Recently we interviewed Adam Grønlykke Mollerup, Head of Department, Danish AgriFish Agency, Ministry of Environment & Food, Denmark about his current role. Prior to this position, he was the Head of Division at the Agency of Digitisation within the Danish Ministry of Finance. He has previously worked with the Digital Government agenda in the OECD.
Following the interview, we had a chat with Mr. Mollerup regarding Denmark’s digital journey, the crafting of the Public Sector Digital Strategy 2016-2020, which provides the foundation for the Danish public sector of the future, across central, regional and local governments.
Below are our questions and Mr. Mollerup’s illuminating answers.
Denmark already has a highly digitised government. So how did you start formulating the Digital Strategy for the next 5 years?
When the work on the current strategy began, the first step for Denmark was to assess the state of government at the time, analysing the key challenges we were facing. To give some examples: There was a need to improve our capacity to deliver on IT projects further. We saw opportunities to improve the digital service quality and the coherence across authorities in some service delivery areas. There was a clear understanding that digital service delivery should help sustain the relative high trust in the public administration. There was an increased awareness of security. And in the context of the increasing Danish use of mandatory compliance arrangements, there was a great focus on the aspect of user-centricity.
While the Danish Agency for Digitisation has taken pride in focusing on delivery of tangible projects, we also recognised the need for the strategy to work as a guiding foundation for a continuous adaption to a rapidly changing context. The technological trends emerging are quickly materialising into public sector innovation and business prospects that we should be ready to pursue. There are great perspectives for artificial intelligence in the public sector. For automation and machine learning. For robotics. But the technological maturity matters, and from that perspective five years is a long time.
The Danish digital government strategies have been important public sector modernisation levers since 2001. They have particularly been driven by efficiency, which has implied a focus on value added through business cases. Delivering savings that could be prioritised for service development and quality improvement elsewhere in the public sector.
So, while we have developed a completely new range of services and increased quality on a number of parameters, we have also been cutting costs. We have realised a lot of cost savings by trimming our organisations. We have built the basic infrastructure and the necessary enablers are in place. And to a very large extent, we have succeeded in doing that in Denmark. We have today a very high level of general digitisation. Around 90% of all citizens communicate by digital means with the public sector across service areas.
What was the next step?
Then we started asking ourselves: How can we mainstream digitisation further across policy areas? How can we ensure that digital is not only considered a tool for efficiency, but also a tool to leverage policy and service quality?
How do we ensure that digital potential appears on the government agenda as a top priority, to increase efficiency, yes, but also to create growth, better services and higher satisfaction and trust among the citizens and the businesses?
This was the starting point of the strategy. And this is also why security plays a key role. Because digital is simply a part of everything today. Our everyday life today is digital. It is a crucial part of our infrastructure. This means that we need to handle our digital infrastructure in the way we handle other kinds of critical infrastructure.
There is a strong stress on ‘trust’ in the Digital Strategy. We see widely varying levels of trust in the government, which also affects what the government can accomplish in terms of digital transformation. For instance, people appear to trust the private sector with their data but are reticent when it comes to government. Can you tell us about building up trust in the public sector in Denmark?
I think trust is an extremely difficult and at the same time a very important issue to address. We have great data internationally to show that there is a very different cultural perception of who you can trust across countries and institutions.
In Denmark, we have a tradition of trusting the government with our data. We tend to be more skeptical trusting private businesses with our data. In other countries, the situation is the reverse.
We need to look at the trade-offs involved in the different levels of privacy. We typically have very high levels of privacy in the public sector, and at the European level, the attention to this agenda is increasing. At the same time, we can see that large private service providers are offering great and very smooth well-functioning services, in return for a vast number of private data. While this spurs continuous discussions, service appears to hold the upper hand for now.
This invites the idea that in a digital context, service-driven, rather than principle-driven discussions of privacy might end up with a different balance in the trade-off. Obviously, we need to ensure that we handle personal data carefully and in the right manner in order to maintain and further the trust in government, the public administration and the public sector at large.
The trust in the public sector we have been graced with in Denmark is not new, it has been built up through centuries. And while it can quickly vanish, it takes a long time to re-build.
