Furthering its work in supporting the Smart Nation Initiative (Read the first part of the OpenGov report on Smart Nation Innovations at A*STAR here), A*STAR is driving innovations in order to facilitate greater scientific outcomes.
The agency is working on several projects which empower researchers, position A*STAR as a world-class research agency and help Singapore attract the best research talent from around the world.
OpenGov spoke to Dr. John Kan, Chief Information Officer (CIO), Information Technology Shared Services at A*STAR to learn about the agency’s key role in Singapore’s Smart Nation Program. Mr Max Tsang, Deputy Director, Information Technology and Services and Dr. Govindasamy Rajasekaran, Head, IT Planning & Communications also provided inputs.
A*STAR commissioned ExaNet in January 2015 as a high-performance 100 Gigabit campus-wide network. The high speed network enabled researchers to share large scientific datasets such as high resolution imaging, molecular models, 3D models and genome sequencing data.
ExaNet is deployed via the SingAREN Lightwave Internet Exchange (SLIX). SingAREN stands for Singapore Advanced Research and Education Network. It facilitates efficient exchanges of local traffic from Singapore's Research and Education community and provides international connectivity with overseasResearch and Education Networks (RENs).
ExaNet segregates research traffic (open network) from corporate traffic (research network) to provide a dedicated super-highway for researchers to collaborate within A*STAR and with external partners, such as NTU (Nanyang Technological University) and NUS (National University of Singapore) and overseas research institutions. ExaNet has been already deployed for A*STAR’s research institutes.
High performance computing (HPC)
A*STAR Computational Resource Centre (A*CRC) provides HPC resources to the A*STAR research community. Currently, A*CRC supports HPC needs of over seven hundred strong user community.
A*STAR also has an Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC). The institute provides leadership in high performance computing as a strategic resource for creating scientific breakthroughs and industry development. IHPC’s R&D projects in sectors such as aerospace, infocomm, marine, maritime and offshore, urban planning, personal care, and medical technology have benefited industry partners.
Earlier this year, OpenGov interviewed Dr. Kan about plans for the National Supercomputing Centre (NSCC) and reported on A*STAR working towards the launch. Its 1 Petaflop (PF) system comprises approximately 1,288 nodes with 128 Gigabyte memory per node connected by high-speed interconnects. The nodes are connected to a 13 Petabytes high performance storage with very high input-output burst rate of up to 500 Gigabytes/s.
NSCC is operational now and it provides HPC resources, multi-petabyte data storage and multi-Gigabit high-speed global connectivity. It is a shared facility for supporting scientific and industrial research in the public sector, educational and research institutes, as well as the private sector. Using InfiniCortex, NSCC can collaborate with supercomputing facilities around the world to create a Galaxy of Supercomputers.
InfiniCortex – A galaxy of Supercomputers
InfiniCortex network map (Image courtsey of A*STAR)
InfiniCortex is the concurrent supercomputing across the globe, utilising trans-continental InfiniBand (a computer-networking communications standard, with very high throughput and very low latency used in HPC) and a Galaxy of Supercomputers.
Effectively, it creates a Galaxy of Supercomputers, with the supercomputers at the 7 nodes leveraging the InfiniBand network to act as one and tackle the biggest computational challenges. It was the first project in the world, where a 100 Gbps connection was established between supercomputers separated by a geographical distance of greater than 26,000 km.
This distributed and collaborative approach has the added benefits of solving the problem of huge power requirements, data replication and disaster recovery. This opens up a possible avenue towards Exascale computing, which are computing systems capable of at least one exaFLOPS, or a billion calculations per second.
Traditionally, InfiniBand was meant for use over short distances, say 50 metres within a data centre. Then A*STAR started work on extending the range, creating a global high speed network (100 Gbps per second).
Initial trials were conducted across institutes of higher learning which were 20-30 kilometres apart. Subsequently, InfiniCortex was demonstrated in November 2014 on a show floor in New Orleans, United States, running a connection from Singapore.
Now, large data sets are shared with the US, Europe, Japan, Australia and Canada.
Explaining the change wrought by InfiniCortex in data transfer, Dr. Kan said, “Transferring a 1 terabyte file over an Ethernet network using TCP/IP might take 2-3 days. Using InfiniBand trial networks, the transfer is completed in 20-25 minutes. In addition, the error rate in the old networks is as high as 60-80%. With InfiniBand, the error rate drops to a range between 10 and 20%. So, we can transfer faster and more accurately. We will keep on working to make data faster and cheaper.”
This is critical for data-driven research areas such as genomics. Large data sets can be transferred and accessed significantly faster, enabling improved collaboration between universities in Singapore and the rest of the world.
Making Singapore a regional and global research hub, is an integral part of A*STAR’s strategy to improve the quality of life of Singapore’s citizens.
Read the first part of the report here.
In the new normal, everything is moving online, including employee workloads, leadership insights, and how the services and businesses interact with customers or clients. Organisations must undergo a digital transformation to create entirely digital processes, better experiences and streamlined operations.
