
On the main challenge in their data strategy journey, most (37%) found the lack of data governance, data privacy and security concerns challenging. Others found the missing an overall strategy that crosses departments and teams (27%) challenge, followed by the data culture/literacy/skill across employees (20%) and the lack of a centralised tool for sharing and collaboration (17%).
Regarding key fears in moving to cloud, well over half (58%) were concerned about security and governance. The other delegates were split between the need to re-skill talent (33%) and operational costs (8%), while the rest were concerned about vendor lock-in (3%).
The subsequent poll asked delegates what they saw as the biggest challenge in digitalisation and cloud migration. Most (30%) found security and compliance risks the biggest challenge. The rest of the delegates found people and skillset (23%), legacy infrastructure (20%), data classification/data sovereignty/data residency concern (10%), executive support/top management strategy (10%), and budget (7%) challenging.
On their key priorities to enhance the service experience of citizens/ customers, delegates were evenly split between making it easy and convenient for people to reach out (34%) and personalised interactions (34%), faster time resolution (23%), 24/7 always-on support (6%), and the ability to serve multiple customers at one time (3%).
When asked about the top analytic adoption challenge in their organisation, most (48%) expressed that data quality and accuracy concerns were the top challenges. This was followed by a lack of talent and training (31%), limited access to analytics (14%) and tools being too complex and difficult (7%).
The next poll asked delegates about the requirement that is shaping their landscape to be agile with the business needs. Most (42%) felt that adapting to changing citizens/customer demands was a requirement. The rest of the delegates were split between the speed of change for applications, data and building/removing core business systems (35%), operational cost savings (12%) and complying with new government regulations (12%).
The final poll for the day asked delegates about the main motivator that is driving digital transformation. Most (38%) are motivated by the desire to speed up their time-to-market to fully capitalise on business opportunities or to serve citizens better. The rest of the delegates see a growing need to maximise value/insights from an increasing amount of data assets as a motivator (25%). Others are motivated to provide a consistent and seamless cloud-everywhere experience across a distributed organisation (25%) and improve their capability to manage the increasing amount of data at the edge locations while ensuring security and compliance (13%).
Deploying data in motion in government service
John Mackenney, Principal Digital Strategist, APAC, Adobe who followed, elaborated on the use of data in motion to transform service delivery as they strive to meet new citizen expectations.
John observes that there is a growing sense of urgency to get the digital experience right and strengthen public service delivery for the benefit of citizens and government. The building blocks can be put in place now to achieve the future state – a single government platform supporting modern content delivery, a deep understanding of citizen life journeys and tailored and contextual experience across all channels.
There are several pain points for citizens and businesses interacting with the government:
- Being required to provide information multiple times
- No single source of truth across government information
- Inconsistent and inaccessible content
- Difficulty finding the right information, at the right time, in the right context
The events over the past 18 months have also clearly demonstrated the need for consistent, rapid communication during a crisis, and that is not expected to abate. Governments need the ability to rapidly send consistent, immediate public information during a crisis, he asserts.
Today, citizens expect smooth, personalised, and “always-on” experiences. For John, there are 4 key expectations:
- Trust and empathy: Citizens today expect more transparent, consistent, accessible, and responsive services. The relationship people have with services and governments has changed.
- Personalised and proactive updates: Governments are focused on delivering a greater level of satisfaction while reducing servicing costs.
- Journeys and segments: Citizens expect their digital journeys to be tailored to their needs.
- Respect privacy and preferences: Empowering citizens on how their information will be used and their right to be forgotten.
John notes that the challenge for governments now is in providing inclusive services for all. Some trends in the way leading governments are responding to support citizens and businesses during hardship:
- Citizen-Centric: Design services based on journeys
- Data-Driven: Making available data that can improve experiences and economic outcomes
- No one is left behind: Government services are inclusive and accessible to everyone
- Proactive & Responsive: Using real-time feedback to improve services.
