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.
SINGAPORE – February 2, 2023 – Singapore Tourism Board (STB) has collaborated with National Geographic CreativeWorks to unveil UNSEEN/SINGAPORE, a campaign that showcases Singapore as a travel destination from the perspective of intrepid photographers from Southeast Asia. Through photography, the campaign includes a virtual exhibition which encourages travellers to explore the city-state’s cultural diversity and hidden spots, by taking a moment to observe the unseen beauty of destination Singapore.
Running from 2 February 2023, UNSEEN/SINGAPORE will showcase a collection of photographic works through a virtual exhibition, captured and curated by six photographers from across Southeast Asia. UNSEEN/SINGAPORE features the works of:
- Amani Azlin from Malaysia
- Tino Renato from Indonesia
- Chanipol Kusolcharttum, better known as “Rockkhound”, from Thailand
- Phạm Gia Tùng from Vietnam
- Gab Mejia from the Philippines
- Jayaprakash Bojan from Singapore
In curating the UNSEEN/SINGAPORE collection, each photographer visited Singapore in mid-2022, covering areas in Singapore that showcase nature, heritage buildings, cultural sites, and art. Each presented their vision of an UNSEEN/SINGAPORE through ways that resonate with their passions and personal experiences.
The photographers ventured across Singapore, going beyond its famous attractions and iconic skyline, to discover spots equally captivating – from charming neighbourhoods to lush and thriving offshore wetlands and a lighthouse at the island’s edge.
“We aim to inspire travellers to Singapore to rediscover the joy of travel once again. One way is to portray our destination in a different light, by helping visitors to see it afresh through another person’s eyes. UNSEEN/SINGAPORE set out to do this, through the lens of talented photographers from Southeast Asia, who tell their journey of discovery through photography. We hope they will inspire a new wave of visitors to discover a Singapore reimagined,” said Mr John Conceicao, Executive Director, Southeast Asia, STB.
“If you want to experience a country, you have to go down a layer below into the more local stuff to get a feel of what the country is. For people who’ve already visited Singapore, they should try and look for some of the unorthodox locations which they probably missed in their previous visits because
there’s a lot more to Singapore with the culture and heritage,” shared Jayaprakash Bojan, a full-time photographer and documentary filmmaker who advocates conservation via visuals and participated in the campaign.
UNSEEN/SINGAPORE is part of STB’s efforts to boost travel recovery through SingapoReimagine, a tourism campaign that highlights new, innovative and unexpected experiences in Singapore to audiences worldwide.
Between January to December 2022, Singapore recorded 6.3 million international visitor arrivals. Visitor arrivals were driven by strong demand from Singapore’s key source markets, such as Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand.
Get to know the photographers
Amani Azlin from Malaysia
Amani is a multi-disciplinary visual artist who expresses her passion for minimalism through her work for various local brands. When Amani is taking pictures, she goes in with her camera and doesn’t give it too much thought. It’s all about taking pictures in the moment and only scrutinising them afterwards. For her, it’s about capturing candid, unscripted moments in daily life, even when she’s travelling in a different country. As the only female photographer in the group, she offers a fresh take on travelling to must-visit sites with her passion for slow travel rather than touch-and-go experiences.
Jayaprakash Bojan from Singapore
Jayaprakash Bojan was National Geographic’s Nature Photographer of the Year 2017. He is a nature-wildlife conservation artist whose work focuses on wildlife photography abroad. As someone who has lived in Singapore for around 7 years, the pandemic has pushed him to explore his own neighbourhood (particularly Pasir Ris Park) rather than places abroad. With this project, Jayaprakash rediscovers his home, Singapore, from a different perspective.
Tino Renato from Indonesia
A self-taught travel, food, portrait and still life photographer, Tino started his journey when he was younger, starting out with a film camera, and it remains his favourite medium for taking his pictures. For him, it’s all about capturing the raw moments of a place and its people and making them the focus of his pictures. It is what makes his photos appear simple while adding depth to the story as we can witness in the UNSEEN/SINGAPORE project.