Successful digital transformation allows all processes and systems to communicate with one another. Users have a single source of truth, updates occur in real-time, and data is integrated.
The transformation enables organisations to effortlessly pivot when necessary because all their systems and teams are interconnected. Everything can be done quickly and without impacting the operations – whether it is to add more users, connect new business software or begin automating tasks.
In a cloud-first strategy, organisations are not merely adding a new layer of technology when they transform. They are expanding their IT capability in an entirely new way. Data and systems are hosted in the cloud, allowing for a seamless, effective and adaptable connection of all their IT.
Increasingly, companies of all sizes are aware of the potential and power of the cloud. Due to the increased security, scalability and convenience, more businesses and services are moving their apps and data onto the cloud.
Within this suite, that offers consumers a significant advantage is cloud communications. As remote and hybrid work models become the norm, cloud communication is quickly gaining importance.
The OpenGov Breakfast Insight with Indonesia’s top public sector leaders on 1 December 2022 at the Westin Jakarta provided the current information on the benefits of the most recent cloud technology that can help the nation’s public, education, financial services and healthcare sectors.
The Cloud at the Heart of the Digital Transformation
Mohit Sagar, CEO & Editor-in-Chief OpenGov Asia, believes cloud-based strategies are being adopted and implemented by companies of all sizes to spur growth and increase profits. Cloud has fundamentally altered business communications.
Cloud transforms how people communicate, collaborate and conduct business in today’s digital world. It has sparked advancements in machine learning, the Internet of Things (IoT), devices, healthcare and autonomous vehicles.
“The cloud offers cutting-edge features and functionality that let staff members collaborate and communicate in ways – and places – they never imagined,” says Mohit. “Organisations can outsource systems management tasks like provisioning, switching, data storage, and security to cloud communications providers.”
Moreover, with remote and hybrid models, employees report higher productivity and greater satisfaction.
Nonetheless, according to Mohit, even though remote and hybrid models are becoming increasingly popular, they will not be successful if they are not based on the right technology. Cloud communications are a crucial component of any hybrid or remote work environment.
With cloud-based communication tools, staff can easily switch to working remotely, teams can keep meeting, and operations can go on as usual.
“Technology for collaboration will be more crucial than ever with employees working in different time zones and locations. Hence, teams have the resources to connect with coworkers across boundaries thanks to cloud communications,” Mohit explains.
Organisations can make the most of their resources with cloud communications, which can quicken implementation, increase flexibility, and provide limitless high-volume information exchange. Moreover, cloud communication security features guarantee adherence to data privacy laws.
The technology, protocols and best practices that safeguard cloud computing environments, cloud-based applications and cloud-stored data collectively constitute cloud security. Understanding exactly what needs to be secured and the system components that must be managed is the first step in securing cloud services.
As an overview, cloud service providers are responsible for backend development against security vulnerabilities. Clients should concentrate primarily on the proper service configuration, safe use habits, and selecting a security-conscious provider.
“Clients should also confirm that any end-user networks and hardware are properly secured,” Mohit says.
Every step taken to secure the cloud aims to facilitate data recovery in the event of data loss; guard against malicious data theft on networks and storage; prevent human error or carelessness that results in data leaks, and minimise the effects of any data or system compromise.
The transition to cloud-based computing has resulted in a significant evolution of traditional IT security. While cloud models offer greater convenience, always-on connectivity necessitates new security measures. There are a few ways in which cloud security differs from conventional IT models as a modernised cyber security solution.
According to Nathan Guy, Zoom Phone Leader, Asia Pacific, Zoom, the macro business environment has significantly changed. Businesses are under tremendous pressure to increase productivity, adapt quickly as competition heats up and be productive to keep up with the rapid pace of innovation and technological advancements.
This problem is becoming even more pressing because of economic uncertainty. Without effective communication between customers, prospects and employees, it will be impossible to address these issues.
Nathan highlighted that the workforce is also experiencing a generational shift. People prefer the option of remote employment. And they are asking for cutting-edge equipment and communication systems as they need to do their jobs.
With every new tool and app that is made available, communication becomes more complex and confusing. Employees, clients, and potential customers are just a few stakeholders with preferences and expectations about how, when, and where they conduct business.
“Due to this, many businesses choose their battles carefully when it comes to facilitating communication,’ says Nathan.
Among the routes they take are keeping up with currently used systems deemed adequate; embedded communication tools included with other software packages; exploring multiple solutions depending on the situation; among others. “These strategies are meant to provide the organisation with fundamental communication.”
Such methods allow for some flexibility but also change the environment for prospects, employees and customers. People are compelled to alternate between various solutions based on their needs.
Some consumers “separate” from a favourite brand after just one disappointing interaction. Today’s harsh reality is that communication is a critical path activity; your business will also fail if it fails. A path that is crucial to the business failure.
Nathan believes that organisations must go beyond essential communication to universal communication. Creating intuitive connections to all parties – employees, customers, and investors – regardless of location, device, or business activity – will have a tremendous advantage in this uncertain business environment.
