The Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) and The Construction Industry Council (CIC) announced the launch of Hong Kong’s first ConTech-focused innovation acceleration programme – the ConTech Accelerator.
Focusing on construction safety, sustainable construction and construction productivity, HKSTP is partnering with CIC to create a unique platform to drive the best practice of ConTech trials and adoption across a range of different scenarios in sites and premises.
The total construction output in the coming decade is forecasted to reach HK$225 billion to HK$345 billion, propelling the construction industry to further enhance productivity, sustainability and safety performance. To enable the industry’s search for appropriate construction technology, the ConTech Accelerator will act as a platform to match the CIC’s extensive network of corporate partners, as well as HKSTP’s 20 years of foundation to nurture a vibrant I&T ecosystem and its tremendous pool of start-ups and tech ventures.
The programme aims to establish a platform that evolves and shares best practices and techniques for ConTech solutions, while corporate partners joining the programme will provide problem statements, real sites for trial and industry feedback to tech ventures under the moderation of HKSTP.
The CEO of HKSTP stated that the construction industry is setting sail on its journey to digital transformation. HKSTP and CIC share the same vision to promote the adoption of innovative techniques and solutions in the local construction industry.
He noted that the ConTech Accelerator, in partnership with CIC, has gathered the industry’s best sector leaders and provides the ideal trusted platform for co-creation and innovation for 20 corporations and emerging tech ventures to create a more innovative, safer and stronger construction environment while facilitating cross-sector collaborations to accelerate commercialisation and creating new opportunities for the Hong Kong’s I&T ecosystem.
The Executive Director of CIC said stated that it is hoped that more than 30 pilot projects can be set up via this programme with each of the participating contractors trying out two technologies. This will drive the commercialisation and wider application of the related technologies.
If the pilot projects are successful, the technologies could be shared with other projects and stakeholders for adoption. The Government has injected HK $1.2 billion to the Construction Innovation and Technology Fund (CITF), successful cases could apply for the CIC’s R&D Fund under the CITF.
Through the promotion of digitalisation, innovation and robotics in the construction industry, the aim is to improve construction quality, sustainability and safety, thereby maintaining a professional image in the industry and promoting the steady and quality development of the industry, he added.
The ConTech Accelerator has succeeded in connecting 20 of Hong Kong’s leading construction stakeholders to create this industry-first programme. Together with tech start-ups and ventures from a range of backgrounds, the Accelerator will drive industry trials and collaboration on diverse new ideas to solve specific pain points throughout the building processes, from design and construction with innovations of site monitoring, green materials and robotic welding.
The ConTech Accelerator is open to corporates and ambitious start-ups and entrepreneurs with the vision to transform construction through innovation, solution trials and business matching.
The Ministry of Finance has announced it would develop a foundation for a modern and transparent digital financial ecosystem based on big data and open data by 2025. The initiative will be carried out under the Ministry’s digital transformation plan aimed for 2025, with orientations to 2030. It was newly signed by Finance Minister Ho Duc Phoc.
By 2030, the Ministry strives to establish a developed digital financial ecosystem with enhanced cybersecurity and efficiency. The overall objective of the plan is to accelerate digital transformation in tandem with building a sustainable, advanced, and globally-integrated national financial system. The move is expected to boost growth, enhance the resilience of the economy, and maintain macro-economic stability and financial security.
The Ministry will apply fourth industrial revolution technologies and leverage the progress that’s been made with the development of the e-government to transform the finance sector. It will offer more digital financial services to bolster the digital economy and digital society. The finance sector will play a vital role in creating, connecting, and sharing data, digitising platforms, and optimising the digital information of the government, people, and organisations.
The Ministry will cut down the number of public administrative procedures, and reform, simplify, and standardise public financial services to reduce costs and improve service quality and productivity by 2025. Accordingly, the delivery of most public administrative services will be shifted online, providing citizens with a paperless and convenient experience. The Ministry also intends to step up the implementation of the National Single Window system and the ASEAN Single Window system to facilitate trade.
Further, the Ministry has plans to set up a modern, public, and transparent digital financial platform by 2025, based on big data and open financial data. By 2030, the Ministry claimed a digital financial ecosystem will be formed in all fields, ensuring administrative effectiveness and the safety of information. Civil servants and public employees will be trained in digital skills to facilitate the process.
The rate of financial technology adoption in the country is gradually and significantly increasing. The number of subscribers of the government’s Mobile Money initiative has quadrupled since the service was launched in January this year. 67% of these subscribers reside in rural, mountainous, border, island, and remote areas.
