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India has announced it will launch a mobile tech platform in August this year to provide terrain-related information to the United Nations’ military personally, Blue Helmets. The integration of appropriate technology can play a significant role in improving the safety and security of the peacekeepers, India’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador K Nagaraj Naidu said.

India, in partnership with the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Operational Support, has been working to develop the mobile tech platform UNITE AWARE. It helps increase situational awareness and provides terrain-related information to peacekeepers.

Naidu noted that it is crucial to create field-focused, reliable, and cost-effective new technologies that are driven by the practical needs of users on the ground in peacekeeping operations. He was addressing the UN Security Council open debate on ‘United Nations peacekeeping operations: Improving safety and security of peacekeepers’.

India has already contributed US$1.64 million towards this project and hopes to launch it during the country’s August presidency later this year, he said. India is one of the largest troop-contributing countries to UN peacekeeping missions and has contributed more than 250,000 troops in 49 missions over the years. Cumulatively, the largest from any country, Naidu said, adding that India is “proud of its long and rich tradition” of contribution to the UN peacekeeping missions.

Naidu told the Council that an Indian peacekeepers brigade stationed in Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo, is presently saving lives in the aftermath of the volcanic eruption of Mount Nyiragongo. During the COVID-19 pandemic, India gave 200,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to UN peacekeepers across all UN missions. The country has also delivered 200,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines for vaccinating all uniformed personnel deployed in various field missions. Close to 140,000 field personnel have already been vaccinated.

In the country, educational institutes and government bodies have been working to develop technology to fight the second wave of the virus. At the beginning of the month, the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay (IIT-Bombay) began piloting a new technology to convert a nitrogen plant into an oxygen generator. The pilot was taken up to evaluate the conversion of a pressure swing adsorption (PSA) nitrogen unit to a PSA oxygen unit. This is done by fine-tuning the existing nitrogen plant setup and changing the molecular sieves from carbon to zeolite. Such nitrogen plants, which take air from the atmosphere as raw material, are available across India in various industrial plants. They have the potential of being converted to an oxygen generator to tide over the country’s oxygen-shortage emergency.

More recently, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) developed an artificial intelligence tool, ATMAN AI, to detect the presence of the COVID-19 virus in chest X-rays. It will be used by 5C Network, the country’s largest digital network of radiologists, with the support of HCG Academics. Triaging potential patients using X-rays is fast, cost-effective, and efficient, as OpenGov Asia had reported. The tool helps to automatically detect radiological findings indicative of COVID-19 in seconds, enabling physicians and radiologists to triage the cases more effectively, especially in an emergency.

Every enterprise has one or more workflows that they need to monitor or control. These workflows can either be application-based such as surveillance and monitoring or process control, industry-based such as utilities, military, government, transportation, etc. Or even a hybrid of both bases. Some of those enterprises use a dedicated control room to do that: they either use large video walls (a common operational picture) or smaller operator workstations (personal operational pictures) to look at traffic camera streams, security videos, manufacturing processes, utility grids, maps, social media, or live news.

The idea of having a control room appeals to a growing number of enterprises and industries. Among the unusual suspects are the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries, financial institutions, educational campuses, and many Fortune 500 corporations. But why do they need a control room? And could it be that you need one too?

Most of these enterprises have very good reasons why they organise their decision-making workflows in a control room. As for Barco-equipped control rooms, one security and surveillance customer study reported that they were able to speed up their decision-making process by a factor of 6. Another customer study reported a 30% increase in workflow productivity. Whether you are working for a private company or public organisation, those are outcomes that speak for themselves.

Why a control room?

Control rooms help to organise and improve workflows where decisions need to be made based on large amounts of (visual) data. This is the case in a utility centre, a traffic control centre, but just as well in a healthcare operations centre, a network operations centre, or a corporate risk management centre.

Does your company need a control room? That may depend on your workflow.

Let us look at some of the most typical workflows that can be supported by a control room: from human-centred viewing to machine-aided resolving.