- Connected and Collaborate: Ensuring citizens receive consistent and easy to understand information.
- Tailored on citizens’ terms: Citizens only need to tell the government once and consent to the government anticipating their needs.
According to John, understanding the demands and needs has been a challenging task that some governments and agencies are currently undergoing. Data in motion is the building block of success. It can enable governments to capture data and events from multiple channels and sources into a single solution to understand citizen life events and journeys; provide secure and compliant data exchange between agencies and across domains; and prepare for the cookieless future ensuring effective outreach on government programs.
Harnessing AI and automation to improve customer experiences
Shirley Poh, Senior Director, Enterprise Sales – ASEAN, Zendesk spoke next on the trends in customer service experience in the public sector.
“The rules of customer service have changed,” which has resulted in pressure on different fronts:
Rising customer expectations: Customers expect easy and accessible ways to connect that are personalised and engaging. They also want a more conversational, personalised experience.
Expanding the role of support: Internally, the role of customer support faces pressure to constantly do more with less. They are asked to reduce costs while driving incremental revenue growth by increasing customers’ Lifetime Value.
Market & workplace changes: While disruptive competitors are eating away market share, there are staffing and skill shortages and trying to navigate this hybrid work environment
The need to transform is imminent. Based on a study that Zendesk has done, they discovered that the most successful companies: Tailor to meet their business needs, Build experiences as unique as their customers, Integrate for a complete view of their customers and Scale with confidence
Among the most prominent public sector use case was the use of Zendesk in Tracetogether and Safe Entry, as well as IRAS live chat. Zendesk also worked with Fairprice to incorporate a self-service help centre. It resulted in a reduction in hotline calls, availability of tickets to provide tracking and performance measurement to improve response and resolution time.
In the latest report, Shirley observes that 86% of APAC customers believe that a positive customer experience makes them more likely to purchase again. That is a large percentage and can fuel business growth and expansion. With such demand for high-quality customer experiences comes its own set of challenges.
From Zendesk’s perspective, there are two areas of focus:
Shirley highlights the changing attitude to AI or automation – incorporating AIs and Chatbots into the workflow can help to make teams more efficient
- Conversational Customer Service
More organisations are building conversational experiences as end-to-end experience is important. In the case of chatbots, customers must have the opportunity to move from the bot to a live agent, with the agent already having all the context without the customer needing to repeat themselves.
In conclusion, Shirley believes that building on the CX experience has a tremendous impact on business outcomes, service excellence, agent experience and business operations. She encouraged the delegates to reach out to her to find out more about ways Zendesk can help in their organisation’s processes.
Fireside Chat: Innovation during the crisis – How digitalisation is transforming organisations
The session was followed by a fireside chat with Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director & Editor-In-Chief OpenGov Asia and Peter Forbes, Group Chief Digital Officer, National University Health System.
Crises present us with unique conditions that allow innovators to think and create rapid, impactful change. For leaders, these conditions provide fertile grounds for transformation, with the opportunity to do our best to help, and for our teams to do their most innovative work in the service of our organisations and communities.
OneNUHS mobile application is one such example. The vision of OneNUHS was a seamless and paperless journey for the patients electronically. They wanted to release the features in a phased approach. The application is now 1 year old but in the partnership, they got the application went live earlier in December.
Moving forward, they are starting to bring in a clinical function such as an evidence-based screening approach where people provide information about their vaccination status, blood pressure, BMI etc. and it recommends a series of screenings that is individualised.
Singapore’s healthcare industry is held to high expectations and digital technology is seen as a way to deliver services more efficiently. There have been many healthtech-related innovations in recent years including technologies such as Telemedicine and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Mohit was curious about what Peter has observed regarding Telemedicine and Artificial Intelligence.
Telemedicine was incredibly important, felt Peter. They were running phone and video consults. Zoom was not integrated with their appointment system. They built the video consult journey within the app – from registration to seeing queue numbers and eventually having their consultation before receiving their medication.