“You do this by combining the connection needs of the individual and organisation by delivering a consistent and quality experience for all participants, making human connection effortless, and enabling rapid innovation to maintain relevance,” says Nathan.
These steps could result in:
- Meeting both the organisations’ core business needs and the demands of their customers;
- Refocusing internal resources away from administering communications and towards new services and capabilities; and
- Improving the agility and the perceived value both in the company and the market
An organisation’s reputation is directly linked to the quality of its communication services. In addition to the fact that employees, clients, and customers can work from anywhere, people returning to the office do not want them to be disappointed by the home office environment to which they have grown accustomed.
Expectations have increased; a session that fails due to dropped participants or subpar audio/video is unacceptable and embarrassing. Organisations must adapt to this new hybrid environment and guarantee that everyone receives high-quality service regardless of circumstance or location.
“When communications are disrupted in today’s world, business transactions become impossible,” claims Nathan. “Organisations can eliminate a work-limiting unpredictability risk by doing this. They provide a controlled experience by enabling the staff to work without concern about the underlying technology.”
By using a top-notch infrastructure specially built to prevent failures, Zoom will protect organisations from communications breakdowns. Organisations could troubleshoot the underlying cause of environmental problems and take preventative measures. This allows the workforce to concentrate on their work without unneeded interruptions or uncertainty. Hence, employees will have confidence that the communication system they provide will work as expected.
Differences in network performance and bandwidth can seriously impair audio and video quality and lead to intermittent problems, preventing some users from participating fully. Even with severe packet loss, organisations can use Zoom to deliver a productive meeting experience. This makes it possible to eliminate local network and infrastructure variability, which is crucial when doing business internationally.
More complexity is being added to communications. “Now you have workers returning to the office, frequently in a hotel setting, as well as those travelling or working remotely,” says Nathan.
Three main contexts have been produced as a result: remote, office and mobile. Unfortunately, all too frequently, people are forced to juggle a patchwork of disjointed point solutions created during the pandemic. This includes a personal cellphone, a videoconferencing option for small meetings and another tool for significant events.
Nathan believes that employees and clients must learn to use a different interface. Even if the organisations stick with a single vendor, many have expanded through acquisitions, leading to various products with no shared characteristics.
“There’s no doubt that communication platforms are a big part of how hybrid teams work,” Nathan asserts. “A modern communications platform like Zoom could help boost productivity, add to what can be done, and show how engaged employees are.”
Fireside Chat: How to Prepare for the Transition to the “Cloud Culture”
According to Deddy Kartika Utama, Head of Information Security, Ministry of Home Affairs (Kemendagri), policies regarding political and general governance and regional autonomy are developed, determined and implemented by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The Ministry also plays a role in establishing regional and village administration, governing issues, regional finance, demographics and civil records.
Given the number of parties involved and the nature of the hybrid organisation, including the Ministry, maintaining consistency may prove difficult. Because of this, compelling and trustworthy means of communication are crucial.
Cloud communications, Deddy emphasised, continue to be the preferred method of meeting the growing demand for efficient organisational communications, considering the advent of the hybrid workplace. With cloud computing and communications, organisations can quickly expand or contract to meet fluctuating demand.
In the public sector, by using internet-based connectivity to reduce lag time and unreliable connections, organisations can communicate with their team and customers through various channels, including email, voice calls, chat and video.
Through the advancements in IT, organisations now have access to a flexible, instant, scalable, stable, and conveniently located environment. Organisations that switch to cloud-based communication technology can take advantage of full cloud communication’s mobility, scalability, security, reliability, and cost-effectiveness.
The rapid development of cloud computing services and collaboration technologies has apparent benefits for remote and hybrid workforces. It enables teams to work together and achieve their shared goals even when they are not physically present in the same office.
“Using a cloud collaboration strategy, coworkers can work together on documents stored in the cloud while having access to the same files and making changes to them in real-time,” Deddy explains. “One method for cutting costs while maximising organisational resources despite growing communication capabilities and reach is to concentrate on the quality of the technology.”
By utilising the cloud, businesses have found cheaper alternatives while ensuring that their customers can access their data and systems from any location at any time. Transitioning from traditional to cloud office culture is exciting and promising. To protect the organisations and their operations, a solid security foundation must first be established.
According to Deddy, the potential of cloud computing is becoming increasingly apparent to various organisations, and it is also growing. “Organisations are already transitioning from the traditional office culture to the cloud culture, and doing so is profitable. They can save money and space by switching to cloud technology.”
Nathan emphasised the significance of cloud security, albeit that most organisations are already utilising cloud computing in some form. “Organisations are still hesitant to move more data and applications to the cloud due to security, governance, and compliance concerns when storing their content in the cloud.”
By partnering with Zoom, the human connection could be simplified and security could be included. Organisations can capitalise on the habits and competencies individuals have developed over the past two years. Additionally, they will ensure consistency across multiple use cases.