Agriculture is a good example of this point. Denmark is a country with a strong agricultural tradition. Throughout the last centuries has emerged what we call cooperative movements. Basically, these cooperative movements have been about pushing forward voluntary, private cooperation in order to achieve synergies, economies of scale and to create communities around which people would work towards common goals. These movements have played a key role in the development of our industry at large in Denmark. And they have also contributed to, in my view, the development of trust between people, between institutions and between businesses, between organisations and between communities. This is part of the heritage that we are building on.
So how do we deal with this legacy today? Well this discretion to exploit data and public registries has enabled Denmark to move quite far in terms of digital service delivery and cooperation across service areas and authorities, although we still face a number of challenges in this regard. And it plays a key role in the ‘once-only’-agenda and the continued automation and development of new services. But of course, we need to pay very close attention to the way we handle and expose private data.
And further, the more data are accessible in a digital manner, the more they are open to fraud, to hacks or different kinds of mistakes. The playing field has suddenly increased dramatically. We need to convince the population that we are doing everything we can to avoid inexpedient use of personal data, that we are protecting their data and their privacy to the best of our ability.
And at the same time, we need to prepare for the situations when such incidents might actually occur. The probability is high that they will indeed occur. And so the question follows, how will we deal with them without jeopardising the trust we have been shown?
Denmark has always been an open economy. But the level and the intensity of interactions from all sides have been accelerating with the digital economy. This is what we decided to deal with in the Digital Strategy.
Which is why some of the initiatives that we have suggested in the digital strategy are about professionalising security measures, about implementing higher level of standardisation in the way we handle information and personal data, in order to sustain trust levels.
We see some governments, especially the more advanced ones, trying to open up data to the private sector. What is Denmark doing in this area?
This is a key issue. We do see the potentials for opening and joining up data, and we feel the demand from different areas within the private sector, who can see the business cases, the market openings, around the booming data economy.
This is why some years ago, the government took a decision to open up the public data to the extent possible. And we have launched specific work on the most important data we have, the most important registries. We call this the Basic Data Programme.
This programme takes its point of departure in the fact that while you have increasing access to data of all kinds, the quality of this data is not always good and until recently only rarely available in a coherent and accessible format. But if the data quality is correct, you can re-use the basic data in case-handling, decisions and analysis across authorities. Again, this implies a great deal of trust in data and processes across organisations. But having high quality data easily accessible can simply us a lot of time and money. This also goes for the private sector which is also relies on good public registrations.
For example, a bank should know who actually owns a house, when someone applies for a loan to buy it, it should know the official income records of the person, how the ground is marketed and measured, where does it stop? Have other parties already taken up a mortgage in it? Or another example, insurance companies might be interested in knowing, where a house is placed topographically, if it is protected against strong rains expected or will the water be led straight into its basement? Direct digital access to authoritative and coherent data is important to make markets work well.
The Basic Data Programme covers most important public registries. This includes data on people, businesses, ownership, places, place names, topography, weather, and climate. All data are distributed via a coherent architecture and are accessible to all the public authorities who has the basis to access them in order to solve their mission – or private companies. Data sets can be combined. Lots of different sectors are interested in using this data and we are seeing new startups building their business around services based on this data.
So, we expose public data in order to ensure that both public authorities and private businesses can build on these public data. This covers non-confidential and confidential data. But the latter are only accessible if you comply with a certain set of rules within the existing legislation to protect privacy.
Entering the intelligent, data-based economy, we can start to distinguish a new role for the public sector. Where the government role remains authoritative in some data areas; government, and the public sector at large, becomes one player among others in the broader market driven data-based service development.
This is already happening now. And might imply an increasing battle for data distribution infrastructures – where the government might not have the capacity to maintain its role as ‘meta-governor’, but will need to engage with other players on a somewhat level playing field.
What are the most important learnings from the Danish experience in digital government in your view?
The answer depends on what kind of government is asking the question, and what path it has chosen for its digital transformation efforts.
But in general, I think some lessons can be learned from Denmark.