Chanipol Kusolcharttum, also known as “Rockkhound”, from Thailand
After a few years of working as an air steward and travelling the world, Rockkhound decided to pursue and kickstart his passion for photography as a career, enabling him to continue exploring the world. The photographer-cinematographer from Bangkok started his photography journey about 10 years ago on Instagram while embracing the philosophy of slowing down to truly live in the moment and enjoy the scenery all around him when he is out and about. His style is to deliver motion and emotion, such as looking for an interesting composition to give some movement to still architecture in Singapore. He runs a production company in Bangkok, holds workshops and shares photo and filmmaking tips on his YouTube channel.
Phạm Gia Tùng from Vietnam
Tùng enjoys the photographic process – from scouting a location to finding new angles and setting up his shots, no matter how long it takes. The Hanoi-based photographer focuses on taking photos from angles people rarely consider, and constantly learning ways to improve his photography. Even though he has visited Singapore many times before, this project gave him the opportunity to appreciate and capture Singapore’s nature and people differently.
Gab Mejia from the Philippines
Gab is a National Geographic explorer and is passionate about wildlife photography and conservation. In 2021, he was awarded the World Wildlife Fund For Nature International President’s Youth Award and was also listed on the 2021 Forbes Under 30 List for The Arts in Asia for photography. His story started when his dad took him mountain climbing, sparking his interest in the natural world and the stories he could discover and capture behind it. His vision for this project is to show a different side of Singapore, capturing moments of the wild and pockets of nature.
UNSEEN/SINGAPORE will be open to the public on www.nationalgeographic.com/unseensingapore from 2 February 2023 inviting visitors to reimagine Singapore. The virtual exhibition will showcase each photographer’s ‘room’ based on their thematic-led collections. Viewers will be able to virtually visit many parts of Singapore including locations such as the Sim Kwong Ho shophouses, Pulau Ubin, Thow Kwang Pottery Jungle, Jurong Lake Gardens, Changi Chapel and Museum, and more.
To view the UNSEEN/SINGAPORE virtual exhibition, visit
To watch behind-the-scenes of UNSEEN/SINGAPORE, visit www.facebook.com/VisitSingaporeMY.
Singapore’s Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations, S Iswaran, and the European Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton, signed the EU-Singapore Digital Partnership (EUSDP), a comprehensive framework for all areas of bilateral digital cooperation between the EU and Singapore.
The partnership covers various aspects of the cross-border digital economy, including digital trade facilitation, secure data transfers, electronic payments, and standards and compliance. It also addresses cutting-edge areas like artificial intelligence (AI), digital identities, and 5G/6G. The partnership aims to enhance broader participation in the digital economy by collaborating on digital skills training for employees and the digitisation of businesses and public services.
The EU-Singapore Digital Trade Principles, the first outcome of the EU-Singapore Digital Partnership, were signed by Iswaran, as stated in a press release. This marks the beginning of a legally binding digital trade agreement between the two sides. The principles facilitate cross-border data transfers, reduce costs through electronic trade documentation and authentication, and enhance online consumer protection for people buying goods and services online.
Minister Iswaran and Commissioner Breton agreed to exchange best practices and/or develop projects in AI governance and standards and digital identities. The two sides will facilitate cross-border digital transactions and support SMEs’ digital transformation and digital skills. They also said they anticipate more joint projects between Singapore and the EU, including the EU Member States, in partnership with the private sector.
Iswaran stated that the EU-Singapore Digital Partnership strengthens connectivity and interoperability between the digital markets of the EU and Singapore. It will enable Singapore citizens and businesses to transact digitally more seamlessly and at lower costs. As a first deliverable, the officials launched a set of Digital Trade Principles, marking the first step towards a bilateral digital trade agreement that provides legal certainty for cross-border digital trade.
Digital infrastructure, such as data centres and submarine telecom cables, plays a crucial role in enabling cross-border connectivity between countries and regions. To create a secure, resilient, and sustainable digital environment for individuals and businesses, both sides will work together to promote digital infrastructure.
Furthermore, to support trusted cross-border data flows and data sharing, Singapore and the EU will work on the application of model data protection contracts and provide guidance for their use. They will also exchange information on the infrastructure and governance frameworks needed to facilitate data sharing.