As OpenGov Asia reported, subscribers with at least one Mobile Money transaction by the end of June exceeded 1.72 million, accounting for 97.3% of the total. Additionally, the number of households with fibre optic connections in the first half of this year increased by 9% compared to the same period of 2021 and by 17% against that of 2020. According to the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC), the goal of having 75% of households using fibre optic services this year is achievable. Vietnam also aims to have more than 50% of the population own digital payment accounts.
In deploying Mobile Money, the government has taken advantage of existing infrastructure and data and telecommunications networks. This has reduced social costs and expanded cashless payment channels on mobile devices. Industry experts have stated that the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need to universalise digital payments. Regardless of an Internet connection or bank account, and with just phone numbers, users can easily make cashless transactions through their Mobile Money account. The pandemic also greatly boosted the e-commerce market, with non-cash payments accounting for 70% of total retail transactions in Vietnam last year.
While nursing education mainly consists of classroom teaching and clinical practice, face-to-face teaching and clinical placements at medical institutions have been affected as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, to develop the training and learning experience of nursing students, a research team led by Dr Justina LIU, Associate Professor of School of Nursing, and Dr Kitty CHAN, Senior Teaching Fellow of the same school, has developed a virtual learning system “Virtual Hospital” that uses virtual reality (VR) technology to offer an innovative experiential approach to nursing education.
Virtual Hospital is the first-of-its-kind virtual learning system in Hong Kong that simulates the complex and chaotic environment of a real-life hospital ward. With a total of 11 games, the system provides five scenarios, namely “Clinical Practicum Orientation”, “Challenges of Delirium”, “Managing Multitasks”, “Prevention of Errors” and “Potential Heart Attack”.
Over 1,200 combinations of randomised situations and multiple choices make it difficult for students to predict the tasks they will be handling, while they are required to provide instant responses to multitasks and make appropriate nursing decisions through assessing a patient’s condition and interpreting their medical information.
It was noted that the majority of existing VR learning systems are skill- and procedure-focused and adopt a single patient management setting. The PolyU-developed Virtual Hospital requires students to handle multiple beds and take care of multiple patients at the same time. Unexpected incidents and clinical pitfalls are generated to test the student’s ability to apply their knowledge and prioritise nursing tasks amid various disruptions within a limited time.
Through VR experiential learning, students can improve the soft skills that are essential for their clinical practice, including situation awareness, flexibility to handle emergencies, as well as decision-making and communication skills.
Virtual Hospital allows users’ responses and decisions to be displayed on a TV monitor for group participation, while their communication with the virtual patients can be recorded for review. By answering multiple-choice questions, the student can reflect on the judgements and decisions made. In addition, the game data and the automated assessment function of the system also provide convenience for teachers in tracking students’ progress and evaluating learning outcomes.
Since its launch in January 2022, Virtual Hospital has benefited over 450 nursing students. With Virtual Hospital, students are provided with a cooperative case-based learning opportunity. Supplemented with current practice on patient simulators, it is hoped that Virtual Hospital can further help students master the skills necessary for clinical nursing and most importantly for reducing errors in actual clinical situations.
The team is pleased that the virtual learning system has received positive feedback from students, and looks forward to incorporating interprofessional and interdisciplinary elements in the future, as well as introducing the system to other nursing institutions in Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area.
A Year-3 student from PolyU School of Nursing noted that she was impressed by the fidelity of the Virtual Hospital in terms of the environmental details. The VR learning experience strengthened her confidence in clinical practice as the system allowed every student to deal with nursing problems on their own, which helps them better prepare for the stressful work situation faced by nurses in the real clinical environment, she said.
The Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA), the Department of Science and Technology Advanced Science and Technology Institute (DOST-ASTI), and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) have begun testing satellite internet service in two rural banks in Batangas province.
“PhilSA and DOST-ASTI will process data to look at the network performance against the actual connectivity needs of the banks. Information from these reports will be utilised by BSP as we move this partnership forward,” says Ma. Victoria Gazmin-Basto, Officer-in-Charge, PhilSA Space Business Development Division.
The stated banks were previously recognised by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) as being in Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDAs), where the installation of new terrestrial networks to improve connectivity may be impractical.
The provision of technical assistance to BSP is consistent with PhilSA’s mandate of assisting other government agencies or departments, as well as the private sector, in carrying out their responsibilities using space science and technology applications and satellite data.