First of all, that deep, institutionalised cooperation across the whole of government really pays off. I think Denmark is in a privileged position now, because we have created effective governance mechanisms to ensure full implementation and use of digital services. We have not ‘merely’ focused on standalone issues of high political priority. We have ensured measures for the take-up of these services and the roll-out of our transformation projects. This capacity to establish a working cooperation that covers not only the state level, but also the regional and municipal level – and with regard to many vital infrastructure components, also with the private sector – has been important to integrate the way of thinking digital-by-default.
I think another lesson is that our consistent focus on the value proposition has been very important. I think we have prioritised and realised a lot of benefits in terms of digital transformation because we have focused on the clear business cases. Flexible organisations and labour market agreements have also played a key role here. This means that digitisation has not been driving up costs as we have seen it in a number of countries, but rather has been an effective tool that we have been able to use to modernise the government.
We have not solved the issue of benefits realisation and we are continuing to learn and adapt our approaches as we move along. But the question is how you realise the benefits in your budgets, at the heart of your organisations, in the day-to-day processes and in the service delivery to your customers. Because it is in the execution, in the implementation of the digitally redesigned organisations and processes, that you deliver value.
Perhaps the last point would be, as I have already touched upon, that we have been privileged by having a tradition of very good registries, enabled, among others, by a high level of trust in government. So, building good and trustworthy registries and creating an environment where they are used across all sectors, would also be a key learning.
And while the data-based economy holds enormous potential, bot for private sector growth and for public sector productivity gains, we need to develop and reinforce the capacity to analyse this data. Skills is a big issue.
While talking about lessons, we hear a lot about ‘leapfrogging’. Countries at a currently low state of digital development can learn from the more advanced ones. Unburdened by legacy systems and processes, they can leapfrog the more developed countries. What are your view on this? Do you need foundations to enable this sort of leapfrogging?
Emerging economies that are building up their digital government programmes can to a large extent pick and choose from a large variety of different problems and solutions. They are also freer to select their sourcing strategies and platforms; to decide if they build on private sector platforms or build their own public sector platforms. To what extent should they leverage on private sector innovation. To what extent the government should be a coordinator building on a fully private infrastructure or it should build up its own infrastructure. To what extent it skips the PC based and goes straight to mobile. To what extent it creates directly peer to peer mechanisms, without the state as the focal point, in terms of both regulation and provision of services. I think there are many potentials for a completely new role of the state. But institutional heritage can be strong.
So yes, some countries may move fast, skip some steps, leapfrog as you suggest. But I don’t think it’s easy. The real challenges in those countries might not be legacy systems or digital heritage, nor even the access to capital and the capacity to invest.
The core issue is rather institutional capacity to take the right decisions and to implement them. And in that sense, I think there may still be a huge challenge for these countries you refer to.
At the same time, there are definitely considerable options to leapfrog in some areas, by sharing and adapting to suitable good practices. But I think it’s a path which each country will need to find and take on its own.
The Makati City government is urging its residents, investors, workers, students, and visitors to download the Makatizen app to gain instant access to emergency hotlines and report crimes promptly to the authorities.
According to a press release, the app, available on Android and IOS, was created to bring information and public services, including emergency assistance and response, closer to the people who live, work, do business, or spend their leisure time in the country’s premier financial centre.
It aims to empower Makatizens to use their mobile phones to keep up with the latest developments at City Hall and to actively participate in the governance of the city. More importantly, it enables them to promptly contact the proper authorities during emergencies that require urgent government assistance and intervention.
The Makatizen app is one of the country’s technology-driven innovations focusing on mobility, resilience, and sustainability. It was presented by the mayor at the Smart City Expo World Congress held last month in Barcelona, Spain. Makati, the sole Philippine finalist in the 2019 World Smart Cities Awards, earned a top spot in the Innovative Idea category.
Since the app’s launch in 2017, the city’s central command centre at City Hall has recorded a significant increase in incident reports from 150 to 400 incidents per day, subsequently improving response time to emergencies.
As OpenGov reported earlier, local government units (LGUs) have been called up to embrace the switch to digital technologies to vastly improve their delivery of frontline services and generate more revenues under the New Economy in the post-pandemic era.
Last month, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III urged local executives start working with the national government in preparing for the seamless transfer of the additional devolved functions, services, and facilities that they would have to assume (beginning from 2022) with the implementation of the Supreme Court (SC) ruling on the far higher revenue allotment (IRA) share of LGUs.
