The government of Western Australia (WA) is undergoing significant changes at the moment. Earlier this year, the WA government announced the first round of Machinery of Government changes in the public sector, as outlined in the Government’s election commitments creating a number of new amalgamated departments.
OpenGov had the opportunity to speak to Mr. Marc Dimmick, Director of Information Management (Interim) at the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries to find out the impact of these changes, the challenges and the expected long-term benefits. Mr. Dimmick was the Chief Information Officer at the Department of Sport and Recreation prior to the amalgamation.
The Department of Sport and Recreation was merged with the Department of Local Government and Communities, the Department of Culture and the Arts and the Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor to create the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries.
The ‘Communities’ part of the Department of Local Government and Communities is extracting itself from Local Government and going to another department. Mr. Dimmick said that it is a complicated process. Once amalgamation is completed, corporate services will be shared across all the different streams. But the different workstreams will continue to be maintained.
We discussed the impact of the amalgamation, as well as the whole of government initiative, being run by the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (GCIO), called GovNext-ICT, which aims to move the government from a capital intensive, infrastructure-centric ICT operating model to an as-a-service, consumption-based operating model.
GovNext-ICT involves co-locating the government’s data centres and server rooms; migrating to cloud services; and creating a data and communications network that connects government workers across WA.
In January this year, the government formalised the appointment of three companies to supply ICT infrastructure as a service to WA Government agencies.
Mr. Dimmick said, “The idea is that they would set up 3 data centres that would form a hub, which would then connect to the cloud and then each department moves its infrastructure into those data centres, at a reduced rate to what they are currently paying. And also to utilise the connectivity and communications through scalability. So we’re going in as a whole government rather than separate departments.”
Mr. Dimmick said that during the first part of this year they analysed their current usage and requirements and potential spending for the next 3 years. Then requests were sent out to each of the suppliers to then provide a quote of what they could provide those same services for. Based on the responses, savings of around 30 to 40 per cent are expected over 3 years on the initially projected spending estimates for the department.
As the other departments come onboard, costs are expected to decline further because of scale. So, the total potential savings could be considerably higher.
In addition, as more agencies come onboard, all internal communications, from phone calls to video conferencing will be across the same network, eliminating additional costs for intra-government communication.
It is possible for the government agencies and departments to pick different vendors for the supply of different aspects. For instance, one might give a better price on, whereas the other might give a better price on communications.
Interoperability is ensured between the three suppliers. “The whole thing has been designed so that we can pick and buy from all three and that we can move from one to the other without any hindrance or obstruction,” Mr. Dimmick explained.
The Office of the GCIO is also coming out with whole-of-government ICT policies to provide a foundation for collaboration between public sector agencies. Till date, policies have been released for areas like open data, cybersecurity, digital services, cloud and interoperability.
Rather than every department reinventing the wheel every time, they can pick up the common policy and adjust it for the department.
Within the new department
When asked about the merger-related challenges, Mr. Dimmick replied, “In bringing the departments together, we need to align our systems and processes. From a corporate services perspective, that’s looking at HR, finance and information management.”
“We’ve 3 different HR systems currently being used and we’re looking to pick up each of the departments at a time and moving them into one system. That’s projected to take within 6 to 12 months.” The challenge here is to transform the data to fit the model of the new system.
All the different departments which were amalgamated were on the same system for finance. So, the migration and merging of silos is expected to be easier. Currently, the Chief Financial Officer is working to produce a whole of department chart of accounts from the different charts of accounts in the different departments.
Within Mr. Dimmick’s specific area of information management, the challenge is dealing with multiple versions of the record management system.
Mr. Dimmick said, “The first part we need to define is an information architecture across the department. It’s about understanding what content we actually obtain, how we need to manage it, the rules of disposal and retention that need to be applied and the templates that we actually use.”
All these rules are defined by the State Records Office of Western Australia. Some information, such as financial information may have to be kept for 7 years. Some information may have to be kept for 25 years and some indefinitely. So, the information has to be identified to then apply the relevant rules. At the moment, there are hundreds of rules that have to be applied to hundred types of information.