To collect data, a Weather and Performance Monitoring System (WPMS) equipment built by DOST-ASTI was placed up near the two banks. The WPMS includes a network performance monitoring device that is linked to the satellite internet user equipment installed at the banks.
Among other things, the device measures network metrics such as upload and download speeds, throughput, latency, and jitter. Furthermore, the WPMS includes weather stations that monitor meteorological parameters such as rain, temperature, humidity, and pressure at the same time. The obtained data will subsequently be analysed to investigate and evaluate the satellite internet service’s performance and reliability under local weather conditions.
According to Bryan Paler, Senior Science Research Specialist at DOST-ASTI, his agency encourages collaboration with PhilSA and BSP to demonstrate ASTI’s locally developed technologies in applications that benefit the Filipino people.
Aside from the WPMS, they are investigating how they may put other homegrown technologies to use, such as bridging the digital divide and promoting financial inclusion. DOST-ASTI intends to capitalise on the partnership’s benefits in the future by educating people about financial literacy.
The organisations intend to use the digital TV technology and internet infrastructure that they are constructing to teach people in the unserved and underserved areas about financial literacy in addition to doing research on the usefulness and efficiency of satellite internet services for banks. The Philippine government aims to provide rural areas with cutting-edge technology while also teaching residents how to use it for their own benefit. Out of the country’s 1,634 municipalities, 33% or 533, are still unbanked and do not have access to financial inclusion services.
The Philippines believes in satellite technology’s ability to improve connectivity in rural areas, hence increasing banks’ capacity to deliver digital financial services and encourage greater financial inclusion in unserved and underserved areas. Digital financial services such as remittances, bill payments, and opening transaction accounts, among others, would become more inclusive and accessible with improved connections in rural areas.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between PhilSA, DOST-ASTI, and BSP to encourage access to high-quality financial services enabled by internet connectivity. As transactions and services move to online platforms, this endeavour will increase digital inclusion.
Internet connectivity is recognised as a crucial enabler of financial and economic inclusion, as financial activities and services migrate to online platforms. As internet connection is increased, banks and other financial service providers will be able to better serve rural areas with additional internet-connected access points, such as automated teller machines and cash agent services.
Governance and the improvement of basic public services have come a long way with the help of digital technology. Given the number of crises in 2020, digital solutions platforms and tools have been a huge help to disaster preparedness and critical event management.
A lot of earthquakes and tsunamis happen near the coast of Indonesia. One of them is Banten, which is on the southern coast of the Lebak Regency. Studies show that a megathrust earthquake could have a magnitude of 8.9 and cause a tsunami that is up to 20 metres high.
With this, the ITB team then did a service programme, which included making maps of residential areas in Cimampang and Sukarena, modelling tsunami flooding, mapping exposure with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and making public information boards, surveying village resources, and digitising evacuation route maps. ITB works with different groups to get the southern coastal community of Lebak ready by doing things that are related to the Disaster Resilient Village indicator.
Since 2021, ITB’s service programme for the people on the southern coast of Lebak has been running well with the help of many offline and online partners and one of the things that were done was to teach people how to protect themselves from earthquakes and tsunamis. To be able to prepare for disasters, education needs to be a higher priority. People also think that the parameters of the emergency response plan and the early warning system at the school are still low, so they need to learn more.
Several government agencies and other groups took part in an evacuation drill. After the group simulation, people worked together to make tents, find places to stay, run a public kitchen, collect data on health, and do triage.
On the other hand, perceptions and understandings of the residents are strengthened through artistic expression channels after simulation activities. With help from the local government, teachers, and students, they put together materials to help keep school-based efforts to reduce disaster risk going.
By adding more art elements, the final forms of educational materials were made in a way that worked well. First, the book “Edukasi Siaga Caah Laut” has stories about how people in the area dealt with the tsunami and what they learned from evacuations and simulations of evacuations.
The second piece is a dance performance set to Sundanese Kidung that the students have written, sung, and played; and lastly, the word “Mitigarium,” which is an installation, is made of things that can be found in schools. The way things are set up shows expressions of tsunami events, evacuations, and other situations.
Furthermore, due to its location on the Ring of Fire, Indonesia is vulnerable to droughts and floods, as well as earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes. Java and Sumatra, the islands in the south and west, face a wide range of natural dangers. Most of the time, droughts and floods happen on the other islands. Heavy rains cause flooding and landslides in places in the middle of the country with steep terrain.
