When one is to define what Artificial Intelligence (AI), they may be quick to say that it is the technology being used by Ironman in the Marvel movies. While that is AI, we are far from achieving that. So, what is AI and how are we using AI in the world today?
OpenGov had the honour of interviewing Prof. Chen Tsuhan, Deputy President (Research and Technology) and Distinguished Professor at National University of Singapore (NUS). He also serves as the Chief Scientist of AI Singapore, a national programme in artificial intelligence.
Prof. Chen is a renowned expert in pattern recognition, computer vision and machine learning. He joined NUS from Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, United States, where he had been the David E. Burr Professor of Engineering since 2009.
He gave OpenGov insights into the place of AI in the world today and of the innovations and uses surrounding it.
AI in Singapore
Prof. Chen said that Singapore is already using AI but “it is not enough”. While AI technology is being used, it is still scratching the surface.
He said that the medical, legal and financial institutions are the big users of AI and that they will greatly benefit from using it.
He gave examples of how AI can be used to look at financial statements and provide financial advice. In the legal sector, lawyers can use AI to compare various cases and provide advice. The medical field could potentially explore ways in which radiologists can be assisted by AI so that their diagnosis will be more efficient and more precise.
Prof. Chen said that speech recognition is used by doctors for recording down details into medical records. But AI can do much more than transcribing speech into medical records. He said that the future of AI in the medical field should be such that the machine will assist the doctor to provide diagnosis or advice to patients.
Advancements done to machine-learning will allow machines to work more efficiently than humans, mostly in low-level tasks.
Adoption of AI
Prof. Chen shared that the term AI and the field of AI research were created more than 50 years ago. AI was initially a new technology which created a wave of excitement amongst people. It then went through “AI winter”, where its usage was low as it was a hard task. Today, it has grown to perform better than humans and new AI techniques continue to grow.
He said that one of the reasons as to why there still is some hesitance towards the adoption of AI is because humans are now getting worried that they will be replaced by machines. Prof. Chen said that humans need to understand better how AI can better help them. AI technology needs to be improved and be embraced and used even more.
He stressed that AI can and must be used in the right way such as for performing low-level tasks. This allows businesses/doctors to spend more time with their customers/patients this way. AI helps tasks be more personal and make us more human.
On the shift of mindset that people should adopt, Prof. Chen gave this example, “People were once worried about cars at first but now they are easily embraced.” He said that AI can create jobs instead of taking them away as people are needed to understand how AI can be applied better, the impact of it, and of how it is to be utilised.
This will also create jobs in the legal sector where a new study of law/new lawyers are needed to govern AI.
AI and data analytics/literacy
Prof. Chen said that companies such as Google, Facebook and Amazon have been leveraging on AI to study their data and boost their business profits.
AI is used to study their data and identify customer trends and behaviours to predict and promote products to their customers.
AI can be used in capacity building and awareness creation of employees in an organisation. Prof. Chen said that AI Singapore has programmes to train people to be more data literate. “AI for everyone” is one such programme which is a 3-hour course which gives insights into how AI technologies and applications can be used to create the best opportunities.
Prof. Chen stressed that data literacy is important as it will make people more aware of how AI can make us more human and mitigate the challenges in low-level tasks.
AI- related innovations by AI Singapore
Prof. Chen shared about the various ways in which AI technology is being employed in Singapore.
AI Singapore Grand Challenge- it is the promotion of AI technology for identifying and monitoring high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and high blood cholesterol. Medical advice can be provided by machines based on the results.
Grab-NUS AI lab is one such collaboration where AI Singapore implements AI technology on data provided by Grab and conduct data analytics to predict how many customers are going to call for the next ride. They study customer routines of booking timings and locations travelled to. With this, traffic time can be cut down by 30% just by using data analytics.
AI, when used properly, can help systems to be more secure. Prof Chen said that a lot of data breaches are by human actors. With that in mind, AI can be used to analyse people’s behaviours for anticipating potential threats. It can also be used for the analysis of traffic patterns on servers.