Earlier systems just took the old records management systems of filing cabinets and drawers and replicated that into a computer. The new system is designed to take away the burden of record management from end-users.
The latest version of the system allows the rules to be pre-defined within the MS Word template. The system can then apply the rules based on the template being used.
“The Western Australian state government is about to sign off on classification of information. So, we now need to apply classifications to our documents. Using the template model, I can define these templates, pre-define the classifications to those documents. When a person opens up one of those templates to create a document, it’s got the word draft plastered against it. It’s got the relevant classification. It’s got the rules applied to it and it’s got the button that says finish,” Mr. Dimmick elaborated.
When the ‘final’ button is clicked, the system picks up the document and applies the relevant rules to that document. In the past, the computer had to be told what to do, when to do, how to do. Users had to login to the program, fill in all the details, which was time-consuming and interfered with business.
“In the new system we will be able to say here is your bucket to work in, there are the folders, put the right document in the right folder and once you have done that, the system will take care of it for you. So, we are trying to eliminate the practice of records management from end-users and let them get on with their work,” Mr. Dimmick added.
This is expected to be an 18-24 month exercise to get to the base level and then it would be a continuous process.
Once the information is stored correctly, and the data identified, then data analytics can be explored. Here, Mr. Dimmick said it is important to teach the business ‘how to fish’, as in how to prepare and analyse the data, to realise the value of the information that they hold.
“At the moment, we bait the hook, we find the fish, we slice it, we dish it up and half the time, we eat it,” he said. So, business has to be provided with intuitive, easy to understand tools
This process is not just about technology, but also about a cultural shift. It is about a shift in the understanding of information, and in the management and reporting of information. It is about discarding manual bad practices and digitising of processes.
Often, when people are shown a new system, they try to stick to their old practices to achieve the same outcome. In effect, they are tying the shoelaces of the new system, not letting it work as it is designed to.
So, the first thing to do is to clarify the desired outcome (the previous outcome might not have been what exactly was wanted but was judged good enough at the time). The next step would be to look at how the new system can help achieve that outcome, starting from the end-point.
“The practices and processes of the new system will potentially be totally different from what was done in the past. But unless you go in with open eyes and a willingness to just relook at everything, all you are doing is creating complexity. So, the idea is to agree to the outcome and then find the easiest way to achieve the outcome using new tools, not replicating the practices of the past,” Mr. Dimmick conc
The University of Wollongong’s (UOW) SMART Infrastructure Facility will play a vital role in the new Illawarra-Shoalhaven City Deal prospectus, which aims to provide a vision and program to drive the transformation of the region and its economic recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The Illawarra-Shoalhaven City Deal brings together four councils and eight partner organisations – including UOW and the SMART Infrastructure Facility – in a shared vision for the region.
It is a vision that will deliver transformative change to the region, generating more than 12,000 high value add jobs in areas such as advanced manufacturing, professional services and technology, and enabling a more robust, more diverse Illawarra-Shoalhaven economy.
The proposed Illawarra-Shoalhaven City Deal initiative provides an opportunity to build from the existing Western Sydney City Deal to accelerate this growth relationship while also delivering important local infrastructure, facilities and jobs for the 420,000 people who live right here in our wonderful coastal region.
In addition to delivering 12,550 jobs over the next decade, the Illawarra-Shoalhaven City Deal:
- Creates growth for the Illawarra-Shoalhaven economy, and supports the growth of Greater and Western Sydney;
- Provides targeted transformative infrastructure projects that support a connected, diverse and resilient economy;
- Unlocks a recovery of the bushfire-ravaged visitor-economy for Shoalhaven;
- Develops the Circular Economy with a world-class waste reduction project;
- Creates a pipeline of Smart City projects, improving our overall economic resilience;
- Supports enhanced liveability for 70,000 plus households in the region and to South-Western Sydney, including Wollondilly and Campbelltown.