Indonesia is one of the countries in the world with the most earthquakes, thus, the government is coming up with new ways to get ready for these disasters. The nation’s Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysical Agency (BMKG) cited that they will maximise their digital technologies to improve their systems for collecting data on earthquakes and to get more accurate information and parameters.
The National e-Governance Division (NeGD), under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) recently organised the first batch of a capacity-building programme for cloud computing. The initiative targets government officials from central line ministries, state/union territory departments, mission mode project officers, e-governance project heads, and state e-mission teams.
According to a press release, the two-day programme was held at the Haryana Institute of Public Administration. The initiative was designed to enhance capabilities within the government at the central and state levels by ensuring the availability of adequate knowledge and appropriate competencies and skill sets to optimally utilise the benefits of cloud computing in e-governance practices.
Projects with cloud computing offer integration management with automated problem resolution. The technology manages security end-to-end and helps budget based on actual usage of data. At a national level, cloud architectures enable the government to simultaneously utilise resources optimally and accelerate the delivery of e-services. Project Meghraj, for instance, is a government initiative that fast-tracks the delivery of e-services in the country and optimises the information and communications technology (ICT) spending of the government.
The workshop brought together experts from the industry, academia, and government to discuss key domain issues such as cloud fundamentals, India’s cloud journey, cloud building blocks, the procurement of cloud services, and regulatory and policy framework for cloud. Participants talked about challenges associated with cloud implementation and the future of cloud in digital transformation while using engaging presentations on successful cloud use cases.
Session discussions also featured essential training on various components of cloud computing such as custom bidding for cloud services and the establishment of pay-per-use and billing frequency with cloud service providers. Participants explored negotiation instruments for dynamic services under cloud, best practices in cloud procurement, and computing requirements. They also covered guidelines on cloud computing from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and MeitY as well as ITU global standards on cloud computing.
At the event, a NeGD official stated that technology has been leapfrogging over the past two decades, including cloud-based systems, which now drive businesses and touch every aspect of life. Anything that is available via the Internet is being delivered out of a cloud-based application and IT Infrastructure. Within this decade, cloud computing could replace the traditional data centres and emerge as the prominent solution for data analytics and storage, an industry expert noted.
The event was attended by officers from central line ministries and the state governments of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Goa, Mizoram, and Uttarakhand. Capacity-building programmes with the theme of cloud computing will move forward with physical programmes, which will be conducted in the east, west, and south zones of India this year, the press release added.
The large-scale adoption of cloud has the potential to contribute US$ 380 billion to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), creating 14 million direct and indirect jobs by 2026, according to a report by the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM). It stated that a concerted all-around effort could result in the sustained growth of 25%-30% of cloud spending in the next five years to reach US$ 18.5 billion.
A Hong Kong homegrown start-up specialising in diagnostics technologies applicable for wide-range of infectious respiratory diseases, recently announced a strategic partnership with a China-based firm that specialises in the high-tech space biological industry coinciding with the Grand Opening of its manufacturing site at the MARS Centre (Medical Accessory Resilience Supplies Manufacturing Centre), which is established by Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) in Tai Po INNOPARK.
Supported by the partnership, the world’s most comprehensive diagnostic system developed by the firm (the system) will begin official clinical trials and product registration in Mainland China. Aimed at addressing the world’s most pressing medical needs, the system is a powerful solution for infectious disease control which can detect more than 40 pathogens, including SARS-CoV-2 and Monkeypox, with a single test in around an hour – a breakthrough in diagnostics innovation.
Underpinning the demand for effective and comprehensive detection systems for emerging viruses and bacteria is the COVID-19 pandemic; both firms regard diagnostic technologies as a powerful tool against infectious diseases. The second firm will provide financial support while backing the clinical trial with its expertise and extensive network in China, enabling the commercialisation success of the system soon.
The system significantly enhances the reliability of test results while substantially saving costs, making it easier for wide adoption in the market. The platform technologies can be applied across multiple areas, from infectious diseases, cancer, and genomics, to food safety and environmental testing, and more.
The Co-Founder and Chairman of the firm that developed the system stated that transforming successful research deliverables into a qualified medical product is never easy. The partnership with the biotech firm will solidify the foundation of the system’s commercialisation journey and represent an important milestone for the company.
Meanwhile, the Deputy General Manager of the biotech firm stated that the start-up has made an important breakthrough in diagnostic technology. The biotech firm is excited to commercialise the system on the mainland.
The start-up is concurrently celebrating the launch of its reagent manufacturing site in Tai Po INNOPARK. Together with the device production site which recently obtained ISO 13485 accreditation, the start-up now has the necessary manufacturing capabilities to support the upcoming clinical trials.