From innovation out of necessity to innovation with purpose; transformation has become key to unlocking future growth and digitisation is catalysing these efforts. Mohit was keen to know how NUHS is leveraging digital technologies, specifically RPA, to gain a competitive advantage and become a future-ready organisation.
Peter shared that they adopted RPA to enter information for the dormitory swab operations. They took RPA into five core finance operations and made savings in FTEs (Full Time Equivalent). The equivalent of 8 FTE of human processing time was transferred to Robotic Process Automation. Freeing the staff from mundane repetitive tasks allows them to work on higher value-adding tasks.
While they started with a service-driven transformation vision, they are now moving into the clinical functions. They are currently looking at a digital health plan that is enabled by automation and AI, which empowers patients and residents and GPs with data that can improve healthy behaviour.
Peter concluded that innovation is required in a fast-changing world – technology is what will help to help organisations deliver better services in a short period.
Polling Results for the afternoon session
Throughout the afternoon session, delegates were polled on different topics.
The first poll inquired about key business initiatives for the next 12-18 months. Over a third (35%) are focused on improving employee productivity through digital technology, followed by enabling real-time performance visibility and analysis (30%), improving agility and delivery through Cloud Migration (26%) and embedding compliance transparently in applications (9%).
Delegates were then asked about what would have the bulk of their budget allocation in 2022 –2023. Over a third (36%) indicated that the bulk of their budget allocation would go to enhancing or adopting AI and Analytics for improving outcomes through forecasting, prediction and optimisation. Other delegates allocated the bulk of their budget to digitalisation of processes to deliver better or ‘Smart’ services (32%) and data-driven initiatives such as Big Data/Data Lake (18%). The remaining selected improving integrity and governance whilst reducing inefficiency (7%), embracing cloud technology, be it public or private (4%), leveraging IoT to improve processes and productivity (4%)
Inquiring about the main challenge in their data strategy journey, most (43%) found the lack of data culture/literacy/skill across employees challenging. The other remaining delegates selected the lack of data governance, data privacy and security concerns (24%), followed by the lack of a centralised tool for sharing and collaboration (19%) and missing an overall strategy that crosses departments and teams (14%).
On the key concern in the consideration to move to cloud, just over half (62%) were concerned about security and governance. Other delegates were evenly split between the need to re-skill talent (14%) and operational costs (14%), while the rest were concerned about vendor lock-in (10%).
The subsequent poll asked delegates what they saw as the biggest challenge in digitalisation and cloud migration. Just under a third (32%) found people and skillset the biggest issue. The rest of the delegates found security and compliance risk (28%) and data classification/data sovereignty/data residency (20%) problematic. The remaining delegates found executive support/top management strategy (12%), legacy infrastructure (4%), and budget (4%) to be of concern.
On their key priorities to enhance the service experience of citizens/ customers, 39% of delegates prioritised making it easy and convenient for people to reach out. The other delegates concentrate on providing personalised interactions (28%), faster time resolution (22%), the ability to serve multiple customers at one time (6%) and 24/7 always-on support (6%).
When asked about the top analytic adoption challenge in their organisation, most (60%) expressed that data quality and accuracy concerns were the top challenges. This is followed by a lack of talent and training (35%) and tools being too complex and difficult (5%).
The next poll asked delegates about the requirement that is shaping their landscape to be agile with the business needs. Delegates were split between the speed of change for applications, data and building/removing core business systems (45%) and adapting to changing citizens/customer demands (45%). The rest of the delegates were split between operational cost savings (5%), complying with new government regulations (5%)
The final poll for the day asked delegates about the main motivator that is driving digital transformation. Most (61%) are influenced by the desire to speed up their time-to-market to fully capitalise on business opportunities or to serve citizens better. The rest of the delegates see a growing need to maximise value/insights from an increasing amount of data assets as a motivator (26%). Others are driven by improved capability to manage an increasing amount of data at the edge locations while ensuring security and compliance (9%), and providing a consistent and seamless cloud-everywhere experience across a distributed organisation (4%).