SMART’s Chief Operating Officer stated that the facility already works closely with industry and local government on projects that enhance the economic value across the region, such as Smart Waterways Management Project and the South West Illawarra Rail Link (SWIRL) report.
This City Deal states a clear vision moving forward and provides a roadmap for everyone to work towards, she said. The prospectus includes a pipeline for implementation and delivery of smart city projects which will deliver high liveability impacts for the region.
The vision and program outlined represent a considered and confident package of initiatives that can drive the transformation of the Illawarra-Shoalhaven and position the region for economic and employment recovery, he said. Considerable effort and collaboration by key organisations, including UOW, has been applied to define and agree on a suite of initiatives that address transport infrastructure, the visitor economy and economic resilience across Wollongong, Shellharbour, Kiama and the Shoalhaven.
Federal and State Governments rightly encourage regional communities to take charge of defining their aspirations and charting a course of action. Leaders in the Illawarra-Shoalhaven have risen to that challenge. Now the team seeks the support and investment of the Government as well as their collaboration in delivering jobs growth and improved liveability for communities.
Job creation in Advanced Manufacturing is targeted through the expansion of the Albatross Aviation Technology Precinct at Nowra. Better road and rail access resulting from the Illawarra-Shoalhaven City Deal will attract investment in manufacturing, green energy, ICT and tourism in the bushfire affected South Coast.
The delivery of the projects in the proposed Illawarra-Shoalhaven City Deal will have a transformative impact on the regional economy. The strategic objectives of the Illawarra-Shoalhaven cities are to create over 12,550 high-quality jobs in the next decade by delivering investment in key industries that attracts new businesses and retains employees as residents in one of Australia’s most liveable regions.
The growth potential is currently constrained by a lack of investment to unlock the local economies. Additional investment from Federal and NSW governments in transformative infrastructure will allow the Illawarra-Shoalhaven to reach its full potential as a much needed ‘release valve’ for a congested Sydney.
IIT Kharagpur’s Centre of Excellence in Advanced Manufacturing Technology has set out to bring to the forefront indigenously developed industry 4.0 technologies that support India’s industrial sector to achieve the vision of an Atma Nirbhar Bharat (Self-reliant India). Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur (IITK) was the first-ever Indian Institutes of Technology to be established and is recognised as an institute of national importance.
The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated significant staffing restrictions with new hygiene norms and social distancing. In this new normal, cloud infrastructure, remote and real-time operations systems will be critical to maintaining effective industrial operations. Furthermore, the advantages that controlled operations bring in delivering quality output at low costs have a wider impact in the context of Atma Nirbhar Bharat (Self-reliant India).
The institute recently developed novel Industry 4.0 technology for remotely controlled factory operations and real-time quality correction during industrial production, in partnership with an Indian multinational information technology services and consulting company, to set a new trend in India’s advanced manufacturing sector.
The innovative technology has been developed by Prof. Surjya K Pal, Professor in-charge at the Centre of Excellence in Advanced Manufacturing Technology jointly with the information technology services and consulting company, will acquire real-time information about the welding process through multiple sensors and enable online control of weld quality through cloud-based communication with the friction stir welding machine.
Stressing the need for such technologies to achieve the ‘Make in India’ goal, Director Prof. Virendra K Tewari believes that while India is aiming to boost indigenous production and exports, the primary goal should be the quality output with minimum disruptions. He felt that these are the two basic needs our industrial sector which must be addressed for servicing business to scale.
The innovation upgrades the industrial process of friction stir welding to a multi-sensory system of Industry 4.0. The process has set the course for remotely controlled operations in the Indian industrial sector and, at the same times, has enabled real-time quality check and correction during the production process. This will make it possible for industrial houses to achieve standardised quality goals throughout the production process and reduce rejection hence lowering the cost of production.
Welding is at the heart of any industrial operations. If we can improve the weld quality in real-time during batch production we can reduce rejections in post-production sample checks,” opined Prof. Pal.