“By partnering with Zoom, businesses will be able to maintain their relevance through rapid innovation. They have access to a constant stream of new capabilities that reflect actual user requirements,” Nathan claims.
According to Mohit, a critical component of cloud security is the protection of data and business content such as customer orders, secret design documents and financial records, among others.
Preventing leaks and data theft is critical for maintaining customer trust and safeguarding assets that contribute to competitive advantage. “The ability of cloud security to protect your data and assets makes it critical for any organisations that are transitioning to the cloud.”
Development partners can assist organisations in meeting a broader range of customer needs, resulting in increased market reach. As a result, when developing cloud applications, make sure to include platform or integration capabilities as well as a partner strategy.
“Your cloud partner strategy should be based on business potential, engineering capability, and platform marketing. A balanced strategy will enable a larger partner ecosystem, more comprehensive customer solutions, and increased revenue potential,” Mohit concludes.
Enterprise transformation refers to a significant shift in the way a company conducts its day-to-day operations. This could involve adjusting an organisation’s fundamental technology, the structure of the company’s workforce or the way the company creates and markets its goods.
Enterprise transformation can take many different forms, one of the most prevalent of which is when an organisation makes a significant change in the products or services it offers. Currently, with digital technology, adjustments like this are occurring more frequently.
Companies are realising that they need to modify their approaches to meet the ever-evolving requirements of their customers as well as the consistently expanding standards set by their rivals.
Simultaneously, several Digital technologies, including Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things, Blockchain, Big Data, Virtual reality, Augmented Reality, Robotics and automation, among others, have the potential to transform how businesses operate. They can transform various functions of the value chain, such as logistics & supply, manufacturing, engineering, marketing, customer service, corporate management and support functions.
With their versatility and agility, these technologies can be deployed to numerous industries, among these are Healthcare, Food & Beverage, Manufacturing, Services and Mobility.
Innovative Business: What Lies Ahead?
“Businesses need innovation, not only for survival but for future growth,” says Vikram. “Innovation could emerge as product innovation, process innovation, service innovation or business model innovation to create a long-term sustainable advantage.”
Enterprises have been creating legacies based on research and development (R&D) which has LED them to incremental innovations. However, innovation is disruptive or transformational and it can be around product processes, services and business models.
Transformational innovation represents innovation that transforms businesses and innovates processes to create long-term sustainable, competitive, profitable business models. Disruptive innovation is targeted more towards identifying and inventing new mechanisms to solve existing and anticipated problem statements in businesses, which is also expected to have a business impact.
Many businesses do not distinguish between R&D and innovation. Enterprises today, however, are better able to distinguish themselves from one another and can understand and appreciate the impact that innovation has in comparison to R&D’s function.
R&D is an essential part of most businesses, and the benefits it brings are usually small and mostly limited to the people who work in R&D.
Innovation, on the other hand, isn’t just a function; it’s also a way of thinking for the whole organisation. It affects everything from the process to the product to the service to the business model, and the expected size of its effects is disruptive rather than incremental.
This further demonstrates how the current difficult business and economic environment has forced companies with lower levels of technology adoption and digital maturity to rethink their operations.
Enterprises can now assess the possibilities that technology integration may bring about, not only to address their current problem statements but also to consider new opportunities, whether it takes the form of a product, service, or business model.
There are a few common KPIs that should be measured regularly to gauge an organisation’s and its employees’ level of digital maturity. Vikram believes that because every organisation is unique, the KPIs used for assessments will vary.
For example, the key metrics for some common functions, like customer experience, data and insights, strategic and leadership, technology, operations, digital skill sets and so on, would need to be customised based on how they have changed and how they are changing now.
“We can get innovations which can predict based on the data analytics for the next 10 years,” Vikram reveals. “Every organisation should think out-of-the-box. Then they only need the right set of people who can guide them for the KPIs to be defined.”
Additionally, a variety of industries, including those in healthcare, food and beverage, manufacturing, services, FMCG, mobility, hospitality, and many more, can adapt to new technologies.
The following are crucial actions that businesses need to take today to digitally transform their futures:
- Identify your key employees’ level of digital maturity
- Research the technologies that are currently being used by the Enterprise’s various functions
- Select current issue citations
- Sort the problem statements according to priority
- Assess a system for locating, evaluating, and integrating digital technologies
- After a framework has been chosen and put into place, make the process iterative
- Establish it as the Enterprise’s mentality
Urban Ideas and Solutions Through LKYGBPC
When it comes to entrepreneurs who are truly pushing the envelope, Vikram is looking for certain characteristics. One of these is how the participants interact with businesses, which is determined by a unique set of criteria.
“And because we engage with various sets of parameters when looking at entrepreneurs, we can combine their efforts with those of the business,” Vikram explains.
Therefore, they bring the enterprise work and the entrepreneurs together when looking at the entrepreneurs, especially in the GHV DX LAB framework – they are the project managers and the system integrator for GHV.
The digital transformation, specifically the adoption of online business models and the general shift of economic and social activities online, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, has altered how economies operate, businesses function and societies interact.
