A Hong Kong start-up is reportedly helping universities and railway operators in Hong Kong better manage their crowds as private businesses and the government in the former British colony step up their use of artificial intelligence.
The City University of Hong Kong is deploying the company’s EdgeAI system, which runs algorithms on an industrial computer to process images of people and objects, to count the number of students and teachers on campus to provide insights into crowd flow at major entrances and exits, according to the firm’s Founder and Managing Director.
The technology is used in the city’s subway stations to provide an estimate of passenger waiting times during peak hours, while local gas companies deploy the AI system to detect entries to remote sites as well as leaks or rust on gas pipes that need repair.
The start-up was founded in 2009 as a software development firm for public organizations and international brands, but its head noticed saw the increasing potential in the application of AI. Thus, the AI branch was founded two years ago to focus on using perception-based AI technology to help businesses detect people and various objects.
The relevance of similar start-ups is a result of Hong Kong’s increasing adoption of AI in businesses and public organizations. This is because the government is working to encourage innovation and build a world-class smart city in mobility, living, environment, public service, and other fields.
The government saw the usefulness of the start-up’s crowd-counting technology after the 1 July protest march in Hong Kong. Teaming up with a social sciences professor at Hong Kong University, and a geography researcher from Texas State University, the start-up set up three iPad cameras on Percival Street in Causeway Bay and four more on Arsenal Street in Wan Chai.
Using the technique of object identification, the system tracks protesters when they appear within the camera frame and counts them as they cross a counting line. One camera covered three lanes and Wong adjusted the locations of the other cameras to avoid overlaps. The algorithm program ran directly on the iPads rather on the company’s industrial computer.
The project concluded that 265,000 people joined the protest on 1 July, while organizers said 550,000 people marched and the police estimated it was 190,000.
The takeaway is that AI is more objective and accurate than manual counting. The numbers generated merely serve as a reference to the public. It is hoped that the AI can be trained to run better on smartphones and enable accurate counting through this project.
Another AI counting project is being developed for when the Civil Human Rights Front plans another protest march from Causeway Bay to Admiralty.
Since June 2019, Hong Kong has seen a series of record-breaking protests as locals marched against an extradition bill proposed by the Hong Kong government that would have allowed the transfer of suspects to jurisdictions with which Hong Kong has no extradition agreement, including mainland China.
Earlier this month, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive declared the highly unpopular bill to be “dead.” However, protesters continue to demand a total withdrawal of the bill and for the CE to step down.
The city’s tech-savvy protesters have taken extra precautions to hide their identities during marches by ditching personalized metro cards, switching to one of the most encrypted messaging apps available, wearing masks and goggles, and refraining from posting selfies on social media in case they can be identified by law enforcement.
It was noted that the aforementioned AI project carefully handles privacy issues as it blurs any faces that are captured and deletes all data afterwards.
Project managers have stated that they have been extremely careful in regards to the technology deployed. No facial recognition tech was used and, in fact, the tech deliberately shoots images from the back and does not share any of the videos with the third-party volunteers. The objective is to merely count for a number.
New Zealand has been recognised internationally throughout the pandemic for efforts in fighting COVID19, and in particular, it has been recognised for its’ impressive leadership from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
The PM has notably put the health and safety of New Zealand citizens first and foremost. She has communicated transparently and effectively with the people and has built trust and gained their confidence through her actions.
Jacinda Ardern’s leadership style, focused on empathy, isn’t just resonating with her people; it has put the country on track for success against the coronavirus.
The country has a population of around 5 million people, yet New Zealand only recorded 1,219 infections and 22 deaths so far during the pandemic. These are dramatically lower than many other countries that are still grappling with thousands of deaths.
Being Proactive – Taking Precautionary Measures Early in a Pandemic
New Zealand government also took decisive action right away, planning for a possible outbreak began intensively on January 24, 2 days after the WHO reported evidence of human-to-human transmission in Wuhan.
New Zealand’s Ministry of Health established an incident management team and advised the public that while the risk to New Zealand was assessed as low, the Ministry was taking the outbreak very seriously.
New Zealand imposed a national lockdown much earlier in its outbreak than other countries did in theirs, and banned travellers from China in early February, before New Zealand had registered a single case of the virus. It closed its borders to all non-residents in mid-March, when it had only a handful of cases.
Swift Lockdown Action after 102 days without local infection
Just yesterday New Zealand put its largest city back into lockdown after recording four new Covid-19 cases, ending a 102-day streak without a local infection.