Explaining the new technology, he revealed that the multiple sensor process involves a range of signal processing and machine learning techniques that predict the ultimate tensile strength of the weld joint is fabricated. This technology is connected with a vast experimental knowledge base to conform to a standard system and prediction of the weld joint strength. Any defect identified during the monitoring procedure is corrected in real-time by sending modified parameters to the machine thus ensuring the standardised quality of the process.
The concept of this technology can further be evolved for real-time control of other industrial processes and such work will be carried at the centre with other industrial partners soon, affirmed Prof. Pal.
IITK’s industry partner believes that such innovations are enablers of technology-based transformations in the country, especially in overcoming challenges called out by the pandemic. The remote friction stir welding machine quality control via multi-sensor fusion developed by Centre of Excellence in Advanced Manufacturing Technology at IIT Kharagpur is a case in point
The Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer said their organisation convinced that academic partnerships are an important part of their Research and Co-Innovation Network (CoIN) in creating real-world solutions with scientific rigour. He confirmed that their Embedded Systems & Robotics, IoT and ICME platform teams from their Research and Innovation wings were working closely with IIT Kharagpur’s CoE towards AI-driven prediction/control of weld strength using a scalable and robust platform.
The SG Women in Tech movement (SGWIT), an initiative by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), industry, government and community partners to attract and develop girls and women in tech, celebrated its 1st year of advancing diversity in the tech sector in Singapore this week.
Some of the key milestones include:
- Connecting girls in schools with female tech leaders through a series of StudentsAsk videos that have since reached out to over 115,000 people in the community
- Bringing together over 600 women in the tech workforce for networking and mentoring activities
- Launching the inaugural SG 100 Women in Tech List to honour women who have achieved outstanding accomplishments and made significant contributions in tech.
Study finds women in tech in SE Asia is higher than global averages
To provide more insights on the strategies that companies, governments, schools and individuals can take to advance gender diversity, The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) has partnered with SGWIT and IMDA on a new study which surveyed 1,650 women in tech in Southeast Asia.
The study found that the participation of women in tech in Southeast Asia is slightly higher than global averages, and about 65% of respondents agreed that the tech sector does better than other industries in offering programmes specifically tailored to recruit, retain and promote women.
“More talent will drive the fast growth of our burgeoning tech sector and spearhead digital transformation for the Singapore economy. It is heartening to see the strong interest and support for the Singapore Women in Tech movement from schools, industry and community. We are glad to see tech companies and leaders taking action to attract, retain and develop girls and women in tech, and look forward to bringing on board even more stakeholders to develop an exciting and enabling environment for women in tech,” said Mr Lew Chuen Hong, Chief Executive, Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA).
Report identifies areas to boost the number of women in tech
With demand for digital talent growing faster than supply, the report identified three critical junctures for intervention to boost the number of women in tech. These “moments of truth” are the choice to pursue higher education in tech, the selection of their first job, and the decision to remain in tech over the long term.
Based on these, the report has also identified areas where companies, policymakers and academic institutions, and even women themselves, can work on, to further attract, retain and develop more women in tech.
BCG’s global leader for the Technology, Media & Telecommunications practice, Vaishali Rastogi, said, “Technology is radically disrupting businesses and industries, driving an urgent need for more digital talent across the region as demand for such profiles rises faster than supply. Women need to be part of the long-term solution.” Vaishali, who is one of the authors of the BCG report, further explained, “Our research shows that gender diversity can make companies more innovative and agile. For example, companies where women account for more than 20% of the management team have approximate 10% higher innovation revenues than companies with male-dominated leadership”.
Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information, Ms Sim Ann, also announced the extension of the MentorConnect programme for a second year at a webinar organised by SGWIT to commemorate its first anniversary.
The cross-company mentorship programme was started last year by Dell Technologies as a platform to guide and empower the development of women professionals in tech and promote best practices among participating companies from all industries. The programme will see four new companies, DBS Bank, VMWare, Aon, and BHP, joining the current ones – Dell Technologies, IMDA, Salesforce and ST Engineering.
Having battled the global pandemic for more than 6 months and foreseeing its lasting impact in the times to come, it is important to ask how prepared we are for the life after COVID–19. What are some of the valuable lessons that we have learnt in the past few months that we must take with us as we venture into the ‘new normal’?