  1. The common operational picture (COP): In this workflow, a team of operators or stakeholders is monitoring a single large overview display of relevant information. A common operational picture allows those stakeholders to achieve situational awareness. This workflow follows management by supervision principles and depends on achieving visual collaboration.
  2. Shared situational awareness: This is where you share your common operational picture with a different decision-making unit in the same facility (e.g. a break-out room or a situation room). This workflow follows management by escalation principles and depends on achieving hierarchical collaboration.
  3. Collaborative operational control: Here, operators and stakeholders interact directly with their content, through personal operator workspaces. They can select the content sources they want to see and share that content with others in the control room, to make joint decisions. This workflow follows management by exception principles and depends on achieving operational control.
  4. Distributed decision-making: This is a form of collaborative decision-making where information is shared outside the control room enterprise, for example with another agency. This workflow follows management by collaboration in its truest form and depends on achieving inter-agency teaming.
  5. Automated workflow optimisations: In automated workflows, decisions are learnt, aided, and even predicted by robots consisting of smart algorithms, machine learning, or artificial intelligence. This workflow follows management by automation principles and depends on achieving a machine-learning platform of finite-state and predictable-state automation on possible decisions, that either flag for a human-expert approval or is entrusted enough to authorise decisions up to a certain emergency level.

In this continuum from top to bottom, we see workflows becoming more complex, from centralised to distributed, from hierarchical to teaming-based, from management by supervision to management by exception, from hardware to software-based, and from manual to automated. The more you move to the right side of the spectrum, the smarter and faster decisions can be made. It is also important to mention that one or more of the above workflows can perfectly co-exist in any given operational environment.

If you see this spectrum of decision-making workflows, then the question ‘do I need a control room’ may translate into more specific questions like:

  • Do I need to combine multiple content types and sources in one view to make decisions?
  • Can the way my information is presented improve my decision-making?
  • Do I need to be able to interact with the content or personalise my workspace?
  • Does my content need to be shared among colleagues?
  • Does my content need to be distributed to external stakeholders or agencies?
  • Are the decisions I take on a day-to-day basis predictably similar in nature or unique each time?

A control room may not be typical for your industry, but if the answer to one or more of the above questions is ‘yes, then a control room might indeed improve your workflow.

Instead of asking yourself what common practice in your industry is, a better question may be: ‘What does my workflow look like today?’ and ‘Can I improve my workflow to achieve better outcomes for my enterprise?’ Of course, you do not know what you do not know. However, asking the above-mentioned questions may be a first step towards improving your decision-making workflows with a control room.

A local telco said it has signed a landmark partnership with the Philippines’ Department of Education (DepEd) – Division of Cebu Province for the construction of 26 new cell sites in 26 DepEd locations to support the government’s online learning initiatives.

The telco is investing over USD 7 million for the building of the new cell sites in 26 Cebu schools. This will provide Internet connectivity to around 36,000 students and 1,550 teachers and neighbouring communities.

Under the memorandum of agreement (MOA), DepEd Cebu will offer its premises free of rent for the cell sites. The telco, for its part, will furnish DepEd schools in the province with free broadband and Wi-Fi services.

The education department said that we are now in the digital age where Internet connection is already a need, not a want. Through this partnership, they hope that more students will be able to fulfil their educational requirements amid the challenges brought about by the pandemic and they look forward to working closely with the telco in building the cell sites that will help their staff, students, and even their families gain improved access to the internet.

As per the telco, the Philippines is falling behind in terms of remote learning. Many students are still struggling to keep up with their classes due to a lack of connectivity tools to help them meet school requirements. The establishment of more cell sites will mean better access to quality education for students and a digitally enabled future for families. This project with DepEd Cebu Province is a first of its kind, a proof that progress amplifies when two or more organisations work together in reaching their goals, they added.

Last year, the telco and DepEd worked together in providing teachers and students with free access to DepEd Commons, which contains online review materials and Open Educational Resources (OER) authored by public school teachers. The telco said it also assisted DepEd in training educators for distance learning through a modified series of webinars under its Global Filipino Teachers (GFT) programme.

In the perspective of empowering the country’s education sector and as reported by OpenGov Asia, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) announced that they are providing tablets, laptops and pocket Wi-Fi to the City of San Juan to be distributed to public school students in the city.

This initiative is part of the agency’s efforts to assist the education sector, especially students and teachers, as the country adopts blended learning for the continuance of education amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, said the DICT. The agency targets to replicate the success of this initiative in other local government units as well, it added.

A total of 12,500 tablets, 1,000 laptops and 1,000 pocket Wi-Fi were turned over to the city of San Juan.