The exploitation of data is the driving force behind the emergence of a new type of data-driven economy. It creates new opportunities for international cooperation to leapfrog the intermediate infrastructure of the industrial age, taking advantage of the new markets made available by digital platforms and the improved service delivery made possible by smart technologies.
In addition, the most effective mechanism in education would be to integrate innovation and entrepreneurship at the earliest possible stages of the educational system. In today’s context, entrepreneurship is about more than just passion, raising capital, or coding something; it’s about building a network around yourself to support your entrepreneurial journey. The network is critical.
Vikram spent sixteen years in Japan before relocating to Singapore and India to establish a business. He has realised that he must contribute significantly to society. For Vikram, LKYGBPC is a fantastic platform that can be an integral part of any entrepreneur’s entrepreneurial journey.
As opportunities for entrepreneurs are created through this platform, a global network of mentors and other ecosystem partners are integrated with LKYGBPC to focus on the entrepreneurs. “I think it’s a fantastic platform that is desperately needed right now, not just in the context of Singapore or Southeast Asia, but for the global market,” Vikram is convinced.
He believes that a combination of all these factors pushed him into the venture capital world. “I enjoy being a techie. But I’m enjoying my current role as a mentor to thousands of Asian entrepreneurs.”
Vikram has mentored over 1200 startups to date, including 3 that will soon be unicorns. He has personally invested in over 50 startups, and through the GHV Fund, he has invested in over 20 startups. “Every day, I learn something new and give it back to society in the same way.”
Building intellectual property (IP) rights has been the best part of his digital journey so far, and he hopes to keep doing this. “The level of self-satisfaction I feel is never as high as when I say IP is greater. You can make a lot of money consulting, but that doesn’t get me excited if you can’t create IP and work together. And that’s why what we’ve been doing around it can be great,” Vikram concludes.
The Department of Architecture under the National University of Singapore College of Design and Engineering (NUS CDE) opened the Architectural Conservation Laboratory (ArClab), a unique living laboratory housed in a conserved building which will serve as a site for researchers, graduate students and built heritage professionals to conduct a wide range of teaching and research activities on sustainable development of the built environment.
ArClab was established in January 2022 to achieve four key goals:
- augment the training capabilities of Singapore’s building industry in built heritage conservation;
- develop innovative use of technologies to enhance conservation;
- conduct high-impact research into broader conservation issues; and
- promote climate resilience and net-zero retrofit in historic buildings.
Over the next four to five years, ArClab will undertake the restoration of 141 Neil Road, a historic townhouse in the Blair Plain Conservation Area. The Portabella family, who owned the house, had recently donated it to the University, along with a gift of S$2 million, to support its repair and conservation works.
The Head of the NUS Department of Architecture and UNESCO Chair on Architectural Heritage Conservation and Management in Asia noted that as the first of its kind in Southeast Asia, the ArClab aims to be an exemplar and pedagogical demonstration of sensitive repair and conservation, adaptive reuse of heritage, and sustainable management of the historic environment.
The building’s conservation process will provide opportunities for both teaching and research. Using the conserved townhouse as a living lab, ArClab will showcase a new model for learning about the historic environment, building professional capacity to manage historical resources, and promoting historical and environmental studies.
The Deputy Dean (Research), the NUS College of Design and Engineering noted that ArClab is a timely endeavour that gathers expertise in engineering, design and architecture from the NUS College of Design and Engineering to preserve our history and build skills to address Singapore’s unique urban sustainability concerns.
Speaking at the opening of ArClab, the Minister for National Development and Minister-in-charge of Social Services Integration noted that he is excited to see ArClab become an engine to develop the knowledge of conservation practices and skills locally; develop heritage capacity building in Singapore and the region; support building owners in the maintenance and restoration of heritage buildings; grow Singapore’s overseas presence in built heritage and break new ground internationally and see how sustainability and liveability can be imbued inbuilt heritage.
Bring cultural heritage to life
One of the oldest buildings in the entire stretch of Neil Road, the historic house was built as part of the Everton Estate in the 1880s. The historic building contains a collection of decorative tiles depicting English Art Noveau and Chinese motifs. It is adorned with several auspicious Chinese character plaques in clerical and cursive font styles.
Housed within the historic building, ArClab will be a dynamic “classroom in the city” for students taking graduate programmes and doctoral studies in built heritage management. They will play a significant role in the repair and conservation works.
Students will learn and conduct research on areas such as traditional building materials and craftsmanship; the use of innovative technologies for repair works, energy efficiency and comfort; and net-zero retrofit in historic buildings. ArClab will also design and deliver advanced courses for professionals working in the field of built heritage.
The research will be conducted alongside teaching activities in the conserved building. NUS researchers will carry out various projects, including conducting research, documentation and restoration of Singapore’s heritage using innovative technologies such as 3D modelling; developing an integrated approach for energy efficiency and net-zero retrofit of Singapore’s historic buildings; testing and developing traditional building materials and techniques as well as using innovative technologies for conservation and repair works in the Singapore context; and estimating the impact of the high-density urban surroundings on the microclimate of historic districts.