In an attempt to discover and delve into the answers to these questions, OpenGov Asia hosted an OpenGovLive! Virtual breakfast insight with financial industry executives based in Indonesia.
The timely and thought-provoking issues saw a 100% attendance and high engagement rate from the audience for the session.
Balancing digital transformation along with managing fraud and risk is a major challenge for banks
Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief, OpenGov Asia set the tone for the discussion by pointing out that the new, transformed workspace is no longer a physical place that employees go to but a cluster of virtual work tools that lets employees stay productive anytime and anywhere.
This free and flexible style of working has posed a major challenge for the financial sector industry. They are under a lot of pressure to balance their digital transformation efforts with the increasingly stringent regulatory guidelines alongside managing stakeholder expectations.
Apart from being resilient, banks have to constantly ensure that they are compliant and not flouting any regulations to ensure their presence amongst other contemporaries.
Operational resilience, which was earlier a seldom-discussed topic in the boardrooms, has been elevated on the priority list of CIO’s.
Mohit also highlighted the fact that mere compliance is not enough to ensure survival in the post-COVID-19 world. Constantly pushing the envelope by innovating and thinking outside the box is more important than ever.
He left the audience with advice that to effectively manage these distinct aspects of their business, it would be expedient to seek help and support of partners who specialise in it and who can help them prioritise right in the new uncertain normal.
How SAS can help and support financial institutions in the post COVID era
After Mohit’s challenging opening, Anggaraini Rahayu, Director-FSI, SAS Indonesia, shared her insights on the topic.
Anggaraini began by explaining how SAS can support, help respond to sudden changes and mitigate risk for the financial institutions as they recover in the post COVID–era.
She shared that SAS is doing this by identifying the volatility in macroeconomic factors that are key drivers of change, building up data and analytics capabilities along the journey to recovery and getting ahead of the innovation curve and applying analytics for future strategies.
Anggaraini elaborated on the various trends and opportunities in the FSI that have emerged beyond the pandemic. They are enhanced focus on digital transformation, better integration of financial services to the monetary policies, the robustness of asset and liability management, heightened security risks and surge in contactless payments.
She also talked about the way SAS operates in the financial industry space by enabling effective operations and working with innovative solutions that are driving amazing outcomes for their customers. As SAS champions driving value from analytics, she some of their use cases across the financial institution value chain shared with the delegates.
Anggaraini delved into the biggest focus area of SAS I.e. risk management for banking and insurance industry. She shared with the delegates the details of the SAS fraud and security intelligence solutions and how it enables users to stay resilient and relevant in the post-COVID-era.
She concluded her presentation by sharing some successful implementations of the above-mentioned solution.
Speed of service delivery is of utmost importance in the new financial industry world
After Anngarani’s information-rich presentation, Gerard Mcdonell, Regional Solution Director Fraud & Security Intelligence, SAS came forward to share his perspectives with the audience.
In his very first slide, Gerard highlighted the importance of the speed of delivery in the post-Covid era. Banks and financial institutions are under a lot of pressure to meet the changing demands of their customers in this new world. The need to go digital for financial institutions in the current scenario comes with the downside of increased risk of financial crimes and fraud.
He underscored the need for speed by quoting Klaus Shwab, who said that in this new world it’s not the big fish that eat small fish but the fast fish eating the slow fish.
Gerard validated his statement by citing a recent example where a large European bank lost an opportunity to expand their market due to the lack of agility and velocity in their DNA.
He also echoed the sentiment that the pandemic has only exacerbated the situation for financial institutions forcing the unbanked population to make a leap to digital banking. This, on one hand, has added to the existing challenges for the banks but, on the other, has exposed them to a new customer base that they can tap on.
He went on to shed light on the ways AI can support them. They include accuracy and efficiency with compliance, quick identification of fraudulent transactions, fast and accurate credit scoring.
Gerard strongly advised the colleagues from the industry to embrace the latest advancements in AI to tap on this newly created customer base.