Under the high court’s Mandanas doctrine, the IRA share of LGUs should come from all national taxes, as mandated under the 1991 Local Government Code, and not from just the taxes collected by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) within the respective jurisdictions of LGUs.
This expanded revenue coverage means the IRA share of LGUs should also include other taxes such as those collected by the Bureau of Customs (BOC). This sizable IRA increase for LGUs will let them pump-prime their respective local economies in the New Economy.
Technologies adopted should include the processing of business registrations and the collection of local taxes. Investments in information technology will not only make for more responsive governance but will also improve the revenue generation of LGUs.
The national economy, after all, is the sum of all local economies. LGUs are at the frontline of serving vulnerable communities; they are also catalysts for building a new economy while the nation does what it can to address the global health emergency.
A tech incubatee under the Hong Kong Smart Government Innovation Lab recently announced that it has launched a new solution which is now ready to be acquired by companies and institutions.
The robot was designed with a self-navigation ability in a 100,000 sqft indoor area and has an open SDK for building any additional functions. Third-party hardware – including sensors, sanitizers, UV lamp, RFID readers and various IoT products – can be added to the robot to provide mobile functions to devices/apparatus that would not be able to move usually.
The solution was designed to be applied across several areas including City Management, Commerce and Industry, Development, Finance, Health, Housing, Recreation and Culture, Social Welfare as well as Transport.
The solution employs the latest in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), Mobile Technologies, Natural Language Processing and Robotic Process Automation.
The robot can connect to BMS of various buildings to get the alert, warnings, and other notification and directly send alarming signals physically to a residence. It can guide users to their destination, with which functionality can help buildings to offload their concierge services.
The solution can also locate its position and correlated the position information to the corresponding BIM system inside the building. Infra-red, thermal or other sensors can be added for water leakage detection.
AI image diagnosis can be done through the 13-megapixel camera for various detections, such as intrusion, falling of elderly or prohibited objects (suitcase/baby stroller on an escalator). Indoor air quality (IAQ) sensors can be added to build a heat map of readings throughout the building.
Moreover, sanitizing devices can be added to the robot, and when it moves around, enabling the device to be effective in multiple locations on the entire floor.
Robots in high demand
According to a recent report, the automated guided vehicles market is expected to reach US$4.6 billion by 2027 witnessing market growth at a rate of 13.47% in the forecast period of 2020 to 2027.
Market research by another firm showed that the global smart cleaning and hygiene market was valued at US$2.63 billion in 2019, and it is expected to reach USD 5.91 billion by 2025, registering a CAGR of 15.7% from 2019 through 2025.
The increasing demand for domestic consumer robots and growing investment in R&D of personal service robots for assistance in various household applications are some of the major factors driving the growth of the smart home cleaning and hygiene market over the forecast period, the report noted.
About the Smart Government Innovation Lab
In 2018, the Government established the Smart Government Innovation Lab to explore hi-tech products such as AI and relevant technologies, including machine learning, big data analytics, cognitive systems and intelligent agent, as well as blockchain and robotics from firms, especially local start-ups.
The Lab is always on the lookout for innovation and technology (I&T) solutions that are conducive to enhancing public services or their operational effectiveness. I&T suppliers are encouraged to regularly visit the Lab’s website to check on the current business and operational needs in public service delivery and propose innovative solutions or product suggestions to address them.
The virtual court for traffic and the e-Challan (official receipt) projects, which were launched earlier this month, will replace current manual challans with electronically-generated digital ones.
The e-Challan initiative was created by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH), and the software was developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC). The virtual court is a project under the e-Committee of the Supreme Court and the Department of Justice. It is an online court managed by a virtual Judge, which is not a person but an algorithm, whose jurisdiction can be extended to the entire state and will work round-the-clock.
According to a press release, in a virtual court trial, neither a litigant nor a Judge will have to be physically present in the court for a case. Communication will only be electronic, and the sentencing and payment of the fine or compensation will also be online. Only a single process is allowed. It may be proactive admission of guilt by the accused or proactive compliance of the cause by the defendant on receipt of the summons in electronic form.