The two sides will also cooperate on information sharing in platform governance and regulation. To drive the development and uptake of 5G and beyond 5G technologies, they will research use cases and possible areas of collaboration on R&D pilots. To support the deployment of AI, Singapore and the EU will encourage interoperability on AI governance, standards, and testing frameworks. Both sides will also explore cooperation on AI testbeds and research collaboration on AI.
Singapore and the EU have a strong economic partnership, built on the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA), which came into effect in November 2019. The EU is Singapore’s fourth largest goods trading partner globally, with bilateral trade in goods totalling SG$ 102 billion (US$ 78.1 billion) in 2021, which accounted for 8.8% of Singapore’s total goods trade. The EU is also Singapore’s second-largest services trade partner globally, with bilateral trade in services exceeding SG$ 67 billion (US$ 51.3 billion). Investment relations are strong, with the EU being Singapore’s second-largest foreign investor and largest overseas investment destination.
The Ministry of Communication and Informatics carried out the Digital Leadership Academy (DLA) Programme to educate regional leaders and managers of commercial firms. The course seeks to improve the digital leadership capabilities of governors, regents, mayors, and business leaders. The government offers 500 training scholarships to public and commercial sector digital leaders.
This year, the Ministry of Communication and Informatics’ Human Resources Research and Development Agency cooperates with the Ministry of Home Affairs’ Human Resources Development Agency to organise the training.
“We will conduct training and visits for 20 regional heads in collaboration with the Ministry of Home Affairs, and we have already decided on Korea,” told Hary Budiarto, Head of the Ministry of Communications and Informatics Research and Development, at the Press Conference of the Ministry of Communications and Informatics Digital Talent Provision Programme in Central Jakarta.
Hary noted that the DLA programme’s training and visitation in 2022 had been fully completed for 20 regional head participants, with Singapore serving as the destination country. The initiative will introduce another 20 regional heads in 2023, with the Ministry of Home Affairs determining the regional head qualifications. The chosen region will be picked based on various criteria, such as districts and cities with low inflation or high digital community indexes, among many others.
Last year, the ministry cooperated with the BPSDM West Java Province to host a Smart Digital Leader for the West Java Champion course. They have agreed with the Regional Secretary to choose the theme of Dignified North Sumatran Smart Digital Leader for North Sumatra, which will be completed in March.
Apart from the public sector, the DLA programme collaborates with the business sector, including the Indonesian Telematics Society (Mastel) and a U.S. tech company focusing on digital infrastructure. The event will have 200 attendees.
The DLA programme is one of the Ministry of Communication and Informatics’ digital training programmes meant to address the needs of national digital talent. President Joko Widodo has declared this programme a priority to advance the country’s digital transformation.
According to Abdullah Azwar Anas, Minister for Administrative Reform and Bureaucratic Reform (PANRB), digital leadership has become crucial in today’s increasingly connected society. He mentioned that leadership would become one of the options for success in managing foundations and organisations. In terms of digital leadership, it is expected that a public leader is more responsive and technologically literate to capture messages from the public and guide the organisation in the proper direction.
Digital skills are also required to assist the government in implementing an Electronic-Based Government System (SPBE). The SPBE architecture is intended to facilitate thematic bureaucratic reforms, such as the RB eradicating poverty, the RB raising investment, and the RB accelerating the President’s genuine priorities. He emphasised five talents required for digital governance. Digital leadership skills, digital professional skills, digital socio-emotional skills, digital user skills, and 21st-century skills in society are among them.
Furthermore, when it comes to digital leadership, leaders must possess two digital talents: hard and soft skills. Mastery of public sector theory and methodology on hard skills such as organisational theory, public sector human resource management, and public policy analysis, he stated, needs to be revised. As a minor subject, it requires help for mastery of theory and methods from other disciplines, particularly competence in digital technology.
Meanwhile, leaders must have analytical skills to analyse critically and propose problem-solving ideas. A leader must also be proficient in public speaking, English, coding, creativity, dispute resolution and negotiation, and teamwork.