He concluded his presentation by sharing how SAS helped a major bank to significantly improve its fraud management by implementing the fraud management and credit authorisation solution together.
Learning to mitigate the effect of COVID-19 crisis in the financial sector industry
After Gerard, Alfanendya Safudi, Senior Vice President, Head of Credit Portfolio Risk at PT. Bank Mandiri shared his learnings with the delegates.
Alfanendya opened his slot by sharing that, just like the most of delegates and their organisations, Bank Mandiri had very limited visibility of the impact the COVID-19 crisis would have on the economy.
But early stress testing and contingency actions are key to mitigating the impact of COVID–19 outbreak. He ardently advocates stress testing as an effective way of mitigating COVID risk and also emphasised that the test needs to be updated frequently as well as supported by robust tools and systems.
He cautioned the delegates to not rely on a singular stress cycle and undergo multiple rounds of it as they did at Bank Mandiri.
Towards the end of his presentation, Alfanendya shared with the delegates how banks need to prepare as they move forward in the new normal. He also agreed that there is an increase in non-financial risks like fraud, scams, cyber-attacks etc. during the COVID-19 crisis that needs to be better prepared for in times to come.
After the informative presentations, it was now time for the more interactive part of the session: the polling questions and discussions.
On the question about your organisation having the tools to model out the P&L under a wide range of different economic and non-economic scenarios, a majority of the audience voted that they use traditional forecasting techniques, and they are good enough (77%).
One one of the delegated reflected that they are currently using the traditional techniques that are sufficient for now but they are also open to new technologies out there that can help them do it better.
On the question about the impact of the pandemic on their operational risk exposure, particularly relating to fraud and compliance, a major chunk of the delegates voted that increased online and application fraud, along with greater resource demands to keep AML/ KYC/ screening compliance under control have been impacted (50%).
A digital executive shared that increased online or payment fraud and application fraud are bigger impact areas in their organisation that they need to work on.
On the final question about the top priorities, while managing risk management portfolio, the delegates seemed divided between updating their legacy with a modernised risk infrastructure (36%) and using AI and machine learning for credit scoring, capital optimisation, back-testing and model validation and regtech (36%).
After the polling session, the Virtual Breakfast Insight reached a timely conclusion with closing remarks by Febrianto Siboro, Country Managing Director, SAS.
Febrianto began by thanking all the delegates and speakers for joining the session and sharing their insights with the audience. He encouraged the audience to make use of various AI/ML and analytics solutions by SAS to augment their service delivery and team SAS would be happy to entertain their queries and demonstrations for the same.
The ability to undertake in vivo imaging of a living brain in a mammalian animal model is crucial for elucidating how the brain functions. However, the brain consists of tens of billions of neurons, each connected with thousands of others via synapses, the sites of communication between neurons that allows transmission of information.
Thus, to truly understand the dynamics of neuronal synaptic interactions, the capacity for morphological and functional imaging of the brain at high spatial and temporal resolution is required.
Currently, scientists have many ways of imaging the brain, but the available solutions are greatly limited. Electron microscopy can provide high spatial resolution, yet is unsuitable for live imaging of biological tissues. Common non-invasive technologies, such as CT, MRI/ fMRI, PET and ultrasound, have limited synaptic resolution.
While optical microscopy provides subcellular resolution and is non-toxic to biological samples, its imaging depth is limited by optical scattering and aberrations induced by the tissues and the imaging system. Meanwhile, two-photon microscopy is restricted to imaging of the cortex regions only, leaving the subcortical and deep-brain structures unreachable.
Recognising the need for improved imaging capabilities, a group of scientists from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) focused their sights on achieving brain imaging at synaptic resolution. The endeavour, a collaborative effort between Prof. Qu Jianan, Professor at the Department of Electronic and Computer Engineering, and Prof. Nancy Ip, Vice-President for Research and Development and the Morningside Professor of Life Science, has led to the successful development of a new imaging technology – adaptive optics two-photon endomicroscopy – that enables in vivo imaging of deep brain structures at high resolution. Remarkably, this technology can shed light on brain functions in regions that have never been well explored.