According to the City Mayor, grades three to six students of Pinaglabanan Elementary School will receive laptops with pocket Wi-Fi as they have been selected as the pilot school for distance learning, while other Kinder to Grade 12 students from all the other San Juan public schools will receive tablets. All devices are pre-loaded with DICT and Department of Education (DepEd)-developed teaching and learning digital content. Quick links to the DepEd teaching and learning portals (DepEd Commons, LRMDS) are also installed on all devices.

The DICT also targets to increase students’ knowledge of cybersecurity. The DICT has partnered with the City of San Juan in producing CyberSafe Learning materials. The said materials provide tips on how users could maximise the use of ICT while minimising risks and threats online.

The said initiative is part of the Digital Teachers and Digital Learners Project under DICT’s Digital Education Programme, which aims to facilitate digital transformation in the education sector and help address challenges in the delivery of basic education in the K-6 during and beyond the pandemic.

Still part of its initiative to support the education sector in the new normal, the DICT has partnered with the DepEd with the establishment of the Public Education Network aimed at providing digital connectivity to all public schools and DepEd offices nationwide.

Government and industry members convened at the Aotearoa AI Summit 2021 to discuss their roles in the launch and early development of New Zealand’s National AI Strategy. Minister David Clark, the Minister of Digital Economy and Communications, and the Minister of Statistics opened the Summit and introduced the National AI Strategy. The AI strategy will allow New Zealand to agree on what is most important, to provide a coordinated approach to the adoption and use of AI in the country and showcase New Zealand’s brand on the international AI landscape.

AI includes several technologies and approaches that are constantly evolving and changing. For this strategy, AI is defined as advanced digital technologies that enable machines to reproduce or surpass abilities that would require intelligence if humans were to perform them.

The future of AI in Aotearoa will be shaped by collaboration across academia, government and industry.  This includes the government’s recent work on developing a National AI Strategy with a key focus on trust and transparency. This is essential to achieve public confidence in the use of algorithms by government agencies.

Both sectors agreed that AI and machine learning technologies can be harnessed to help address some of the country’s biggest challenges and opportunities. Aotearoa New Zealand has an opportunity to create AI that not only solves big problems at home but that can also be seen as a technology that is good for the world, says one executive.

New Zealand can learn a lot from other nations in how to leverage these technologies such as AI, but with limited funding and resource, the country must be smarter and well-aligned to get the best impact, so a national strategy or plan is critical, he added.

Through this Strategy, New Zealand will be able to embrace the potential of emerging digital technologies such as AI, to drive economic growth for the benefit of all New Zealanders, says Minister Clark.

The proposed cornerstones of the strategy include:

  • Uniquely New Zealand
  • Human-centred and trusted AI
  • Investment in AI economy
  • Preparing the workforce
  • Our place in the world
  • All supported by enabling foundations.

By working together on developing a strategy, the government will ensure New Zealand can harness economic and social opportunities from this transformative technology while mitigating any potential risks, added Minister Clark

The key to New Zealand’s success in growing AI and playing a role on the international stage is building trust with citizens and consumers through transparent and ethical AI that is demonstrably safe and human-centric.

AI is projected to underpin $US15.7 trillion of global economic growth by 2030. The potential economic and social contributions of AI are significant, but New Zealand is behind its peers in building the ecosystem necessary for AI to be harnessed in a beneficial and equitable way.

With the right cornerstones in place, New Zealand’s businesses will be supported to develop or adopt AI, productivity will increase and new products and markets will be developed. Also, the country will be part of an international AI landscape, able to take advantage of and contribute to global AI development and work collaboratively to solve cross-border problems.

Overall, there is a dynamic and friendly business environment and a culture of innovation and sharing, borne out of size and distance in New Zealand. The Government is committed to leading the adoption of ethical and safe AI that enhances the country’s economy, serves the public good and further develops New Zealand’s international reputation, confirmed by the Minister.

Food outlets and retailers affected by COVID-19 Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) restrictions in Singapore will get help to offset their delivery costs and to go online with Enterprise Singapore’s reintroduced e-commerce subsidy schemes.

The food delivery and e-commerce subsidy schemes were first introduced in April 2020 during Singapore’s “circuit breaker” period and removed as restrictions eased. They have been made available again to help businesses diversify their revenue channels and defray costs of going online, Enterprise Singapore said the first day the tightened rules kicked in. The support is available to businesses that are new to digital channels as well as those already selling via food delivery or e-commerce platforms, it added.