A three-day lockdown was swiftly imposed in Auckland after the cases were confirmed. The four new cases are all members of a single family. None had travelled recently.
The restrictions will came into effect on Wednesday, as authorities track and trace contacts of the family. Auckland residents will be asked to stay at home, large gatherings will be banned, non-essential businesses will be shut, and some social-distancing restrictions will be reintroduced in the rest of the country.
The importance of open communication between government and citizen in crisis management
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s response to the pandemic back on March 21 was bold and garnered public support.
That day, Ardern delivered a televised statement to the nation announcing a four-level Covid-19 alert system.
Modelled on fire risk systems already in use in New Zealand, this familiar approach set clear guidelines for how the government would step up its response — and what would be asked of citizens as infection rates grew.
Prime Minister Ardern’s communication has been clear, honest, and compassionate. It has acknowledged the daily sacrifices to come and inspired people to forge ahead bringing them together.
She has spent a lot of time reassuring people during the lockdown with daily briefings and a message that resonates: “Go hard and go early.”
Pandemic demands transformative, collective action from Government and its people
Prime Minister Ardern has established a shared sense of purpose amongst the government and citizens.
Key leadership practices which are leading to New Zealand’s success is the government’s willingness to let themselves be led by expertise, its efforts to mobilise the population, and to enable coping, all of which leads to increased trust in leadership which is needed for transformative, collective action such as the pandemic demands.
According to a press release by the Ministry of Information and Communications, database sharing between management agencies at both central and local levels is key to the process of developing e-government. MIC is compiling an e-government development strategy, which serves as a pillar in Vietnam’s socio-economic development model.
Under the draft strategy, which has been made public for comments, the development of e-government will be associated with the process of digital transformation, smart urban development, and ensuring network safety and security. Accordingly, all operations of state management will be digitalised to lead the national digitalisation process.
Citizens and enterprises will be the centre of the digitalisation process, which will aim at improving transparency, simplifying administrative procedures, and creating convenience when accessing public services. The most important thing was developing a database system and data sharing mechanism between state management agencies, according to the Ministry’s Authority of Information Technology Application.
The strategy aims to link the development of e-government with Vietnamese digital technology enterprises that have core technologies and open platforms to serve digital government services. Notably, enterprises could participate in providing public administrative services.
By 2025, 100% of national databases to serve e-government, including the database about population, land, business registration, finance, and insurance, are hoped to be completed, connected, and shared on a nationwide scale.
A representative from Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group said it was important to develop databases and data sharing to launch the digital government services. It was also necessary to carry out reviews on the process of transition from paper-based to digital and develop procedures for digital government services.
According to the United Nations’ recent report themed ‘Digital Government in the Decade of Action for Sustainable Development’, Vietnam ranked 86 out of 193 countries in the e-government development index, moving up two spots from 2018. Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has approved the list of members of the National Committee on e-government, which came into effect on 30 July. The PM chaired the committee.
The committee is in charge of studying and proposing policies, strategies and mechanisms to create a legal framework for the development of e-government towards a digital government, digital economy and digital society to create favourable conditions for implementing Industry 4.0 in the country.
The Vietnam Internet Network Information Center (VNNIC) recently kicked off a course for the first 34 personnel chosen for a program on training 500 experts on internet protocol version 6 (IPv6). The advanced program, lasting from 2020 to 2025, targets technicians of IT units under ministries and public sectors and aims to support public agencies in completely switching from IPv4 to IPv6 in 2025.
According to research, internet connections using IPv6 are 1.4 times faster than IPv4. Vietnam’s internet has been upgraded to operate well on IPv6, in preparation for the country’ e-government development and national digital transition. As of June, it was ranked 10th globally in IPv6 adoption, with more than 36 million users.
To drive the development of the National Automotive Policy 2020 (NAP2020), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) and Automotive Institutions, Robotics and Lot Malaysia (MARii) announced that they are collaborating on developing new generation vehicles (NxGV). Specifically, they will be looking into re-manufacturing and recycling and intelligent manufacturing technology (smart manufacturing) through a variety of research and development (R&D).
One of the projects carried out includes the development and commercialization of electric car (EV) batteries, supported by Research and Development efforts by both parties focusing on battery performance, battery replication, lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery production development and more.
The Vice-Chancellor of UKM stated that the signing of the MoU showed closer cooperation between the two institutions in enhancing technological capabilities. It is hoped that the emergence of the digital economy in the Industrial 4.0 landscape will drive more sustainable innovation in various domain applications for the benefit of the government, organizations, and all citizens.