The group subsequently utilised the adaptive optics two-photon endomicroscopy system to investigate neuronal plasticity in the hippocampus, a critical deep brain structure, and revealed the relationship between the somatic and dendritic activity of pyramidal neurons within the hippocampus. The findings of this study were recently published in the prestigious journal Science Advances on 30 September 2020.
Prof. Qu stated that the technology enables imaging of other deep brain structures such as the striatum, the substantia nigra, and the hypothalamus. Thus, it is an exciting development and holds great potential for understanding brain functions and facilitating neuroscience research in the deeper parts of the brain.
In their study, the group sought to image hippocampal neurons using a miniature endoscope called the GRIN lens. However, the resolution of the GRIN lens is low and the imaging field-of-view is limited. Thus, tiny structures such as dendritic spines, the protrusions of neurons that receive information from neighbouring neurons, cannot be seen clearly. This is where adaptive optics technology comes into play.
Originally developed for ground-based astronomical telescopes to compensate for the light distortion of the atmosphere, the adaptive optics technology employs a bright star, or a so-called “guide star”, to measure the light distortion of the atmosphere and then compensates for the distortion by using a deformable mirror.
In developing the adaptive optics two-photon microscopy system, the HKUST group similarly used a localized fluorescence signal as the “guide star” inside biological tissues, which allowed them to measure the aberration of the endoscope as well as the brain tissue.
The ability to conduct live imaging of the deep brain at high resolution has long been a challenge. With adaptive optics two-photon endomicroscopy, the structures and functions of the deep brain can now be studied at an unprecedented resolution, which will greatly accelerate researchers’ progress in understanding the mechanisms of many neurodegenerative diseases and in developing related treatments.
The Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) and the Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC) in partnership with the Malaysian branch of an American multinational technology company have launched the “Highway to a 100 Unicorns” initiative, which is part of a joint initiative to empower local start-ups and strengthen Malaysia’s start-up ecosystem.
Eligible start-ups will gain access to focused workshops on business and technology, as well as monthly knowledge-sharing webinars with the global start-up community. Additionally, the top start-ups from Malaysia will stand to gain from a year-long mentorship program, access to enterprise clients, as well as engagement opportunities with the firm’s experts and industry leaders.
The Managing Director of the tech firm’s Malaysia arm stated that the country has a vibrant start-up ecosystem, and they play a vital role in the economy as innovators, disruptors. In partnering with MDEC and MaGIC, the firm introduced the ‘Highway to a 100 Unicorns’ initiative in Malaysia.
The initiative is part of the firm’s collective commitment to empowering local start-ups with the right technology and expertise, enabling them to scale and achieve more globally. The start-ups could potentially become tomorrow’s unicorns, helping to shape economic recovery and resilience and build a stronger long-term future in Malaysia.
The Chief Executive Officer of MDEC stated that Kuala Lumpur has been ranked 11th among emerging start-up ecosystems in the world by Startup Genome, which adds to the confidence that Malaysia is primed to be the preferred land and expansion base for the best innovators and tech start-ups regionally.
As the spearhead of Malaysia’s digital economy, the CEO highlighted that MDEC is firmly committed to assisting tech start-ups in their fundraising journey, global market expansion, and forging corporate partnerships to entrench Malaysia, “as the Heart of Digital ASEAN.”
The CEO of MaGIC noted that the Highway to a 100 Unicorns initiative is in line with their commitment to driving the development of a sustainable start-up and social enterprise ecosystem in Malaysia.
While steady growth has been witnessed over the years, the entire ecosystem has been challenged to innovate and accelerate its growth at a much faster pace in recent times. This initiative presents an exciting opportunity for Malaysian innovators and founders to scale and move beyond borders, through global collaborations, as well as industry-led mentorship and guidance.
To be considered for the initiative, start-ups will first have to apply to the Emerge X competition. There are three criteria for Emerge X, which are:
- Business-to-Business companies with product-market fit, revenue-generating with at least 3-4 clients.