Studying of employee’s behaviours such as the sites they have visited can be done. The machine can also be fed with information on previous breaches for it to learn and be able to better identify the next time.
AI can identify novel or “fishy” entrances into systems and detect the weaknesses in them.
He said that white hackers can be used to test how strong a system.
Government agencies and AI
Prof. Chen said that AI Singapore is the linkage for government agencies to employ AI technology. AI Singapore is funded by the Info-communications Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA) and National Research Foundation Singapore (NRF).
He shared that AI Singapore is working on a project for public housing which uses AI algorithms for studying lift operations and predicting if they will be functioning properly. This is called predictive maintenance. This will allow for the better allocation of which lifts need constant checks and maintenance based on the AI algorithms which track the usage of the lifts.
Prof. Chen also shared on current research work which is focused on studying how speech recognition can be used to identify and detect emotions. He said that Singapore is the best location for countries to test if their speech and facial recognition systems are effective as Singapore is very diverse in its language and pronunciations.
“AI Singapore carries the responsibility for AI to work better and we encourage organisations to use their AI technology in Singapore to test and determine if their system works well,” he said.
Prof. Chen said the diversity of data is more important than the amount of data for AI to work best.
Training a machine with the same data will not make it better but diverse data will. He acknowledged that getting data for testing of AI technology is challenging due to security measures such as PDPA for protecting data.
He shared about differential privacy, a method where AI can study your data without knowing who you are. He said data can be encrypted and provided to the AI machine for analysis and only be decrypted by the data source. This is also known as homomorphic computing.
“In the AI world, we don’t ask how much data do you have? We ask how diverse is your data?” said Prof. Chen. He concluded with the reiteration that AI should be embraced and adopted into practices for producing the best outcomes.
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 NUS School of Design and Environment 4 (SDE4) is the first building in Southeast Asia to be awarded the stringent Zero Energy Certification by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI), one of the world’s most prestigious sustainability organisations.
The Zero Energy certification by ILFI is based on actual performance and awarded to green buildings where 100 per cent of its energy needs on a net annual basis is supplied by on-site renewable energy sources, with no combustion.
It is the only performance-based standard of its kind operating globally. The ILFI is an international environmental non-profit organisation, which also administers the flagship Living Building Challenge, the world’s most rigorous green building standard.
“As the world addresses climate change, it is critical to see buildings like the NUS School of Design and Environment 4 move aggressively to earn Zero Energy Certification. This fantastic project shows that project teams can rise to the challenge by creating buildings that produce more energy than they use, serving as a model for other universities in Singapore, across Southeast Asia, and around the world,” said Mr Shawn Hesse, Director of Business Development at the ILFI.
SDE4 is Singapore’s first new-build net-zero energy building.
SDE4 has been operational since 2019 and consists of a range of sustainable design features that have been integrated into its architecture to “not only deliver user health and comfort in the tropical context but also meticulously programmed to be highly energy efficient.”
One of its key features is a large overhanging roof which has more than 1,200 photovoltaic (PV) panels to harness solar energy to meet the energy demands of the building.
It also features an innovative hybrid cooling system to effectively manage the building’s energy consumption, supplying 100 per cent fresh pre-cooled air, albeit at higher temperatures and humidity levels than in a conventional system, and augments this with an elevated airspeed by ceiling fans.
Achieving net-positive energy
Based on SDE4’s annual studies and energy audits before the COVID-19 circuit breaker period in Singapore, SDE4 has performed beyond its net-zero design intent.
Professor Lam Khee Poh, Dean of SDE, said, “The fact that the building exceeded its original energy target chronicles an important milestone in SDE’s ‘Well & Green’ vision for environmental stewardship. We are now progressively expanding our sustainability targets from net-zero energy buildings to integrated zero carbon developments.”
There are three key reasons for improved performance:
Enhanced energy production: The PV panels are not only capable of meeting the building’s energy demand, but are expected to feed higher surplus of energy back to the electricity grid over their whole lifespan (25 years) due to higher PV efficiency and better overall performance.