A broad range of advanced equipment will be available for researchers and students to conduct holistic research and training.
The Indonesian government supports accelerating digital transformation in education by encouraging teaching staff to hone their digital skills. Research in 2020 showed that digital skill improvement could contribute IDR 4,434 trillion to Indonesia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2030.
In light of this, the Ministry of Communication and Informatics (Kemkominfo) is eager to accelerate technology advancement in every sector to support Indonesia’s 2045 vision to become a sovereign and independent country.
The government recognises that educators need to have digital proficiency to overcome and adapt to teaching and learning that has transitioned from offline to online.
“We need to pay special attention to education and proficiency in digital technology. The 2020-2024 RPJMN (National Medium-Term Development Plan) has seen that digital transformation in national strategic sectors needs to be implemented and accelerated,” said the Director of Digital Economy of the Ministry of Communication and Information, I Nyoman Adhiarna in his remarks at the Digital Transformation Education Sector online seminar.
Based on the Ministry of Communication and Informatics development plan, education is one of the strategic sectors that will support national economic growth in 2020-2024. Moreover, the Directorate of Digital Economy endorses the plan as a programme enabler to support the Ministry of Education and Culture.
Throughout 2022 Kominfo has organised digital technology adoption programmes in the education sector in various locations in Indonesia. Covering Bali, Bintan Regency, Batam City, Sorong Regency, Biak Numfor Regency, Klaten Regency, Kendal Regency, Kuningan Regency, Medan City, Padang City and Tual City, Nyoman explained.
Meanwhile, the Regional Secretary (Sekda) of the Government of Kuningan Regency, West Java, Dian Rahmat Yanuar said the education sector digital technology adoption programme would expand teachers’ skills and knowledge and increase their confidence.
“The pandemic era was a challenge, as well as a momentum for us to declare ourselves to be more competitive in the future complex challenge, therefore teachers are required to adapt faster,” he shared.
New Curriculum to Boost Digitalisation
Kemkominfo has collaborated with the Ministry of Education and Culture (Kemendikbud) in driving the “Merdeka Mengajar” (Independent Teaching) platform as a new curriculum. The Executive Director of CERDAS, Indra Charismiadji, explained the new “Merdeka Mengajar” curriculum concept focuses on the learning process of students.
“The essence of differentiated learning is that it focuses on students as every student cannot be the same. Teachers need to know how to deal with these different students,” expanded Indra.
Other participants emphasised the importance of teachers providing relevant context in the learning process. Educators have to adopt different approaches when writing in academic media and on social media. They can become teacher influencers by trying new things.
The seminar entitled “Digital Transformation of the Education Sector” was organised by the Ministry of Communication and Information to celebrate National Teacher’s Day. The Ministry worked with provincial, district/city governments and all public and private schools to broaden the activities outreach.
The webinar discussed various problems in the learning system. In the event, participants discussed how to accelerate technological advancement and agreed that it requires teachers to adapt and maximise the use of technology to make better school learning.
Kominfo has given digital transformation top priority at the Indonesian G20 Presidency Summit in 2022. Mira Tayyiba, secretary general of the Ministry of Communication and Informatics, is concerned about the issue of digital transformation. The forum working groups discussed several digital issues, such as employment, discussing digital, education, health, and other topics.
The School of Business and Management of The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST Business School) and The Institute of Sustainability and Technology (IST) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to foster the partnership on ESG initiatives through education and technology. Both parties are working to accelerate the transition to a circular economy and drive innovation towards a net-zero future.
The Founder & Faculty Advisor of IST, Adjunct Professor of the Department of Management at HKUST and the Dean of HKUST Business School signed the MoU to affirm the strategic partnership. Industry leaders and business elites representing over 100 organizations joined to show their overwhelming support and commitment to sustainability.
The Chief Secretary for the Administration of HKSAR stated that Hong Kong, as an international financial centre connecting global capital with opportunities, has a unique role to play in addressing the world’s most pressing environmental and social challenges brought about by climate change.
By making a thorough effort including the issuance of green bonds, implementation of the Green and Sustainable Finance Grant Scheme and nurturing of talent, and leveraging its close partnership with relevant stakeholders, the HKSAR Government aims to develop Hong Kong into a green and sustainable hub in the region.
The Founder & Faculty Advisor of IST, Adjunct Professor of the Department of Management at HKUST said that to nurture the next generation of ESG talent, IST is working with HKUST to co-create a series of globally recognised executive training programs to inspire purpose-driven business management.
While striving for net zero by 2050, Hong Kong is uniquely positioned to maximize synergies with GBA cities to play a strategic gateway role as a regional green finance hub for sustainable investments and cross-border carbon trading. By deploying catalytic capital, innovation can be fuelled, and triple returns can be empowered via a thriving ecosystem for decarbonization technologies to accelerate the transition to a circular economy. By leveraging innovative technology, education initiatives and strategic collaboration, the net zero targets can be achieved.