- Business-to-Consumer companies with a large customer base (upward of 100K customers) and are revenue-generating.
- Funding is a plus.
All Emerge X start-ups will be awarded free GitHub and Azure credits and focused business and technology workshops.
The top finalists from Malaysia will be announced in November, joining other shortlisted innovators and entrepreneurs from 16 other Asia Pacific countries, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, New Zealand, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam.
Additionally, the finalists will benefit from a year-long mentorship with technical and business deep dives, a Founder Bootcamp over 3 days, access to enterprise clients globally through Microsoft’s unique co-sell program as well as opportunities to interact with Microsoft experts and industry stalwarts.
The Highway to Unicorn programme was first launched by the firm for start-ups in India, where only 56 start-ups were selected to the Emerge X program from six states, which have over 15,000 start-ups. The Emerge X winners have greatly benefited from global market access support, a 3-day founder bootcamp with world-class mentors, access to funding, ongoing mentorship, and guidance on Azure, artificial intelligence, machine learning and more. Following the success, the programme has been extended to the Asia Pacific region.
The Government Communications Security Bureau’s (GCSB) National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) helps government agencies and organisations of national significance protect and defend their information systems against cyber-borne threats that are typically beyond the capability of commercially available products and services.
The NCSC works closely with CERT NZ (Computer Emergency Response Team) to provide guidance and help on cyber threats. CERT NZ helps business, organisations and individuals wanting prevention and mitigation advice on online security issues that do not require the NCSC’s specialist skills and knowledge to respond to. It has primary responsibility for cyber threat reporting and a coordination role in threat response.
With elections over, the NZ government can resume business which is good news for tech. NZ Cert, the government entity that tracks cyber breaches, feels that the economic growth policy takes a leaf out of the Singapore playbook, with a focus on industry transformation.
During the first lockdown, cabinet refocused their industry policy on specific sectors that were well-positioned for and would benefit from a high-intensity and high-investment strategy – digital tech, advanced manufacturing and sections of food and fibre. These sectors were considered sectors that had the potential to become highly productive and internationally competitive.
The Digital Technology Industry Transformation Plan (ITP) has been gotten off to a solid start. The ITPs provide a framework to proactively and collaboratively drive change with the government that would encourage and drive the growth of the tech sector.
Collaborative workstreams are exploring education pathways to accelerate the development of local skills. Changes in procurement approaches to stimulate the local tech sector have been put in place and the government is looking to get a better understanding of tech export successes. Work on the advanced manufacturing ITP has also started and this should be beneficial to the high-tech manufacturing and biotechnology parts of the tech sector. The government has also significantly worked on the development of a national AI strategy and data-driven innovation.
All of this in an effort to develop a robust narrative for a strong tech story for New Zealand.
As has been happening across the globe, COVID has dramatically increased New Zealand’s reliance on digital devices and the internet. Yet, NZTech Chief Executive Graeme Muller said CERT NZ research indicated that New Zealanders are not adjusting their behaviours around cybersecurity fast enough.
The research found 87% of the country’s respondents acknowledge security of their personal information online is important but 40% say safeguarding their information is inconvenient. About a third do not regularly check the privacy settings on their social media accounts and the same number do not use two-factor authentication when logging into an online account. Even with increasing news reports about security issues such as ransomware, identity theft and hacks, people still do not think it will happen to them or their business, Muller says.
He quoted a recent global analysis of hacks and data breaches that estimated it would cost three million dollars on average for a company to recover from a successful hack. For the average New Zealand company, this could be disastrous, so business owners need to take cybersecurity seriously.
Similarly, consequences from breach of personal data, identity theft, ransomware, fraud and direct monetary loss could be significant. According to CERT NZ’s quarterly data, thousands of Kiwis are subject to cyber blackmail and fraud every year due to their complacency around simple security measures.
CERT NZ ran its Cyber Smart Week 2020 campaign from October 19 – 23, 2020. The main goal of the initiative is to increase the cyber resilience of New Zealanders making them, and the nation, less vulnerable to cyber attacks.