Tight building control and operation management: Allowed a reduction of the building Energy Use Intensity (EUI) – the building’s energy use divided by its area, from a designed 65 kWh/m2/year to an operational 55 kWh/m2/year.
Hybrid cooling system performance: Energy consumption for cooling is reduced by more than 20 per cent compared to conventional air-conditioning.
International Multi-award Winning Building
SDE4 has won multiple awards for its green design and architecture, including the Architecture MasterPrize 2020 in Institutional Architecture Category, and the Blueprint Awards 2019, Best Public Use Project with Public Funding.
The building was awarded the Green Mark Platinum certification by Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority.
It was also the first university building in the world to achieve WELL Certified™ Gold, and the first building in Singapore to be conferred the WELL Certification, a premier building standard by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) in September 2019.
Photo Credit: nus.edu.sg
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
The Infocomm Media Development Authority and IBM signed a Memorandum of Intent on Friday, where IBM will hire and train 300 Singaporean professionals over the next four years in emerging tech areas. The signing of the Memorandum of Intent was witnessed by Minister for Communications and Information, Mr S Iswaran.
They will be trained under the TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA) Company-Led Training programme and the TeSA Mid-Career Advance programme, for roles such as Digital Consultants, Big Data Engineers, Data Scientists, Cloud Architects, UX Designers and Full Stack Digital Developers.
Future-Ready Intelligent Digital Workforce Programme
The “Future-Ready Intelligent Digital Workforce Programme” aims to meet the demand for technology consulting and deep technical skills needed to support the acceleration of digital transformation across all industries.
The programme will bring a diversity of talent with relevant skills and knowledge base, and provide them with opportunities to deepen their digital skills, technical expertise and hands-on practical experience.
240 Singaporean professionals will be under the TeSA Company-Led Training programme, and an additional 60 Singaporean mid-career professionals will join under the TeSA Mid-Career Advance programme. These participants will range from fresh graduates to professionals in the later stages of their careers.
“As we push forward with our national digitalisation movement, the ICT sector continues to hold promise for job creation. It remains important to provide opportunities for our professionals to build the necessary skills for tech jobs that power the sector. IMDA’s and DISG’s collaboration with IBM, to help 300 Singaporeans acquire advanced tech skills, is part of our investment in a pipeline of local tech talent as we make a decisive push for digital transformation in our country so that Singaporeans can continue to do well,” said IMDA Assistant Chief Executive and EDB Executive Vice President, Kiren Kumar. “I urge more companies to join our national effort to create jobs and training opportunities for all Singaporeans.”
Digital Transformation and Post COVID
The Programme emphasises continual learning and participants will be expected to keep up-to-date with their skills development through a variety of activities – such as self-paced online learning modules or instructor-led workshops – and qualify for specific certifications depending on their roles.
Programme participants will undergo intense, immersive exposure to emerging technologies such as AI, Advanced Analytics, Blockchain, Cloud, Cyber Security and IoT, and will be given opportunities to build technical skills through hands-on training. New hires will be assigned to work with crossfunctional local, regional, and global teams in a variety of projects, to gain practical experience.
There will be a focus on industry transformation, business reinvention, and delivering tangible business outcomes quickly, especially in an environment of uncertainty and charting the “new normal” post-COVID.
“The global pandemic has forced businesses to speed up their digital transformation – in many cases, completing in weeks what may have in the past taken months or even years. To accelerate that transformation even more and help companies in Singapore take full advantage of exponential technologies such as AI, Blockchain, Cloud and Cyber Security, IBM Services will continue to collaborate and co-create with our clients to go beyond “random acts of digital,” said Hui Li Lee, Managing Partner, GBS ASEAN, IBM Services.
“IBM is delighted to partner with IMDA and DISG to fulfil our clients’ demand for deep digital and technical skills and also to support Singapore’s nation-building efforts to uplift the overall local talent pool. Singapore as the headquarter of IBM ASEAN, IBM Services is well placed to be the Advanced Digital Talent and Future Skills Competency hub to support IBM clients in Singapore and the region,” added Hui Li.
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.