The President of HKUST stated that the two parties both aim to guide the city towards a net-zero, sustainable future through education and technology. Through their core missions in research, teaching, and innovation, the next generation of talent is being nurtured into responsible professionals and leaders and contributing to solving pressing environmental and social issues.
The Dean of HKUST Business School noted that this partnership with IST supports Hong Kong’s brown-to-green transition through talent development and technology deployment. Marking a key event under this partnership, the ESG Forum familiarised participants with key aspects of ESG management through expert insights covering strategy, risks, benchmarking, and future trends. HKUST looks forward to pursuing a broad range of sustainability-related opportunities in training, research and development, and community engagement with IST.
An ESG Forum was held after the MoU signing ceremony. Various renowned academics and industry veterans participated in the forum, exchanged their views, and shared insights on ESG and sustainability.
About the Institute of Sustainability and Technology
To nurture the next generation of ESG talent, IST is partnering with HKUST Business School to co-create a series of globally recognised training programs for business executives. Catering to the diverse context of Asian markets, IST seeks to establish robust impact measurement and management methodology as well as ESG ratings and benchmark standards for different sectors across Asia Pacific. To promote thought leadership and best practices, IST sponsors interdisciplinary research studies to provide compelling data to advance the agenda for sustainable development. For more details about the Institute, please visit
Seven intelligent robots have been installed in the wards of Yishun Community Hospital (YCH) to welcome patients and bring supplies to the bedside. These brand-new Temi Robots, known as Angel, were introduced to support nursing care so that nurses could focus their time and energy on clinical tasks while still giving patients a personal and meaningful touch.
These robots are loaded with patient education materials that patients and their caregivers can easily access, in addition to providing announcements and reminders throughout the day in all four major languages.
They also have a variety of features like games and entertainment, teleconference tools, and translation capabilities. YCH hopes to further improve patient engagement and satisfaction in its wards with the new addition.
A pilot project using Nao Robots was also used by YCH in previous years to assist dementia patients in their rehabilitation. Robot Therapy, which was started by the staff at YCH in 2018, is now a part of the therapy-related services offered there.
YCH, which is conceived of as a healing space for patients, offers intermediate care for recovering patients who do not require the intensive care services of an acute-care hospital. With rehabilitation and therapy at the heart of the hospital’s mission, the team was eager to investigate the potential of the innovation, Robot Therapy.
Because they can perform a wide range of tasks with little to no value added, hospital robots offer a reliable solution, freeing up doctors, nurses, and surgeons to focus on more high-value work. Robots have become an integral part of the healthcare industry, with many hospitals now using them to perform both surgical and administrative tasks.
In addition, prior to the arrival of Nao Robots in Singapore, a few local nursing homes used Paro, a robot that mimics the appearance, movement, and sounds of a baby seal. The therapeutic robot seal’s use is like animal therapy in that the robot helps to calm elderly people who have dementia or a loss of cognitive function.
The Nao robot, on the other hand, came with higher expectations: it can express emotions like laughter or sadness during interactions; it can interact and communicate with patients in different languages; and it has optic, audio, and impact sensors and motors to detect surroundings, interpret detection, and activate programmed responses.
Various interaction and language modes can be programmed into the Nao robot. The YCH Robot Therapy team took advantage of this by incorporating the robot into specific therapy sessions. This increased efficiency freed up nursing time, which could then be used for other care activities. Nao robot therapy sessions were trialled with 48 patients from the Dementia ward in October 2018.
Patients with Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia (BPSD) require more care and attention, so this was chosen as the pilot ward. By introducing the Nao robot, YCH has increased patient engagement, motivate them to engage in social activities, and shorten the time required for social activities so that caregivers could concentrate on other care-related tasks.
The implementation process was divided into three stages: training staff, selecting suitable patients and assessing seniors who participated in the Robot Therapy programme using the Observed Emotion Rating Scale.
Singhealth asserts that the COVID-19 pandemic, which hastened the adoption of these solutions and accelerated the digital transformation of healthcare systems globally, has sparked a tremendous interest in digital technology and virtual health solutions.
A group of clinician innovators from SingHealth sought to ascertain whether digital interventions are more affordable and provide patients with greater value and benefits in anticipation of this continuing upward trend, and they discovered that this may not always be the case for some eye conditions.
Both in normal circumstances and in times of crisis, Thai people are known to generate a lot of innovative ideas and continue to develop products that make their lives better. This encompasses and encapsulates the nation’s most recent campaign, Innovation Thailand, which promotes Thai creativity to a global audience.
The Innovation Thailand Alliance consists of partners from a variety of sectors including government agencies, private organisations, educational institutions, and civil societies. Through it, the National Innovation Agency of Thailand (NIA), is expanding the scope of its Innovation Thailand platform.
The fundamental goal is to use national/local ideas to revitalise the nation by promoting awareness of and pride in inventive Thai works. Allies will serve as ambassadors in the effort to promote Thailand as an innovative nation. They will be able to exchange knowledge and skills with one another at the same time.