In conclusion, Mohit thanked all the delegates for their active participation and emphasised the criticality of digital transformation in the age of COVID-19. Staying abreast of the technologies that can enable business outcomes, adapting to shifting cultures and providing improved experiences for citizens.
Singaporeans, particularly those who enjoy benefiting from and contributing to the wisdom of the crowd or sharing their thoughts on government policies, will undoubtedly enjoy CrowdTaskSG, a newly created crowdsourcing web service that taps Singaporeans’ collective knowledge.
Citizens will discover many possibilities to contribute their ideas and feedback to government entities on CrowdTaskSG. Citizens can take part in various tasks, such as surveys on government policies and national identity. Citizens may also be assigned duties to test prototype items, such as new government websites, and provide comments on areas for improvement.
The portal is a one-stop shop, collecting duties from across the government and making them easily accessible to those who are interested. With their Singpass account, all Singapore citizens and Permanent Residents aged 18 and over can use the portal.
Aside from hearing people’s ideas, the procedure is intended to be enjoyable. The app’s goal is to be as enjoyable as popular online games. Users can earn virtual coins by completing activities on CrowdTaskSG and trade them for real-world rewards such as coupons.
Recognising that Singaporeans are the ultimate users of government services, agencies have begun including the public early in the workflow of product or policy production to ensure that their opinion is considered from the outset. GovTech believes that citizens are co-creators in building a strong society.
The current crowdsourcing scene may be seen as fragmented, making it difficult for Singaporeans to have an overview of all the options available, while agencies struggle to discover the correct target participants. CrowdTaskSG addresses these difficulties by consolidating all government crowdsourcing jobs on a single website.
To reach their desired demographic, agencies can also use the tailored assignment tool. For example, if they want to test how user-friendly a product is for elderly users, they may quickly screen for older volunteers.
The CrowdTaskSG team is also trying to expand the number of tasks available, such as polls and A/B testing, and is reaching out to other agencies to learn how the platform can better support their crowdsourcing initiatives.
In addition, GovTech is all about using technology to make everyone’s lives better. CrowdTaskSG is based on the idea that Singaporeans are not only people who benefit from things but also people who can make important contributions.
The agency is asking everyone in the country to help solve problems by using their knowledge and skills. They are hoping that the input and ideas of the public will be the best part of the government’s next digital product.
Meanwhile, OpenGov Asia reported earlier that more users are finding it easy to do business in their native language now that Singpass supports Singapore’s four official languages, which are English, Tamil, Malay, and Chinese. By choosing their preferred language in the app’s settings, more users can enjoy the convenience of doing transactions in their native language. It was also the job of the legal divisions and other government departments to make sure that the texts follow the rules that are already in place.
Even though the multilingual feature has been successfully released, more work needs to be done. When a spreadsheet is used to help with translations, translators can’t see how the app looks and what is being translated side by side. This can slow down translations.
Singpass is one of the eight national strategic projects overseen by GovTech that help Singapore achieve its goal of becoming a “Smart Nation.” Over 2,000 government and business sector services are accessible conveniently and securely online and in person thanks to a Singaporean resident’s digital identification.
The Ministry of Finance has announced it would develop a foundation for a modern and transparent digital financial ecosystem based on big data and open data by 2025. The initiative will be carried out under the Ministry’s digital transformation plan aimed for 2025, with orientations to 2030. It was newly signed by Finance Minister Ho Duc Phoc.
By 2030, the Ministry strives to establish a developed digital financial ecosystem with enhanced cybersecurity and efficiency. The overall objective of the plan is to accelerate digital transformation in tandem with building a sustainable, advanced, and globally-integrated national financial system. The move is expected to boost growth, enhance the resilience of the economy, and maintain macro-economic stability and financial security.