Enterprise Singapore will fund 5 percentage points of the commission cost charged by the three food delivery platforms. In the same period, the agency will fund 20% of the delivery costs for food delivery orders made through third-party logistic partners. Collectively, these players serve a large majority of the food delivery market, said Enterprise Singapore.

To be eligible for the Food Delivery Booster Package, F&B businesses must sell food that was prepared on-premises for immediate consumption. This includes smaller establishments like hawker stalls and cafes and larger ones like food caterers and restaurants. F&B businesses already on any of the three food delivery platforms will automatically benefit from the lower commission cost. For the rest, they can approach the platforms to find out more.

Per news reports, before Enterprise Singapore’s announcement, an international ride-hailing and food delivery platform said it will provide full commission rebates for stall owners operating in hawker centres managed by the National Environment Agency. For other food outlets, it will give a 50% rebate on commissions for additional food delivery orders as compared to their current level of sales or the previous month’s sales.

Also, participating e-commerce platforms will work with sellers to curate and list products for at least six months, participate in promotion campaigns, fulfil orders and perform basic data analytics of sales. Each retailer can apply with only one e-commerce platform with whom it has no existing account.

Other support measures for businesses include those introduced earlier such as the Temporary Bridging Loan Programme to help companies access working capital. The programme has been extended to Sep 30.

Schemes such as the Productivity Solutions Grant and Enterprise Development Grant, both of which help to lower the costs of digitalisation and other transformation efforts, have also been extended to Mar 31 next year.

The Government has also increased support for F&B businesses under the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) to 50% from the 10% support of wages paid up to June 2021. Hawker stalls and coffee shop tenants of government agencies will also get a one-month rental relief.

Singapore tightened safe distancing restrictions from Sunday to June 13 to curb a recent increase in COVID-19 cases in the community. Group gatherings are capped at two and dining-in at food outlets has been suspended, while working from home will again be the default at workplaces.

Enterprise Singapore acknowledged that companies may have concerns about the additional resources required to deal with the tighter COVID-19 restrictions. They stated that they are providing support through the booster packages to help defray some of these operational costs. More importantly, they urge F&B and retail businesses who have yet to get onboard e-commerce to tap these packages to adapt their business models for online sales.

For those already selling via food delivery or e-commerce platforms, Enterprise Singapore hopes that this support can help them onboard additional platforms to widen their existing sales channels.

ClickShare Conference connects wirelessly to your meeting room equipment for more immersive meetings. In less than 7 seconds, you conference, collaborate and click from your own device with your preferred conference tool. Setting up ClickShare Conference is easy and intuitive, and it is agnostic to any conferencing equipment (such as display, room camera, speaker and soundbar) and conference platform (such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Cisco Webex). That’s the power of BYOM (“Bring Your Own Meeting”)!

With BYOM, you adopt a more informal, ad-hoc and less structured way of working, currently trending in enterprises all over the globe. You have the liberty to use your own device without any wiring up or compatibility issues with the existing meeting room equipment provided by IT.

Read more on ClickShare Conference

Meetings today are better than they were five years ago. And technology is at the heart of this transformation. Meeting attendees are confident using digital technologies and overwhelmingly prefer meetings that use technology.

Meetings should be short, with few people in them. Focus on what needs to be done, then move on. Technology is key to enabling this. It makes meetings more interesting, engaging and enjoyable for attendees. In particular, solutions making meetings more visual – such as large built-in displays, screen sharing and video – are drivers of engagement.

74% of companies plan to shift to more hybrid work post-COVID-19!

In this whitepaper, we reveal our findings for Europe. Region-specific whitepapers for the US, China, India and the Pacific are also available, as well as a Global version. We hope you find this whitepaper stimulating and helpful as you plan the future of meetings in your organisation.

Horng Shya Chua, Managing Director, Oracle Singapore, shares an expert opinion on how Smart Cities must think.

Digital innovations developed across Southeast Asia in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are a testament to the region’s ongoing commitment to building a range of “smart” infrastructure and applications.