Citizens will not have to wait in lines in courts to pay fines or interact face-to-face with the traffic police. The government hopes it will increase the productivity of citizens as well as judicial officers and promote greater accountability and less corruption in the Traffic Police Department.
Currently, the country has nine functioning virtual courts- two courts in Delhi, Haryana (Faridabad), Maharashtra (Pune), Madras, Karnataka (Bengaluru), Maharashtra (Nagpur), Kerala (Kochi), and Assam (Gauhati). Over 3 million cases have been handled by seven virtual courts.
OpenGov Asia reported earlier on a similar project – India’s e-invoice initiative. It is expected to revolutionise the way businesses interact with each other. The e-invoice system, a game-changer for the GST system, was launched in October for businesses with an aggregated turnover of more than IN 5 billion (approximately US$ 67 million) in a financial year.
The government claims it is another milestone in India’s efforts to enhance ease-of-doing-business in the country. The data captured by the invoice registration portal (IRN) will flow seamlessly to the GSTR1 return of the tax-payer on the GST Common Portal, reducing the compliance burden.
Over 49.5 million e-invoices have been generated on the NIC portal by 27,400 tax-payers within the first month of the introduction of the e-Invoice system. Further, an additional 64 million e-way bills were generated during October. Starting with 8.4 million e-invoices after it was launched, the usage gradually picked up. The last day of October saw a generation of as many as 3.5 million e-invoices in a single day. It recorded the generation of 64.1 million e-way bills during October.
Considering the needs of smaller tax-payers, who need to prepare 5-10 B2B invoices in a day, NIC is in the process of developing an offline Excel-based IRN preparation and IRN printing tool. This will allow the group to enter invoice details, prepare files to upload on the NIC IRN portal, download the IRN with QR code, and print the e-invoice with a QR code.
The Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) and the Construction Industry Council (CIC) co-hosted SciTech Challenge 2020 on 19 November 2020 to allow promising innovators to develop market-ready solutions to cater to industry demands, and propel the construction sector into the digital era.
Node THL, an incubatee of HKSTP, was crowned champion of the Open Group for the active noise cancelling sensory technology at a construction site while HeightSecure Technologies won at the Student Group for the sensor to detect micro-vibrations of bamboo scaffolding in the competition.
Under the theme of “Sensory Technology for Construction”, SciTech Challenge 2020 brought together start-ups and students with potential users in the construction sector the first time to pitch their products and solutions. In view of accelerating digital transformation in various industries, the construction sector recognises the need to modernise operations to raise efficiency, productivity, quality and safety.
The CEO of HKSTP stated that the Park is committed to unearthing the best innovation and technology talent to propel Hong Kong’s business and society forward with their innovations. SciTech Challenge 2020 has provided prominent young entrepreneurs with the ideal platform to learn and collaborate with construction leaders, develop their ideas into ready-to-deploy solutions and support the industry for wider technology adoption in the future.
The Chairman of CIC said that one of the most important missions of CIC is to drive Hong Kong’s construction industry to embrace innovative thinking and culture, after establishing Construction innovation and Technology Application Centre (CITAC), CIC continues to accelerate the adoption of innovative technologies by different approaches, SciTech Challenge provides a great opportunity to inspire the construction participants for Construction digitalization.
The Chairperson of CITAC Board pointed out in the ceremony that Sensory technology is often considered as the first step for digitalising the physical environment, which forms the foundation for other technology development such as robotics as well as smart cities. That is the very reason why sensory technology for construction was chosen to be the theme of SciTech Challenge 2020.
This year’s competition attracted over 60 group applications from educational institutions and corporates. The contestants gained unique access and collaboration opportunities with leading industry players through a series of training workshops and webinars.
After rounds of screening, the eight finalists were selected to present their innovative ideas at the final presentation on 19 November 2020. This final challenge tested the level of enthusiasm and commitment of the contestants, as they competed for cash prizes and the chance to enjoy fast track to HKSTP’s Science and Technology Entrepreneur Programme (STEP) and win membership of Robotics Catalysing Centre.
More recently, “The 1st Greater Bay Area 5G Application and Innovation Challenge 2020” (AIC 2020) was jointly organised by Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP), The Greater Bay Area (GBA) 5G Industry Alliance (The Alliance), Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI) and a leading Chinese telecom concluded with an award ceremony at Hong Kong Science Park on 20 November 2020.