The Ministry will apply fourth industrial revolution technologies and leverage the progress that’s been made with the development of the e-government to transform the finance sector. It will offer more digital financial services to bolster the digital economy and digital society. The finance sector will play a vital role in creating, connecting, and sharing data, digitising platforms, and optimising the digital information of the government, people, and organisations.
The Ministry will cut down the number of public administrative procedures, and reform, simplify, and standardise public financial services to reduce costs and improve service quality and productivity by 2025. Accordingly, the delivery of most public administrative services will be shifted online, providing citizens with a paperless and convenient experience. The Ministry also intends to step up the implementation of the National Single Window system and the ASEAN Single Window system to facilitate trade.
Further, the Ministry has plans to set up a modern, public, and transparent digital financial platform by 2025, based on big data and open financial data. By 2030, the Ministry claimed a digital financial ecosystem will be formed in all fields, ensuring administrative effectiveness and the safety of information. Civil servants and public employees will be trained in digital skills to facilitate the process.
The rate of financial technology adoption in the country is gradually and significantly increasing. The number of subscribers of the government’s Mobile Money initiative has quadrupled since the service was launched in January this year. 67% of these subscribers reside in rural, mountainous, border, island, and remote areas.
As OpenGov Asia reported, subscribers with at least one Mobile Money transaction by the end of June exceeded 1.72 million, accounting for 97.3% of the total. Additionally, the number of households with fibre optic connections in the first half of this year increased by 9% compared to the same period of 2021 and by 17% against that of 2020. According to the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC), the goal of having 75% of households using fibre optic services this year is achievable. Vietnam also aims to have more than 50% of the population own digital payment accounts.
In deploying Mobile Money, the government has taken advantage of existing infrastructure and data and telecommunications networks. This has reduced social costs and expanded cashless payment channels on mobile devices. Industry experts have stated that the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need to universalise digital payments. Regardless of an Internet connection or bank account, and with just phone numbers, users can easily make cashless transactions through their Mobile Money account. The pandemic also greatly boosted the e-commerce market, with non-cash payments accounting for 70% of total retail transactions in Vietnam last year.
While nursing education mainly consists of classroom teaching and clinical practice, face-to-face teaching and clinical placements at medical institutions have been affected as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, to develop the training and learning experience of nursing students, a research team led by Dr Justina LIU, Associate Professor of School of Nursing, and Dr Kitty CHAN, Senior Teaching Fellow of the same school, has developed a virtual learning system “Virtual Hospital” that uses virtual reality (VR) technology to offer an innovative experiential approach to nursing education.
Virtual Hospital is the first-of-its-kind virtual learning system in Hong Kong that simulates the complex and chaotic environment of a real-life hospital ward. With a total of 11 games, the system provides five scenarios, namely “Clinical Practicum Orientation”, “Challenges of Delirium”, “Managing Multitasks”, “Prevention of Errors” and “Potential Heart Attack”.
Over 1,200 combinations of randomised situations and multiple choices make it difficult for students to predict the tasks they will be handling, while they are required to provide instant responses to multitasks and make appropriate nursing decisions through assessing a patient’s condition and interpreting their medical information.
It was noted that the majority of existing VR learning systems are skill- and procedure-focused and adopt a single patient management setting. The PolyU-developed Virtual Hospital requires students to handle multiple beds and take care of multiple patients at the same time. Unexpected incidents and clinical pitfalls are generated to test the student’s ability to apply their knowledge and prioritise nursing tasks amid various disruptions within a limited time.
Through VR experiential learning, students can improve the soft skills that are essential for their clinical practice, including situation awareness, flexibility to handle emergencies, as well as decision-making and communication skills.
Virtual Hospital allows users’ responses and decisions to be displayed on a TV monitor for group participation, while their communication with the virtual patients can be recorded for review. By answering multiple-choice questions, the student can reflect on the judgements and decisions made. In addition, the game data and the automated assessment function of the system also provide convenience for teachers in tracking students’ progress and evaluating learning outcomes.