Two tech companies operating under Hong Kong’s Smart Government Innovation Lab have rolled out solutions that are now ready to be acquired by companies and institutions.
Solution I – Heritage Conservation Platform
The company under the Lab has proposed a comprehensive solution for heritage conservation that encompasses data capture, 3D modelling, and online visualisation of realistically rendered models. It supports a variety of capturing sensors and raw data types, including camera images, LiDAR point clouds, and RGB-D data, and can be used with stationary, handheld, robotic, or UAV platforms. With high-precision modelling, realistic texturing and rendering, and a lightweight web-based visualisation platform, this solution is ideal for archiving, exhibiting, renovating, and educational purposes.
The solution was designed to be applied in the areas of City Management, Education, Infrastructure, Recreation and Culture as well as Tourism.
The solution employs the latest in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality, Cloud Computing, Data Analytics, Deep Learning, Mixed Reality as well as Virtual Reality.
In Hong Kong, there are 132 declared monuments and over 1000 historic buildings with significant heritage value. To safeguard and preserve this archaeological and architectural heritage, a comprehensive 3D surveying record is essential for future preservation and monitoring against potential damage or destruction.
Currently, LiDAR scanning and image records are widely used for digital preservation, but the disorganized data and large size make them difficult to use and constructing 3D models from raw scanning data is time-consuming and labour-intensive.
The company has developed a cutting-edge AI-assisted algorithm that can accurately convert raw captured data into 3D models at a cost-effective price. The structured 3D models have the advantage of low data volume, ease of access, and meaningful information for engineers. The solution offered is modular and covers the entire process from data collection to 3D model generation and online visualization, offering great flexibility.
To raise public awareness, promote participation, and enhance cultural tourism, the company provides a realistically rendered 3D model and a lightweight, web-browser-based visualization that can be accessed from anywhere and on any device.
Solution II – LifeOnline: Smart Personal Emergency System for Law Enforcement
Law enforcement officers face various dangers on a regular basis. LifeOnline is a tool that keeps officers, especially those working alone in remote areas, connected with their team. In emergency situations, officers can seek help from their supervisor by pressing an SOS button on their smartphone. If they encounter danger, such as falling from a height or a medical emergency, the smartwatch will notify their team.
Using long-range wireless communication technology, LoraWAN, officers can stay connected even in remote areas covered by the government’s GWIN IOT network. If necessary, portable LoraWAN gateways and concentrators can further extend network coverage. The compact size of the smartwatch allows it to be used as standard equipment for law enforcement officers in their daily operations.
The solution was designed to be applied across the areas of Health as well as Law and Security.
The solution employs the latest in Cloud Computing, the Internet of Things (IoT) as well as Mobile Technologies.
The officers are connected with their teams and could get help in dangerous and emergency situations.
The Secretary of the Ministry of Electronic and Information Technology (MeitY), Alkesh Kumar Sharma, inaugurated the G20 Cyber Security Exercise and Drill for over 400 domestic and international participants as part of India’s G20 presidency.
The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) held the Cyber Security Exercise and Drill in a hybrid format. International participants from over 12 countries participated online. Domestic participants from various sectors like finance, education, telecom, ports and shipping, energy, IT/ITeS, and others attended both in person and virtually.
Speaking at the event, Sharma highlighted the fact that cyber incidents are becoming increasingly sophisticated and disruptive. They have transnational impacts and there is a pressing need for collaboration to build collective resilience against cyberattacks.
Sivagami Sundari Nanda, the Special Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), stressed the importance of a government-wide response to address cyber challenges, including cooperation with law enforcement agencies both domestically and internationally.
The event held a strategic tabletop exercise (TTX) and an operational drill using a CERT-In exercise platform. The first tabletop exercise catered to board and top management and was themed Synergy to counter Global Cyber Crisis. It focused on crisis management and crisis communication.