Centred on the theme of “Unleash the power of 5G – Build a Better Life”, AIC 2020 attracted 55 participating teams from Hong Kong, Macao and Guangdong. These teams including students, start-ups and innovators were encouraged to harness the power of 5G and offer innovative solutions in seven areas, to nurture talent and driving industry adoption for Smart City development in the GBA region.
The seven targeted areas are education, entertainment, finance, property management, logistics and transportation, healthcare, and industrial manufacturing.
The National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) on Friday launched a mobile application that can identify and block scam messages and phone calls.
The National Crime Prevention Council’s Year-End Crime Prevention Campaign was held virtually on 20 November 2020 whereby the NCPC unveiled the new mobile application – ScamShield. ScamShield compares an incoming call against a list maintained by the Singapore Police Force to determine if the number has been used for illegal purposes and blocks it.
The app uses artificial intelligence to identify keywords in messages from unknown contacts, these messages will be moved into a junk folder created on your phone by the app, just like what email inboxes do.
ScamShield has been jointly developed with the National Crime Prevention Council and Government Technology Agency, is available only on iOS devices and can be downloaded from Apple’s App Store for free.
The app blocks calls from a database of blocked numbers, managed centrally by the National Crime Prevention Council and Singapore Police Force (SPF). Users can report scam messages and calls through the app, which will be added to the database and shared with the police. The council added that ScamShield does not have access to the user’s contact list, location or personal data. The app does not require users to register with their mobile numbers either.
Mr Desmond Tan, Minister of State for Home Affairs, was a special guest at the virtual event on Friday and said that the number of scam cases has been on the rise and asked people to be vigilant when giving personal information to anyone.
ScamShield is easy to deploy in 3 simple steps and has many security features.
Download from App Store
Search for Scamshield on the App Store or click on this link. Do not download applications that are not from the official Apple Store.
Block known scam callers
ScamShield compares an incoming call against a list maintained by the Singapore Police Force to determine if the number has been used for illegal purposes and blocks it.
- Open Settings
- Tap Phone
- Tap Call Blocking & Identification
- Enable Scamshield
Filter Scam SMSes
When you receive an SMS from an unknown contact, ScamShield will determine if the SMS is a scam using an on-device algorithm, and filter the messages to a junk SMS folder. Scam SMSes will be sent to NCPC and SPF for collation. This keeps the app updated and will help protect others from such scam calls and messages. To Enable auto spam SMS filter:
- Open Settings
- Tap Messages
- Tap Unknown & Spam
- Enable Scamshield
Report Scam Messages
You can also report scam messages from other chat apps such as WhatsApp, Wechat, IMO, Viber, etc. You can forward the messages via ScamShield’s in-app reporting function. The Council have also said that the app will be available soon for Android users once some issues have been resolved.
Photo Credit: www.scamshield.sg
A “magic” spray for turning objects into agile millirobots to deliver drugs precisely inside a living body has been developed in joint research led by a scientist from City University of Hong Kong (CityU).
This pioneering approach to creating millirobots hinges on the M-spray, a composited glue-like magnetic spray. A magnetic force can move an object around different surfaces after it has been sprayed with the M-spray. This technology has great potential for biomedical applications, including catheter navigation and precise drug delivery.
The research team is led by Dr Shen Yajing, Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) at CityU, and is supported by the National Science Foundation of China and the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong.
The research findings have been published in Science Robotics titled “An agglutinate magnetic spray transforms inanimate objects into millirobots for biomedical applications”.
Composed of polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), gluten and iron particles, M-spray can adhere to the surfaces of one (1D), two (2D) or three-dimensional (3D) objects instantly, steadily and firmly. The film formed on the surface is about 0.1mm to 0.25mm thick, which is thin enough to preserve the original size, form and structure of the objects. The magnetic coating is biocompatible and can be disintegrated into powder when needed.
The team’s M-spray can stick on the targeted object and ‘activate’ the object when driven by a magnetic field, explained Dr Shen. Under the control of a magnetic field, the millirobots can change between different locomotion modes, such as crawling, flipping, walking, and rolling, on surfaces such as glass, skin, wood and sand.