The Singapore government, already a leader with its cutting-edge Smart Nation initiative, has deployed two mobile apps—SafeEntry and TraceTogether—to curb future COVID-19 infections by determining if individuals were in close proximity to someone who later tested positive for the virus.

Elsewhere in Southeast Asia, the Malaysian government has developed the MySejahtera app to assist it in monitoring COVID-19 outbreaks, help users monitor their health and risk of infection, and assist them in getting treatments if needed. State agencies in Thailand collaborated on developing the DDC-Care mobile app, which helps people self-assess whether they have contracted COVID-19 and tracks those who travelled from at-risk countries and thus must quarantine themselves for 14 days.

The pandemic has taught us that there are no simple solutions, but we can overcome them together. A vital platform is the ASEAN Smart Cities Network, where cities from the 10 ASEAN member states learn from one another’s experiences working with global partners to adopt smart technology, as they advance their common goal of sustainable urban development. “We must deepen collaboration and create new opportunities to exchange information and experiences at the regional level,” emphasized Dr Amy Khor, Singapore’s senior minister for sustainability and the environment, at a recent event.

Make better, faster decisions together

Partnerships with vendors play a crucial role in bringing emerging technologies to the public sector. For example, in late 2018, the Singapore government announced a five-year plan to migrate most of its on-premises IT systems to commercial cloud services. As of late last year, it reportedly had moved more than 150 such systems to the commercial cloud and had negotiated contracts that year alone valued at over S$870 million to double its number of commercial cloud systems.

While Singapore’s ambitious moves make it an exceptional example for aspiring smart cities, other countries in Southeast Asia are not far behind. According to a recent study by think tank ESI ThoughtLab, sponsored by Oracle and other partners, most of the region’s major cities are investing heavily in cloud and cloud-based AI technology services, and more plan to do so within three years.

However, while government agencies recognize that cloud services will enable them to innovate at scale faster than ever before, they still have security, regulatory compliance, and budget concerns. That could be why 83% of ASEAN city leaders say they prefer a hybrid cloud approach to deploying smart city services. Hybrid clouds allow cities to keep the most sensitive data and workloads on premises, integrated with more open, citizen-centric, collaborative workloads in the cloud.

Meanwhile,  cloud service providers and other large organizations with specialized expertise are working hand-in-hand to move this emerging technology beyond the research labs and into the mainstream. For instance, Singapore-headquartered iviva has developed and implemented proprietary software solutions for workplace management and smart buildings. With the facilities management solution of iviva’s application suite, iviva.facility, hosted on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI), iviva’s mission is to help its customers coordinate management of day-to-day operations of existing premises, delivering time and cost savings and operational efficiencies over the entire building life-cycle.

Another area where AI holds great promise is in relieving traffic congestion, a major cause of environmental pollution as well as frustration in major Southeast Asian cities such as Manila, Jakarta, and Kuala Lumpur. Road congestion currently costs Asian economies 2% to 5% of their gross domestic products every year, according to a McKinsey report, an amount forecasted to exceed US$35 billion by 2030.

Singapore’s Smart Mobility 2030 plan aims to help city planners reduce those environmental and economic costs, by working with industry partners to apply AI algorithms to diverse datasets in order to manage train, bus, car, and bicycle traffic in real-time. The Malaysian state of Selangor is pursuing a similar agenda with its Smart Selangor initiative.

Adopt a ‘whole-of-world’ approach, building an ecosystem of opportunities

The main goal of these public-private digital initiatives and information-sharing is to enhance the quality and accessibility of services, and thereby improve the quality of citizens’ lives.

Global dialogues such as the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting and the World Cities Summit, both taking place in Singapore this year, bring city leaders and industry experts together to discuss the most pressing urban challenges, share solutions, and forge new partnerships.

Collectively, leveraging innovation and entrepreneurship strengthens the region’s capacity to create an ecosystem of opportunities as well as demonstrate what is possible for the rest of the world to emulate.

While the right digital infrastructure and services give smart cities the capabilities they need to solve their most important challenges and seize the biggest opportunities, just as important is building an ecosystem of trusted partners to develop and extend those sustainable solutions.


Horng Chua is speaking at an OpenGov event on – Making Smart City System More Efficient, Robust and Event Smarter with Digital Twin

Singapore OpenGov Leadership Forum 2018

OpenGov Conference – A Gathering of Top Minds in Digital Transformation.