Since its launch in January 2022, Virtual Hospital has benefited over 450 nursing students. With Virtual Hospital, students are provided with a cooperative case-based learning opportunity. Supplemented with current practice on patient simulators, it is hoped that Virtual Hospital can further help students master the skills necessary for clinical nursing and most importantly for reducing errors in actual clinical situations.
The team is pleased that the virtual learning system has received positive feedback from students, and looks forward to incorporating interprofessional and interdisciplinary elements in the future, as well as introducing the system to other nursing institutions in Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area.
A Year-3 student from PolyU School of Nursing noted that she was impressed by the fidelity of the Virtual Hospital in terms of the environmental details. The VR learning experience strengthened her confidence in clinical practice as the system allowed every student to deal with nursing problems on their own, which helps them better prepare for the stressful work situation faced by nurses in the real clinical environment, she said.
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency or CISA has announced the “Protecting U.S. Elections: A CISA Cybersecurity Toolkit,” which provides state and local election officials with free services and tools to improve the cybersecurity and resilience of their infrastructure.
“I am very proud to announce another valuable resource that can help officials further reduce their cyber risk and improve their security posture,” says Jen Easterly, Director, CISA.
She added that the state and local election authorities must deal with challenges to their infrastructure daily from things like insider threats, malicious actors, and foreign involvement. This is just another tool to aid them in their continuous efforts to maintain the security and resilience of the American election processes.
CISA regularly collaborates with state and local election officials to safeguard their systems as the principal federal agency in charge of election security. In addition, CISA provides several services, information products, and other resources.
As the principal federal agency in charge of overseeing national election security, CISA has assembled a toolkit of free services and tools through the Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative (JCDC) to assist state and local officials, election officials, and vendors in enhancing the cybersecurity and cyber resilience of the U.S. election infrastructure.
The free tools, services, and resources offered by CISA, JCDC members, and other members of the cybersecurity community are included in this toolbox. These free resources were assembled by the JCDC of CISA, which collaborated with organisations from the public and private sectors, including the election community, and JCDC alliance members. The toolkit’s broad categories are arranged to assist election officials: Utilise an Election Security Risk Profile Tool created by CISA and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to evaluate their risk; locate tools for securing voter data, websites, email systems and networks. Also, safeguard assets from assaults such as phishing, ransomware, and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS).
The most recent tool that CISA and its partners have created to aid the election community is the toolkit. To counteract the disinformation, CISA’s website provides a wealth of information and advice on topics ranging from cybersecurity to physical security for polling places and election officials.
The organisation collaborates with election authorities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the territories to provide cybersecurity services, technical help, and guidance as well as to frequently share relevant and useful information and intelligence.
The following steps should be taken to create the cybersecurity baseline before employing the toolkit to handle risks, according to CISA: Use the free CISA Cyber Hygiene Services Vulnerability Scanning; prioritise patching known exploited vulnerabilities; maintain updated systems and software, adhere to best practices for password management, such as using multifactor authentication and a password manager; and create offline backups of your data.
Meanwhile, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is seeking public input on how to safely progress and adopt the Privacy-Enhancing Technologies (PETs). This can enable the future by embracing data-driven technologies like AI while safeguarding privacy.
PETs are tools that let researchers, clinicians, and anyone with permission glean insights from sensitive data without ever having access to the data itself. The fundamental value of PETs lies in their ability to keep data “hidden” from researchers while allowing analysis of that data.
It may enable new types of collaboration and norms for the appropriate use of personal information. Agencies may facilitate greater collaboration across entities, sectors, and borders to address shared concerns, so contributing to the development of solutions in areas such as health care, climate change, financial crime, human trafficking, and pandemic response.
The Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA), the Department of Science and Technology Advanced Science and Technology Institute (DOST-ASTI), and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) have begun testing satellite internet service in two rural banks in Batangas province.
“PhilSA and DOST-ASTI will process data to look at the network performance against the actual connectivity needs of the banks. Information from these reports will be utilised by BSP as we move this partnership forward,” says Ma. Victoria Gazmin-Basto, Officer-in-Charge, PhilSA Space Business Development Division.