This innovation can be further utilized to change the way Malaysians live and work, creating an inclusive digital society with the same goal, which will not only generate wealth for better well-being but also bring peace and prosperity to the world, the academic stated while delivering a speech at the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between UKM and MARii, in Cyberjaya recently.
Meanwhile, the Chief Executive Officer of MARii noted that the collaboration will complete the network of strategic expertise needed to implement projects related to research and development of basic materials for the manufacture of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries, cybersecurity and digitization in the mobility sector.
These projects will add value to the development of NxGV, Maas and IR4.0, in line with NAP2020. This collaboration will also be able to show the development of a special network for Reverse Logistics, which includes the process of collection, recycling and end-of-life vehicle (ELV).
The Smart Data Initiative will also be implemented and focuses on the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the manufacturing process. The aim is to push forward Smart Manufacturing in Malaysia. With Industry 4.0 technology, the project will focus on cybersecurity methods that use various techniques to protect data and resources.
About Malaysia’s National Automotive Policy 2020
The National Automotive Policy 2020 (NAP2020) is expected to contribute RM104.2 billion to Malaysia’s gross domestic product (GDP) over the next 10 years, an earlier article by OpenGov Asia noted. The forecasted contribution is in line with its projection of total production volume of 1.47 million vehicles and total industry volume of 1.22 million vehicles by 2030.
The overall intended outcomes of the NAP2020 are an increase in research of new technologies; the creation of business and job opportunities, particularly for small and medium enterprises (SMEs); and the development of new manufacturing processes and value chains within the local automotive and overall automobile sector. The NAP2020 will further enhance the Malaysian automotive sector by transforming it into connected mobility.
The element of technology such as Next Generation Vehicle (NxGV), mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) and Industrial Revolution 4.0 are in line with disruptive trends that have emerged in global markets, the Minister stated.
The NAP2020 is a holistic policy that covers the comprehensive development of industry capacities including supply chain, human capital, indigenous technology, aftermarket, exports, infrastructure readiness, standards and regulations. The NAP2020 will focus on the development of ecosystems for the NxGV, MaaS and Industry 4.0 technologies while continuing its focus on enhancing the development of Energy Efficient Vehicles.
The policy entails the National Roadmap Automotive for the mobility value chain, technology, mobility talent, aftermarket and National Blueprint Automotive for mobility as a service, robotics and IoT. It also envisions driving a policy that focuses on connected mobility, while enhancing Malaysia’s automotive industry in the era of digital industrial transformation.
The NAP2020’s vision includes integrating supply chains, local manufacturing, engineering capabilities, the latest technology trends, and sustainable development.
The Minister of Electronics, Information Technology, and Communications, Ravi Shankar Prasad, announced that the government is working to provide connectivity in the far-flung, remote, border areas of strategic importance, to ensure a better quality of life.
The country’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, inaugurated the 2300km-long submarine optical fibre cable, between Chennai and Andaman and Nicobar at a virtual event earlier this week.
In his speech, the Prime Minister said that the cable will help Andaman and Nicobar get cheaper and better connectivity and all the benefits of the Digital India initiative, especially in improving online education, telemedicine, banking systems, online trading, and to boost tourism.
The Indian Ocean has been the centre of India’s trade and strategic prowess for thousands of years and Andaman and Nicobar are an important centre for India’s economic-strategic cooperation.
The Islands of India play an important role in India’s new trade strategy for the Indo-Pacific region.
Under the Act-East policy, the role of Andaman and Nicobar in India’s strong relations with East Asian countries and other countries connected to the sea is high and will increase; the Island Development Agency was formed three years ago to strengthen its role. The projects which were not completed in Andaman and Nicobar for years are being completed now.
High-impact projects are expanding in 12 islands of Andaman and Nicobar. Apart from providing better internet and mobile connectivity, the government aims to further improve physical connectivity through road, air, and water.
The Prime Minister referred to the work on two major bridges and the NH-4 to improve the road connectivity of North and Middle Andaman. He said the Port Blair Airport is being enhanced to handle a capacity of 1,200 passengers. Along with this, the airports are ready for operations in Diglipur, Car Nicobar, and Campbell-Bay.
According to a press release, Prasad spoke about the various projects being implemented by the Department of Telecommunications to provide connectivity in remote and difficult areas.
He said that a tender for 354 uncovered villages in the strategic, remote, and border areas of the country has been finalised and is under implementation in 144 villages of the union territories of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and Ladakh.