What makes this approach special is the team can reprogramme the millirobot’s locomotion mode on demand.
A PhD student in BME and the co-first author on this paper explained that by fully wetting the solidified M-spray coating to make it stick like glue and then by applying a strong magnetic field, the distribution and alignment direction of the magnetic particles of the M-spray coating can be changed.
This reprogrammable actuation feature is helpful for navigation towards targets. The team demonstrated that the M-spray coated catheter can perform sharp or smooth turns. The impact of blood/liquid flow on the motion ability and stability of the M-spray coated catheter was limited, too, the results showed.
Task-based reprogramming offers promising potential for catheter manipulation in complex areas such as the oesophagus, blood vessels and urethra where navigation is always required.
Another important feature of this technology is that the M-spray coating can be disintegrated into powder on-demand with the manipulation of a magnetic field. All the raw materials of M-spray, namely PVA, gluten and iron particles, are biocompatible. The disintegrated coating can be absorbed or excreted by the human body.
In an in vivo test with rabbits for drug delivery, the team has demonstrated that the M-spray- enabled millirobot can reach the targeted region in the stomach precisely. Researchers disintegrated the coating by applying an oscillating magnetic field.
The controllable disintegration property of M-spray enables the drug to be released in a targeted location rather than scattering in the organ. The hope is that this construction strategy can contribute to the development and application of millirobots in different fields such as active transportation, moveable sensors and devices, particularly for tasks in limited areas of space.
Dr Shen and Dr Wu Xinyu from the Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology (SIAT) in the Chinese Academy of Sciences are the corresponding authors of the paper. The other co-authors are Dr Shang Wanfeng from SIAT, and Dr Lu Haojian, Dr Liu Yanting, Yang Liu and Tan Rong, new graduates and PhD students from Dr Shen’s team.
To accelerate the country’s national digital transformation programme, the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) organised the Vietnam Open Summit, last week.
The summit gathered 200 participants, including senior officials of ministries and agencies, as well as IT experts from large high-tech corporations. MIC Minister Nguyen Manh Hung noted that IT and digital technology are penetrating every corner of social life. Digital technology needs to be cheap and the key to this is open technology – open architecture, open standards, and open culture.
A press release explained that a lot of countries have announced they plan to only buy open technologies, especially technologies used to build national infrastructure platforms. Vietnam is also following this trend. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, apps like Bluezone and CoMeet were open-source or developed with open-source software.
MIC has also launched the national open data portal, which has registered over 10,000 data sets. Vietnam’s 5G network will also use the open standard Open RAN. Vietnam has chosen to develop open technology, open-source software, and open data for individuals and businesses to join the creation of new values.
Hung called on agencies, businesses, and training establishments to work together to build policies and strategies and develop open platforms and communities.
Open technology strategy
Nearly 3 million organisations and businesses from 70 countries have joined the open-source community. 35 out of 50 top companies in the world sent their teams to participate in the open-source projects in the forum. Vietnam ranks third in Southeast Asia and is among the top 20 in the world in open-source applications, after Singapore (17), and Malaysia (18).
Vietnam began approaching the open technology trend early in the 2000s, but it is still behind some countries, which is attributed to the closed culture, the localisation of data, and lack of interest from large corporations.
Nguyen Trong Duong, the deputy director of the Authority for IT Application, under MIC, said that developing open source projects is a technology trend around the globe. Vietnam should aim to be listed in the top 10 in the rankings on the growth of open-source software.
Talking about the development orientation for the time to come, he noted that Vietnam should develop open technology with a focus on three pillars – developing a Make-in-Vietnam open ecosystem, promoting open culture, and developing an open community.
“In addition to promoting education, training, research, and community development, we also need to develop an open technology ecosystem, accelerate the implementation of policies, and prioritise [the] use of digital products that use open standards,” Duong said.
In the field of training and research, there should be large projects and topics on open-source software. The assessment of the quality of research works will be made based on the contributions of the works to the international community. Regarding the development of the open technology ecosystem, technology firms, especially large ones, need to prioritise the allocation of research and development budgets for open-source projects, the release stated.