The Chairman of HKSTP noted that the Park has repositioned the three industrial estates in Tai Po, Yuen Long and Tseung Kwan O as INNOPARKs. The MARS Centre launched in 2021 and innofacturers have gradually moved in this year. HKSTP is delighted to witness the start-up’s grand opening at MARS, as the first batch of tech ventures to use the ISO-certified cleanroom facility for the production of reagents and micro-fluidic cartridges, and its collaboration with Shenzhou Space Biotechnology Group to further achieve the vision of innovated, designed and made in Hong Kong.
The Chairman noted that HKSTP will continue to incubate more advanced tech ventures to contribute to Hong Kong’s sustainable development and economic growth by Innofacturing.
With the support of the Public Sector Trial Scheme under the Innovation and Technology Fund, the start-up’s system has been under stringent evaluation since 2020 through Professor Yuen and other medical facilities. The firm’s team expects successful clinical trials with the high-quality performance exhibited by the system.
Originated by the Emerging Viral Diagnostic Limited and The Hong Kong Polytechnic University with the support from The University of Hong Kong, the start-up’s system is now translated into a medical technology breakthrough. The collaboration has demonstrated a concerted effort in multidisciplinary innovation and research translation, pushing forward the industrialisation of advanced biotechnology in the Greater Bay Area.
Giving hardware the ability to see has enabled a variety of applications, including self-driving cars, object identification, and crop monitoring. However, unlike animal vision systems, artificial vision systems are unable to evolve in their natural environments.
“Our system could be of use in the development of unconventional applications, like panoramic motion detection and obstacle avoidance in continuously changing environments, as well as augmented and virtual reality. Currently, the size of a semiconductor optical unit, commonly used in smartphones, automobiles, and surveillance/monitoring cameras, is restricted at the laboratory level,” says Young Min Song, professor of electrical engineering and computer Science at GIST.
Dynamic visual systems that can navigate both land and water have thus yet to power the machines, prompting the researchers to develop a novel artificial vision system that closely replicates the vision of the fiddler crab, which can navigate both terrains.
Because all current systems are hemispherical, the semi-terrestrial species – fondly known as the calling crab because it looks to be beckoning with its large claws – has amphibious imaging ability and an extraordinarily broad field-of-view.
The artificial eye, which resembles a round, generally unremarkable, tiny, black ball, interprets its inputs using a combination of components that process and comprehend the light. The researchers enveloped a 3-D spherical structure in an array of flat microlenses with a graded refractive index profile and a flexible photodiode array with comb-shaped patterns. Light rays from numerous sources would always converge at the same location on the image sensor, independent of the refractive index of its surroundings, thanks to this design.
Both the amphibious and panoramic imaging capabilities were evaluated in in-air and in-water studies by imaging five objects of varying distances and directions, and the system produced constant image quality and a nearly 360° field of view in both terrestrial and aquatic situations. That is, it could see both underwater and on land when prior systems could only see in one.
When it comes to fiddler crabs, there’s more to them than meets the eye. Because they live both underwater and on land, their gigantic claws have powerful, one-of-a-kind eyesight systems. Their flat corneas, along with a graded refractive index, counteract defocusing effects caused by changes in the external environment – a significant limitation for other compound eyes.
An ellipsoidal and stalk-eye configuration gives the microscopic critters a 3-D omnidirectional field of view. To avoid attacks on large open tidal flats and to communicate and engage with partners, they’ve evolved to gaze at virtually everything at once.
A wide field-of-view (FoV) camera that reproduced the compound eyes of an insect was described in Nature in 2013, while a wide FoV camera mimicking a fisheye was reported in 2020. While these cameras can capture enormous areas at once, it is structurally difficult to get beyond 180 degrees, and commercial solutions with 360-degree FoV have lately entered the market.
With this, the crab was an excellent muse. During the testing, five adorable items (a dolphin, an aeroplane, a submarine, a fish, and a ship) were projected onto the artificial vision system from various angles. The scientists experimented with multi-laser spot imaging, and the fake images matched the simulation. They dipped the apparatus partly in water in a container to go deep.
Looking at biologically inspired light adaption strategies in the hunt for higher resolution and superior image processing approaches is a logical continuation of the work. This is an amazing feat of optical engineering and non-planar imaging, combining aspects of bio-inspired design and modern flexible electronics to attain capabilities not found in traditional cameras. The potential applications range from population surveillance to environmental monitoring.