Villages in Bihar, Rajasthan, Uttrakhand, Himachal Pradesh, and other priority areas of Gujarat have been strategically selected to cover border area connectivity on mobiles.
After the commissioning of these villages, there will be no uncovered villages in J&K and Ladakh for mobile connectivity. Satellite-based Digital Satellite Phone Terminals (DSPTs) are also being provided at 1,347 sites for Army, BRO, BSF, CRPF, ITBP, and SSB use. 183 sites are already commissioned; the remaining are in process.
The Minister added that the Department of Telecommunications is also working on providing mobile connectivity in villages of 24 Aspirational districts of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh.
The remaining 44 Aspirational Districts for 7287 uncovered villages in Chhatisgarh, Odisha, Jharkhand, and Andhra Pradesh will also be covered, for which government approval is under submission.
The Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Institute of Technology (PTIT) and the Indian Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC) signed an addendum to the agreement on the establishment of a Centre for Software Development and Training in Vietnam, last week.
Ambassador of the Republic of India to Vietnam, Pranay Verma, and President of PTIT, Vu Van San, signed the deal in Hanoi yesterday.
Under the agreement, CDAC will provide non-refundable aid of US$ 1.08 million from the ASEAN-India cooperation fund to set up a modern information and communication technology (ICT) centre in order to provide advanced IT training, online classes and e-learning at PTIT in Ho Chi Minh City.
The centre will be recognised as an authorised CDAC training centre for two years. The CDAC will send two experts to the centre in Vietnam to support its operations for six months. The centre will provide IT training courses according to the framework and standards of the CDAC’s advanced informatics training schools to improve capacity for local industries and remove digital gaps.
CDAC is a premier research and development organisation under the Indian Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) that carries out research in IT, electronics, and associated areas.
CDAC has successfully implemented 40 projects to establish ICT centres in many countries around the world.
The project in Ho Chi Minh City is expected to be completed by the end of this year.
According to an expert from the Indian ICT industry, Vietnam holds tremendous potential for IT development thanks to its young and talented human resources and attractive investment climate, thereby becoming one of the brightest investment destinations for Indian firms.
He stated this during a virtual seminar on Vietnam’s key macroeconomic policies to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic and potential sectors for long-term investors held by the Vietnamese Embassy in India.
The event drew the participation of about 100 businesses, investors, experts, and scholars of the two countries.
At the event, Vietnamese delegates updated their Indian counterparts about the Vietnamese government’s policies in the context of COVID-19 and potential sectors for investment, stressing that the country has become a bright spot in both economic recovery and fighting the pandemic.
With an open economy and favourable business climate, Vietnam boasts the potential to become of the nations with the fastest economic growth in the world in the post-pandemic period.
The number of Indian companies invested in Vietnam’s IT field, standing at only 23 so far, has yet to match the potential of the sector and the cooperation potential between the two countries.
An Indian tech company is working on a major investment plan worth hundreds of millions of dollars in Vietnam, which may employ 8,000 people in the upcoming fiscal year, especially in the software and service sectors. It also eyes the establishment of one of its largest hubs in Southeast Asia in Vietnam.
The Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) recently launched a communications programming platform called Stringee in Hanoi.
The communications platform-related comprehensive technology solution allows businesses to communicate with customers on mobile phone apps or websites without the use of another app such as Zalo, Skype, or Messenger. Businesses also need not invest in building software with communications features.
Stringee is among other Made-in-Vietnam digital platforms selected by the ministry with the aim of promoting comprehensive and wide-ranging digital transformation in terms of economy and society, contributing substantially to realising goals in the National Digital Transformation Program.
According to the Deputy Minister of Information and Communications, Nguyen Thanh Hung, Stringee is the only platform in Vietnam that can provide full infrastructure and features similar to solutions from foreign countries.
The platform currently provides about 2.2 million minutes of calls a day to some 45 million users nationwide. In the context of the problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses are accelerating digital transformation efforts in order to cut costs and maintain operations to survive and recover, the Minister noted.
He called on Vietnamese digital businesses to fully tap into opportunities and develop more digital platforms serving comprehensive digital transformation in different fields. The formation of communications platforms in general and Stringee, in particular, is expected to drive Vietnamese businesses to improve the quality of their customer care and competitiveness.
In line with its mission to shift to e-governance, in June, debuted a corporate governance platform, 1Office, at a ceremony in Hanoi.