The stated banks were previously recognised by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) as being in Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDAs), where the installation of new terrestrial networks to improve connectivity may be impractical.
The provision of technical assistance to BSP is consistent with PhilSA’s mandate of assisting other government agencies or departments, as well as the private sector, in carrying out their responsibilities using space science and technology applications and satellite data.
To collect data, a Weather and Performance Monitoring System (WPMS) equipment built by DOST-ASTI was placed up near the two banks. The WPMS includes a network performance monitoring device that is linked to the satellite internet user equipment installed at the banks.
Among other things, the device measures network metrics such as upload and download speeds, throughput, latency, and jitter. Furthermore, the WPMS includes weather stations that monitor meteorological parameters such as rain, temperature, humidity, and pressure at the same time. The obtained data will subsequently be analysed to investigate and evaluate the satellite internet service’s performance and reliability under local weather conditions.
According to Bryan Paler, Senior Science Research Specialist at DOST-ASTI, his agency encourages collaboration with PhilSA and BSP to demonstrate ASTI’s locally developed technologies in applications that benefit the Filipino people.
Aside from the WPMS, they are investigating how they may put other homegrown technologies to use, such as bridging the digital divide and promoting financial inclusion. DOST-ASTI intends to capitalise on the partnership’s benefits in the future by educating people about financial literacy.
The organisations intend to use the digital TV technology and internet infrastructure that they are constructing to teach people in the unserved and underserved areas about financial literacy in addition to doing research on the usefulness and efficiency of satellite internet services for banks. The Philippine government aims to provide rural areas with cutting-edge technology while also teaching residents how to use it for their own benefit. Out of the country’s 1,634 municipalities, 33% or 533, are still unbanked and do not have access to financial inclusion services.
The Philippines believes in satellite technology’s ability to improve connectivity in rural areas, hence increasing banks’ capacity to deliver digital financial services and encourage greater financial inclusion in unserved and underserved areas. Digital financial services such as remittances, bill payments, and opening transaction accounts, among others, would become more inclusive and accessible with improved connections in rural areas.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between PhilSA, DOST-ASTI, and BSP to encourage access to high-quality financial services enabled by internet connectivity. As transactions and services move to online platforms, this endeavour will increase digital inclusion.
Internet connectivity is recognised as a crucial enabler of financial and economic inclusion, as financial activities and services migrate to online platforms. As internet connection is increased, banks and other financial service providers will be able to better serve rural areas with additional internet-connected access points, such as automated teller machines and cash agent services.
Governance and the improvement of basic public services have come a long way with the help of digital technology. Given the number of crises in 2020, digital solutions platforms and tools have been a huge help to disaster preparedness and critical event management.
A lot of earthquakes and tsunamis happen near the coast of Indonesia. One of them is Banten, which is on the southern coast of the Lebak Regency. Studies show that a megathrust earthquake could have a magnitude of 8.9 and cause a tsunami that is up to 20 metres high.
With this, the ITB team then did a service programme, which included making maps of residential areas in Cimampang and Sukarena, modelling tsunami flooding, mapping exposure with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and making public information boards, surveying village resources, and digitising evacuation route maps. ITB works with different groups to get the southern coastal community of Lebak ready by doing things that are related to the Disaster Resilient Village indicator.
Since 2021, ITB’s service programme for the people on the southern coast of Lebak has been running well with the help of many offline and online partners and one of the things that were done was to teach people how to protect themselves from earthquakes and tsunamis. To be able to prepare for disasters, education needs to be a higher priority. People also think that the parameters of the emergency response plan and the early warning system at the school are still low, so they need to learn more.
Several government agencies and other groups took part in an evacuation drill. After the group simulation, people worked together to make tents, find places to stay, run a public kitchen, collect data on health, and do triage.