The second tabletop exercise, an operational drill was designed for CISO and mid-management, themed Building Collective Cyber Resilience. The scenario for the exercise, which included cyber extortion, data breach, supply chain attacks, and disruptions was derived from real-life cyber incidents, in which domestic-level (limited impact) incidents escalated to a global cyber security crisis. The exercises were successful in meeting their objectives and provided insights on enhancing and improving crisis management, crisis communication, incident response, and global coordination and cooperation.
Cybersecurity plays an increasingly important role as the world becomes more reliant on technology. Cybersecurity forms the backbone of a strong digital society, providing a trusted environment necessary to grow digital transformation and the confidence needed to advance digital adoption. Concurrently, strong cyber capability protects the economy from losses due to cybercrimes and builds the foundational capability to grow the emerging digital technology sector.
India has worked with several countries to build resilience against cyberattacks. Last year, CERT-In and the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) designed and conducted the cybersecurity exercise “Synergy” for 13 countries. The initiative was part of the International Counter Ransomware Initiative-Resilience Working Group, which was led by India under the leadership of the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS).
The theme of the exercise was ‘Building Network Resiliency to counter Ransomware Attacks’. Similar to the G20 cybersecurity drill, the exercise scenario was derived from real-life cyber incidents. As OpenGov Asia reported, the specific objective of the exercise was to assess, share, and improve strategies and practices among member-states to build network resiliency against ransomware and cyber extortion attacks.
The exercise ‘Synergy’ was hosted by CERT-In on its exercise simulation platform. Each state participated as a National Crisis Management Team, which was made up of different government agencies including National CERTs/CSIRTs, law enforcement agencies (LEA), communication and IT/ICT ministries, and security agencies.
CERT-In was launched in 2004 by the Department of Information Technology and is currently run under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. CERT-In responds to cybersecurity incidents, reports on network vulnerabilities, and fosters effective IT security practices throughout the country. Under the provisions of the Information Technology Amendment Act 2008, CERT-In oversees the administration of the Act.
Market merchants in Quezon City, Philippines, can now apply for and book spaces and booths online using the Market One-Stop Shop platform (MOSS). According to City Administrator Michael Alimurung, the portal would identify “legal” vendor spaces free of impediments. It is also part of Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte’s ambition of making the city a desirable business location.
With the new system, the city government promises a smooth application process for renting a stall, including payment and collection of market rentals. This will also make the city treasurer’s office’s job easier because they will no longer have to collect rent in person.
To ensure that the new system is widely adopted, the local administration put free Wi-Fi connection points in barangay halls and hundreds of other public venues. A caravan will be launched to assist existing and prospective vendors in registering with the platform.
“Imagine treating the entire city as a public market. This method allows us to locate vendor locations online. It’s thinking broader by allowing us to treat the entire city in terms of how to assist our vendors,” Alimurung told at a press conference at Quezon City Hall.
Margarita Santos, director of the Quezon City Business Permits and Licensing Office, stated that the system would not replace any positions, such as market masters or market managers, but would make their tasks easier.
She stated that the MOSS would use a “first in, first out” queuing system and offer a five-year contract to the first vendor that applied for the space or stand. However, if they cannot satisfy the requirements within a specific number of days, they will be returned to the bottom of the queue,” Santos noted.
Market inspectors will check IDs supplied to registered merchants to guarantee that the correct renters occupy registered booths. Currently, over 12,000 sellers occupy public market stalls in the city. Those are our objectives. In addition, we want to incorporate 43 private markets.
According to Santos, the MOSS would also assist in eliminating red tape and corruption, such as those who reserve marketplaces and then rent them out to other merchants. Because this is an online system, we have a digital trail that allows us to see where the application took too long, who is at fault and admonish them.
Santos added that the system would also record vendor transgressions, which might result in losing their registration area or stall. She stated that registered vendors would be queued online once these areas are full until free space becomes available.
Procopio Lipana, Programmes and Projects Officer, stated that the site would make it easier for the city government and other law enforcement agencies to identify and apprehend unlawful sellers. Quezon City has an anti-hawker division and market inspectors who verify stall sizes and look for illicit merchants.