1Office is one of the Made-in-Vietnam platforms introduced to enterprises in the national digital transformation process. The ministry hoped Vietnamese digital tech companies would grasp opportunities and develop more platforms to fully serve national digital transformation.
The ministry previously introduced other Made-in-Vietnam platforms used for e-government building such as distant training, health check-ups and treatment, postal codes, webinars, and cloud computing.
It also called on its units to popularise digital platforms to create favourable conditions for Vietnamese enterprises to succeed in domestic and global markets.
Last month, MIC developed a national portal, PayGov, designed to promote electronic payments for public services.
As OpenGov reported, PayGov is not a payment service but acts as a platform to connect public service portals and single-window systems with intermediary payment service providers. Once connected with the platform, online public service portals of ministries and local authorities will be provided with a single interface to use all the services of the intermediary payment providers.
At the same time, intermediary payment companies can provide their services to all ministries and local authorities through PayGov.
In addition to public services, PayGov can provide payment services for other utilities such as electricity, water, healthcare, and education, all in one place.
The MIC Deputy Minister explained that PayGov is just the beginning of a process to promote electronic payments for public services. The Vietnamese government is aiming to raise the ratio of public services that can be delivered online to at least 30% by the end of 2020. As of June, the ratio had doubled to 14.6% from the end of last year but remained far behind the target.
The launch of PayGov is anticipated as one of the measures to accelerate the delivery of online public services and meet the above target. The platform is also expected to help Vietnam realise the target of 50% of the population having electronic payment accounts by 2025, and 80% by 2030 as part of the national digital transformation program.
The incubatees at Hong Kong’s Smart Government Innovation Lab continue to release novel and relevant innovations amidst the chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recently two of the Lab’s firms, Chinasoft International Technology Services (HK) Ltd and InnoBlock Technology Limited announced their solution which is now ready to be acquired by companies and institutions.
Solution 1 – iBot
The government or public service departments usually focus on improving citizen services and effectively solving social problems.
In addition, they have to deal with budget and related legislation restrictions. Thus, the iBot was developed to help companies reduce operating costs, replace manual execution of some transactional tasks, and allow the government to focus on public services.
The solution can apply automation to legacy systems, data migration and assists in system upgrades or maintenance across multiple systems at the same time. It also can be used in real-time services to provide guided solutions through customer robots that can effectively answer part of citizens’ questions as well as maintain and update citizen information.
All operations comply with the principles of compliance, accuracy, efficiency and automation.
The solution can be applied across the areas of Broadcasting, City Management, Climate and Weather, Commerce and Industry, Development, Education, Employment and Labour, Environment, Finance, Food, Health, Housing, Infrastructure, Law and Security, Population, Recreation and Culture, Social Welfare as well as Transport.
The iBot uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotic Process Automation.
- iBot can log-in to websites, search and download needed information automatically
- Working with Chatbots, assist citizen to fill in different forms
- Recognize invoice and input to the financial system
- Part of your digital transformation
- Automate many HR processes
Solution 2 – SafeGuard Series
SafeGuard Series is an enterprise security solution that aims to tackle internal threats which include data leakage and misuse. The solution does this by combining facial recognition, object detection and blockchain technologies.
It consists of three products:
- SafeGuardChain: The system will automatically log out or go to the lock screen when unauthorized users and target objects such as cameras are detected. To maintain the integrity of the data all records will be kept on the blockchain which becomes immutable.
- SafeGuard Lite Mobile: Uses watermark and object detection to prevent and detect sensitive data leakage through external cameras. It applies to both personal and work phones.
- SafeGuard Lite PC: this system uses watermark and object detection to prevent and detect sensitive data leakage through external cameras (e.g., a snapshot from a mobile phone).
The solution was developed to be applied in the area of CyberSecurity.
The SafeGuard Series uses Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain, Machine Learning and Mobile Technologies.
The potential use cases for the technology include:
- IT security enhancement for remote working: Remote working during the COVID-19 crisis has increased the likelihood of a cyber-breach according to research by Centrify;
- Strengthened protection at endpoints: 70% of all breaches still originate at endpoints, despite the increased I.T. spending on this threat surface, according to IDC.
Solution and Benefits: Apart from traditional cybersecurity and data loss prevention software that tackle cyber-attacks, the SafeGuard Series focus on the external threats typically from unauthorized users or by snapshots from live cameras. This helps prevent internal data leakages (e.g., personal information) and detect external threats (by sending notifications to the Admin right away) for immediate follow-up.