On the other hand, perceptions and understandings of the residents are strengthened through artistic expression channels after simulation activities. With help from the local government, teachers, and students, they put together materials to help keep school-based efforts to reduce disaster risk going.
By adding more art elements, the final forms of educational materials were made in a way that worked well. First, the book “Edukasi Siaga Caah Laut” has stories about how people in the area dealt with the tsunami and what they learned from evacuations and simulations of evacuations.
The second piece is a dance performance set to Sundanese Kidung that the students have written, sung, and played; and lastly, the word “Mitigarium,” which is an installation, is made of things that can be found in schools. The way things are set up shows expressions of tsunami events, evacuations, and other situations.
Furthermore, due to its location on the Ring of Fire, Indonesia is vulnerable to droughts and floods, as well as earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes. Java and Sumatra, the islands in the south and west, face a wide range of natural dangers. Most of the time, droughts and floods happen on the other islands. Heavy rains cause flooding and landslides in places in the middle of the country with steep terrain.
Indonesia is one of the countries in the world with the most earthquakes, thus, the government is coming up with new ways to get ready for these disasters. The nation’s Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysical Agency (BMKG) cited that they will maximise their digital technologies to improve their systems for collecting data on earthquakes and to get more accurate information and parameters.
A research team from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, and AI industry leaders have created a new standard on AI security in response to the demand for securing the integrity of AI programmes and building trust in AI solutions.
“By providing advice on the necessary defences and assessments to make AI applications more secure, we aim to create trust in AI for AI practitioners. At the same time, we hope that consumers will feel more confident in using AI solutions that have been certified with the standard,” says Prof Liu Yang of NTU’s School of Computer Science and Engineering, who also led the research development of the standard.
Despite the many advantages of AI adoption, cybersecurity risks like hacking constitute a serious risk to AI systems, particularly in situations where hackers may access sensitive data or cause automated systems to malfunction. However, there aren’t many rules protecting the security of AI systems.
The standard will be used to direct worldwide standardisation plans in this field through the International Organization for Standardisation (ISO), making Singapore one of the first nations in the world to steer advancements in AI security.
The new standard explains the different kinds of attacks that AI systems could face, how to measure the security of an AI algorithm, and what AI professionals can do to stop these kinds of attacks. It took a year to make, and 30 AI and security experts from business, academia, and the government helped make it.
The standard highlights four case studies where security breaches could have disastrous effects to show how important secure AI systems are. These case studies include content filters on social media platforms to flag offensive content, credit scoring systems to safeguard people and credit institutions, AI-enabled disease diagnosis systems, and systems that detect and shield computers from malicious software.
There could be serious effects on people’s lives if these AI systems fail. Users might be exposed to extremist content on social media sites, get an erroneous diagnosis, or have their credit score incorrectly determined, for instance.
Meanwhile, scientists from the National University of Singapore and NTU Singapore’s Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering (SCELSE) have developed a method to remove phosphorus from wastewater at temperatures higher than those permitted by currently used methods by storing the chemical in bacteria.
Current phosphorus removal techniques struggle to work effectively in temperatures above 25 degrees Celsius, which are becoming more common in warm countries. This is expected to occur in additional nations as a result of global warming.
Because water reclamation plants in Singapore are home to a range of microbial species, the SCELSE-developed approach, which is based on bacteria, would help to “future-proof” the removal of the toxin. This is because research has shown that at 30 and 35 degrees Celsius, it successfully removes phosphorus from wastewater.
Candidatus Accumulibacter is the name of the bacterial genus that removes phosphate from wastewater and stores it as polyphosphate granules inside itself, and it is not dangerous to the environment and to humans as well. Scientists say that their method could be used both in small reactors in the lab and in large treatment plants.
The bacteria-based technology makes it possible for biological phosphorus removal to work at temperatures as high as 35 degrees Celsius. This would help “future-proof” phosphorus exclusion, since other techniques that use biological advances only work at cooler temperatures and would be less efficient as global warming affects temperatures to rise around the world.