Indonesia is also working to improve digitisation in the conventional sector. Indonesia’s Ministry of Trade has targeted digitising 1,000 traditional markets and one million MSMEs as part of its digital transformation strategy. There are now 2,047 traditional markets that use local market websites through the Trade Facility Information System (TFIS), ten traditional markets that use digital marketing, and 51 conventional markets that operate QRIS for non-cash transactions.
According to Vice Minister of Trade Jerry Sambuaga, 326 traditional markets in 42 sub-districts have implemented e-retribution, 106,702 local traders, and 9.7 million MSME dealers have made non-cash transactions through QRIS.
The government of Indonesia’s digitalisation efforts have helped the country attain IDR980 trillion (US$ 63 billion), or 5.7% of GDP, by 2021. Indonesia’s GDP is predicted to reach IDR24 trillion (US$1.5 trillion) in 2030, with the digital economy accounting for 18% of GDP, or approximately IDR4,531 trillion (US$ 290 million).
Indonesia’s Central Bank (Bank Indonesia/BI) worked with five ASEAN countries, including the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and Thailand, to provide cross-border payment through QR. In a series of events at the G20 Bali Summit, the five ASEAN countries agreed on Regional Payment Digital Connectivity. The collaboration will make the Indonesian Standard Quick Response Code (QRIS) more widely available in five ASEAN countries.
The Ministry of Communication and Informatics welcomed the discussion. Usman Kansong, Director General of Information and Public Communication at the Ministry of Communication and Information (Kemkominfo) asserted that the ministry supports efforts to integrate payment systems through QRIS ASEAN.
“Because it is related to the digital economy, Kominfo is very supportive; we will provide the infrastructure. For example, we are also putting together an internet network,” said Usman on the sidelines of Jakarta’s 2023 ASEAN Indonesia Chair Kick-Off event.
The five countries’ central banks have held discussions on various occasions to implement cross-border payment system connectivity in the region. Bank Indonesia began payment system connectivity cooperation with other central banks in the area, initially with five countries in the region.
The agreement will be documented as a memorandum of understanding (MOU). At the same time, this initiative demonstrates Indonesia’s regional leadership in implementing the G20 agreement.
Regional Payment Digital Connection among 5 ASEAN Countries, according to Governor of Bank Indonesia (BI) Perry Warjiyo, is a physical representation of how digital connectivity in ASEAN is an example for other countries to help economic recovery in each country regionally.
“Wherever we go in these five ASEAN countries, we can utilise QR payment, QRIS in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines, and it will be a rapid payment system, instantly,” Perry explained.
Meanwhile, according to Esther Sri Astuti Soeryaningrum from an economic and finance NGO, the introduction of QRIS will aid financial integration in ASEAN. At the same time, there are still some hurdles to tackle. However, she mentioned that QRIS, as a non-cash transaction method, can help collaborating countries make cross-border payments easier without needing a money changer.
“With QRIS, we don’t have to worry about converting rupiah currency for other currencies, and we don’t have to do cash transactions, which are riskier and require a higher level of security,” she explained.
Moreover, the Indonesia Central Bank (Bank Indonesia/BI) expanded its payment cooperation network with Japan in December. The signing of a Memorandum of Cooperation (NK) addressing QR-based payment by BI and Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI). Dody B. Waluyo, Deputy Governor of BI, stated that the partnership on QR-based payment between BI and METI Japan would be a key concern for regulatory authorities and industry, given that the NK in question has the potential to strengthen economic relations between Indonesia and Japan.
The QR-based payment collaboration aims to accelerate cooperation on the implementation and interoperability of cross-border or country payments using QR codes, specifically the QR Code Indonesian Standard (QRIS) and the Japan Unified QR Code (JPQR). Furthermore, this collaboration will create a framework that permits QR-based payments between the two countries and other parties, such as payment system operators (SP).
The agreement marks the beginning of BI and METI Japan’s collaboration to carry out various activities related to the interconnectivity of QR-based payment systems, such as policy dialogue, technical cooperation, and the formation of working groups to ensure goals are met, such as efforts to implement QR-based cross-border payments to support people-to-people transactions in both countries. This collaboration is expected to promote payment system digitisation in both Indonesia and Japan.