All stakeholders are enthusiastic to help Thailand achieve its goal of being one of the world’s top 30 innovative nations by 2030 and turning Thailand into an innovation-driven country.
Innovation Capabilities of Thai People
The National Innovation Agency’s mission is to support and develop Thailand’s innovation system to promote economic restructuring and competitive enhancement.
“We began the Innovation Thailand campaign before COVID-19 because we faced a significant challenge in terms of how not only Thai people but also global clients, perceive the nation’s unique products and services,” explains Dr Pun-Arj.
Even though this may not be directly related to innovation, the NIA has attempted to communicate and brand national innovation in such a way that it can be easily connected not only with Thais but also with international customers – this is how they started the Innovation Thailand platform.
Thailand is a tourist destination and one of the top three in the world, which has caused the country to innovate their lifestyle as well as their livelihood.
Thai culture places a high value on craftsmanship and attention to detail. Thai innovation for artful living is a process created exclusively by the fusion of modern technology and knowledge passed down from one generation to the next.
“We have created ingenious solutions through this method that enhances the standard of living in terms of society, prosperity, health, safety, and the environment,” Dr Pun-Arj furthers.
They began to construct a community to exchange ideas, develop, and manage innovation that would result in delivering some information or any significant strategic movement that the government could initiate.
They are recruiting more Chief Innovation Officers from not only the private sector but also the public sector and universities, as part of their primary target group.
Dr Pun-Arj is looking to enhance the opportunities brought in by innovation, particularly at the regional level in the city. This is because they are working not only on economic development but also on the skillset of the social innovation division and platform.
“As a result, our primary focus is on regionalisations of innovation possibilities, as well as startups – innovation-based firms,” reveals Dr Pun-Arj.
He believes that every successful community is built upon a robust and well-functioning infrastructure. Hence, Thailand’s industries and infrastructure will be modernised to meet upcoming challenges.
“In the past, one of our five-year priorities included buildings which we identify as system integrators. As the system and ecosystem become more robust, we are transitioning from system integrators to full core facilitators.”
He emphasised the need to consider the impact of being a system integrator before transforming themselves into focal facilitators. Furthermore, the country wants to make better use of the enormous resource of innovation in universities to conduct research and technology in collaboration with other organisations across the world.
Through the City Innovation Index, which focuses primarily on districts and cities, the NIA promotes and monitors the constant innovation and evaluation of diverse organisations. Periodically, they performed surveys in particular industries to evaluate and propose answers for the difficulties they face.
A strong innovation strategy will evaluate the overall objectives, the target portfolio for innovation initiatives, and the process for allocating the necessary resources. The portfolio clearly defines innovation-critical benchmarks and bounds. Therefore, the nation will become democratic and transparent.
“I believe the government’s most essential innovation strategy focuses on three specific concerns. You must have highly strong and capable businesses of all sizes that will establish a very strong enterprise on its own. And secondly, you must have laws and regulations,” Dr Pun-Arj asserts. “In addition, governance is also required and identifying future risks.”
Thailand is struggling with several issues, including inequality, which includes limited access to public services, digital technology, education, and environmental problems. High manufacturing costs and new types of competition in the global supply chain became challenges for Thailand, with this, innovation has emerged as the country’s answer.
Additionally, there are many challenges in terms of digital transformation and government service and the nation is pushing for innovation that can deliver a good policy and deploy it into practice.
In the previous five-year plan, NIA primarily focused on the job of system integrator into four core facilitators. “That is why the short-term strategy is to train management in the methods, programmes, and activities that we have implemented over the last five years.”
NIA is primarily concentrated on strengthening the potential of regional innovation in several key sectors such as new technologies, assistance for startups, venture capital creation or investment for innovation, and internationalisation of Thailand’s innovation.
Dr Pun-Arj envisions a stronger Thai economy and society, with innovation playing a key role in propelling it. The Bio-Circular-Green Economy (BCG) model is a plan for the country’s growth and post-pandemic recovery. The BCG model focuses on four strategic sectors: agriculture and food, wellness and medicine, energy, materials, and biochemicals and tourism and creative economy.
It emphasises using science, technology, and innovation to turn Thailand’s comparative advantage in biological and cultural diversity into a competitive advantage. The primary aim is to support the sustainability of biological resources, develop local economies and communities and make Thai BCG industries more competitive and resilient to societal changes.
The approach is meant to make Thailand’s economy, society, and environment more sustainable and inclusive. “To achieve the 2030 goal, we must work incredibly hard to encourage innovation in this BCG economy. At the same time, the national policy needs to be improved.”
Dr Pun-Arj has been recognised as a pioneer in the domains of foresight and innovation management in the country. He counsels anyone aspiring to be a great innovator to fully comprehend the concepts of uncertainty and failure.
“Innovation will help us grow as a community or nation by making ourselves and others aware of the importance of innovation,” Dr Pun-Arj concludes.